|Rice Grown in Sierra Leone|
Monsanto's Dream of Monopoly
So, let it be stated that I'm pretty much against all multinational corporations (MNCs). I think they do more harm than good, they stifle local businesses and hinder sustainable development, and in the case of the Democratic Republic of Congo, actually profit from conflict. Therefore, my disdain for Monsanto should really come as no surprise.
For those of you unfamiliar with Monsanto, it is an American-based MNC which claims to "help farmers around the world produce more while conserving more. [They] help farmers grow yield sustainably so they can be successful, produce healthier foods, better animal feeds and more fibre, while also reducing agriculture's impact on our environment". Sadly, in reality all of their actions for the most part run counter to what they profess.
Monsanto argues that genetically modified (GM) seeds are the key to yielding more crops. True, they do, but to much detriment to our health and the environment. I'm going to ignore the health debate for now, not because it isn't important, but just because the environmental concerns are more important for this argument. So GM seeds allow better crop yield; however, they rely on the use of fertilizers and farming techniques that are counterproductive to increasing crop yields. The fertilizers that Monsanto requires to be used on their GM seeds have the potential to build resistant strains of harmful insects, kill beneficial insects, harm plant biodiversity, create new harmful pathogens, and discourage crop rotation, which is good for the soil (see WHO report for more info on GMOs). With these factors in mind, it is clear that Monsanto's claims of producing "healthier foods", "reducing agriculture's impact on our environment", and "growing yield sustainably" are all false. If the world wishes to feed the mouths of the future, which is impossible with current agricultural practices and eating habits, then it needs to be reformed.
|Rice Paddy in Sierra Leone|
The ills of Monsanto are being recognized in some parts of Africa, like in South Africa where in 2008/2009, 80% of Monsanto's GM maize resulted in crop failures (which Monsanto said was a laboratory mistake), resulting in critics to call for an investigation, because "You cannot make a 'mistake' with three different varieties of corn". The problem cannot be blamed on South African soil or climate either, because crop failures are occurring elsewhere, like in India.
The crop failures in India had led to more than 120,000 farmers to commit suicide by 2008 in what is being termed as the GM genocide. Indian farmers were promised "previously unheard of harvests and income" if they used Monsanto's GM seeds instead of their traditional seeds. Shankara, a farmer in India was "beguiled by the promise of future riches, [so] he borrowed money in order to buy the GM seeds. But when the harvests failed, he was left with spiraling debts - and no income", which eventually led to him being one of the 120,000 victims of suicide.
The Gates Factor
So where does the Gates Foundation fit into this equation? Well in 2010, the Gates Foundation bought 500,000 shares of Monsanto's stock. Since that time, Bill Gates has claimed that genetically modified food is necessary to fight starvation. He argued that genetically modified golden rice, which includes beta-carotene which can be transformed into vitamin A, should be grown in Asia where vitamin A levels are deficient. However, what isn't mentioned is that a person would need to consume 16lbs of this golden rice to achieve the daily requirement for vitamin A and that in order to convert beta-carotene to vitamin A, the body needs to have ample amounts of dietary fats, which are either not easily accessible or frequently consumed, rendering it ineffective.
|Farming Village in Sierra Leone|