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    Monsanto: Food and Freedom?

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    By Amanda Huber MSW

    On the 25th of May across the nation organizers rallied for pesticide free food. Locally in Greensboro North Carolina, concerned citizens marched and rallied for this cause against major corporations that genetically modify food and exploit their employees.  Monsanto is the company that invented round up, aspartame, bovine growth hormone, and Agent Orange which are all chemicals that have harmful effects on the environment and on the human body.  More interestingly about Monsanto is their control and patent of their genetically modified plants.

    Patents on Genetically modified plants have  allowed Monsanto to own life. These seeds are now the intellectual property of a corporation, hence, they now have value as a “product”. A corporation with enough power to patent a plant and sell these plants to farmers has led to an uproar across the globe. In India for example, the control Monsanto has on a cotton seed has contributed to a number of suicides from farmers who could not pay for the seeds which created a system of debt has allowed Monsanto to control the farming population of this area.

    Monsanto created and own most genetically modified organism (GMO), and they have crops all over the globe. Monsanto has created super foods that are resistant to cold, to insects, to animals. This all sounds fantastic! A farmer would be able to yield a larger return on their investment without as much loss? Wrong, if a farmer buys the seeds one year, they are expected to continue to pay a fee because of the patent placed on the seed.

    [youtube]http://youtu.be/LE_DVvIs0cI[/youtube]

    On March 24, the pro-Monsanto “Farmer Assurance Provision, Section 735” was slipped into HR 933. This provision provides that the Department of Agriculture will allow temporary permits to use the GMO seeds in the United States, even under court review.

    Monsanto has driven small local independent farmers out of business and have since targeted these smaller farms in an effort to drive out competition. Being that a major theme of this corporation is focused on power and control of the market, what will happen to the laborers on the these farms.

    Immigration and guest worker permits give rise to the invisible laborer. Farm workers in the United States have not always been treated with dignity and respect often time they have been used by the system of capitalism to provide inexpensive labor during peak harvest seasons. In the 60s there was a mass protest on grapes on this very issue led by Caesar Chavez. Unfortunately, the fight is not over. According to the Huffington Post, a  lawsuit was filed in Texas involving eight laborers, and the suit spoke of unsafe work conditions and inadequate room for all of the laborers.

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    In discussing the H2A visas, there are safeguards in place to assist the worker in navigating the system. However, the only problem is the use of power to control this group of migratory farmers. In my personal experience with farmers and day laborers, they live in constant fear and are typically not informed about their rights in the United States. Unlike Americans who know they have work related rights, a migratory farmer is less likely to petition against an employer. Even when the authorities are called in to investigate, the likelihood of the migratory worker winning without having appropriate back up  is slim. Large farm organizations  such as Monsanto have the opportunity to take advantage of a group of guest workers who are low skilled and alone in a foreign country. USA Today reported on the issue from a systems perspective, and the system we have for guest workers is lucrative for those who have the privileged and power to bring them in.  They are able to process the paperwork, if they are a larger corporation, and hire guest workers through a recruiter who also profits off the backs of the laborer.

    The slave trade is alive and well only instead of molasses, sugar cane and cotton.  Indentured servitude is brokered with grains and genetically modified produce all for a fraction of the cost of local farms and organic gardens. We wonder why the nutritional standards are lowered for our produce. Could this orange also be considered a “blood” orange?

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    Amanda Huber is the Immigration and Social Policy Staff Writer for Social Work Helper. She is a bilingual social worker in clinical practice and a community organizer for Latino rights which includes issues of migratory status, institutional racism, racial profiling, and the ways these issues affect the people.

    16 Comments

    16 Comments

    1. Cheryl Inniss

      June 4, 2013 at 9:04 pm

      Monsanto … is it really food and freedom ??

    2. Jennifer

      June 4, 2013 at 8:41 pm

      Good Lord this is scary! This is the first time I actually understood the severity of this issue.

    3. Obasi Miracle

      June 4, 2013 at 10:37 am

      Love the part explained in the video, thanks for sharing

    4. Andrew Lambie

      June 4, 2013 at 9:11 am

      Nice – Monsatan is avvvverage!

    5. Nicole Gillespie

      June 4, 2013 at 8:32 am

      wow what an awesome post! That is really interesting. Terrible this company has gotten away with this for so long!

    6. Stephen O Brien

      June 4, 2013 at 6:34 am

      Great post.

    7. Social Work Helper

      June 4, 2013 at 12:47 am

      You are very welcome Mark. We try to cover stuff that affects the poor and vulnerable populations. We also try to highlight those who pay it forward with charity and goodwill. Thanks for reading.

    8. SWhelper

      June 4, 2013 at 12:46 am

      US gov’t has recently gave the company a get out jail free card. Even if they product is found to be poisonous…they can’t be charged or sued.

    9. SWhelper

      June 4, 2013 at 12:44 am

      I love your ability to make simple….I agree 100%. Farmers around the globe is having to pay for using their seeds not just once. They are having to pay each year like a lease.

    10. SWhelper

      June 4, 2013 at 12:42 am

      Yes, the company has successful being to gain control of the farming industry.

    11. Loretta Smith

      June 4, 2013 at 12:36 am

      I can’t believe this company has gotten away with this for so many years! So glad we are on it now !

    12. Alli Sylvestre

      June 4, 2013 at 12:34 am

      Bad business behind the scenes

    13. Nick Ritchie

      June 4, 2013 at 12:15 am

      Great post – Monsanto = Evil

    14. Rhi Butler

      June 4, 2013 at 12:09 am

      i have just heard about this recently, thanks for the info 🙂

    15. Robert Manea

      June 3, 2013 at 10:14 pm

      i have never heard of the monsanto

    16. Mark Nelson

      June 3, 2013 at 7:42 pm

      Monsanto is not a good company yet seems to be able to do what they want to. Thank you for this post to keep us all informed.

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