Soya Soya Ezverywhere
by Lucy Michaels
(Original Article Appears at www.corporatewatch.org)
As Argentina tumbles further into financial crisis, an
inspiring popular rebellion has been spreading across
the country. The political space that has opened up
out of the chaos has seen amazingly creative response.
From the 'Trueque' barter network which 7 million
people are using instead of money, to 'asambleas'-
neighbourhood meetings based on consensus which have
started to squat and develop social centres. Workers
are occupying factories and self-managing their
workplaces. The downside of this political chaos has
seen multinationals running rampage, in particular our
old friends, Monsanto.
Monsanto arrived in Argentina in 1996, seducing
farmers with the promise of Roundup Ready soybeans.
Pretty soon over 90% agreed to adopt the technology
which gave Monsanto a higher take-up rate among
farmers in Argentina than in the whole of the USA.
Looking at the crude statistics since the adoption of
GM crop technology, Argentina's total soya crop has
doubled to 27 million tons. However, this growth in
output is solely due to an increase in acreage under
soybean cultivation. In fact, RoundUp Ready soybeans
have had a 5-6% lower yield, and Argentina's farmers
are now worse off.
Monsanto has not only infiltrated Argentina's
agriculture, but is now totally transforming the
Argentinean diet. While much of the soya produced in
Argentina is exported, Monsanto is also flooding local
markets full of desperate hungry people with GM soya,
usually used for animal feed, for human consumption.
The generous grain traders are also donating 1 tonne
in every 1000 tonnes of Argentinean soya as food aid
through a 'charity' programme called 'Soya Solidair'.
This soya aid is everywhere, in homeless shelters and
soup kitchens, and Monsanto is essentially being paid
to distribute its soya which it can't find a market
for in Europe to the poor of Argentina.
The irony of this all is that many Argentineans, even
the left wingers, see genetically engineered soya as
their salvation. Soya animal feed is Argentina's main
export, and its only way of generating foreign income.
With the major presence of Monsanto, the Argentinean
people have had little access to information about the
health and environmental risks of GM crops. More than
this, there must be a realisation that if Argentina
does not want to repeat the cycle of debt and
structural adjustment imposed on it by the IMF, it
must break free from the corporations that are
exporting its wealth and destroying its economy. A
more sustainable and small scale agriculture that
invests in the long term health of the environment
must form a part of the solution.
1) 'Monsanto Earnings Down on Bad Debt' by Julianne
Johnson. 23 July 2002. Agweb.com 2) Email from Craig
Sams 'Re: Monsanto's Earnings Down on Bad Debt' on
www.ngin.org 3) 'Genetically Modified Company' The
Economist August 15 2002
4) 'Argentina is not a social laboratory it is a soya
laboratory' by Javiera Ruilli 5) 'Why Argentina can't
feed itself' Sue Brandford. The Ecologist. Oct 2002.