Let's make the world a better place. *Props to Urban Octopus for the artwork ^
Last month, I wrote a post about The Agricultural Battleground and the dangers of ‘Big Agriculture’ to a wide spectrum of modern issues. One issue is the international reach of agricultural corporations like Monsanto.
Accompanying the saturation of overseas food markets from the combination of U.S. surplus production and international economic restructuring, corporations like Monsanto have the financial and PR resources to infiltrate local farming practices throughout the world, even within countries steeped in sustainable agricultural tradition.
Since my post, news has surfaced that the Indian government is preparing a lawsuit against Monsanto “for appropriating indigenous farming techniques and knowledge to develop a genetically altered eggplant.” This story broke from Al Jazeera just last week on their new program “The Stream.”
Monsanto’s modus operandi consists of soliciting local, usually richer farmers to use an indigenous crop (maize, soy, or in this case eggplant) and genetically engineer the crop to grow at a higher rate, with resistance to a particular complementary pesticide or herbicide. After acquiring this knowledge and the new GMO crop, Monsanto then sells the crop back to local farmers (along with pesticides and heavy machinery) to grow. These farmers then, like their American peers, become enslaved to GMO crops, pesticides, and become burdened with insurmountable debt. It is no wonder that since last decade when Monsanto arrived in India, hundreds of farmers have committed suicide - many choosing to kill themselves by drinking their farm’s toxic pesticides.
In addition, farmers who do not succumb to Monsanto’s advances and remain anti-GMO are affected. When a GMO seed blows into a non-GMO farm via natural pollentation, Monsanto can and will sue those farmers for ‘stealing’ their seed. Presence of GMOs and Monsanto in the Third World is far-reaching. Once they’re in, their harmful practices attack and grow like a virus against its host.
This lawsuit from the Indian government has also publicized the debate over global patent laws and the future clout of multinational corporations.
Currently in the United States, Monsanto holds patents over GMO seeds. Having a patent on a crop seed is an alarming precedent to set, especially if the owners engage in crony capitalism to protect their markets and quasi-monopoly over the food supply. In addition, U.S. patent law refuses third-party use of the crop for testing or quality assurance. As such, by law, no one can test the effects of GMO seeds on human subjects or the environment unless Monsanto agrees. Currently, Monsanto refuses to grant permission to anyone who may raise alarm on the dangers of GMO seeds.
The Indian government faces a stiff test in Monsanto, who has the legal budget to take on any suit.
Last year, Monsanto was sued by a group of organic farmers and seed sellers in the U.S. The lawsuit is ongoing.
No matter the outcomes, these suits will surely publicize our collective struggle against big agriculture and the associated corrupt political economies.
Stay tuned for more…