In a remarkable display of protest and challenge by oppressed people against ever-expanding imperialist domination, 10,000 Haitian farmers gathered on June 4th, 2010 to burn over 400 tons of ‘aid’ seeds donated by the US-based multinational corporation, Monsanto.
“Long live native maize seed!,” and “Monsanto’s GMO and hybrid seed violate peasant agriculture,” they vocally declared as the entirety of the ‘donation’ was put to waste in the act of exerting popular sovereignty.
The GMO seeds were pledged shortly after the country’s capital was struck by 7.0 magnitude earthquake in January of 2010. Prior to this, Haiti was the victim of centuries of economic and literal warfare waged by today’s imperialist powers. Most recently, the US staged two coups in 1991 and 2004 while pushing through a slew of neo-liberal ‘reforms.’ Some such ‘reforms’ included introducing non-native species into Haitian agriculture, often with disastrous consequences. Today, Haiti is one of the most impoverished places in the western hemisphere with much of the population suffering from malnutrition and starvation.
Considering the above, the Haitians were courageous and correct in destroying Monsanto’s ‘gift’ seeds. For Haiti’s farmers and common masses, planting Monsanto’s seeds would have signed them on to their own further disempowerment and also increased their country’s dependence on and domination by foreign exploiters.
In India, where Monsanto seeds are widely planted, diminished yields, health problems and indebtedness have driven many rural farmers to poverty and contributed to a tragic phenomenon of farmer suicides. Since 1997, more than 182,936 Indian farmers have reportedly taken their own lives.
Introducing GMO seeds into local markets at the long term expense of local sovereignty isn’t the only manner that Monsanto profits. The company also maintains a $25 million dollar contract with the United States government for supplying the herbicide, Roundup Ultra, for aerial spraying over Columbia as part of the so-called ‘war on drugs.’ Communities there charge Monsanto’s chemicals are destroying food crops and natural vegetation, poisoning water sources and leading to increased instances of birth defects and cancer.
For Haiti and elsewhere, there is no magic cure to poverty. Monsanto’s GMO seeds won’t change the fact the Haiti has and continues to be exploited by imperialism. Rather, so-called ‘aid’ and ‘development’ provided by imperialists more accurately reflect expanding the relationship and means of exploitation. The only solution for the Haitian masses is to reassert control of their own economy, production being one key aspect. The destruction of Monsanto’s disingenuous ‘help’ in the 2010 protest is one step in a larger movement of the Haitian masses to liberate themselves from imperialist domination.
No doubt, the adversities of the Haitian masses seem large. But the natural allies of their struggle are larger. The movement of people’s resistance is global. It includes not just Haitian masses but also the exploited masses of the Third World and their allies. This movement is growing in potential. Fully unleashed, people power will defeat imperialist power.