Salvadoran Farmers Successfully Oppose the Use of Monsanto Seeds

El-Salvador-DO-NOT-WANT-to-use-GM-seeds

Farmers across El Salvador united and successfully blocked a US aid package to their country that would have indirectly supported the purchase of Monsanto GM seeds.

There are thousands of farmers, like 45-year-old farmer Juan Joaquin Luna Vides, who prefer to source their seeds locally, they DO NOT WANT to use Monsanto’s GM seeds.

Vides, who is head of the Diversified Production program at the Mangrove Association, a community development organization that works in the Bajo Lempa region of El Salvador, said

“transnational companies have been known to provide expired seeds that they weren’t able to distribute elsewhere. We would like the US embassy and the misinformed media outlets [that are pressuring the Salvadoran government to change their procurement procedure] to know more about the reality of national producers and recognize the food sovereignty of the country.”

Recently the US government has been trying to put pressure on the government of El Salvador to sign the second Millennium Challenge Compact with the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), a US foreign aid agency created during the presidency of George W. Bush. Of course the US government has not actually asked the government of El Salvador or local farming coops there to buy Monsanto products but it has looked the other way while Monsanto affiliates have pulled in huge profits with over priced and less effective or less desired products.

The signing agreement was allegedly based upon the condition that El Salvador purchases GM seeds from Monsanto together with the Millennium Challenge Compact. Interestingly according to the agency’s website MCC think their role in in El Salvador is a good one:

“MCC is fueling economic growth in El Salvador’s Northern Zone through technical assistance, rehabilitation of roads, credit and investments in people, including vocational education, better water and sanitation services and an improved energy supply.”

Also towards the end of 2013 the US government made it clear that without “specific” economic and environmental policy changes, it would not give the $277 million in aid funding that had been promised to El Salvador, via the MCC. It has eventually come out that the “specific” economic and environmental policy changes included a policy change that would alter the country’s current way of providing seeds to its farmers.

So while the the US government is trying to force farmers around the world to buy Monsanto GM seeds, Salvadoran farmers like Vides have been working with the government and alongside NGOs like the Mangrove Association to provide certified corn seed for agricultural packets that are distributed to thousands of Salvadoran farmers. This program has been in place for over 5 years and is continuing to grow! Vides together with hundreds of other farmers have been successful in producing a high quality seed that works perfectly with the soil and climate conditions of their country.

He believes that using indigenous seeds simply makes more sense agriculturally and economically. Farmer Manuel Cortez, 65 years old, has been farming the Lower Lempa region of El Salvador since he was a child. Cortez is the president of the La Maroma Cooperative, which is made of up 150 rural families and manages over 940 hectares of farming and pastureland. According to Cortez, all the local farmers prefer the certified corn seed his coop is producing, and the US government should respect that.

“The United States should support the government of El Salvador as it attempts to build a local rural economy, so that we don’t have to migrate away from the area,” he concluded. “Often times, when people immigrate north [to the United States], they end up worse off than when they started.”

The Confederation of Federations of Salvadoran Agrarian Reform (CONFRAS) is a confederation that represents 131 farming coops in the country, which represent over 5,911 rural farmers throughout El Salvador.

They released on May 18 a press statement that addressed the US government pressure on the government of El Salvador to purchase Monsanto GM corn seed, noting:

“We are threatened because the US is pressuring the government of El Salvador so that its seed is not purchased from local families struggling to escape poverty, but transnational businesses.”

CONFRAS states that from 2004 through 2009, farming inputs were delivered to Salvadoran family farmers with one primary purpose: to generate business to major importers of seed and other inputs, particularly to the seed producer Semillas Cristiani Burkard, a Monsanto affiliate.

Because of the widespread and growing resistance to Monsanto seeds across El Salvador, the US government might now be changing its stance regarding its attempts to tie the $277 million aid deal to the requirement of the use of Monsanto GM seeds.

This is mainly due to the organization and resistance from the Salvadoran farmers, the US government appears to be leaving the GM seed requirement out of the aid deal. Although if that is the case, the US government could, as it has done in the past, try and find another El Salvador aid package to tie the required purchase of Monsanto GM seeds.

Source | NaturalCuresNotMedicine

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