Originally published December 12 2014
GM soy farming displaces indigenous people, raising rates of disease and poverty as corporations profit
by Daniel Barker
(NaturalNews) Although the greatest concerns regarding GMO-based agriculture are the long-term implications for human health and the environment in general -- which are not yet fully known or understood -- there are also serious consequences for small farmers and others who are already being negatively impacted by the implementation of large-scale GMO agricultural operations.
One sad example is the plight of indigenous people living in Paraguay, who are being displaced and sickened by GM soy farming projects. The indigenous people of Paraguay account for only 2 percent of the country's total population, but in recent times they have become the victims of land-grabbing schemes and illegal logging in the forests where they have lived for centuries.
Now they are being further threatened by the GM soy-exporting corporations who have cut down huge swaths of forest and poisoned the environment in which they struggle to continue living according to their old traditions.
Paraguay's indigenous people suffer a poverty rate of 63 percent, a rate which is many times higher than the national average. Forty percent of indigenous communities in the country no longer have access to land. Meanwhile, those who do have land rights are being systematically overrun by ranching and soy-farming operations, which are forcing many to move to urban areas where their poverty situation becomes even worse.
Those who choose to remain in their traditional communities are being sickened by the pollution resulting from the large-scale GM soy-farming operations, while also having to deal with the consequences of climate change, such as cycles of serious floods and droughts.
UN special rapporteur for the rights of indigenous peoples, Victoria Tauli Corpuz, recently visited Paraguay to investigate. She told reporters in the capital, Asuncion, that Paraguay's recent economic boom has come at the expense of the country's natural resources, such as forests and rivers, on which indigenous communities depend for survival.
According to Tauli Corpuz:
Almost half of the indigenous communities informed me that they lacked land and even when they have property titles, the security of owning land is not guaranteed.
Unequal land distribution has been a serious problem in Paraguay since the 19th century, and things got even worse in the last half of the 20th century, particularly under the dictatorship of General Alfredo Stroessner. Much of the country's state-owned land was given to friends and allies of Stroessner, and there are land reform disputes over those areas continuing today.
When industrialized agriculture and soy farming became widespread in Paraguay during the 1970s, many small farmers were pushed off of their land.
In 1996, the Monsanto corporation began planting genetically modified soy seed in Argentina, which shares a border with Paraguay. Soon after, GM soy farming also began in Paraguay, and the country has now become the fourth largest exporter of soy in the world.
Although the GM soy farming operations in Paraguay generate huge profits for Monsanto and other large corporations, very little of that money is distributed within the country, since these companies are exempted from paying taxes.
Meanwhile, the indigenous people of Paraguay continue to suffer and are almost helpless to do anything other than stand by while their lands and traditional way of life are destroyed by greedy corporations and the corrupt politicians who serve them.
As a report by TeleSURtv.net observed:
Paraguayan farmers and indigenous communities are not only suffering from one of the most unequal distributions of land, but also from the invasion of one of the worst agricultural models: soy exportation, mechanized agriculture, and genetically modified seeds all combined together.
And this is a tragedy that is not limited to Paraguay or South America, for that matter. Similar problems are occurring in Africa and elsewhere -- and even in the United States.
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