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The Adventures of a Real Life Lorax in Monsantoland

The Adventures of a Real Life Lorax in Monsantoland

 

Editor’s Note: The following is a guest post from Alana Lea, a passionate Change Agent who travels around Latin America supporting local, organic tree planting projects. To find out more, visit her website, igivetrees.com.

I came back to Brazil in June of 2012 to attend open sessions of Rio+20 and met exactly the people I needed to, in the most unexpected places. The first person I literally bumped into as I disembarked from a crowded city bus, was a man who works with Hazel Henderson’s Ethical Markets. I’m meeting with him this week in Sao Paulo to explore how the story I’m about to share can bring about the greatest possible results.

But I was unable to collect my credentials in time to meet with biologist Yara Valverde, for the presentation on trees of Mata Atlantica at the Earth Summit. So, she took me home with her to the mountains of Petropolis, then dropped me off for a 5 day experience in the agricultural center of Bonfim to get some first hand experience. That’s where my Earth Summit really began…

By then I had learned that Conservation International was an avid sponsor of the educational work on reforestation in the area. People here don’t seem to be concerned by their partnership with Monsanto because CI sponsors so many good things. While I could appreciate what they were saying, I didn’t share their comfort with the arrangement.

Bonfim is nestled alongside of the Parque Nacional Serra dos Órgãos in Petropolis, Rio de Janeiro. It is a paradise of small farms amidst the rainforest. It could not be more beautiful, nor the people more kind.

But I soon discovered the shadow side of the mountain. The lush farms are all using Monsanto supplied seeds and chemicals, feeding the otherwise pristine surroundings and water ways with toxic chemicals. Young field workers apply chemicals without protection. The farms exist where the forest was previously slashed and burned, and I was told they seem mysteriously to grow a little overnight.

Burning is a constant battle there, as people are so accustomed to burning the forest’s leaves and wood, that they continually make little fires, some of which get out of control, and burn more land. It keeps the bombeiros (firemen) busy.

I was feeling pretty depressed by what I was seeing and hearing in this poisoned paradise, while feeling a push/pull of emotions: “I love the obvious beauty. I hate the hidden toxicity. I want to stay here as long as possible. Get me out of here right now.”

Everyone in town had heard I was there to make a reforestation project and was pitching me with their dreams as if I were a rich gringa. But I had to tell them flat out that I refused to invest my energy on an organic project the midst of Monsantoland. I would remember them warmly and share information they might find useful, but I would do my project elsewhere.

Along comes a jeep full of firemen, en route to the National Park to patrol. One of them beams a smile at me and tells me he’s heard of my work with the trees. His name is Michel and he’s planted 2,000 trees by himself – would I like to come see them? We agreed to go to his planting ground the next day, and I could feel a glimmer of hope return to my heart.

He arrived to pick me up on his motorcycle the next morning, and we carefully wound our way over wet cobblestone streets, through the rainforest, to the hillside in front of his children’s home in Correas — many miles away from the farms I was so concerned about. It was not his private land, it is public land, and he had taken it upon himself to replant it.

Over the course of his life growing up in this town, he’d seen fires and floods ravage the area. In 2011 they had the most devastating floods in Brazil’s history less than 60 miles away. He didn’t see anybody doing anything to change the situation, so took it upon himself to make his town safer for everyone.

He began harvesting tree seeds, growing trees on neighbor’s patios and empty spaces in little pots. Then he’d haul them up the mountain behind the houses for planting — 2,000 over the course of 10 years. He took me up that hillside and introduced me to many of his “girls” who had now grown into towering trees of a multitude of species.

By the end of the day when we exchanged email addresses, we each knew we’d found a partner motivated by the same principle of putting love into action. His email address is: iAmTrees @xxx while mine is iGiveTrees@xxx !

So here’s what I propose. I would like to “buy” the 2,000 trees that he’s planted. On my website, we crowdfund tree planting for this Atlantic rainforest. With sufficient funds, he could start his own nursery to grow and plant more. I already have a lead on land he can use for the nursery. It’s time now to be harvesting and planting seeds for the next rainy season’s plantings. And donations are greatly appreciated! Visit my website to contribute.

 

Related Stories:

The Story of a Real Life Lorax

Deforestation: Fast-Tracking Our Own Extinction

Don’t Put Monsanto in Charge of Ending Hunger in Africa

 

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43 comments

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8:03AM PDT on Aug 1, 2012

Dr. Suess was more prophetic than he knew

11:30AM PDT on Jul 31, 2012

Monsanto is among one of the most evil companies in the World and operates with the duplicity of corrupt governments including our own..One should not be able to patent seeds which have been around for millions of years and water should not ever be privatized..This to me is the biggest sin ever..Take that you idiotic and hypocritical Pastors and born again zealots ..they are all part of the problems and complicit to the murder and suicide of thousands of farmers around the World and here in the USA..

11:37AM PDT on Jul 29, 2012

good job

3:10PM PDT on Jul 27, 2012

Monsanto is certainly TAKING ADVANTAGE of indigenous peoples who lack the knowledge of GMO seeds. Monsanto looks like a great person supplying seeds and chemicals without ever telling the people that the otherwise pristine surroundings and water ways will be filled with toxic chemicals. It is just like great big Corporations to take advantage of small farmers and young field workers who apply chemicals without protection.

“A GMO is an organism whose genetic characteristics have been altered to incorporate genes from another organism using genetic engineering. Much of the corn, soybeans, cotton, sugar beets and canola grown in the U.S. are genetically engineered. Therefore, we can assume that these GMOs are also entering our food supply as corn syrup, soy lecithin, sugar, vegetable oil and cotton seed oil. It's estimated that 70% of all processed foods contain genetically altered ingredients. This is higher than in other countries. Foods containing GMOs are labeled in Europe, China and Japan. Unfortunately, genetically modified foods are not labeled as such in the United States. In fact, when the Food and Drug Administration was petitioned by the Just Label It campaign, the FDA chose to count the docket as one comment instead of counting each individual signature.”
Please watch the movie THRIVE

3:08PM PDT on Jul 27, 2012

In the US there are several petitions in states (CA, OR) to lobby against Monsanto to provide people with GMO labels on all foods that use these Frankenstein seeds filled with chemicals. There have been studies these toxic seeds produce toxic plants and the cause of the killing off bees, not to mention the cows are dying from eating the Monsanto -toxic laced alpha.

DO NOT BUY ANY CORN products. Good luck finding anything that is not laced with fructose corn syrup, or SOY most are now GMO. Looks for Organic NON GMO...you cannot just buy Organic any longer...better yet turn your lawn into a garden and purchase non GMO seeds and research and fight against MONSANTO so our WHOLE FOOD system does not get infiltrated by these toxic seeds, shame on the government offices making decisions on GREED and allowed one person to patent seeds in his name to CONTROL the FOOD SOURCE.

"A GMO is an organism whose genetic characteristics have been altered to incorporate genes from another organism using genetic engineering. Much of the corn, soybeans, cotton, sugar beets and canola grown in the U.S. are genetically engineered. Therefore, we can assume that these GMOs are also entering our food supply as corn syrup, soy lecithin, sugar, vegetable oil and cotton seed oil. It's estimated that 70% of all processed foods contain genetically altered ingredients. This is higher than in other countries. Foods containing GMOs are labeled in Europe, China and Japan. Unfortunately, genetically modi

2:45PM PDT on Jul 27, 2012

Wonderful!

9:03AM PDT on Jul 27, 2012

Good job and great story. Thanks for all that you do.

5:51PM PDT on Jul 26, 2012

Great job!

4:05PM PDT on Jul 26, 2012

I love the care for the trees - life in general. Thank you! We need to get rid of Monsanto!

2:04PM PDT on Jul 26, 2012

Good job !! thank you so much for planting trees, and planting a variety of them.

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