Monsanto's 475-ton seed donation challenged by Haitian peasants
- Escrito por Dennis Sadowski / Catholic News Service
The advocates contend the donation is being made in an effort to shift farmer dependence from local seed to more expensive hybrid varieties shipped from overseas.
Haitian farmers and small growers traditionally save seed from season to season or buy the seed they desire from traditional seed markets. However, an official from the St. Louis-based Monsanto Co. told Catholic News Service that the seed is simply a donation to the Haitian government. The first two shipments -- 135 tons -- of hybrid varieties of corn, cabbage, carrot, eggplant, melon, onion, spinach, tomato and watermelon arrived in Haiti during the first two weeks of May.
Bazelais Jean-Baptiste of the Peasant Movement of Papay, the primary group opposed to the donation, told CNS June 1 from his office in Brooklyn, N.Y., that farmers usually are skeptical of unknown seed varieties. "From my experience, the peasant (farmer) is very careful in using the seeds, particularly corn," Jean-Baptiste said.
"They would not plant a seed they did not know because they invested time to prepare the land and the seed." In a widely distributed e-mail in mid-May, Jean-Baptiste's brother, Chavannes, executive director of the peasant group, excoriated the seed donation as "a new earthquake."
He said the entry of Monsanto seed into Haiti was "a very strong attack on small agriculture, on farmers, on biodiversity, on Creole seeds ... and on what is left of our environment in Haiti."