A New Earthquake or a Fabulous Easter Gift?

Monsanto has announced that they will ship $4 million worth of seeds into earthquake-ravaged Haiti. The seed gift will include corn, cabbage, carrot, eggplant, melon, onion, tomato, spinach, and watermelon. The first 60 tons arrived in Haiti last week. When Haiti approved the donation back in April, Monsanto called it a “fabulous Easter gift.”

But Haitians disagree.

That is why many Haitian farmers intend to burn the seeds and follow up with a June 4 march against the mega-corporation.

Why so angry, Haiti? It’s a gift – as in free.

On May 14, one peasant farmer leader stated in an open letter that the donation is like “a new earthquake” – serious words for a country still devastated. He calls the seed gift “a very strong attack on small agriculture, on farmers, on biodiversity, on Creole seeds.”

Haitian farmers believe that their country’s future rests on its food sovereignty, or its ability to grow and consume its own food without imports. They, like many countries in Africa, call for “trade, not aid,” asking countries only to help by increasing their ability to support themselves, not leave them dependent. Most of Monsanto’s seeds cannot be replanted or saved, which means farmers have to go back to the corporation for more year after year.

Is it possible that Haitians have been left with so little that they have nothing to lose? Would our farmers and consumers, who have more comfort and security, who have highways and strong federal regulation, be willing to do the same thing as the Haitians?

Monsanto has a deteriorating reputation these days, helped along by critical books, films and court cases. But they also have a large supply of wealth and even their own security force to keep them going.

What would it take, what kind of disaster, for us to commit to burning our pesticide-drenched blood seeds? After all, we wouldn’t be wasting much – again, most of Monsanto’s seeds are only good for one crop anyway. Sure, we’d have to garden or buy organic food or join CSAs. But we’d be saving our children and our children’s children from a lifetime of negative side effects.

Possibly most importantly, we’d be regaining our food sovereignty and returning to a culture that respects and admires the sacrifice and wisdom of our small farmers.

Read the full article about Haiti’s reaction, and then join in!

Should Americans burn hybrid seeds? Is that wasteful, or a declaration of independence, or both?

Are you familiar with some of Monsanto’s tactics and negative legacy? Where did you learn about them?

Someone doing something:

Millions Against Monsanto campaign on Facebook – a resource for news, practical solutions, and protest info

4 Responses to “A New Earthquake or a Fabulous Easter Gift?”
  1. Claire says:

    This is interesting. I didn’t know about Monsanto, and now realize I need to learn a lot more. I have my own garden and I’m a member of a CSA– I guess that is my version of declaring my independence.

    • Joanna says:

      You should definitely check out some stuff on Monsanto. They have an historical connection to the Vietnam War and are a big part of the slow food movement (as opponents of it, in other words). So you’d probably find it interesting for a lot of reasons!

  2. Darrell says:

    Monsanto controls virtually all corn production in the US and many things you would not think of have corn in them in one way or another. Most commercially produced meat is fed Monsanto corn. I’m sure they do want to export it to other countries especially the ones with struggling populations but not yet dependent.

    Monsanto continues to ruin small farmers and ranchers by sueing them for patent infringement when their patented seeds inhabit a nearby farmer’s field. Its easier to just sell to them or at least buy their seeds which is probably an irreversible process.

  3. MICHAEL says:

    The act of giving in order to make someone dependent is so sneeky, and, unfortunately, usually effective. Monsanto distributes seeds that cannot be saved and replanted so that Haiti will have to continually come back to Monsanto to buy more, as almost all American farmers have to do (as you mentioned). Monsanto has actually made it illegal to NOT use their seeds thanks to their people in government working the copyright laws. Of course, you mentioned all this, I just wanted to emphasize it all the more.

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