Filipino Farmers Declare Agrochem Giant Monsanto Guilty of Corporate Greed
On October 13, 2016 more than 100 farmers coming from Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao island stormed the Philippine office of Monsanto in Alabang, Muntinlupa to protest the continued presence of agrocorporation in the country and to support the International People’s Tribunal to be held in The Hague, Netherlands. The contingent tried to go near the Monsanto Office but were prevented by the business district security force. However, the farmer leaders coming from RESIST Agrochem TNCs! network, KMP, MASIPAG and Agham managed to get past the security blockade and was able to successfully held a protest inside the building where Monsanto Philippines is located. A statement (see below) of the RESIST Network was then delivered to Monsanto Office.We, Filipino farmers and agriculture-based producers fully support the International Monsanto Tribunal and Peoples Assembly on October 14-16 in The Hague.
We declare Monsanto GUILTY for violating the rights of farmers to life and livelihood and highly-accountable for irreparable health and environmental damages.
Monsanto is a monstrous symbol of foreign monopoly control in agriculture. It has also symbolized the disastrous and exploitative control of agrochem TNCS in the global agriculture and food chain.
Monsanto, being one of the world’s largest multinational agrochemical companies, is best known for aggressively promoting genetically engineered seeds and biotechnology.
Globally, Monsanto is the symbol of profit- oriented industrial agriculture and the chemical-intensive form of production that pollutes the environment, accelerates biodiversity loss, and massively contributes to global warming.
Monsanto developed highly-toxic products which permanently damaged environment and caused illness or death of thousands of people. It developed highly-hazardous pesticides and pollutants including the following: PCBs or polychlorinated biphenyl, one of the twelve Persistent Organic Pollutants (POP) affecting humans; the 2,4,5 trichlorophenoxyacetic acid, a dioxin-containing component of the defoliant Agent Orange that was widely used by US forces against the Vietnamese people; the Lasso, a herbicide that is now banned in Europe; RoundUp, the most-widely used toxic herbicide in the world which is regarded as source of the greatest health and environmental threat; the genetically modified (GM) RoundUp Ready seeds that is used in large-scale monocultures, primarily to produce soybeans, maize and rapeseed for animal feed and biofuels
The International Monsanto Tribunal will hold Monsanto Corporation accountable for its crimes against humanity, human rights violations and ecocide.
The Philippines, particularly our farmers and agriculture sector have suffered enough from the existence of Monsanto. Being the launching pad of IRRI’s Green Revolution, farmers all over the country are now trapped in using and buying ‘modern’ seeds that will respond to chemical inputs and pesticides that are mainly owned, controlled and profited by these corporations.
In a study by MASIPAG on the cost of using GM corn, more than 40% of the production costs of farmers go to corporations such as Monsanto, eating almost half of the farmers’ profits. Seed costs have also skyrocketed, from Php 4,000 per hectare in 2003 to more than Php 9,000 of genetically modified corn seeds in 2011. Massive promotion of modern seeds and inputs by corporations has also resulted into the disappearance of traditional and farmer-bred varieties that might be tapped for their climate-resilient characteristics. More than 5 Million liters of Glyphosate, Monsanto’s block-buster herbicide branded as Roundup, is being applied to more than 700,000 hectares of GM corn in the country every season, affecting non-resistant food crops, destroying natural cover and affecting the health of the farmers and the community. Intellectual property rights will also be heavily enforced, criminalizing farmers who are practicing the age-old tradition of sharing, saving and improving seeds. National policies on biosafety regulation are also being relaxed in favor of biotech corporations. Corporate domination of agriculture leaves farmers with few choices and high costs of inputs.
These are further aggravated by the integration and monopoly of corporations on the whole chain of food production, from seeds and raw materials to the market. Corporations are also diversifying their businesses to extend their control in agriculture, such as ownership of vast tracts of lands to be converted into plantations, resulting to land grabbing and the destruction of community’s food systems. Seeds, knowledge, technologies and land; the most important resources of the farmers are being taken away by these corporations.
We are also raising alarm to Filipino farmers and the public on the recent merger of Monsanto and another global agrochem giant, Bayer. As the two agriculture corporate giants have agreed to form a huge global agriculture corporation which could effectively monopolize seeds, impose higher prices of products and limit innovation to techno-fix solutions at the expense of the environment and health of farmers and consumers.
Last September 14, 2016, US-based biotech giant Monsanto (No.1 seed company in the world) has agreed for a US$ 66-Billion take-over by German based agrochem corporation Bayer (No.2 in crop chemicals). The merger is said to be the biggest buy-out in 2016 and the largest all-cash deal according to analysts. With Monsanto specializing in seeds and traits such as genetically modified crops, the merger will greatly complement Bayer’s’ portfolio of crop protection products such as pesticides, effectively monopolizing the first link of the global food industry. According to both companies, the merger will spur better and diverse innovations to meet the needs of the farmers resulting from the two companies’ pooling of resources.
However, mergers tend to restrict rather than improve the current situation of farmers and agriculture. With a few corporations controlling the seed and agrochemical industry, innovations and research thrusts will likely favor techno-fix solutions that are privatized, costly, and oftentimes hazardous and unsustainable. It is also likely that the merger would result to stronger enforcement of seed ownership. It is seen that by the end of next year, only three companies (Monsanto-Bayer, ChemChina-Syngenta and Dow-Du Pont) will control the vast market of seeds and inputs, which is a stark contrast when decades ago, seeds are not used for profit but instead were freely shared, saved and developed by farmers.
When governments fail to make these agri-corporations accountable for their crimes, people’s movement proves to be the most important factor to effect change in agriculture policies.
In the Philippines, communities and farmers organizations are now venturing to sustainable and ecological agriculture practices and are banning GM crops in their areas. Farmers are also slowly regaining their seeds thru local seed banking, seed collection, breeding and seed selection thru trial farms. Farmers are also diversifying their farms which help secure food for the family, eradicate reliance to expensive inputs and increases resiliency against the impacts of the changing climate. These are coupled with the people’s struggle to regain their control to land and resources.
Through strong collective actions, farmers will reclaim their inherent right to these resources being controlled and profited by Monsanto and other agrochem corporations. ###