Governments do not dictate major policy, major multinational corporations do. We’ve seen this time and time again, and one of the best examples out there is Monsanto. This time, the United States government wants to force GMO seeds on El Salvadorian farmers.
Encouraged by the U.S. Embassy, the Millennium Challenge Corporation had “granted” El salvador 277 million dollars to “improve El Salvador’s competitiveness and productivity in international markets.” This, however, would not come without certain commitments and obligations, which included a commitment to ensure that the Ministry of Agriculture’s procurement of corn and bean seed would “be consistent with the provisions of the CAFTA-DR( Dominican Republic-Central America-United States Free Trade Agreement).” (1)
“We are asking the Government of EL Salvador to implement the procurement program for corn and bean seeds in a competitive, objective, and transparent manner that demonstrates to all stakeholders both EL Salvador’s commitment to the CAFTA-DR, as well as its commitment to good governance. Such principles are inherent in the provisions of the CAFTA-DR.” (1)
Again, without these specific economic reforms the U.S. government will not provide El Salvador with the 277 million dollars in aid money through the MCC. What is happening here? The U.S. is seeking to spark economic growth in El Salvador through various policy reforms created and set up by Washington.What will this lead to? More pollution? More environmental degradation?
Farmers across the country have united in order to stop this stipulation within this US aid package. Which again, indirectly requires the purchase of Monsanto genetically modified (GM) seeds.
“Transnational companies have been known to provide expired seeds that they weren’t able to distribute elsewhere. We would like the US embassy and the misinformed media outlets to know more about the reality of national producers and recognize the food sovereignty of the country.” - Juan Joaquin Luna Vides, 45 year old Salvadoran farmer (2)
Hundreds of other farmers have successfully produced high-quality seed that is adapted to the specific soil and climate conditions of their country. Using indigenous seeds simply makes more sense.
If you didn’t know, Monsanto controls the majority of seeds all over the world. In India alone, thousands of farmers lost their livelihoods, and many farmers all over the world have filed lawsuits against Monsanto.
“In defining seed as their creation and invention, corporations like Monsanto shape the Global Intellectual Property and Patent Laws so that they can prevent farmers from seed saving and sharing, forcing them into dependence on their patented GMO seeds.” - Dr. Vandana Shiva (source)
The president of the El Salvadorian Center for Appropriate Technologies (CESTA) criticized the US negotiating position and says the country should back away from its demand.
CESTA President Ricardo Navarro said that:
“I would like to tell the U.S. Ambassador to stop pressuring the Government (of El Salvador) to buy ‘improved’ GM seeds. There is a harmful corporation on the planet called Monsanto…it is truly disturbing that the U.S. is trying to promote them.” (source)
El Salvador has been taking leaps that other countries in South America have been taking, in September of 2013 they completely banned glyphosate, a chemical used in Monsanto’s Roundup pesticides along with dozens of other agricultural chemicals. Sri Lanka also recently banned it after citing a link to a deadly kidney disease (you can read more about that HERE). It’s also been linked to various diseases, including cancer. You can find out more about Glyphosate and links to studies HERE.
In 2013, a Washington, DC-based watchdog group called “Food & Water Watch” released a report detailing how the US State Department issued directives to US embassies to promote biotech products and to be responsive to the concerns of the biotech industry. The report said:
“Between 2007 and 2009, the State Department sent annual cables to ‘encourage the use of agricultural biotechnology,’ directing every diplomatic post worldwide to ‘pursue and active biotech agenda’ that promotes agricultural biotechnology, encourages the export of biotech crops and foods and advocated for pro-biotech policies and laws.” (source)
Something like this might be considered economic warfare, it’s happened before. There are cables released by WikiLeaks that reveal the Bush administration developed ways to retaliate against Europe for refusing to use genetically modified seeds. (source 1) (source 2) (source 3) The US embassy in Paris advised Washington to start a military-style economic war against any European Union country that opposed GM crops.
“The United States has aggressively pursued foreign policies in food and agriculture that benefit the largest seed companies. The U.S. State Department has launched a concerted strategy to promote agricultural biotechnology, often over the opposition of the public and government, to the near exclusion of other more sustainable, more appropriate agricultural policy alternatives. The U.S. State Department has also lobbied foreign governments to adopt pro-agricultural biotechnology policies and laws, operated a rigorous public relations campaign to improve the image of biotechnology and challenged common sense biotechnology safeguards and rules – even including opposing laws requiring the labelling of genetically engineered (GE) foods.” (source) (referenced by wikileaks on twitter, see rt news link)
As you can see, it’s not just the studies coming out year after year indicating that GM foods can be harmful to human health, it’s shady politics and other meanderings that clearly indicate something is up here. It’s great to see the power of activism working, as multiple countries around the world have banned GMOs and the pesticides that go with them. The Marches Against Monsanto the past two years have seen millions gather all over the world to oppose the major biotech giant.
There are better ways to feed the world, organically. It’s possible and we have the resources to do so. Ask yourself, why aren’t we doing it?
All other sources are highlighted throughout the article.