Haiti Refuses Monsanto Seed Donation

WASHINGTON – Advocates for Haitian peasants said a U.S.-based company’s donation of up to 475 tons of hybrid vegetable seeds to aid Haitian farmers will harm the island-nation’s agriculture.

The advocates contend the donation is being made in an effort to shift farmer dependence from local seed to more expensive hybrid varieties shipped from overseas.

Haitian farmers and small growers traditionally save seed from season to season or buy the seed they desire from traditional seed markets.

However, an official from the St. Louis-based Monsanto Co. told Catholic News Service that the seed is simply a donation to the Haitian government. The first two shipments – 135 tons – of hybrid varieties of corn, cabbage, carrot, eggplant, melon, onion, spinach, tomato and watermelon arrived in Haiti during the first two weeks of May.

Bazelais Jean-Baptiste of the Peasant Movement of Papay, the primary group opposed to the donation, told CNS June 1 from his office in Brooklyn, N.Y., that farmers usually are skeptical of unknown seed varieties.

“From my experience, the peasant (farmer) is very careful in using the seeds, particularly corn,” Jean-Baptiste said. “They would not plant a seed they did not know because they invested time to prepare the land and the seed.”

In a widely distributed e-mail in mid-May, Jean-Baptiste’s brother, Chavannes, executive director of the peasant group, excoriated the seed donation as “a new earthquake.”

He said the entry of Monsanto seed into Haiti was “a very strong attack on small agriculture, on farmers, on biodiversity, on Creole seeds … and on what is left of our environment in Haiti.”

The Haitian Ministry of Agriculture welcomed the gift in April, but only after Monsanto assured officials that the seeds were not genetically modified varieties. Ministry officials refused an earlier gift of herbicide-treated seed.

The seed is being distributed to farmer stores for sale at significantly reduced prices. News reports said the seed has been sent to Leogane, Arcahaie, and Mirebalais.

Monsanto plans to send up to an additional 345 tons of hybrid corn seed by May 2011. The company valued the seed at $4 million.

Some of the seed is being distributed by a U.S. Agency for International Development program designed to increase farmer productivity. The five-year-long Watershed Initiative for National Natural Environmental Resources program, or WINNER, provides in-country expertise, technical advice, fertilizer and other services to farmers.

The program recently distributed 60 tons of the donated seed to seed stores.

“If hybrids are introduced with proper technical assistance, which WINNER is providing, the farmers can get the most out of these seeds,” said Adam Reinhart, agriculture officer for USAID’s Haiti Task Team.

In a statement June 1, the company denied it was using the donation to open doors to the Haitian market.

“We have a small vegetable business in Haiti today, sold through a distributor,” said Monsanto spokesman Darren Wallis. “We do not have a commercial corn business in Haiti. Our goal is to help build a sustainable agriculture system to benefit the people of Haiti.”

He said the hybrid seed varieties would produce higher yields of crops than the open-pollinated varieties traditionally used by the Haitians.

Wallis also expressed concern that anyone would encourage farmers to burn the donated seed because “the ones hurt by the action will be Haitian farmers and the Haitian people, not those watching on the sidelines.”

A report published March 10 by Catholic Relief Services said Haitian farmers traditionally prefer local seed because it is adapted to local growing conditions.

The finding came during a 10-day assessment of seed needs in Haiti’s Sud department – southwest of Port-au-Prince – six weeks after the magnitude 7 earthquake destroyed a significant part of the country. The study looked at the supply and demand for the five most common food security crops: bean, corn, sorghum, pigeon pea and peanut.

Co-authored by Dina Brick, technical adviser for food security at CRS, the report found that the major concern among farmers after the earthquake was their inability to pay for seed. To compensate, cash-strapped farmers told the researchers they planned to buy less-expensive seed and reduce the amount of seed planted.

The cash shortage among farmers is fueled by the relocation of people who fled earthquake-ravaged regions and moved in with family or friends in rural communities, Brick told CNS May 30.

Brick, who was in Haiti undertaking a countrywide seed assessment study with several other nongovernment organizations, said that, during the first study, seed suppliers and farmers told her that seed supplies were sufficient. Growing seasons vary depending on the crop.

“There needs to be clear evidence that distributed seed is well-adapted to Haitian soils and conditions,” she added. “Haiti has many agro-ecological zones and many microclimates, and local varieties are adapted to these. We need to make sure that distributed varieties are tested in real life conditions that are consistent with Haiti’s latitude, soils, etc.”

CRS also is concerned that seed donations from outside of Haiti may undermine local markets while limiting the types of seed available, Brick said.

“We need to make sure that farmers have a choice on what seed they can access,” she said. “Seed vouchers and fairs enable farmers to choose the crops and varieties they want and need. Seed aid doesn’t always do that; it makes assumptions sometimes.”



18 comments to Haiti Refuses Monsanto Seed Donation

  • bgstrong

    Great, Haiti has too many people and needs some serious “de-population”…Don’t send any seeds…

    • Keith

      beings rot in hell for much less.

    • Sandy

      I have a degree in biochem and others. Monsanto's the one trying to "de-populate", not Haiti. Studies show most "treatments" are toxic. I don't want it, either, but the "powers that be" are so much in the pockets of chemical plants that we're stuck with it. Don't try to poison Haitians, too!

    • Athanasia

      Monsanto is Evil. They want to control the food market. They will starve all of us one day. If you are not informed don't make stupid anti-Haiti comments. They were right to refuse. Monsanto is poisoning crops for control. These crops yield more but they can only be harvested once. They are untested and genetically altered. You don't know the damage that will most definitely happen because of them years down the road. Knowing these seeds will only be harvested once, that's when they drive up the price and make you all their slaves. You want your children to be poisoned mutants some day. Eat genetically altered food. Read… I will do you some good.

  • James G.

    What,are you God or something !? Nope your not God,your just another angry,scared facist bastard,and I hope you do not call America your home ! Human life is sacred,and it is not for you or anyone else to decide what nation or group of people need to be depopulated.
    If I had a choice, I would choose to share an impoverished,pestalence ridden planet with 200 billion people who share a humble but resiliant spirit,rather than share a prosperous,healthy planet, with even a thousand people such as yourself, who are arrogantly cruel,motivated by fear ,hate ,greed and a lust for the demise of others so that you might profit.Get yourself some help,sociopath !

  • Bewareofstrangersbea

    …He who controls the food supply, controls the World…

  • Pierre F. Lherisson

    Monsanto seed donation to Haiti would have been the introduction of a Trojan horse there.

    This multinational agricultural biotechnology corporations as well as DuPont are specialized in genetically modified organisms-GMO which I call “General Malefactor Organization.”

    This company was involves in the production of Agent Orange for us military during the Vietnam War.

    Monsanto first genetically modify a plant cell in 1982.Subsequently, its patented seeds have been distributed under the appellation of “Terminator" that produces plants that have sterile seeds so they do not flower or grow fruit after the initial planting which means that the farmers are compelled the buy seeds year after year from Monsanto

    Those GMO seeds are protected by intellectual property laws which are vigorously enforced by the US government for infringement. The company collects royalty during harvest time. Those gangsters seized nature and declared it to be their properties. Pretty soon when Monsanto or DuPont will start modifying fœtus genetically, the parents of the new born will be require paying royalty at the child birth day since the child will technically is the company property. After the child reach adulthood he or she will have to continue to pay such royalty to the company for ever or the company will deactivate the bionic enhancements or selective section of their memories will b erased.

    We are moving from the natural to the artificial. We are moving from the normal to the abnormal. Pretty soon they will say the abnormal are normal and the normal are now abnormal. If you have any doubts, think hard, open your eyes and Just look around or pick up your newspapers.

    • ihatemonsanto

      Just like now, natural medicine is called "alternative", while new science medicine is called "conventional". When did this all get turned topsy-turvey?

  • HCtQcl Very true! Makes a change to see smooene spell it out like that. 🙂

  • I’m now not positive the place you are getting your info, but good topic. I must spend some time learning much more or figuring out more. Thank you for fantastic information I was in search of this info for my mission.

  • ihatemonsanto

    And this is what happens when the crops promised are not produced: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1082559/T

  • Patriot

    Isn't Monsanto involved with U.N. Agenda 21, the depopulation agenda. I hear that the plan is to start with the poorest of people, such as Haitians. Supposedly, the initial idea is to provide stability, but the genetically modified seeds will not produce the crops necessary to sustain life forever and people will starve to death. I wouldn't trust anything coming from him. A Trojan Horse!

  • No one has mentioned explicitly that if seeds were to be found growing in fields after the first year they will be required to pay the supplier as though the whole crop is of the supplied seeds or end up in the courtroom .

  • humberto

    si mon santo ( lobo con piel de cordero)posiciona sus semillas (que generosamente dona en Haití) los agricultores quedan a su merced como paso con el algodón en India.

  • Hpippins

    Shit if my ass is hungry, I eat the hell out of some hybrid seeds….Yall need to be real here….

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