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Seed Money or Seed Sovereignty? Chile Beats Monsanto Law (For Now)

Seed Money or Seed Sovereignty? Chile Beats Monsanto Law (For Now)

Chile has scored a major victory against ‘Monsanto Law’ — a bill that sought to privatize the country’s seeds and Monsanto Company — an almost unstoppable force. Indigenous communities, farmers and women beat one of the biggest seed giants on the globe.

According to EcoWatch, the seedy bill would’ve given big business “the right to patent seeds they discover, develop or modify.” Usually, these seeds are genetically modified, or GMOs — which may or may not be labeled, make our kids fatter, and are all around bad news.

Companies don’t just privatize physical seeds; they privatize the already fragile world food system. Since Chile is a leading fruit and seafood exporter, consumers worldwide also share that victory (for now).

Why Chile Said No to Seed Privatization

Monsanto Law would’ve pushed small and medium-sized farmers out of the business. Traditionally, farmers participated in seed swapping; growers would gather and swap their seeds. A bill like Monsanto Law would’ve forced growers to buy their seeds from multinational agribusiness companies year after year. This traditional type of gathering ensured biodiversity and built community. For many communities, seeds represent a type of cultural heritage because of the traditional wisdom that also gets passed down.

Chilean farmers are fighting for seed sovereignty. PBS defines seed sovereignty as: “The farmer’s right to breed and exchange diverse open source seeds which can be saved and which are not patented, genetically modified, owned or controlled by emerging seed giants.”

How Seed Privatization Screwed India Over

Chile fought not to be the next India. Conjuring Jack and the Beanstalk-esque images, Monsanto went to India with the promise of magic seeds — seeds that increased productivity, decreased labor and increased profit. Yet Monsanto’s GMO seeds turned out to be more of a malevolent curse.

According to the Global Politician, the rural Indian farmers weren’t educated about how to properly grow this new strain of seed (e.g. GMO seeds require more water than traditional seeds). The expensive seeds failed to grow, but the farmers’ debt to Monsanto certainly grew. Around 200,000 Indian farmers committed suicide; some even resorted to end their lives by consuming the toxic pesticides in front of their families.

The Seed Sovereignty Fight Isnt Over

While Chile seems to have dodged that Monsanto bullet, it’s not over. As reported in Truthout, Francisca Rodriguez, from the Anamuri and the Latin American Coordination of Rural Organizations, explains that there are 3 possible outcomes:

1) It could be permanently withdrawn (the best case scenario).

2) The Chilean government can create a “mixed commission” to learn more about GMOs and their impacts.

3) Monsanto Law could just be reworded and resubmitted (the worst case scenario).

Not surprisingly, there will be corporate lobbyists and corporate stakeholders ready to protect their interests at every outcome.

Why You Should Care

You need to protect your own interest. Chile is increasingly becoming a global exporter of fruit and seafood. The world still needs seeds to grow food. Issues like seed monopolies mean food insecurity. Plus, do you want real food or genetically modified ‘food’?

The world’s also losing its food diversity. According to PBS, 75 percent of agricultural crops are gone. For example, according to the International Potato Center, by 2050, 13 percent of the 187 wild potato species could become extinct, and 52 percent of the “distribution area” gone with it.

Our diets are increasingly becoming homogenous; can we really risk losing so much diversity? Less variety means more chronic diseases, like diabetes.

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Photo Credit: Advait Supnekar

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112 comments

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5:23PM PDT on Jul 22, 2014

I hope Chile attacks any Monsanto agent in their country. This is war!

6:18AM PDT on Jul 13, 2014

Chile is one smart country!

4:15AM PDT on May 2, 2014

glad to see that there are some countries standing up against this malevolent greedy, destructive out of control corporation- and I am speaking politely. Every time I read or hear the name of Monsanto, I remember what a cruel species, humans can be.

1:35PM PDT on Apr 29, 2014

Monsanto is the enemy. Fight the enemy by making sure NOT to buy any GMO foods.

Did you know that those little stickers on fruits and veggies will tell you if it is GMO or not? If it starts with an "8" and has 5 digits, DO NOT BUY IT. That is GMO food.

If it starts with a "9" and has 5 digits, that means it is organic. BUY IT! Support organic. Support local.

If it starts with a "4", it has been conventionally grown. It does contain pesticides, but it is not GMO.

Beware though - there are many GMO foods that are not veggies or fruit. 99% of processed foods contain GMOs because most contain soy or corn products - both of which are mostly GMO.

Educate anyone who will listen about the evils of Monsanto. Many people do not know the harm that is lurking on their local grocery store shelves. Down with Monsanto!

3:01AM PDT on Apr 26, 2014

Thank you

2:56AM PDT on Apr 26, 2014

If Satan was a silent partner in a corporation, it would most certainly be Monsanto. What happened in India is a terrible tragedy, and this evil behemoth was behind it. They have so much power and control, it's nice to see even one little victory against them. Hopefully, it will be the first of many.

9:27AM PDT on Apr 23, 2014

Good!

6:08AM PDT on Apr 23, 2014

good news, thanks

6:24PM PDT on Apr 21, 2014

Thanks

4:59AM PDT on Apr 21, 2014

Monsanto is just an evil corporation - but so would every other GMO seed producer be so if they could get the leverage. What the WTO should be doing is making any privatised trade in seed illegal - but they won't because they are the root of the problem: free trade is not free, it is licence to exploit the weak, the powerless and the poor.

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