Center for World Indigenous Studies
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GMO Profits and killing the Seed

Published: February 4, 2011, Author: Rÿser Rudolph C.

Political leaders, academic and corporate leaders alike credit bioengineering and related technologies as 21st century achievements that will feed the world and cure diseases. In just a few short years, businesses have popped up in the market place to garner billions in profits from genetically modified foods, pesticides and herbicides and human ears and noses that grow in a small dish under warm lights on a laboratory bench.  All of this could be hailed as a collection of remarkable achievements–testaments to the wonders of conventional science, but there are serious problems with the mélange of businesses and scientists that results in “science for profit.” In their rush to make scientific discoveries about the genome, and the capacity to manipulate genes changing the character and makeup of organic plants and animals and convert them into short-term profits, major businesses such as Monsanto, Cargil, Archer Daniels Midland, Wal-Mart, Grocery Manufacturers Association, Kraft, Dean Foods, the Farm Bureau, Dow Chemical, Dupont, Bayer, BASF, and Syngenta are producing deadly products that are now destroying living soil, plants and animals to the detriment of life on the planet.

I realize this sounds hysterical, but the products these businesses make with the help of conventional scientists and sell directly and indirectly into the human food chain have spread far beyond the laboratories. The introduction of genetically modified foods (GMOs) and genetically engineered (GE) pesticides and herbicides as well as animals are causing greater direct damage to human food security, the ability of the earth to naturally regenerate in the soils and atmosphere and in the waters of rivers, streams and springs. Chemicals that destroy life are being dumped into the unregulated market of countries around the world (particularly 2nd, 3rd and 4th world) countries and increasingly in regulated markets such as the European Union, Canada and the United States, Australia and Japan.

The United States government’s penchant to throw caution to the wind and allow businesses to produce life threatening contaminants into the atmosphere, waterways, soils and food is legion.  This country is the source of growing contamination of soils, crops and animals from GMO and GE products resulting in not only increasing unexplained illnesses, environmental degradation and business dependent crops, but the indigenous seeds of plants and stocks of animals used by indigenous peoples to produce food in small eco-niches around the world are losing their food security to giant, unseen businesses.

In México’s indigenous territories, thought to be quite remote from corporate farms using GMO seeds, the diversity of the more than 65 indigenous varieties of maize are now threatened with contamination.  Developed over several millennia as a result of the cultural relationship between generations of Maya and Nahuatl peoples, the land and the maize itself these many varieties have sustain peoples faced with drought, high heat and strong winds–changing climates–and they continue today.  In other words, the culturally sustainable process of human and plant relationships have produced replantable seeds that are the foundation of life in Mexico.  These seeds are also the original genetic stock from which corn throughout the world has been developed.

But experts say Mexico’s native varieties are themselves under peril —
from economics and genetic contamination — potentially depriving humans
of a crucial resource.

As indigenous peoples are discovering and conventional scientists are beginning to notice genetically modified corn is drifting deep into Mexico’s heart lands through “trespassing pollen” in the air, and sacks of Monsanto GMO seed corn. Such “trespassing” poses a major threat to indigenous peoples’ health as well as to the very existence of the native maize seeds that constitute the world’s original maize genetic diversity necessary to the world should the grain fields in the world suffer climate change disasters.

In early 1981 I sat in a private meeting at the UN Development Program in New York City with Senior Advisor to the Director General Erskin Barton Childers (1929-1996) (the eldest son of Ireland’s fourth President Erskine Hamilton Childers). I had sought Childers out to discuss measures taken by the United Nations Development and International Economic Co-operation Agency to ensure global food security–especially protection of indigenous peoples’ food sources. Very directly Childers explained in detail how the UNDP and other agencies of the UN had been developing “seed banks” where plant seeds from each region were being stored in great refrigerators. This, he advised, was to ensure their availability in the future if disaster should strike in the form of massive drought, storms, torrential rains, or freezing blizzards

The seeds, he noted were frequently of ancient origins used by native peoples in regions throughout the world.

One problem, Childers quickly explained, “if someone pulls the plug, as had happened last year, the seeds would be destroyed by the sudden temperature change resulting in their complete loss.”

After further discussion, Childers agreed with my suggestion that perhaps the most effective way to ensure preservation and protection of native seeds and animal diversity that represent the world’s wild and domesticated plant and animal varieties is to protect indigenous communities, their connection to the land and their continuing use of organically evolved seed diversity.

Through protection of indigenous peoples’ cultural diversity the protection and maintenance of human food security is achieved.  Destruction of indigenous communities and particularly the relationship between indigenous people and their territories is both “culturalicide,” and genocide resulting in lost precious knowledge essential for human survival and adaptation, and lost genetically diverse plant seeds and animals essential for human survival.

Maintaining the world’s food and seed diversity has been a major concern of countries and international organizations for more than a century.  For indigenous peoples plant and animal genetic diversity is a natural consequence of cultural diversity among indigenous peoples engaged in cultures adapted to specific ecosystems. Interruption of this relationship spells disaster for indigenous peoples and for humanity at large.  The whole world depends on plant and animal diversity supporting effective adaption to changing environmental conditions. Genetically modified organisms produced by businesses interested in profiting from human food dependency are killing seeds on which the world must depend and thus limiting the capacity for food security adaption.

Corporate businesses engaged in genetic engineering produce standardized plants and animals with reduced genetic diversity. States’ governments such as the United States promote liberalized regulatory frameworks that eliminate testing or consistent methods for evaluating the potential contamination of the human food chain that may result from introducing genetically engineered seeds and foods. Contamination of genetically diverse crops contribute to the breakdown of plant genetic varieties and thus reduces their capacity to support human adaptation to changing environmental conditions.  This is done not only by contaminating the fields, but eventually forcing indigenous farmers to purchase seeds from companies like Monsanto as a result of enforced “intellectual property laws” and seeds that will not replant.

Corporations that produce genetically modified foods, seeds and other organisms are not being held accountable and therefore constitute for humanity–outlaws. Permitted to continue their hostile takeover of the world’s native food production such corporations with the handy support of governments are no longer probably causing a disaster, they have been causing a disaster killing the seeds of life for more than two generations.

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