Two events of international scope will take place on May 21 and 22. In various countries around the world, on Saturday May 21, thousands of people will turn out to demonstrate in the global march against Monsanto.
The next day, Sunday May 22, is World Biodiversity Day, proclaimed by the UN in 2000 to celebrate the signing of the “Convention on biodiversity”.
Why are we linking the two events in this article? Because to us they are profoundly correlated, as they both make reference to the same diametrically opposed models. To celebrate biodiversity means sustaining a model of production that protects variety in plant and animal species, as well as “endangered” artisanal products and, along with them, the customs, the know-how, the memories and culture of the people who have received and in turn transmit this priceless legacy. In the same vein, the march against Monsanto aims to express dissent with the agricultural, economic and political model in which, beginning with the aftermath of WWII, power has been increasingly concentrated in the hands of a few multinationals.
To us, the following are 9 good reasons to participate in the event, even only virtually, by posting about it in your Facebook pages or uploading this article.
- Monsanto was a chemical company before it became a multinational in the agribusiness sector. Among its products, the notorious polychlorobiphenyls (PCB), produced since 1920 and banned because of their proven multiple noxious effects (in Japan in 1972, in the USA in 1977, in Italy in 1983).
- Another product made by Monsanto in the past – and hardly a glorious past– is Agent Orange, a defoliant in which all of South Vietnam was doused from 1961 to 1971, prior to and during the war.
- Monsanto products have often revealed themselves to be hazardous to human health. One of these was DDT, introduced in 1939 as an insecticide against the anopheles mosquito, which transmits malaria. Initially promoted as innocuous, the product was found to be carcinogenic and banned in the United States in 1972 and in Italy in 1978.
- In agriculture as well, Monsanto produces or promotes products that are harmful to human health and the environment. Glyphosate, which is still on the market, was classified as a probable carcinogen by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) last year. This opinion was subsequently challenged by the European authority for food safety and, a few days ago, the UN’s joint meeting on pesticide residues (JMPR) ruled that glyphosate was probably not carcinogenic to humans. Much clarity and transparency is needed.
- When we speak of human health, we must consider the health of workers in the fields as well. The toxic effects of glyphosate, for example, have been shown in rural communities in Argentina, which are paying a high price for using the powerful herbicide in the GMO soy cultivations. (source: The Human Cost of Agrotoxins).
- The agricultural and food model imposed by Monsanto threatens food sovereignty. In the seventies, there were over 7,000 companies that produced seeds, none of which had global reach, while today the first three (Monsanto, Pioneer Dupont and Syngenta) account for 53% of the global market, and the top ten companies account for 76%. This system is increasingly infringing on the rights of rural communities to produce their own food and to choose and exchange their seeds.
- Monsanto is also one of the world’s leaders in GMO production. According to Slow Food, cultivation of genetically modified organisms represents the extreme expression of an agricultural system we can do without, because it violates the rights of growers, limits the choices of consumers and harms the environment.
- In addition to controlling food, in many cases, Monsanto has controlled and continues to influence politics, thanks to a system known as revolving doors. One example will suffice: Michael R. Taylor was at the US Food and Drug Administration from 1991 to 1994; at the Department of Agriculture from 1994 to 1996; at Monsanto from 1996 to 2000; back to the FDA in 2009, where he still works today. His case is cited in important documentaries and investigative reports as “symbolic” of a pervasive and unacceptable conflict of interests.
- Monsanto invests conspicuous funds in research on its products. Despite this, the data is often inaccessible, and the studies conducted are not published, falling into the so-called “grey area” of scientific literature. Because of this, they are considered unreliable, since they have not undergone the quality vetting traditionally applied by the scientific community and its journals, known as peer review.
by Silvia Ceriani
Robin M.M., The world according to Monsanto
De Nicola M., Monsanto’s Dirty Dozen: The 12 Most Awful Products Made By Monsanto http://www.collective-evolution.com/2014/10/07/monsantos-dirty-dozen-the-12-most-awful-products-made-by-monsanto/
Fagan J., Antoniou M. and Robinson C., GMO Myths and Truths, 2nd edition, 2014 http://earthopensource.org/earth-open-source-reports/gmo-myths-and-truths-2nd-edition/
If you liked this article, you may also be interested in reading: 10 Things you Need to Know about Glyphosate