Brazilian Farmers Fight Back Against Monsanto
Monsanto, the company attempting to monopolize agriculture, is facing some serious push-back from fed up Brazilian farmers. A group of around 5 million Brazilian farmers have sued Monsanto for 6.2 billion euros, equivalent to 7.8 billion U.S. dollars. The group cites unfair collection of royalties as the primary reason for suing.
Monsanto was founded in 1901 and has grown into a monolithic and domineering corporation. Not only are they known for extensive royalty collecting, but say the wrong thing and they will not hesitate in litigating you into oblivion. In fact, this cute little seed company has a history of working with Academi, a ruthless mercenary organization that is so corrupt that they’ve changed their name three times (Blackwater Worldwide, Blackwater USA, and Xe Services LLC) over a 15 year period.
Part of Monsanto’s business model involves selling genetically modified seeds that are resistant to the pesticides they also sell. This is convenient for farmers, but as soon as they plant the patented seeds they are stuck in a contract with Monsanto. If a farmer plants seeds harvested from past years, Monsanto utilizes patents as reason to show up and collect royalties. This sends many farmers into a payment loop they can’t keep up with and has resulted in various regions being deemed the “suicide belt”. 17,638 Indian farmers committed suicide in 2009 alone, and Monsanto is one of the biggest factors.
In summary, I’ll highlight Monsanto’s attitude toward the public, which is very telling of how they operate.
“When dairy producers that did not use Monsanto’s products began labeling their products as “Hormone Free” or “Organic”, Monsanto slapped them with a lawsuit as recently as 2008, claiming the labels amounted to negative advertising against hormone-produced milk.
Director of corporate communications for Monsanto, Phil Angell, summed up Monsanto’s take on the issue in a report by food author Michael Pollan for New York Times Magazine in 1998: “Monsanto should not have to vouch for the safety of biotech food. Our interest is in selling as much of it as possible. Assuring its safety is FDA’s job.””