Short break from discussing Asian American issues, here to share background information on Monsanto-the global biotech giant which is a hot media commodity in Kathmandu right now because (Nepali Times)
“In a USAID press release last month announcing a partnership between the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives and Monsanto on a pilot maize production project in Nepal, we heard the same tired arguments of more nutritious food, increased yields and food security, and the requirement of less chemicals.”
What could go wrong? A global giant wants to partner with Nepal and help the “poor” produce more and earn more. Well, this gentle giant is not so gentle and the outrage is valid.
According to SourceWatch, Monsanto is a rabid anti-organic farming, pesticide loving, lobbying genius of a company.They are also very much into harvesting fear, as this Vanity Fair investigation shows (May 2008), treating their seeds as patented software-never to be stored or shared. Use it and pay again if you want it for next year-thus altering what farmers have been doing for generations-saving seeds for next season.
It has been named in 50 cancer lawsuits and India has filed bio-piracy lawsuit against the company.Monsanto has filed numerous lawsuits against US farmers. In 2005 alone the company has $10 million budget and 75 staff members “devoted solely to investigating and prosecuting farmers” (Center for Food Safety).
They have good friends in Washington.
“If GMOs are indeed responsible for massive sickness and death, then the individual who oversaw the FDA policy that facilitated their introduction holds a uniquely infamous role in human history. That person is Michael Taylor. He had been Monsanto’s attorney before becoming policy chief at the FDA. Soon after, he became Monsanto’s vice president and chief lobbyist.
This month Michael Taylor became the senior advisor to the commissioner of the FDA. He is now America’s food safety czar. What have we done?” (Jeffery Smith, Huffington Post, July 23,2009)
And Monsanto is serious about lobbying, this year they have spent almost $6 million pushing their case ($8 million last year).
controversy has pushed USAID to play cat and mouse.
“In the wake of media reports that the hybrid maize seeds produced by Monsanto, a U.S.-based giant seed company, are being introduced in Nepal and a subsequent protest campaign, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) said that it has not made any decision about the matter yet though the options were discussed with the Nepal government.
In its Facebook page, USAID Nepal wrote on Friday that no new programmes have been entered into by the US government with the government of Nepal to introduce hybrid maize seed as some media articles have suggested. “We have discussed options with the government, but no decisions have been made yet…” (The Himalayan Times, November 19,2011)
Well, good then. Lets keep it under consideration until the giants change their ways.