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Argentina: The national government, Monsanto, the seeds and all of us. Notes for discussion

Argentina: The national government, Monsanto, the seeds and all of us. Notes for discussion

By Carlos A. Vicente

On May 19, the Minister of Agriculture Carlos Casamiquela and the Chief of Cabinet Aníbal Fernández announced a Decree of Necessity and Urgency (DNU) on the use of seeds [1].

Many things have been said in these few days. We are going to see some and reflect on the situation, looking for the scope and dangers of these announcements.

Go against Monsanto by neatly doing what Monsanto asked:

La Nación titled “With a DNU, the Government tries to stop Monsanto” [2]

In the same sense, Page 12 affirmed "The State seeks to prevent the collection of royalties outside the law", within the framework of the "war of seeds" [3].

Two such disparate media had already agreed, also with Clarín, to interpret the agreements between the National Government and the national Agribusiness actors as advances in democracy, before and after the conflict over resolution 125. And it is easier, even if there is an external baddie, in this case the transnational seed / agro-toxic Monsanto.

The center of the news for them is the discussion of part of the soy income, specifically the payment or not to the seedbeds of the "extended royalties" [4] by the producers. The note in the newspaper La Voz del Interior points out “Although the official measure would cover a universe of products and events, in this case it comes to intercede in the system implemented by Monsanto for the collection of the technological canon for Intact soybeans that –together with a parties contract with the users - determined that the stockpiles and exporters should retain the canon if it had not been previously paid with the seed ”[5].

For us, the axis is the future of the model: this decree is a key step in the appropriation of the agri-food system by transnational companies, in one of its most sensitive links: seeds.

The potential food market, let's remember, is larger than the automotive and oil markets combined [6]. A key form of control by companies is control over the seeds and through these over what is grown and what is not.


The discussion for own use: the madness of having to ask permission to do something as natural as breathing:

In the press release of the ministry (the definitive text of the dnu is not yet available) it talks about the creation of a "register of own use". This was already in the texts of the bills that circulated since 2012 and was one of the centers of criticism.

This would imply that the peasant family, the legitimate owner of the seeds, would have to ask the State for permission, at the request of the transnational seed / agro-toxic companies, to do what it always did, and that society as a whole needs more and more. Total madness.

The Argentine Agrarian Federation came out to repudiate this part of the measure and said: "you have to defend your own unrestricted use." The entity does not question the Industrial Agriculture model although it is clear in its repudiation of Monsanto in its seed policies.

One of the lies of the press of the Ministry of Agriculture is that the will of the Government is to combat the "white bag", that is, the illegal trade in seeds. You don't need a decree to ban the white bag: it is already illegal under current legislation [7].

That they leave us alone and control the corporations:

The National Peasant Indigenous Movement (Argentine organization of CLOC and Via Campesina) stated:

Own use is an inalienable right for indigenous peasants and family farmers, and to exercise it we do not need to be in any type of registry, nor be treated as exceptions to any regulations.

Any type of regulation on seeds should be directed exclusively towards the spectrum of the agribusiness chain, without affecting the rights of indigenous peasants and family farmers. Because clearly this is the trap that corporations intend to get us into: to impose their illegitimate businesses to take away the rights of our people to produce their own seeds. Then we will be all the farmers suspected of criminals for not appearing in a registry of the corporations.

"That they make a law for soybeans, not for all seeds" The example of wheat.

Walter Pengue [8] reports that the control of seeds grew enormously with the invention of hybrid seeds: the technology of crosses, which implies that the “children of hybrids” are less productive than the original hybrids, greatly advanced control on corn, sunflower and sorghum seeds.

Through this technology, they were unable to control, in addition to soybeans, other key crops on the Argentine table, such as wheat. Now, with the excuse of the conjunctural conflict of soybeans, they want to make legislation for all seeds.

Some "breakthroughs" in wheat genetics include drought and cold resistance GMOs. Companies do not launch them on the market until they ensure the "protection of their rights" that this type of policy would guarantee.

With Bt corn, the companies' move was shameless: The companies generated the technology, but the producers did not buy it, because the yields were lower than the seeds that were in the market. What did they do? They bought the seedlings of the hybrids that yielded the most, and took those seeds off the market. What happened? The producers “adopted” the Bt hybrids. Conclusion: if the seed market rules, the producers obey. And the consumers? They can have an opinion, but each time with less power of real decision.

The story of the Bt corn makes us think that in a couple of plays (this would be the first) suddenly ALL the bread we eat could come from transgenic wheat, simply with the companies having a technology that they want to sell, and controlling the market for the seeds. We don't want that.

Returning to the above: the government takes a step to deliver one of the Argentine staples to the corporations (requested by the corporations for decades), and for some media the government is holding back Monsanto.

Food, a topic for all, that is debated behind closed doors:

Corporate control of food and common goods, we say it with pain, is growing in Argentina.

Those responsible for this deepening, both from the State and from the companies, do not win any debate: they advance behind closed doors.

In various activities, the extractivist model controls more and more common goods and market shares. Metalliferous mega-mining, fracking for unconventional deposits, forest monoculture, destructive fishing and soybeans are the visible faces of the same extractivist model of transnational dispossession, which enriches a few, and destroys Nature, endangering social reproduction, especially of those who have the least.

The “serious capitalism”, as a colonial model, is part of Modernity [9], and as such it proclaims itself the spokesperson of science and reason.

But you can't be scientific without being public. And they systematically deny debate and clear evidence.

Recent cases:

With the approvals of transgenic [10] and agrochemicals [11], the State closed closed-door agreements with companies.

With the PEAA (Strategic Plan Argentina Agroalimentaria) and the Law of Forests, the political engineering developed in the last decades in other countries, was put into action absolutely: discussion forums, mass meetings, intermediate documents, etc. and when the companies tightened, the State closed agreements for the advancement of Agribusiness.

Another example: Agrotoxic and transgenic agriculture, the main pollutant of water worldwide [12], by far the human activity with the greatest occupation of space, does not currently have Environmental Impact Assessments in Argentina. To increase production to meet the goals of the PEAA, the Ministry of Agriculture launched a very dangerous National Irrigation Plan that, if applied as announced, would endanger the main aquifers in Argentina [13].

Today we have to live the brutal injustice that a debate, which grew in strength, massiveness and clarity like that of seeds, is violated by the government through a Decree of Necessity and Urgency in order, according to Aníbal Fernández, “to put an end to so many years of discussion. "

Our campaign. The will to intensify the debate.

The campaign "No to the Monsanto Seed Law" has been growing in articulations and debates.

From many spaces, the discussion in society has been advancing in that more and more people understand the agribusiness model as a system to overcome, because it cannot even solve the problems that the same system generated: desertification, soil degradation, climate change, clearing , economic concentration, fumigacoines with pesticides that make sick and contaminate, migrations, loss of food quality, monocultures, etc.

More and more people see in the Agroecology approach a way out of the problems that the Industrial Agriculture system generated. With native forests, with our own seeds, without patterns, with our cultures, without poisons and without transgenics, any society, including ours, can feed itself healthily and little by little rebuild the phenomenal disaster that Industrial Agriculture has made in recent years. decades on the planet. The traditional knowledge of peasant agriculture, far from being anecdotes of the past, is present today in an oppressed way by governments and capital, but they are key in the future, from the Agroecology perspective.

In the quoted text, Walter Pengue states:

The seed represents the initial and main source of life, food, shelter, energy, for billions of humans on this planet and the discussion about its patenting and payment for it, must be analyzed in depth by all members of a society and not by a few, directly representatives of a manifest interest.

World food security, or at least of the most impoverished regions of the world, cannot be left to the discretion and judgment of private interest or the interest, merely circumstantial and poorly analyzed, of the government sector.

The deep, serious, dedicated, committed and informed participation of all the actors, including especially the small, medium, peasant and consumers, in these decisions is an impossible condition to avoid in a true democracy.

From the above we conclude that:

- The media lie to us to endorse policies that will clearly harm us.

- We need legislation that guarantees that companies cannot appropriate any more Creole seeds.

- Seeds are the heritage of the peoples and must be at the service of humanity. We will never accept the application of intellectual property rights or their appropriation.

Notes:

[1] http://www.minagri.gob.ar/

[2] http://www.lanacion.com.ar/

[3] http://www.pagina12.com.ar/

[4] According to ArPOV (http://www.arpov.org.ar/) "extended royalties" are called a system of "payment of a royalty as consideration for the technology provided whenever the producer uses seeds of his own production".

[5] http://www.lavoz.com.ar/

[6] "Today, despite globalization, despite such strong aggression against rural peoples, food production continues to be largely in the hands of peasants and indigenous peoples. And it turns out that if we began to calculate the possible market value of all the foods that humanity consumes, that market that could be created is larger than any that we know today, it is much greater than oil, it is greater than the auto industry, even if these two aspects came together. That potential market is not in the hands of capital and today the objective of capital is first, to force us to buy food and then, of course, to control that food market when we are all forced to buy it ”GRAIN. Laws to end independent agriculture. http://www.grain.org/

[7] Law 20247 Art. 27. - Whoever delivers seed thereof under authorization of the owner, or who reserves and sows seed for their own use, or uses or sells as raw material, does not infringe upon the property right of a cultivar. or feed the product obtained from the cultivation of such a plant genetic creation. Therefore the sale without authorization of the owner is ILLEGAL and damages the right of property

[8] http://www.biodiversidadla.org

[9] Enrique Dussel affirms that "Modernity, capitalism, colonialism and the world-system are aspects of the same simultaneous and mutually constituent reality"

[10] GMOs: a sample button, and not just any button, is the approval of RR soybeans to Monsanto: “In Argentina, the GM RR soybeans (Resistant to the herbicide Glyphosate or Round UP, a trademark of the company Monsanto) was authorized , as the journalist Horacio Verbitsky explains "in just 81 days of the summer of 1996. Of 136 pages in the file, 108 are from Monsanto, in English and without translation." Summer of ’96 http://www.pagina12.com.ar/ CONABIA, the national advisory commission on Agricultural Biotechnology, is made up mostly of company representatives and works in secret: http://www.agenciacta.org

[11] Agrochemicals: In the article "The incredible process of approval of agrochemicals" it is reported that upon a request, the official in charge, the engineer Lorenzo Basso, admitted that SENASA does not carry out toxicity tests on pesticides but rather evaluates the already carried out by “laboratories that meet the administrative and technical requirements” registered in the organization's laboratory network. Among them are: -Monsanto Argentina SAIC. -Nidera SA. -Atanor SA. -Dow Agrosciences Argentina SA.

[12] “Agriculture, as the largest user of fresh water on a global scale and the main factor in the degradation of surface and underground water resources as a consequence of erosion and chemical runoff, justifies the existing concern about its global repercussions on the global water quality ”Fight Against Agricultural Pollution of Water Resources. http://www.fao.org/

[13] http://www.biodiversidadla.org/

Biodiversity


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