Haitians March Against Preval, Monsanto

07 Jun

This one has been bubbling below the surface for a while, and not just in Haiti. The seeds to plant corn, or just about any other crop are big business.  For thousands of years, farmers would hold back a portion of the crop to harvest the seeds to plant next years crop. Farmers would practice a basic level of genetic manipulation by selecting seeds from the most successful plants. Today that has evolved into an agribusiness, where crops are genetically tailored – sometimes through manipulating the genetic structure of the plant directly.

One of the manipulations is that the crops derived from these “manipulated plants” cannot produce viable seeds. Ergo, you can’t set aside a portion of the crop and use the seeds to plant next year. Indeed, since the new, genetically modified seeds don’t last very long, you can’t even use last year’s seeds. You have to buy new seeds each and every year.

In large scale commercial agribusiness type farming, there are benefits to this. The benefits aren’t so clear to small scale farms.

Monsanto’s seeming “largesse” in donating seeds to Haiti as such isn’t totally altruistic. If the Haitian Farmers utilize the Monsanto seeds, they are stuck with buying new seeds each and every year…

From Monsanto.

Monsanto becomes a permanent partner – whether the Haitian people want it or not, and will collect and annual “vig” of tens of millions of revenue each year from the sale of each year’s seeds.

It would also be very interesting to see who owns the brand new Monsanto franchise in Haiti…

The “usual suspects”… Indeed.

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7 responses to “Haitians March Against Preval, Monsanto

  1. nanakwame

    June 7, 2010 at 12:10 PM

    Good for them, you and I stated this was going to be part of the proposal


    • btx3

      June 7, 2010 at 12:24 PM

      This isn’t the only industry or company which has tried this. A number of companies that I know about have made proposals with huge ongoing maintenance and operation costs guaranteed to the company every year. One proposal I heard about involved the Donor Agency buying $25 million in equipment which had a street value of maybe $8 million in the US, on top of which the Donor agency would have to pay another $25 million a year in “maintenance and upgrade” fees.


  2. nanakwame

    June 7, 2010 at 12:31 PM

    Well baby brother we know things are about to change and democracy is not going to be o top of the list in many of these failed nation. Keep us abreast BT


  3. Anastasia

    June 7, 2010 at 2:06 PM

    There seems to be a lot of misinformation about the donation – particularly when it comes to what hybrids are and why the seeds are treated with fungicide. I’ve written about both here:

    No, I don’t work for Monsanto. I’m just a PhD student in Genetics and Sustainable Agriculture at Iowa State who’s hoping to help people understand the science behind what they eat.


    • btx3

      June 7, 2010 at 2:33 PM

      Thank You Anastasia for the input and link.

      One of my associates is having the same problems over on the bio-fuels farming side with the seeds.

      In Haiti – nothing is ever as straightforward as it looks.

      And the issue isn’t the seeds, as much as it is who owns the process and license/franchise to distribute the seeds in Haiti – as well as the other support products like Roundup.

      One of the things that has been under consideration is how to restructure farming in Haiti to take advantage of modern farming systems. The breakup of the large plantations, largely by Baby Doc, and creation of a quasi tenant farm structure, combined with the number of people who deserted their farms leaving the deeds and leaseholds in a quandary limit the opportunity to assemble enough contiguous land to make modern farming profitable. The Government has already stated the right to exercise imminent domain in resolving some of these issues. If that type of restructuring is accomplished…

      Then the agricultural products companies stand to make a good profit.


  4. Michael

    June 7, 2010 at 7:07 PM

    It’s not that hybrid (GMO or not) corn cannot produce viable seed, but that the seeds are more like the parents than the planted crop. It’s called “Hybrid Vigor” where the child is greater than the parent. If the right poor producing parents are put together you get a tremendous boost. The cost of the seed is well worth the money, but it’s hard to explain to someone who has never used it.


    • btx3

      June 7, 2010 at 7:54 PM

      The problem for the Haitian farmers is inertia. It’s more than just the seed that has them riled up.



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