By FALPC Intern, Kristina Kalolo
Earlier this summer we posted about GMOs (Genetically Modified Organisms) and how labeling legislation is being considered in Massachusetts. While that post talked about the consumer’s right to know what they are putting in their bodies, there is a lot more than just health to consider with GMOs. It is almost certain that you eat GMO foods everyday, but who are growing those foods and what is happening to them?
Monsanto, the company that monopolizes the sale of GMO seeds and the inputs required to grow them, has been named 2013’s “Most Evil Corporation” by the website Natural News, beating out McDonalds and the Federal Reserve. GMO seeds require expensive fertilizers, pesticides, and watering on specific timetables. This threatens traditional agriculture, harms biodiversity, and puts farmers and communities in devastating cycles of debt and poverty all around the world. To learn more about how President Obama signed a provision called the Monsanto Protection Act, supporting this transnational agricultural corporation, check out this article entitled “Monsanto GMO Seeds are Actively Cultivating Cultural Genocide”.
On the forefront of biodiversity and food sovereignty advocacy is La Via Campesina, “an international social movement which formed in 1993 to oppose the neoliberal economic globalization of agriculture”. La Via Campesina aims to remove agriculture from its domination by the World Trade Organization (WTO) and transnational corporations and instead promote just, local, traditional food production. This organization, with membership in countries all over the world, fights for farmer’s rights and works diligently to remove the horrifying impacts of GMOs from their fields.
Micha Peled is also spreading the word about Big Ag and what GMOs really mean for farmers in his beautiful documentary, Bitter Seeds. This film “exposes the havoc Monsanto has wreaked on rural farming communities in India, and serves as a fierce rebuttal to the claim that genetically modified seeds can save the developing world”. Peled explores one of the quarter-million farmer suicides to have happened as a result of being trapped in a cycle of debt by trying to farm with GMO cotton. These types of GMO cotton (Bt cotton) are advertised mainly to illiterate Indian farmers who believe it will lead to high yields but do not realize that these seeds require expensive inputs. This causes many farmers to take loans from moneylenders, putting their land as collateral, and putting themselves and their families in perilous situations.
As many states, including Massachusetts, consider GMO labeling, the conversation usually surrounds the health effects of eating GMO foods. While health and consumer awareness is hugely important, it is so critical not to forget the thousands of farmers, family’s, and communities that have their lives ruined by GMO crops and Monsanto. GMO crops are ruining traditional agriculture, livelihoods, and farmer’s chances at a hopeful future. It is time to be GMO-free and support people, not profits.