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The Rules, a global network of activists, organizers, designers, coders, researchers and writers, pushing for a change in the global narrative, has published in its blog MASIPAG’s opinion piece on Monsanto and the growing corporate control in food and agriculture.
You can read the article here.
The publication of MASIPAG’s opinion piece was made possible through CIDSE, a lay-led Catholic network and an international alliance of 17 Catholic development agencies working together for global justice. #
DAVAO CITY, Philippines— A local farmers group will mark the World Food Day celebration on Oct.16 with a call for climate justice.
In a news conference Thursday, Oct. 13, Masipag Regional Coordinator for Mindanao, Leo “XL” Fuentes said that in celebration of WFD, Masipag will stage a rally to denounce the continued production of crops that are genetically modified and the use of pesticides.
Masipag, farmer-led network of people’s organizations and scientists, will hold a mobilization dubbed, the People’s Tribunal Against Monsanto, this Friday, Oct. 14 at 3 p.m in Rizal Park, this city.
Expected to join are other cause-oriented group such as Mamayang Ayaw sa Aerial Spray (MAAS), Interface for Development (IDIS), Panalipdan Southern Mindanao, RECAP Foundation, Francis Morales Resource Center (FSMRC), METSA Foundation, Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP), and other farmer and environmental organizations.
Fuentes slammed Mosanto, a multinational agrochemical and agricultural biotechnology corporation headquartered in St. Louis, Missouri known for its GMO crops.
According to Masipag, Monsanto is responsible in polluting the environment, destroying farm lands and consequently damaging food security.
Fuentes also revealed that more than 20,000 hectares of land are planted with GMO crops in various plantations.
“Can you imagine the food that we are going to eat will be sprayed with almost the same bio-weapon used during the Vietnam war? The 2, 4, 5,-trichlorophenoxyacetic acid that is present in Monsanto’s pesticide is similar to Agent Orange 2,4-dichlorophenoxyacetic acid,” Fuentes said.
Citing a United Nations report, around 750 million people are hungry each day which means that “roughly one out of nine people is experiencing extreme starvation.”
In the Philippines, Fuentes said, around 56 percent of teenager based from a 2005 survey are sleeping while they are hungry.
“We cannot simply celebrate World Food Day when majority of the people in the world suffered mass poverty and hunger while our communities are made vulnerable to climate disasters by reckless and greedy chemical companies,” he said.(davaotoday.com)
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. ###
We are pleased to introduce to you MASIPAG’s new National Coordinator, Cris Panerio. He will be taking over from Dr. Chito Medina, who has recently accepted a post in the national government.
Cris has been with MASIPAG for more than 20 years, first serving as a Technical Officer and then as the Regional Coordinator for Luzon since 2003. With a background and license as an Agricultural Engineer from University of the Philippines Los Baños, Cris chose instead to take the path through development work, helping farmers and indigenous peoples to improve their food production and achieve empowerment and social justice.
Cris believes that “MASIPAG, with its Farmer-led Approach, still has a long way to go – to expand, teach and learn more. I think that MASIPAG has to look deeply to itself by understanding the problems, needs and aspirations of its members in order for them to reach out to others especially the small farmers who are still victims of the prevailing agricultural system.”
We are looking forward to a continued and meaningful partnership and collaboration with you! You can reach Cris at firstname.lastname@example.org, or through email@example.com.
MASIPAG in the News
Women farmers from “Kababaehang Nagtataglay ng Bihirang Lakas” (Women possessing extraordinary powers or strength) from Barangay Los Amigos, Tugbok District, Davao City are practicing FAITH (Food Always in The Home), which is made easier with the support from partner NGOs such as METSA Foundation and MASIPAG, and from the local government of Davao City, through its policy on Organic Agriculture.
They were recently visited by funding partners from ASTM in Luxembourg.
Women of Faith Grassroots organic farming thrives in Davao
By Gingging Avellanosa-Valle
“WHEN we are not busy tending to our children on an ordinary day, you will find us in our FAITH garden, making our day worth with our chemical-free vegetables,” says Angelita Manangan, chair of Talomo River Women’s Organization in Calinan District, Davao City.
This women’s organization is a member of a farmer’s federation with a peculiar but apt name called “Kababaehang Nagtataglay ng Bihirang Lakas” (Women possessing extraordinary powers or strength) in Barangay Los Amigos, Tugbok District, Davao City.
Anita “Nena” Morales, executive director of Metsa Foundation in Los Amigos, said there are 14 women farmer’s organization that are members of the federation practicing organic farming in the whole Tugbok District.
These organizations that have had 300 individual members are affiliated with the national farmers’ organization called Magsasaka at Siyentipiko para sa Pag-unlad ng Agrikultura or Masipag, which has been in existence spanning three decades advocating among others organic farming in the Philippines.
It may sound simplistic, but these extra-ordinary women, indeed, are doing what they bannered in their organizational name by ensuring that there is food for their children to eat each day by practicing Faith, which means Food Always in the Home that is nutritious, healthy and within reach.
Foremost in their minds now is food security, something that the City of Davao has been proud of being the first with a local initiative in 2010 to pass the Organic Agriculture Ordinance ahead of Republic Act 10068 (Organic Agriculture Act of 2010) on the same year.
Moreover, the women also sell their vegetables in City centers along Peoples’ Park and near City Hall every Friday where their certified organic products are available to the public.
Pleasant surprise in one idyllic noonday weekend recently, two members of a foreign funding partner of Masipag Philippines visited the women farmers and exchanged experiences in the field of organic farming.
Julie Anne Smit, project manager for Asia, and Jean Joseph Feyder, member of the board of Action Solidarité Tiers Monde (Third World Solidarity) or ASTM, have listened to the women’s success stories in their pursuit of organic farming and how it has helped their family in many ways.
The visitors also attended the International Conference on People’s Rights in the Philippines held in the city few weeks ago which was attended by over a hundred foreign delegates from different countries around the world.
ASTM is an international non-governmental development in Luxembourg fighting since 1969 for political emancipation, economic and social history of the Third World. It is guided by the conviction that major obstacles to emancipation are located in the centers of economic and political power.
Julie and Jean were happy talking with the women in Talomo Riverside and learning bits about their life in carrying out organic farming. Julie was equally amazed at the Metsa Foundation Center headed by Nena Morales, a long time organic practitioner and woman farmer leader in Davao City, (who is also the widow of deceased former active environmentalist Francis Morales) and the Imulayan Organic Center which is run by farmer Crisostomo Genosas.
Both have been stalwarts in the struggles of MASIPAG since its inception years planting, in the idea of organic farming. Better prospects for Organic Farming Located in the heart of Barangay Los Amigos, Tugbok situated in the third congressional district of Davao City, which is considered an agricultural area, Ms. Morales said there had been 70 percent to 80 percent of inhabitants who are largely engaged in farming.
Of these population, still very few have adopted organic farming, though many people are interested to learn. Thus even with the publicized so called mainstreaming of Bt Corn in the country as claimed by a group involved in the development of biotech in the country, Masipag Mindanao has consistently pursued its advocacy, said Mr. Leo XL Fuentes, the regional coordinator of Masipag-Mindanao.
Despite recent organizational problems that Masipag-Mindanao is confronting, Fuentes said they are standing pat on their advocacies and calls on the new administration of President Rodrigo Duterte to persistently advance a chemical-free agricultural development.
“Dapat baguhin na ang pagsasaka mula sa chemical-based at monocropping patungo sa diversified and integrated farming systems (DIFS), agroecology at organic farming (There is a need to replace an agriculture that is chemical-based and mono-cropping towards a diversified and integrated farming system, agroecology and organic farming),” states Masipag in its recent newsletter.#