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Haitian Farmers Reject Monsanto Donation

The Peasant Movement of Papay, a group of Haitian farmers, has committed to burning 60,000 seed sacks (475 tons) of hybrid corn and vegetable seeds donated by Monsanto in the wake of the devastating earthquake earlier this year.

Peasant Movement of Papay leader Chavannes Jean-Baptiste called Monsanto’s donation “a new earthquake” and called for a march to protest the corporation’s presence in Haiti for World Environment Day.

The National Peasant Movement of the Congress of Papay sent an open letter on May 14 signed by Jean-Baptiste.  The letter called Monsanto’s presence in Haiti, “a very strong attack on small agriculture, on farmers, on biodiversity, on Creole seeds…, and on what is left of our environment in Haiti.”

In addition to MPNKP and MPP, other Haitian social movements have advocated in opposition to agribusiness imports of seeds and food.  The groups have expressed strong concern regarding the importation of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) as they undermine local production of local seed stocks.

Haitian law does not prohibit the use of GMOs within the country, but the Ministry of Agriculture rejected Monsanto’s offer to donate Roundup Ready seeds.  As a result of these actions, a representative from Monsanto responded to the Ministry of Agriculture via email to assure that donated seeds would not be GMO.

Monsanto is internationally known for aggressively pushing its seed products, specifically GMO seeds.  The use of seeds also usually includes highly restrictive technology agreements between the company and farmers, who groups opposed to the use of GMOs claim are not always fully made aware of what they are signing.  GMO-opposed groups claim that by signing these agreements, small farmers are forced to buy Monsanto seeds each year under conditions they often find onerous and at high costs that they cannot afford.

The corn seed product Monsanto donated to Haiti has been treated with the fungicide Maxim XO, while the calypso tomato seeds were treated with thiram.  Thiram is a highly toxic chemical belonging to the ethylene bisdithiocarbamates (EBDCs) class.  Upon U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) tests on the EBDC’s, the EPA deemed any EBDC-treated plants so dangerous to agricultural workers, that they are now mandated to wear protective clothing when handling them.

The EPA ruled that pesticides that contain thiram must have a special warning label.  In addition, the EPA also banned marketing of aforementioned chemicals for home garden products as it is assumed that most home gardeners do not own adequately protective clothing.

Social movements in Haiti consider the offer from Monsanto detrimental to the local economy. “People in the U.S. 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.

Monsanto has been criticized for its role in environmental, health, and farming ills.  The company’s Agent Orange caused cancer in a large number of U.S. Veterans. The Vietnamese government claims that 400,000 of their citizens were either killed or disabled as a result of Agent Orange, while 500,000 children were born with birth defects as a result of exposure.

Seed giants Syngenta, Dupont and Bayer, and Monsanto control more than half of the world’s seed patents.  Monsanto retains almost 650 seed patents, most of which are for cotton, corn, and soy.  The company also owns almost 30 percent of the share of all biotechnology research and development.

“Fighting hybrid and GMO seeds is critical to save our diversity and our agriculture,” Jean-Baptiste said in an interview in February. “We have the potential to make our lands produce enough to feed the whole population and even to export certain products. The policy we need for this to happen is food sovereignty, where the county has a right to define it own agricultural policies, to grow first for the family and then for local market, to grow healthy food in a way which respects the environment and Mother Earth.”

© Food Safety News
  • Richard

    This is great!

  • http://biofortified.org Anastasia Bodnar

    This article uses alarmist language that seems unnecessary for the situation. There is more to the story than presented here. I hope you’ll check out Hybrids in Haiti on Biofortified.

  • Carol

    I would have thought Monsanto was being philanthropic had I not recently seen the film, “Food, Inc.” These farmers are
    wise to not even get started with Monsanto.

  • http://www.monsantoblog.com Kathleen

    Monsanto donated vegetable seeds to farmers in Haiti, to help increase food production and aid the country during its recovery. The reason for us donating the seeds that we did? The Haitian people need good quality seed, because the better the seed, the better the chances for more food from the same land.
    The post above has some inaccurate information regarding Monsanto’s seed donation, including information that Thiram belonged to the ethylene bisdithiocarbamates (EBDCs) class of chemicals. This is incorrect. The current classification is (dimethyl dithiocarbamate) DMDC. Source: Oregon State University, 1996.
    For more information on Monsanto’s seed donation and to answer many of the questions asked, you can see the post on the Monsanto blog here: http://www.monsantoblog.com/2010/05/20/five-answers-monsanto-haiti/
    We talk even more about the seed donation on our website, which you can find here.
    http://www.monsanto.com/monsanto_today/2010/seed_donation_to_haiti.asp
    Thank you,
    Kathleen Manning
    Monsanto Company

  • Doc Mudd

    ***
    Right, “This is great!”
    The Haitians proudly proclaim they don’t need no stinkin’ help. Good, one must reasonably conclude they are fully recovered from their little calamity, so no more give-aways.
    Suddenly, Haitians are an independent lot!! “Peasant” life on such an island paradise must be truly blissful – little wonder they protect it so fervently. We should all be lucky enough to immigrate to Haiti. /sarcasm off
    ***
    Methinks some unscrupulous persons are shamelessly using the stricken Haitian people to further a selfish anti-establishment activist agenda here in the U.S.
    A pretty sad story, if I am not mistaken.

  • http://thehaitianblogger.com thezenhaitian

    @Mudd You are mistaken. You’re name is “Mudd,” right? Mr. Mudd you might have a horse in this race when you consider that the toxins that Monsanto puts in it’s hybrid seeds are seeping into the earth and food products that will someday get to your table.
    About the toxins that are in the seeds — Farmers have succeeded or failed based on their ability to nurture life within the soil. However, hybridized seed varieties have been developed to literally need sterile soil –that’s why these toxic fungicides and pesticides have been developed — to kill life in the soil. Luckily for Monsanto, these toxins are necessary in order for farmers to “sterilize” the soil where the hybrid seeds are planted, so Monsanto will ultimately have a strangle hold on these hapless farmers who use their hybrid seeds. The farmers who accept the seeds will have to keep buying the expensive soil sterilizing toxins from Monsanto.
    So, the soil that was once teeming with live microorganisms and earthworms that thrive in healthy soil that metabolize nutrients and make them available for crops are killed. On top of that, because these toxins are handled by farmworkers, their health are sacrificed to produce inferior tasting corn and tomatoes from a sterilized soil.
    Is it any wonder that food grown with these deadly toxins are less nutritious. Is it any wonder that there is an epidemic of sterility, birth defects, and that autism is at an all time high in the US.
    Our bodies are taking in sterile food, dead food, Frankenstein food… this Monsanto woman Kathleen Manning is defending a dead end food as “advancement” – Mother Earth stopped from giving birth but through a hybrid concoction, a dead soil gives birth to death, slow agonizing death.
    The Haitian farmers who are choosing to burn these seeds rather then accept this “gift” are wise because they are choosing life over death.

  • Doc Mudd

    Hold your praise, zenhaitian.
    It is gratifying enough to learn Haitian priests of voodoo/vodou/vaudou now have everything completely under control on their bucolic island. They practically have the market cornered on wisdom. Surely this shall sustain their people.
    Glad to hear Haiti, at long last, requires no more tawdry handouts and is more than ready, finally, to assume a productive role in global society. Damned relieved to hear it. Our heartfelt compassion and charity are now freed to flow to truly deserving human souls who might be uplifted by it.
    Perhaps the newly propsperous Haitian populace will now donate generous sums of cash and surplus blue tarps to needy refuges in Darfur, or somewhere? Perhaps quaint Haitian agrarians will export their cutting edge “peasant” agricultural technology to the relief of hungry populations around the world?? That would seem like the benevolent thing to do. There may be a Nobel Prize in the offing!

  • Katie Revell

    Wow, this debate has sunk to depressing depths.
    The Haitians are not “proudly proclaiming” that they “don’t need no stinkin’ help”. They are angrily asserting that, however dire the situation, they do not want to make it worse in the long-term by tying themselves into dependency on a foreign company – and certainly not a company with such a truly appalling record on human rights, environmental responsibility and transparent business (see http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/business/4153635.stm or http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSN1752655520091117 or http://indiatoday.intoday.in/site/story?sId=83093&secid=4 for a small selection).
    The importance of food sovereignty cannot be underestimated. I don’t say this with a misty-eyed image of the “simple man” scratching in the dirt outside his romantically simple mudhut. I say this with the knowledge that our current systems of food production and dispersion are not, in any sense, sustainable, and cannot continue indefinitely. And that goes for everywhere – the US and Britain (where I live) included. Becoming dependent on infertile seeds (removing the security provided by being able to harvest and store seeds from year to year) which require Monsanto-brand pesticides and the use of which, effectively, belongs to the company, would be disasterous for Haiti. The farmers in question are taking the long view, and this should be applauded.

  • M. Davis

    What I want to know is are the seeds burnt yet????

  • Casey

    I just have one qusetion. do the Haitians have another source that will give them 60,000 seed sacks (475 tons) of seeds? I was donating to Haiti but I can stop now since they don’t need my money anymore. Thanks!

  • Bob

    OUTSTANDING!!! WAY TO GO MR. JEAN-BAPTISTE!!! TELL MONSATO TO TAKE THEIR JUNK AND HEAD OUT!! THEY HAVE NO RESPECT FOR MOTHER NATURE, ONLY FOR MIGHTY DOLLAR + WORLD CONTROL WITH THEIR JUNK / OR AS YOU PUT IT SIR “A NEW EARTHQUAKE”

  • debbi

    Hmmm-the Farmer quoted in the article says the “People in the U.S. need to help us produce, not give us food and seeds. They’re ruining our chance to support ourselves,…”
    The people in the US do not NEED to help the Haitians. We freely choose to help, so it is incumbent on the Haitians to either accept or reject the help as they wish, but to realize it is not a requirement that the United States help them produce, nor give them food, nor seeds, nor any other thing that the devastated citizens of Haiti need to survive. This farmer said we US citizens do not need to give food and seeds, so please give back all food and seeds you have not consumed/planted, so it can provide sustenance to others.

  • http://thehaitianblogger.com thezenhaitian

    Haitian Peasants March Against Monsanto and Rene Preval in Haiti’s Artibonite
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a-kzhF5UYh0&

  • Doc Mudd

    Promptly return to us all of the generous donations, in cash and in kind, we have shipped to Haiti. We now understand we have made a terrible mistake in offering assistance to an otherwise proud and thriving peasant royalty lanquishing in their exquisitely crafted utopian ecosystem.
    We had no idea our misplaced compassion would threaten a grand legacy, centuries old, of tastefully understated all-natural prosperity in Haiti. Our error in judgement was innocent enough. No insult was intended. Just return the loot and we will call it even. No hard feelings.

  • http://thehaitianblogger.com thezenhaitian
  • EvoLife

    I think the point is quite simple:
    1. Haiti needs help recovering from their natural disaster
    2. Haiti needs to rebuild everything for their future
    3. The rejection of Monsanto’s “donation” does not mean Haiti needs no help, it means the “help” from Monsanto comes at too high a price
    4. The future of the food production and biodiversity of Haiti will/may be irreparably compromised if the seed provided by Monsanto is utilized
    Help today at the cost of tomorrow is not exactly “Help”.
    If we sent the Army Corps of Engineers and the Navy CB to Haiti to rebuild their city out of cardboard it would provide shelter, but for how long, and at what cost in the future? Would that be a valuable donation?
    Not every gift is worthy of receipt. In the case of the Monsanto seed, the Haitian farmers are careful and cautious about preserving their future and the future of their young at the expense of a donation that may cost them more in the long run than it cost them now.
    Americans (we) have a difficult time recognizing that tomorrow is more important than today. The Haitians have a much stronger grasp on that concept than we do.

  • jjdoublej

    Please realize that the seeds Monsanto is donating are hybrid seeds, not GMO. Hybrid seeds have been planted in the US for several decades. As these seeds are not GMO, any seeds CAN be saved and planted the next year. They are NOT required to use any specific chemicals on them. People that buy in to this type of crap are ridiculous.

  • fytthefutr

    jjdoublej Even if they are just hybrid seeds, most hybrids are sterile. So you could save all the seeds you want, but would get very few if any to germinate. So you would still be right back to buying more seeds next year. Most seed companies are aware of this, and tend to offer more hybrids, so that you have to buy more seeds from them, rather than being able to save your own. So maybe you should actually look into the claims that you are making instead of saying its ridiculous crap and burying your head in the sand.

  • David C

    monsanto may do things that are bad but their critics are mostly opposed to gmos for no sane reason. i remember them getting criticized for making seeds that make sterile plants (that won’t reproduce and make new seeds) and they get criticized for their gmos dumping their genetics into the global gene pool. you can’t criticize them for both without flagging yourself as a capriciously unserious reactionary idiot.

  • The Alaskan

    earth quakes damage buildings, not crops, there has been some history of US aid (corn & grain) flooding countries in the wake of earthquakes Chomsky lectures… the ‘article’ does not mention this so clearly, I thought I would point it out. Food safety over food security, sorry for the farmers when they get consumer advocate watch dogs barking away about gmo’s instead of farmer solidarity groups.

  • carson

    we dont need seeds we need machine tractor and a way to get more water to our lane because some our river get very low usa need to to help genarate more water and fadalizer.

  • http://thecsociety.net Simon C

    These seeds are fertile so you can produce new plants from the seed saved for the next season.
    I would take the seed, grow a comparitavely large crop this season. Sell the surplus then buy more seed as needed.
    If I wanted I could even use the profits to buy organic seeds with lower yields instead

  • Anna

    @ David C.
    Let me clarify for you:
    1. “i remember them getting criticized for making seeds that make sterile plants” – sterile plants means you can’t let some plants go to seed, save them, and generate a new crop from those seeds the next year. Instead, you have to head back to Monsanto and spend more $ next year.
    2. “they get criticized for their gmos dumping their genetics into the global gene pool” – GMOs freely mixing with other non-GMO plants thank to air pollinating crops such as corn means the overall variety of crop genetics becomes dwindled and gradually more crops become fertilized w. GMO pollen. More of the same type of plant (on a genetic level) means higher likelihood of broad disease spread, lack of disease resistance, and possibly even a reduction in nutritional value. GMO cropping makes it difficult for other farmers to protect the heirloom varieties of the same crop thanks to cross-pollination (at which point Monsanto has been known to sue the non-GMO farmer because their crop could not be considered Monstanto crop).
    If that doesn’t make sense to you, you should think deeply about who the real idiot in this situation is.

  • jonnyutaw

    I’ve spent 2 months in Haiti working for the Navy. Haiti was once a very fertile and productive country. Haiti does not have an agriculture problem. It has/had a government and social class problem. They don’t need seeds from monsanto. They need things like building codes, roads, infrastructure and public education.
    Monsanto is only trying to get their foot in the door on the agriculture market. Luckily there are a few Haitians that are smart enough to close the door in their face.

  • Raymond Peringer

    The comments of those supporting Monsanto’s “generosity” do not ring true, leaving me with the suspicion they have more than altruistic motives for supporting this business. I too am biassed. I have read “Monsanto’s Harvest of Fear.” Google it, and you’ll learn why.

  • Doc Mudd

    Let no humanitarian effort go unpunished by armchair agronomists and other versatile haters of progress.

  • Mom

    To Kathleen at Monsanto,
    Is Monsanto still in the practice of suing farmers whose crops have been pollinated by crops on other farms that have used Monsanto seeds, and putting those small farmers out of business?
    I’d also like to know more about the farmers in India that are committing suicide as the only way to escape being debt-slaves to Monsanto.
    Thank you,
    A Concerned Mom

  • jig

    Monsanto: one of the largest destructive forces on the planet.
    The truth of the matter.

  • sheila

    How typical of America to donate and expect the peasants to be grateful. How dare they say they don’t want the seeds? Don’t they know that America rules the world?

  • celione

    Monsanto is not America! Come on! and I am really against Monsanto practices. Let’s not take shortcuts. Monsanto has some “not-so” hidden motives for sure! But please do not equates a whole country with one company!

  • Zimb

    Doc Mudd I get the distinct impression you are a hired goon intent on not seeing the truth of the matter.
    Monsanto’s general nature, and record of illegal and abusive activity evinces a scheme where profit is prioritized over health, safety, and market independence.
    Allow me to play the fool when I say, if I haven’t said it clearly enough, fuck the monopolistic uncaring cunts at Monsanto. If using a tragedy as a method to secure a future market is defined as “charity” then I rather not have Monsanto as my benefactor. I would just as soon starve.

  • woody

    Doctor Mudd,
    If you have been reading, there appears to be more than just “armchair agronomists” commenting on this article. I happen to be an agronomist that spends much of my time in the third world, and I can tell you that the advantages of open pollinated (heirloom) seeds are real. There are many reasons why the Haitians are wise to reject this so called gift, the least of which is not Monsanto’s horrible track record. Gm and hybrid seeds are always going to favor the producer,always! Hybrid seeds have their advantages in certain farm production, but not in developing or unstable countries.

  • Billie

    Yes, Haiti can grow food with these seeds, but at what cost?! Once absorbed into their agriculture, Monsanto owns the island. Haitians aren’t stupid like Americans. They see that the patents Monsanto imposes on American farmers will ruin them.

  • Doc Mudd

    Methinks some unscrupulous persons are shamelessly using the stricken Haitian people to further a selfish anti-establishment activist agenda here in the U.S.
    Well, actually I am certain now. No doubt. The fanatic hate is palpable. Too bad for Haitians, but so what, eh?

  • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fCer5NmEw5U Jo

    Oh come on and wake up everybody!! Monsanto is a company that wants to take over all production of food within the world. Which they are succeeding, slowly but surely!! Its called slow kill. We have been eating this food already for ten years. Like everything, we find out much too late. I cannot believe the naivite of ppl. Look at the global picture here: What is reported to us on the news is all owned, the media that we see about everything is all preconceived to deceive. What we are able to receive as information that is on tv. is false, even about Monsantos. Thank god we have the internet for now. We dont even know the half of it. GMOS are bad. Haitians have been raped of everything, they dont trust the governement nor Monsantons nor should they. If Monsantos really wanted to help, give them water, streets, let them make a donation of kindness and a true donation. Its just another way for them to get in and take over. Hail to the Haitians that have the courage to stand up to Monsantos!! Good for you. And as far as the US govt goes, their not to be trusted at all. Whatever comes out of the US senates mouth is false and do you really think they dont know what Monsantos is doing, why would they let that pass!! Why would they let our food be manipulated knowing full well that one day it is going to kill you and I. Because they make little dark deals to gain more control. If you look at a clip on the internet. you see Bush senior , years ago atMonsantos and doing the tour of Monsantos company. One of the tour guides mentions: we have a crop that we are testing right now, we are just waiting for everything to be de regulated, Bush turns around and says, well call me, I am in the deregulating business , and then chuckles!! WOw right in your face, and everybody just turns the cheek, Wake up world, what is obvious is sometimes the most unobvious, they do it right in front of you, they are all laughing at all of us, and everybody is letting them. I could go on and on, but I wont. Here is that website, and if you cannot access just look up: bush senior at mOnsantos, thank you

  • Nth

    Typical Monsanto. Take a country that is down and out and give them seeds that will make that country beholden to your technology forever all under the guise of “charity.” They are absolutely starving and they wont take it! That’s how dangerous Genetically engineered products are. We in the US have no choice because Monsanto has infiltrated every aspect of our consumer protection agencies and every aspect of our food supply.Congratulations Haiti on a very smart, informed and wise decision to protect your future by rejecting genetically engineered biotech seeds.

  • Nikki

    Wow, you people don’t get it. Monsanto was offering seeds so that Haiti will be completely dependent on them. When farmers buy Monsanto seeds or products they would have to continue to buy Monsanto products to maintain their fields. You are not even allowed to save “their” seeds. They can charge whatever they want and in the end, end up owning your land. This is a terrible trick.
    Farmers for thousands of years use the seeds produced every year to plant every season. They don’t have to pay anyone anything. So if they accepted Monsanto’s offer they will just end up in a deeper whole.
    Oh, most of you are already eating Genetically modified foods dummies! Where do you think High fructose corn syrup comes from? Duh, corn…which is in everything and fed to our cattle. They started feeding it to us in the late 90’s. Almost all of the non organic corn you eat in the US is Monsantos. You are going to age quicker, have a high chance of being diabetic (already happening) and have tons of other health problems. Educate yourselves people and eat organic foods. Watch documentaries like Food inc, King Corn, and Future Foods if you’re not much of reader.
    I don’t get how this stuff never makes it on the news. Hopefully Oprah will expose this crime.

  • Doc Mudd

    I was foolish enough to donate to the Haitian recovery a year ago.
    Without thinking much about it I simply assumed I was aiding disaster-struck human beings. I had no idea I was only supporting the hateful Luddite lunatic fringe here in the U.S.; moronic zealots who selfishly use the stricken Haitian people to further a creepy pro-starvation anti-progress agenda stateside.
    Never, never again.
    I demand my money back.

  • Buck

    Doc Mudd,
    First, I would guess that you work for Monsanto. It’s just all too obvious.
    Second, I doubt your name is Doc Mudd, and I doubt that you’re a doctor.
    Third, Doc Mudd was the name of one of the co-conspirators in the Abraham Lincoln assassination. From your comments, I think you must relate to that character in some sense.
    Fourth, the Haitian people are brave and wise to turn down Monsanto’s “gifts”. They do understand the slavery that accepting these Trojan Horses would impose on them.
    Fifth, Monsanto does not represent America in any way, shape or form…other than Clarence Thomas, who was Chief Counsel for the corporation, before he received his reward of being bumped up to the Supreme Court.
    Sixth, Haiti will certainly survive without any contribution from you and Monsanto.

  • Daws

    Oh no, free seeds. What monsters they are…
    Btw, the statement that “small farmers are forced to buy Monsanto seeds each year” is itself onerous and misleading. No one is forced to buy anything, you just can’t save seeds for the next year. If you don’t what to grow their crops next year you don’t have to, if you do want to grow them again, you’ll need to buy the seeds again…
    Also what did Agent Orange have to do with anything? You might as well of mentioned that Haiti is a hotspot for voodoo it’s just as relevant.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Angela-Long/100000655292146 Angela Long

    “When farmers buy Monsanto seeds or products they would have to continue to buy Monsanto products to maintain their fields…”

    They didn’t buy them. They were free. No contract. What effectively has been done is taking a populaiton of people easily influenced by supersticions, fear mongering and etc – and caused them to burn valuable seed stock. Had they enough seed stock to support their people, they wouldn’t have needed seed donation. The sad things is – is there isn’t any seeds being given to replenish the seed burnt. In Africa and other poverty stricken areas – Monsanto also donates seeds … contract free. They also are among the private companies spending 4 billion for food security in Africa. They also granted money for technology in schools, drip irrigation systems and so many other very needed assistance – something I’ve not seen done by the so called ‘environmentalists’ and concerned for “organic” religionists, As far as I can tell the monopoly is organic farmers… which isn’t even truly organic most times. They charge 50- 1050% more for their product. I can’t afford that cost, most working families can’t. I don’t see heirloom seed companies offering $4 million worth in free seed… or spending major money developing drought resistant crops for Africa. They can’t… It’d be ‘unnatural.’

    I guess they can all starve – but die knowing they were GMO free. You’re a bunch of sociopaths. …

  • http://www.girlgonetravel.com/ Carol Cain

    I wish American farmers were as level headed as my Haitian brothers and sisters.