Chile rejects seed patent legislation known as the 'Monsanto Law'

Friday, April 18, 2014 by: L.J. Devon, Staff Writer
Tags: seed patents, Monsanto Law, Chile

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(NaturalNews) The Monsanto corporate lobby travels around the world, looking for new seed markets to control. Through flattery, biotech reps try to convince government officials to create new seed patent laws that could increase a country's agricultural exports and revenue. Biotechnology is marketed as a higher-yield technology for crop production. Some countries' officials are easily hoodwinked and find ways to allow biotech corporations to take over the seed markets through new patenting laws. This drives small and midsized farmers out of production, as GMO control takes over a country's food sovereignty and biodiversity in agriculture.

Large wave of Chilean activists block "Monsanto Law," as food sovereignty prevails

Four years ago, a bill was introduced to the Chilean government, a bill that catered to biotechnology demands. At least 15 environmental groups and a new wave of aware politicians rose up to take action against the new bill which would have allowed multinational agribusiness corporations to gain control of seeds through patent. Any seed Monsanto could find, generate or engineer in Chile could be controlled, and farmers would be required to ask permission and pay fees to grow those seeds.

But a large faction of people in Chile isn't putting up with the agriculture-takeover tactics. In respect for their small and midsized farmers who make an honest living providing food to the country, Chileans have made a statement to Monsanto, rejecting the bill that appears to be written by the Monsanto lobby itself. This "Monsanto Law" has been stricken down, as the people of Chile have spoken. They are not going to subject their country's heritage of seeds to the manipulation and control of biotechnology giants.

How are they doing it? The people are taking to the streets in protest. They are pressuring Parliament Senators. Many of them are behind a new political party called the New Majority. This party is more aware of biotechnology's influence on their government's laws and is more proactive in protecting the liberties of farmers.

This pressure has prompted Secretary General Ximena Rincon to pledge to the people that the Chilean government will "analyze all that is known in our country and internationally about this issue in order to protect the rights of agricultural communities, small and medium-sized farmers, and the heritage of seeds in our country."

Monsanto's seed patenting law tactics wipe out small farmers, forcing them to pay fees and submit to corporate control

Activist and environmentalist Lucia Sepulveda from the Alliance for a Better Quality of Life/Pesticide Action Network of Chile boldly stated, "We reject this law because it is a threat to family farms and to biodiversity." Sepulveda's organization unified thousands of Chilean people last August to march in the country's biggest cities, as part of a mass protest against the "Monsanto Law."

This "Monsanto Law" would have given biotech giants authority over the people's agricultural sovereignty, allowing the corporations to register patents for the heritage seeds in Chile. By controlling the country's seeds, corporations like Monsanto could then genetically modify them.

On top of that, the law would require farmers to pay companies like Monsanto annual fees for the right to use the very seeds they had used freely throughout history. If the farmers couldn't renew their seed "rights" each year and obtain permission from the corporations, then they would be forced out of production. GMO seed would then push in to Chilean agriculture and take over the country, ultimately wiping out the country's heritage seeds.This would increase the country's GMO export but also force many small and midsized farmers out of production, making the domestic food market suffer.

"Big agriculture, or agro-business[,] is just that, a business. It doesn't feed our country," said Alicia Munoz, co-director of the National Association of Rural and Indigenous Women. She has spent the past year convincing parliament senators to reject the "Monsanto Law." She reiterated that small farmers "don't have to depend on a Monsanto, Bayer or a Syngenta to get seeds."

This fight is about protecting food sovereignty. Moreover, it's about keeping food clean and unmodified. Chileans shouldn't need to ask a corporation for permission to grow food.

Commenting on the biotechnology takeover plot, Munoz said, "It would erase the history of our grandparents, our ancestors who taught us how to care for and grow our seeds."

Activist Sepulveda agrees, "If the vast majority of seeds in Chile are registered, the traditional species of seeds will fall into disuse."

The fight is not over. Activists are now pressuring the Chilean President to block biotechnology laws from entering the Parliament.

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