Monsanto, a U.S. based, multinational, agribusiness company, first came to my attention a few months ago when I watched the documentary Food, Inc. If you haven’t watched this documentary, I strongly recommend that you make some time to do that. You can watch the full movie in 11 parts on YouTube; you will never look at your food the same way again.
While Monsanto touts itself as an agricultural company whose aim to help farmers produce more while conserving more through their Genetically Modified (GM) seeds, the reality is that it’s all about the bottom line for Monsanto. The company simply wants to monopolize the seed market in the world and make the highest profits it can, with no concern for the adverse effects their actions have on the livelihood of farmers. In other words, it’s all about greed.
In the documentary, Food, Inc., I saw an American farmer who was driven out of business because he refused to buy Monsanto’s non-reproducing seeds. Since his neighbors all planted Monsanto seeds, this farmer was advised he would be in trouble if any of his reproducing seeds somehow got carried by wind and other pollinating agents into his neighbors’ farms. Monsanto harassed the farmer regularly and made it impossible for him to grow his reproducing seeds, that he eventually went out of business.
Now this same company is out to dominate the agricultural sector in Africa by partnering with governments to introduce Monsanto’s products to African farmers under the guise of development. In South Africa, where Monsanto has essentially been running the Massive Food Production Program (MFFP) on behalf of the government, 80% of Monsanto’s Genetically Modified maize failed to produce a crop in 2008/09. The farmers also expressed concerns about the GM crops which were inferior in quality to traditional maize, made people and animals who consumed it sick and which made the soil useless after a few years due to the chemicals farmers were instructed to use on their crops.
Africa, wake up and smell the coffee! Monsanto is not interested in developing your countries agriculturally. Rather, it’s prime interest is to establish a monopoly in African markets in order to fatten its coffers. Monsanto already has a monopoly in the American market with drastic consequences for American farmers and consumers. In scouring the web, news about Monsanto is generally negative. It makes me wonder whether African governments or organizations do any research before agreeing to these aid projects.
Despite Monsanto’s attempt to portray itself in a positive light on its website, reports lead to the conclusion that the company has violated its pledges for integrity, dialogue, transparency, sharing, benefits and respect again and again, leading some farmers to commit suicide. Let’s have more people stand up in Africa and say no to Monsanto. We should not allow GM crops to destroy farmers’ livelihoods, their health and the environment; nor should we let Monsanto monopolize agribusiness in Africa.