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Argentina's citizens block construction of Monsanto GMO plant, fight to protect sanctity of seeds and food against corporate imperialism


(NaturalNews) Agri-giant Monsanto continues to lose the public affairs battle with the people of the world who, by the hundreds of millions, are catching on to the dangers of genetically modified foods.

For more than three years now, protestors in Malvinas, Argentina have blocked the construction of what would become Monsanto's second-largest seed plant in Latin American after the local council approved construction of the plant.

"Cordobeses (residents of Cordoba) will be proud to have one of the most important (seed-producing) plants in the world," Monsanto's website claims, according to GMWatch. "The more than one thousand employees of Monsanto Argentina are proud and thankful to be a part of the community of Malvinas, Argentina."

However, after Monsanto broke ground for the plant in September 2013, "a group of activists blockaded the plant's five entrances and set up camp," the site noted.

Soon after, a court injunction halted construction officially in January 2015, but protesters have recently been handed an eviction notice, delivered at Monsanto's request, prompting local activists to mobilize further to strengthen the blockade. After that, a prosecutor suspended the eviction order.

Widening deforestation

GMWatch.org reported that on the two-year anniversary of the protest some 150 people passed through the camp to support those blockading the construction. Others went to the cities of Cordoba and Buenos Aires to march in solidarity with the message that Monsanto was not welcome in the country. And yet, despite mounting opposition and legal barriers, Monsanto continues to push to build the plant.

"Malvinas is a small town in the northeastern Argentinian province of Cordoba," GMWatch reported. "The area has long been the site of multinational corporate interests: Route A88, which runs past Monsanto's inactive site, serves plants owned by Coca-Cola, Argentine energy company YPF, and Bayer. Monsanto's proposed plant would be responsible for producing and treating corn seed."

Monsanto has been in Argentina for decades. In the mid-1950s, the company began making plastics, eventually manufacturing massively destructive chemical herbicides like Agent Orange, used to defoliate huge sections of Vietnamese jungle during the Vietnam War, and which led to major health problems for U.S. military personnel who fought there, as well as native populations.

In addition, Monsanto began producing GM soybeans in 1996, which quickly altered the nature of agriculture in Argentina, GMWatch reported. "Between 1980 and 2005, the area of land dedicated to soybean production increased from two million to 17 million hectares. Now, GM soy monocultures largely comprise the Argentinean countryside."

Many have blamed the proliferation of GM crops in the country for the deforestation of native forests and indirect deforestation that is caused by the relocation of cattle from better grasslands.

End of the family farm

"Not so long ago Argentina topped the world for meat production, but here there was not a cow in sight," said Glenn Ellis, a documentary filmmaker investigating Monsanto in Argentina.

Once, Argentina boasted world-famous pasture-fed cattle, but the land grab for GM crops has moved them to feedlots, and their diets have changed from natural grass to processed grain.

Family farming, as in the U.S., is also a thing of the past in Argentina, and the GMO expansion of crops has not only driven cattle off the land but local farmers as well. GM crops are marketed as cost-saving, having higher yields and so forth, but they have been repeatedly shown to come with huge costs in terms of health and pesticide usage, without any appreciable yield increase.

"While deforestation and job loss are significant consequences of Argentina's GM boom, the rallying call for the grassroots opposition is health," reports GMWatch. "Despite the existence of laws prohibiting pesticide spraying close to residential areas (laws differ between regions and in some are nonexistent), GM soy is grown next to houses, water sources, workplaces, and schools."





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