GMO soy bringing poverty, poor health to South America

Sunday, November 14, 2010 by: Ethan A. Huff, staff writer
Tags: GMO soy, poverty, health news

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(NaturalNews) Multinational biotechnology giants like Monsanto continue to spread their genetically-modified organisms (GMOs) around the world in the name of ending world hunger and reducing poverty, but a new report out of Sweden has found the exact opposite to be true. According to a recent piece in SvD, a Swedish newspaper, the transition of South American agriculture from small-scale, localized, diversified farming to primarily large-scale, industrialized, GMO soy farming is destroying the environment, increasing poverty, and harming human health.

GMO soy is destroying local food

"The multinationals are talking about solving climate problems and food supply through GMO, but they are really only interested in making money," explained Jorge Geleano, an advocate for small farmers' rights in South America, to SvD. "Their methods destroy traditional farming that provides food for our population and replaces it with soy, which goes into animal feed to provide meat for the West."

According to Galeano, thousands of family farms in his native homeland of Paraguay have been forced off their land in order to make room for large GMO soy plantations. A nation that was once highly self-sufficient and that grew a lot of its own native foods like potatoes, sweet potatoes, legumes, and lentils, Paraguay has literally been transformed into a corporate-dominated, industrial soy-producing machine. And other South American countries are facing the same peril.

GMO soy is destroying people's lives

Galeano explained to SvD that he helped try to lead a resistance back in 2005 along with about 40 other families that refused to give up their land to the GMO-giants. But these families were ultimately forced off the land anyway, their houses burned down, and even some of their friends and family members gunned down by armed paramilitary forces for not complying with orders.

So the only place left for these displaced farmers and their families to go is into the urban slums, because they no longer have their land or crops, and have ultimately lost their livelihood and sustenance. According to statistics, roughly 27 percent of Paraguayans now live below the poverty line as a result of the invasion of GMO soy, and that number continues to increase.

GMO soy is destroying land and the environment

It is not only people that are bearing the brunt of biotech greed, though; the environment in South America is suffering tremendously as well. Sensitive ecosystems like the Amazon Rainforest and the Cerrado, a large and very fragile savannah, have been bulldozed in many areas to make room for more GMO soy. And there is no end in sight to this practice.

In Brazil, 1.2 million hectares of rainforest have already been leveled to cultivate GMO soy. And in Argentina, about 18 million hectares of land are now growing the crop, which represents more than half of the nation's entire growing areas. And all of the GMO crops, as well as many non-GMO crops, are regularly doused in highly dangerous chemical pesticides, which ruin both the environment and human health.

"In Brazil, the toxic and hazardous pesticides paraquat and endosulfan are still used," explained Jaime Weber, a friend of Geleano that works to promote sustainable and non-toxic organic agriculture in Brazil. "It is a myth that these are not used on GM crops. GM soybeans are sprayed just as much with paraquat [as non-GM]."

Paraquat is linked to Parkinson's disease and other neurological disorders ( while endosulfan is known to disrupt the endocrine system.

"Both the spraying of conventional farming and GMO cultivation [pose] severe health risks to farm workers and those living around the fields," added Weber, noting that the large, industrial farms routinely violate safety standards and spray in irresponsible and dangerous ways because they know they can get away with it without penalty.

Unsustainable growing methods are causing desertification throughout South America as well. The land used to grow GMO soy is heavily burdened with rigorous chemical applications and is also overused. So much of it becomes infertile after just a few years, which leads growers to continually seek out new land while abandoning the old land. Eventually, there will be no more fertile land available.

Stop supporting GMO soy

You can do your part to stop the GMO soy takeover by no longer purchasing products with non-organic soy ingredients. Avoid products that contain any sort of soy derivative -- this includes ingredients like soybean oil, soy lecithin, and soy protein. If it is not organic soy, it is most likely GMO soy. And contacting manufacturers to demand that they remove GMO soy from their products will also help.

You can also support candidates like Francis Thicke ( that are dedicated to ending the reign of GMO terror over humanity, as well as the destructive corporate farming practices that are destroying small-scale farms. (If you are unfamiliar with Thicke, it is worth taking some time to check out his run for Iowa Secretary of Agriculture).

Ultimately, it is up to the People to stand up and speak out against the worldwide hostile takeover of food. It is a tough battle, but getting the word out, organizing food protests, and working hard to get the right people into key positions of power can have a significant impact.

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