A group of Haitian farmers have organized a march scheduled June 4, on World Environment Day, in protest of Monsanto’s presence in Haiti. Monsanto has offered to donate 60,000 seed sacks (475 tons) of hybrid corn seeds and vegetable seeds, some of them treated with highly toxic pesticides. Haitian farmers with The Peasant Movement of Papay (MPP) have pledged to burn Monsanto’s seeds as part of the protest.
Apparently Monsanto has assumed a bunch of desperate and down-and-out Haitian farmers are too stupid and unaware to know about the inherent dangers of the toxic chemicals in Monsanto’s seeds, and lack the savvy to detect Monsanto’s sinister motive to imprison Haitian farmers with future GMOs imports.
But the word about Monsanto has gone viral thanks to organizations like Vía Campesina, the world’s largest confederation of farmers with member organizations in more than 60 countries. Vía Campesina launched a global campaign against Monsanto last October, with protests, land occupations and hunger strikes in more than 20 countries. They have also carried out a second global day of action against Monsanto in April this year, in honor of Earth Day.
Haitian farmers are well aware of Monsanto’s notoriety for pimping their GMOs seeds globally “through highly restrictive technology agreements with farmers who are not always made fully aware of what they are signing”, resulting in small farmers being forced to buy Monsanto seeds each year at exorbitant costs.
Chavannes Jean-Baptiste, the executive director of MPP and the spokesperson for the National Peasant Movement of the Congress of Papay (MPNKP), called the entry of Monsanto seeds into Haiti “a very strong attack on small agriculture, on farmers, on biodiversity, on Creole seeds … and on what is left our environment in Haiti.”
Truthout reports “the hybrid corn seeds Monsanto has donated to Haiti are treated with the fungicide Maxim XO, and the calypso tomato seeds are treated with thiram. Thiram belongs to a highly toxic class of chemicals called ethylene bisdithiocarbamates (EBDCs). Results of tests of EBDCs on mice and rats caused concern to the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which then ordered a special review.
“The EPA determined that EBDC-treated plants are so dangerous to agricultural workers that they must wear special protective clothing when handling them. Pesticides containing thiram must contain a special warning label, the EPA ruled… Monsanto’s passing mention of thiram to Ministry of Agriculture officials in an email contained no explanation of the dangers, nor any offer of special clothing or training for those who will be farming with the toxic seeds.”
“People in the US need to help us produce, not give us food and seeds. They’re ruining our chance to support ourselves,” said farmer Jonas Deronzil of a peasant cooperative in the rural region of Verrettes.
The Center for Food Safety’s four-year legal challenge of Monsanto’s illegal promotion of Roundup Ready Alfalfa, is pending in the US Supreme Court. The Supreme Court’s decision on Monsanto’s alfalfa ban is expected to come early this summer.