by: Beverly Bell, t r u t h o u t | Report
Jonas Deronzil from Verrettes has been farming since 1974. Like small
producers throughout Haiti, his meager income from corn, rice and
beans is threatened by new competition from Monsanto.
“A new earthquake” is what peasant farmer leader Chavannes Jean-
Baptiste of the Peasant Movement of Papay (MPP) called the news that
Monsanto will be donating 60,000 seed sacks (475 tons) of hybrid corn
seeds and vegetable seeds, some of them treated with highly toxic
pesticides. The MPP has committed to burning Monsanto’s seeds, and has
called for a march to protest the corporation’s presence in Haiti on
June 4, for World Environment Day.
In an open letter sent May 14, Chavannes Jean-Baptiste, the executive
director of MPP and the spokesperson for the National Peasant Movement
of the Congress of Papay (MPNKP), called the entry of Monsanto seeds
into Haiti “a very strong attack on small agriculture, on farmers, on
biodiversity, on Creole seeds … and on what is left our environment
in Haiti.”(1) Haitian social movements have been vocal in their
opposition to agribusiness imports of seeds and food, which undermines
local production with local seed stocks. They have expressed special
concern about the import of genetically modified organisms (GMOs).
For now, without a law regulating the use of GMOs in Haiti, the
Ministry of Agriculture rejected Monsanto’s offer of Roundup Ready
GMOs seeds. In an email exchange, a Monsanto representative assured
the Ministry of Agriculture that the seeds being donated are not GMOs.