Biotech industry receives US Government support in bid to undermine Ecuador’s constitutional prohibition of GMOs
Multinational biotech firms are actively working to undermine our food sovereignty – our right to grow and eat the food we want.
These companies would have us believe that their genetically modified seeds are part of the solution to global hunger and food insecurity. They insist that they welcome all approaches, even agroecological ones that do not utilize their products (GM seeds, fertilizers or pesticides). The truth is that the biotech giants have declared war on the world’s independent farmers, and that their GMO seeds and “business practices” actively undercut the food sovereignty and security of all people everywhere.
- GM seeds are dramatically reducing biological diversity as they displace and contaminate seeds traditionally reproduced by farmers on their own farms.
- Genetic contamination from GMO seed is spreading rapidly, destroying local and native seed. For example, Mexico, the cradle of maize/corn, has already lost 80% of its native varieties.
- A few corporations have patented GM seeds for many of the major food and feed crops (including soy, corn, and sugar beet) that cannot be reproduced by farmers because they contain a “terminator” gene. According to Dr. Vandana Shiva, five corporations already control 75% of the world’s commercial seed supply.
- When farmers’ non-GMO seeds are contaminated, the biotech firms that have patented the GM seed sue them for patent infringement – even though the farmers never wanted the genetic material!
- As farmers’ seed supplies are eroded, they become dependent on patented GMO seed, which they must buy from the global corporations year after year. The result is a loss of control over their food production and indebtedness. This sort of debt is leading to mass suicides in countries such as India.
- Around the world, biotech firms, with the help of the US Government and other complicit governments, are introducing laws to enforce compulsory seed registration.
- Whistleblowers have exposed the US Government’s intentions to support the biotech industry’s efforts to proliferate the use of GMOs in countries across Africa, Asia and Latin America, including Ecuador.
It is now clear that the biotech firms are working to gain control over the world’s seeds, and with them the global food system, because they know that seeds are the biological foundation of our food sovereignty. To somebody just learning about this today it may sound like a conspiracy theory. Sadly, it is all too real, and the truth of it can be illustrated by observing what is presently taking place in Ecuador.
Ecuador is a small country slightly smaller than the state of Nevada and with a population of about 14 million, yet it did something incredible, something that so far the US food movement can only dream of accomplishing. In 2008, Ecuador became the first country to declare itself free of GMO seeds and crops during its constitutional convention. Yes, Ecuador’s current Constitution prohibits the use of GMOs!
In the years since the GMO ban was included in the Constitution, the biotech industry has been working in the shadows to undermine the People’s will to keep GMOs out of their food. Last month, to the dismay of millions, Ecuador’s President Rafael Correa aligned himself with the pro-GMO interests and called for the revision of the Constitution.
He justifies this by saying that GMOs are a means to address the country’s food security concerns. Yet there is no scientific evidence that GMOs improve productivity or sustainability in agriculture. Meanwhile, there is ample evidence that GMOs adversely affect human health and destabilize the environment in unpredictable and uncontrollable ways that reach across food systems and international borders.
The introduction of GMOs in Ecuador would place at risk the country’s control over its seed systems and agrobiodiversity as well as contaminate ecologies in an age-old center of origin of primary food crops and other important species. This biodiversity is important to all of us. In addition, as a result of growing consumer concern over GMOs, the introduction of this technology would place into risk Ecuador’s national and international markets, a huge part of its economy.
Despite all this, the US Embassy in Quito has launched a project to bring scientists to Ecuador to “educate” journalists and lobby to change the constitution in favor of GMOs. The US Government’s efforts on behalf of the biotech industry were revealed in an embassy cable – made public by Wikileaks – requesting funding for these activities. US tax dollars are not just going to corporate welfare to support giant biotech companies here at home, which is bad enough, they are also being used to undermine another country’s Constitution to expand the biotech industry’s markets overseas.
If you agree that this must be stopped, please consider taking these four actions today:
- Sign a petition urging Ecuador’s President Rafael Correa to stop biotech corporations from forcing GMOs into Ecuador against the People’s will! The final public debate on GMOs will be held in Quito on October 30, at which time a colleague in Ecuador will hand the petition to President Correa.
- Write or call your Congressman and Senators and tell them to stop the US Embassy in Quito (and the US Government in general) from using taxpayer money to further the biotech industry’s agenda.
- Grow and eat non-GMO foods and demand stores like Whole Foods stop carrying foods that contain GMOs.
- Support the “Yes” vote on Proposition 37 in California this November to label GMOs in our food. Success in California will make it easier for similar efforts to succeed across the country and around the world.
These are small steps we can all take today to resist the subjection of our food, farms and health. The battle for our food sovereignty is ongoing and we must remain vigilant if we hope to stop the biotech industry and reclaim control over our food. In a recent interview the 78-year-old farmer-philosopher Wendell Berry gave this sage advice:
“I tell the young: you can’t get into this on the assumption that you’re going to win, even in your lifetime. You have to get into it because you know it’s right and have all the fun you can while you work.”