By October 19, 2015 17 Comments Read More →

Indigenous Mayans Win Stunning Repeal of Hated ‘Monsanto Law’

Photo Credit: Cristina Chiquin

Photo Credit: Cristina Chiquin

Alex Pietrowski, Staff
Waking Times

The success of the Guatemalan people in defending their food sovereignty and stopping “Monsanto Law” is an inspiring example that people, when united, can overpower even the largest of corporations.

A new law was passed in Guatemala in June 2015 that would have given exclusivity on patented seeds to a handful of transnational companies such as Monsanto. The opposition brought together a diverse set of people from across the Central American nation. Trade unions and farmers, social movements, women’s organizations and Mayan indigenous people took to the streets outside of the Congress and Constitutional Court in Guatemala City to protest the Monsanto Law and to show their disdain for the role that GMO seeds and their patent holders would now play in Guatemala.

On September 2, a large group of Mayan indigenous people blocked several streets in front of the Congress and demanded the immediate overturn of the law. Coinciding with several court injunctions in order to stop the new law from taking effect, the peaceful protests finally ended on September 4, 2015, after ten days, when the Congress of Guatemala repealed the law.


To the Mayans, who make up about half of the Guatemalan population, ownership of corn seed and the freedom to cultivate their own crops means much more than just food freedom.

“Corn taught us Mayan people about community life and its diversity, because when one cultivates corn one realizes that there is a variety of crops such as herbs and medical plants depending on the corn plant as well. We see that in this coexistence the corn is not selfish, the corn shows us how to resist and how to relate with the surrounding world.” ~ Lolita Chávez, The Mayan People’s Council

Monsanto’s Attack on Food Sovereignty

In many countries, indigenous tribes and rural populations have cultural traditions concerning land cultivation that are deeply rooted in their ancestry. These traditions are often centered around essential staple foods such as corn, which make up a substantial part of the simple diet of rural and indigenous people. Cultivation of food is regarded as a cultural custom and a God-given right. By replacing heirloom seeds with patented genetically modified (GM) seeds, this freedom is often lost.

Markets that have been overrun by Monsanto’s GM seeds have suffered near extinction of natural seed and created a great imbalance between local producers and national corporations. For example, in the United States upward of 90% of soybean and corn are now genetically modified, and in Argentina about 90% of soybeans are genetically modified. In Guatemala, where currently about 70% of the population relies on small-scale agricultural activities for their livelihood, this type of threat to natural seed would create tragic consequences.

You May Also Like: Agrichemical Companies Have Destroyed Argentina’s Farming Towns With Soaring Cancer Rates And Quadrupling Birth Defects

Criminalizing Small Farmers

Monsanto spends untold resources suing family farms for patent infringement. Farmers are forbidden from saving patented seeds year to year. Additionally when Monsanto’s GM seeds pollute neighboring farms, Monsanto sues those farms too.

According to information from Food Democracy Now, a grassroots community for sustainable food system, Monsanto’s GMO Roundup Ready soybeans, the world’s leading chemical and biotech seed company, admits to filing 150 lawsuits against America’s family farmers, while settling another 700 out of court for undisclosed amounts.

Farmers in countries where sale of Monsanto’s GM seeds are legal face the same repercussions. The Monsanto Law in Guatemala meant that farmers would not be allowed to grow food from natural seeds. They would have to license patented seeds from transnational companies such as Monsanto, and pay patent fees even if GM seeds got mixed with their natural crop as a result of pollination or wind.

It is very common for international companies to enter and seek control of territories with rich and abundant natural resources, using their money and power to coerce local governments to “remove” any obstacles standing in their way. Monsanto Law was a result of a free trade agreement Guatemala made with the United States, ratified in 2005. The law was approved without the involvement of or counsel from those most affected – the small farmers and the indigenous people who grow their own food, typically corn and beans, for their own consumption. The law would have made criminals of these farmers. It was likely to result in increased food prices and would have increased social conflict between indigenous Mayan people and transnational corporations.

The Mayan people and other Guatemalans clearly did not agree with governmental policy that turned farmers into criminals and favored transnational corporations. They peacefully fought to have Monsanto Law repealed and they won!! Their success is another victory in the global movement to ban GMO crops and retain, or in some places reclaim, control over food sovereignty.

“The fight to preserve collective property of Mayan communities such as vegetable seeds, which historically have served as a source of development and survival for the Mayan civilization, is a way to confront the open doors that the neoliberal governments have widely open in favor of national and transnational corporations that genetically modify and commercialize the feeding of mankind.” ~ Nim Sanik, Maya Kaqchikel from Chimaltenango

Read more articles from Alex Pietrowski.

About the Author

Alex Pietrowski is an artist and writer concerned with preserving good health and the basic freedom to enjoy a healthy lifestyle. He is a staff writer for WakingTimes.com and Offgrid Outpost, a provider of storable food and emergency kits. Alex is an avid student of Yoga and life.

Source:

http://upsidedownworld.org/main/guatemala-archives-33/5042-mayan-peoples-movement-defeats-monsanto-law-in-guatemala

This article (Indigenous Mayans Win Stunning Repeal of Hated ‘Monsanto Law’) was originally created and published by Waking Times and is published here under a Creative Commons license with attribution to Alex Pietrowski and WakingTimes.com. It may be re-posted freely with proper attribution, author bio, and this copyright statement.

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  • gratatt

    This is wonderful news. People all over the world are rising up against Monsanto now. Every small victory counts.

  • rapier1

    “Additionally when Monsanto’s GM seeds pollute neighboring farms, Monsanto sues those farms too.” This statement is entirely untrue. If it is true please provide reference to such a lawsuit. Case number, court documents, whatever.

    Second, no one is being forced to plant patented seeds. They really aren’t. If you don’t want to plant patented seeds no one is going to force you to do so.

    Third, there are a large number of *non* GMO patented seeds as well (in fact the large majority of patented seeds are non-GMO). A lot of people don’t seem to understand this. Almost all hybrid seed varieties have some sort of intellectual property rights associated with them along with prohibitions against replanting. Which is fine as you would never want to replant from a hybrid varietal anyway.

    • gratatt

      Really? In India, farmers were killing themselves because they were forced to buy Monsanto GMO seeds and not allowed to save their seeds, as they had for generations. They could not afford the seeds, and Monsanto was threatening to sue many of them, so they went bankrupt, and now they are dead. You sound like a Monsano shill.

      • rapier1

        I’m not a shill – that would imply they are paying me money. I receive no money from them or any other company for expressing my opinions. Do you receive money from anyone for expressing your opinions? Just because someone doesn’t share your opinion doesn’t mean they are a shill. Anyway, as for the farmer suicides in India. Natasha Gilbert writing in the journal Nature stated “contrary to popular myth, the introduction in 2002 of genetically
        modified Bt cotton is not associated with a rise in suicide rates among
        Indian farmers.” (doi:10.1038/497024a). The data available indicates that the suicide rate amoungst Indian farmers has been pretty stable even with increasing amounts of bT cotton being planted. I’m sure that going into extra debt to purchase bT seed may have played a roll in some individual suicides but overall it doesn’t seem to have had any appreciable impact on the suicide rate. Also, even in India no one was forced to buy bT seed if they didn’t want to. Conventional cotton seed was and remains available for purchase in India (and it costs significantly less). Also, could you provide some sort of citation for Monsanto suing farmers in India? All I’ve been able to find are some farmers suing Monsanto.

  • That is what dogmatic materialistic
    science and their money worshipping backers want you to believe.
    Materialism is based on antiquated Aristotelian Logic.
    These
    arrogant dogmatists can’t explain why an airtight container of seeds
    on a balance scale when the moon is waning weigh more as the moon
    gets full.
    Where does the extra mass come from? Why do you get
    your best crop of sunflower plants when the seeds are planted when
    the sun is in Leo.
    With an open mind we know that the mineral is
    dead and the plant lives because the plant has a life force which
    obeys the laws of projective geometry,
    life forces coming from a
    periphery and intersecting and giving life to everything living.
    The
    Father God has thought all thoughts for eternity, Christ has given
    Life to these thoughts through Love and the Holy Spirit, through her
    Wisdom has given form to the
    Life.

    The four Gospels
    contain the most valuable knowledge obtainable concerning the
    occultism of healing. There is no document preserved to man from the
    past which has more of the mysteries of occult healing than the
    Gospels.
    Now the Bible as a whole consists of three parts : for
    the Revelation of St. John is as clearly distinct from the Gospels,
    as they are from the books of the Old Testament, As the Old Testament
    depicts the the preparation in earthly history for the Christ-event,
    and the Gospels the event itself, so the Apocalypse depicts the
    consequences resulting from that event. But the Apocalypse contains
    no history of the generations, such as the Old Testament contains,
    nor the delineation of the life and suffering of any single being,
    such as the Gospels give us. The Apocalypse depicts future human and
    cosmic events : it shows the cosmic results of the Incarnation of
    Christ. These results are not only of a spiritual and moral kind ;
    they partake of the character of Nature- happenings. The Apocalypse
    shows what influence spiritual and moral impulses will exercise in
    time to come upon the forces of Nature. Alterations in the strata of
    the Earth’s interior and in the etheric strata round the
    Earth,
    are accurately described in the Revelation of St. John as effects of
    moral causes The cosmic drama of the Apocalypse deals not only with
    the struggle which concerns Mankind, but also with the struggle which
    concerns Nature. It points to facts lying outside the regions of
    eugenic and hygienic occultism : for the effect of the humanly
    spiritual on the external Nature-forces is the theme of mechanical
    occultism. And the Apocalypse is the only authoritative document
    which preserves to man the knowledge contained in mechanical
    occultism.

  • This evil biotechnology is leading humanity further and further on a wrong path. This dogmatic materialistic science with a denial of the Spirit is on its way of destroying most of humanity with its learned ignoramuses who through their arrogance think they are the only ones that know everything.

  • stonehillady

    Monsanto is Monsanto’s worst enemy, they know NOTHING about food and the cultures of people who rely on food as a living, and as a way of life. They are stupid people with the power of the purse, that’s all, they come from the dumbed down educational system in America and will be taught and will be brought down for their inexcusable dumbness.

    • It is not dumbness, but classic textbook psychopathic maneuvering. The psychopaths brain is predatory and is capable of planning only one move at a time to get what it wants and has no capacity for compassion, so consequences are irrelevant. It is only capable of focusing on the immediate result of it’s desires, which is absolute control.

  • Erwin Alber

    I don’t know about in Guatemala, but in Mexico all traditional strains of corn have already been contaminated with pollen from GMO corn. Monsanto is guilty of crimes against nature and humanity and should be shut down.

    • gratatt

      I know. This is so sad. There is no traditional corn anymore.

  • ConcernForHumanRights

    This happened in 2014, not 2015.

    • Roz Dotson

      the law was passed in June , 2015…it was REPEALED September 4, 2015…

      • ConcernForHumanRights

        No, it happened in 2014 not 2015. Look at the original article. I was here in Guatemala when it happened. It’s great that it happened. But it happened in 2014.

  • sk1951

    Awesome!

  • but what happens where there is no indigenous/tribal/cultural ground to direct the compass to as the appeal? is it applicable/interchangeable as a way for non-indigenous peoples too? the global victories perhaps will filter through the veil into the u.s, where it is baby steps toward something as basic as food yet leaps and bounds toward all the other things that come after the fast has been broken with the morning meal . ..

    • Roz Dotson

      Yes…it is not just indigenous/tribal/cultural groups protesting and Monsanto is losing on many products…it won’t be long before the company goes broke…

  • lorijb

    Your going down Monsanto’s.

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