[07/14/06] MST Informa #120: What future do you prefer?

What future do you prefer?

Dear MST friends,

The world's food supply is under threat. If one of the ten corporations
that control the sale of seeds in this planet decides to suspend the
marketing of rice, for example, this item would be missing from the
dining tables of Brazilians. We are talking about a 21 billion dollar
business that can be manipulated by its majority shareholders without any
regards for global food needs.

The main corporations are Monsanto and Dupont from the United States and
Syngenta from Switzerland. Syngenta is responsible for the worlds worst
proven case of illegal genetic pollution. For four years the corporation
marketed a prohibited variety of corn known as Bt10 and sold it as if it
were Bt11, an authorized variety. The seeds polluted the corn that was
exported to various countries.

In the same arbitrary manner, the aforementioned corporations decided to
implement genetically modified organisms throughout the world, regardless
of the lack of popular support. In 1996, this business involved 280
million dollars and in 2004 it increased to 4.7 billion dollars, meaning
that the money was 17 times larger after 9 years. Brazil is now the
third largest producer of GMOs, despite the fact that the government
approved its use only for very specific cases. Brazil is only trailing
the United States and Argentina.

Syngenta does not respect environmental laws. Along with its growing
seed business, the use of agro-toxics is also on the rise. According to
research done by scientist Charles Benbrook, the use of agro-toxics in
genetically modified plantations is growing annually. Since 1996, there
has been a 4.1% increase. Moreover, these modified seeds react to
specific herbicides (generally glifosate based) that are produced by the
same companies that produce the seeds.

In Brazil, the unfair dispute over land that cultivates GMOs was most
evident in Syngentas case in the state of Parana. As it did in the
United States, the corporation infringed upon Brazilian law. In March,
Syngenta was fined one million reais by Ibama (Brazilian Institute of the
Environment and of Renewable Natural Resources) for cultivating
genetically modified soy and corn in the Iguaçu National Park in Santa
Tereza do Oeste (PR). Out of 18 properties denounced and inspected, 14
were found to be cultivated four kilometers from the park.

Apart from the fact that the cultivation of GM corn is not allowed in
Brazil, the existing Biosecurity Law clearly prohibits the cultivation of
GMOs in parks and conservation units. According to law 11.105 of 2005,
such cultivation is prohibited in conservation units, indigenous lands,
protected spring areas with water that could be potentially used for
public supply, and areas declared to be priorities for the conservation
of biodiversity. The text also establishes a minimum strip of 10
kilometers of land surrounding these areas to protect them.

In order to denounce the illegal actions committed by the corporation
against biodiversity, around 600 members of Via Campesina occupied
Syngentas experimental field on March 14. The rural workers solicited
Ibamas inspection.

Currently, about 100 families are still camping on the 123 hectares of
land owned by the transnational and now has the name of Terra Livre (Free
Land). These people intend to transform the ex- GMO field into a field
of Creole seeds and of agro-ecologic production, as has already happened
in other parts of the country. Syngenta, in repudiation of the decision
made by the government of Paraná to maintain the families in the area,
declared that it would leave the country.

For the MST, the corporations exit is one more proof that today seed
control has no fatherland. When the company stops gaining profits and is
unable to continue exploiting the environment, it moves to another place
and continues with a similar exploitation process. For millions of
years, human beings have improved and selected the most interesting
varieties of various species. They have used them especially for
nutritional purposes, as well as cultural and religious, in a perennial
search for an abundant food source in nature. Historically, seeds are
the basis of human survival and for that reason should not be considered
a market product, but rather a heritage of humanity!

What future do you prefer: one of family agriculture that provides five
jobs per acre, or that of large companies, such as Aracruz Celulose, that
provides one job for every 185 acres? Do you prefer a country with 2,810
properties of 20 hectares that point all their production to the workers
table, or a country in which only one company controls 56.2 thousand
hectares and exports 97% of its production

News Briefs

Monsanto’s Profits grow by 119%

Responsible for 88% of the genetically modified seeds produced in the world, the U.S. corporation Monsanto registered a profit of $833 million in the first months of 2006. The result was up 119.2% over the same period last year, with an 18.6% rise in sales.