A few weeks ago, I wrote an article about Monsanto apparently trying to backdoor its patented seeds and chemicals into Haiti in the form of a donations of hundreds of tons of seeds, fertilizers and pesticides which they called "earthquake relief". At least two different sources I used in writing the article had published information that the Monsanto donation included GMO seeds and thus that is what I wrote in the article.
After I first posted the article here, I posted it on my website and submitted it to Natural News, where it was subsequently published. Shortly thereafter I received a series of emails from Monsanto Social Media Team Lead Mica Leihman, which rather stridently objected to my article in which they emphasized that they had not donated any GMO seeds but rather had only donated hybrid seeds. Ms. Leihman also sent a complaint to Natural News, which was essentially the same as the initial one she sent to me:
"I would like to know why you have chosen to run a story that has flatout untruths in it. In your very FIRST statement, you say Monsanto donated GMO seeds to Haiti. We did no such thing. The seeds are HYBRID, not GMO. It's been documented on our Web site, by the Haitian Ministry and even by the third party articles you yourself reference (with the exceptionof Planet Green by Rachel Cernansky - I am following up with her.
Why then allow this rumor to continue to perpetuate?"
In subsequent emails, Ms. Leihman took pains to extol their hybrd seeds and how harmless they were, including pointing out that that hybrids occured in nature (never mind that natural hybrids were not designed with profit in mind, that natural hybrids do not hook farmers into a single source of their seeds or that natural hybrid seeds were not treated with dangerous fungicides and bactericides such as Monsanto's Maxim XO and Thiram).
Clearly, Monsanto's intent was to make sure that there were no reports or inferences of them donating GMO seeds to Haiti - but I had to wonder why Monsanto, by far the world's leader in GMO seeds, appeared to be taking such pains to distance itself from GMO seeds. I also wondered why other sources would have been led to make mistaken reports.
And so I did some further research and found out that sure enough Monsanto's donation did not include any GMO seeds. However, I also found out why it was likely that other sources had initially stated that Monsanto did donate GMO seeds. You see, what Monsanto rep Leihman conveniently left out in her emails was this little gem: Monsanto's initial donation offer was for GMO seeds and they only changed to hybrid seeds after that initial offer was rejected by the Haiti Ministry of Agriculture.
In other words, Monsanto wanted to remove all mention of GMO seeds from news reports and went out of their way to point out that they only donated hybrid seeds without any mention of their original intent to donate their GMO seeds. Do you think that perhaps that might explain the other reports of GMO seeds and/or have anything to do with that "rumor" Monsanto does not want perpetuated?
In the interest of accuracy, I changed my story accordingly. However, I don't think the changes were what Monsanto had in mind. Here is the revised story, which, in addition to being posted on Natural News and my website, is also slated to appear on various other sites as well as in the newspaper The Agora:
Haiti Rejects Monsanto GMO Seeds Donation, Farmers Burn Hybrid Seeds
by Tony Isaacs
In what many believe is an attempt to backdoor its patented seeds and chemical products into a new market, Monsanto has donated hundreds of tons of hybrid seeds, fertilizers and pesticides to earthquake stricken Haiti. Monsanto originally planned to donate GMO seed to Haiti but their offer was rejected by the Haiti Ministry of Agriculture. Though Monsanto termed their donation an effort to help the people in Haiti with earthquake relief, Monsanto's "generosity" is being met with skepticism and outright rejection.
In June, 10,000 farmers marched in protest against Monsanto and a group of small farmers burned a symbolic quantity of hybrid corn seed in the central square of the agricultural town of Hinche. A 200,000-member national coalition is encouraging Haiti farmers to burn all Monsanto seeds that have already been distributed, and has called on the government to reject additional shipments.
Peasant leader Chavannes Jean-Baptiste told IPS News: Farmers want to preserve their traditional "organic agriculture that respects the environment and fights against its degradation. We defend native seeds and the rights of peasants on their land." Jean-Batiste also said "Fighting hybrid and GMO seeds is critical to save our diversity and our agriculture" and maintained that a "county has a right to define its own agricultural policies, to grow first for the family and then for local market, to grow healthy food in a way which respects the environment and Mother Earth."
Another peasant farmer stated, "We have a problem today with Monsanto and all the multinationals who sell seeds. Seeds and water are the common patrimony of humanity."
Monsanto has already donated the first round of what Global Research has referred to as a "new earthquake" and "deadly gift": 475 tons of hybrid seeds, fertilizers and pesticides. Though Monsanto has pointed out that their donation contained only hybrid seeds and no GMO seeds, as noted earlier their initial offer of "earthquake relief" included Monsanto GMO "roundup ready" corn. Only after the GMO seed offer was rejected did Monsanto change their donation to hybrid seeds.
The multinational seed giant is known around the world for its aggressive GMO and hybrid policies. It is also known for intimidating and suing farmers and small agricultural companies it claims have violated its contracts and patents, including farmers whose fields have been contaminated by pollen from someone else's genetically engineered crop or who have had voluntary seed sprout from a previous year's crop. By 2007 Monsanto had already collected over $21.5 million in judgments in the U.S. alone.
In addition, Monsanto is infamously known for the deaths and health problems that have resulted from its highly toxic herbicide products, most notable of which is Agent Orange. A large number of U.S. Veterans got cancer as a result of exposure to the company's Agent Orange. The Vietnamese government claims that 400,000 of their citizens died or were disabled and 500,000 children were born with birth defects as a result of Agent Orange.
The corn seed product Monsanto donated to Haiti has been treated with the fungicide Maxim XO, while the calypso tomato seeds were treated with Thiram. Thiram is a highly toxic chemical which the EPA examined and deemed to be so dangerous that agricultural workers are now mandated to wear protective clothing when handling them.
While Monsanto is calling the seeds a donation, it isn't hard to see how the company will benefit by getting farmers hooked on a need that only it can supply, as it has done elsewhere around the world - most notably in the U.S. and Canada. Once Monsanto’s seeds are introduced, they often also profit from sales of their fertilizer and pesticides, whose demand usually increases in proportion to the use of GMO seeds.
Seed company giants Monsanto, Syngenta, Dupont and Bayer control more than half of the world's seed patents. Monsanto has almost 650 seed patents, most of which are for cotton, corn, and soy. The company also owns almost 30 percent of the share of all the world's biotechnology research and development.
The world's largest confederation of farmers, Via Campesina, has called Monsanto one of the "principal enemies of peasant sustainable agriculture and food sovereignty for all peoples."