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Paraguayan small farmers fight back against multinational corporations destroying their lives

GMO corporations

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(NaturalNews) Armchair activists who insist, often violently, that genetically-modified organisms (GMOs) are "feeding the world" are clearly oblivious to the fact that this ominous crop technology is aggressively destroying biodiversity and leaving farmers and rural-dwellers all around the world with no other option than to flock to the cities in search of new work.

Such a scenario is endemic throughout much of South America, where GM soy plantations are gobbling up rainforests, orchards and small farms everywhere. A section of eastern Paraguay that used to be home to 8,000 unique plant species, for instance, has shrunk to just 10 percent of its original size, the result of agrochemical companies swarming in and taking over the land.

With promises of huge yields and wealth for everyone, multinational corporations like Monsanto are tricking farmers into converting their bio-diverse agriculture systems into chemical-intensive commodity plantations. Once locked into tight contracts, these same farmers end up plunging into debt as they watch the natural environment around them decay.

The situation in eastern Paraguay, as highlighted in a recent piece by The Guardian, is particularly troubling in that its once vast and diverse Atlantic forest is now almost entirely decimated as a result of GM soy crops. One after another, large land plots are being razed of their sundry fauna and transformed into large factory farms, which are being heavily sprayed with noxious chemicals.

According to The Guardian, GM soy production more than doubled in the region between the years of 2006 and 2013, increasing from 1.6 million hectares to 3.5 million hectares. Besides suffering massive losses in biodiversity, the area is now more polluted than ever, and many people have been driven off their land entirely.

"Our farms and our families work together -- we want to work and to thrive and be healthy -- and that means protecting the trees and the soil and the water," stated two small farmers who are actively fighting the tide of agricultural takeover in eastern Paraguay. "Without that we have nothing. Soy gives nothing and loses everything."

707 hectares of bio-diverse Chaco land in Paraguay being converted to chemical agriculture daily, statistics reveal

The two farmers, Sixto Alado and Victorino Gimenes Roa, have watched many of their neighbors flee the area over the years as a result of the soy plantations. The monoculture techniques involved in growing GM soy are contaminating the soil with deadly chemicals, they say, and polluting the area's natural water sources, making it impossible to grow enough food to live.

Both men have fought to preserve their own livelihoods -- the small farm around Victorino's house is reportedly full of trees and vines brimming with pineapples, oranges, melons and peanuts -- as well as the diverse "agroforestry paradise" that still exists around them. But the pressure is strong to give up and give in, something neither of them plan to do anytime soon.

The Chaco, a 250,000-square-mile section of Paraguay in the north that represents about 60 percent of the country's overall land area, is seeing some of the worst levels of deforestation. The latest statistics revealed last September show that 707 hectares per day are being lost to not only soy plantations but beef ranches, which feed cattle the GM soy grown on the plantations.

"I can't stop fighting as it will end with mass migration from the area, contamination and destruction of the community," added Geronimo Arevalos, another vigilant small-scale organic farmer whose land is now surrounded by GM soy plantations, some as close as 100 meters away. "[T]he land is life... if [there's] no land for food where would I go?"





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