Saturday, May 24, 2014

Madagascar Marches Against Monsanto!!!

On May 24th in Madagascar's southwestern capital city of Toliara, more than 100 farmers, students, and citizens gathered in the city's Jardin de la Mer, to join in solidarity with protesters around the world in opposition to the biotechnology giant, Monsanto and their associated genetically modified organisms (GMOs). The event was organized by Navid Rakotofalala, a graduate student of agricultural sciences at the University of Betioky, and was supported by regional farmer's cooperatives after reports surfaced that proponents of biotechnologies were attempting to reverse Madagascar's ban on GMOs in agriculture. “Monsanto is bribing [the newly elected national government's] Ministry of Agriculture” Rakotofala said over a loudspeaker to the gathering crowd. He continued to explain “they seek to poison our children and destroy our farmer's way of life to make room for their corporate profits”, to which the crowd enthusiastically cheered. Following Rakotofalala's introduction, a local vegetable farmer, Madame Andrianampianianana offered her vision for the future of Madagascar's food supply. “We can feed ourselves with native species and traditional methods alone, our local farms are doing fine thank you very much!” Andrianampianianana concluded. To end the speaking event, Dr. Roland Ranitsoa-Azafady, professor emeritus of mechanical engineering from the University of Fort Dauphin spoke on the issue of GMOs and Madagascar's importance to global biodiversity. Ranitsoa-Azafady described a possible future of unstoppable genetic pollution spoiling this most important of natural resources. He drew connections between the loss of biodiversity and such other issues as eco-tourism decline and the possibility of ecosystems services failing in what can be described as ecocide. “Our children absolutely deserve better, we must work together to resist Monsanto's forced entry into Madagascar!”. The event was not without controversy. Professor Henry Ranitsiraka, a nutritionist from the northern Malagasy University of Ampefy was not a public speaker, but made a point to dissent from the opinion of the crowd. “New biotechnologies like Golden Rice may be an important technology for improving nutrition in this country, we just shouldn't rule out everything and limit ourselves so strongly, each crop should be judged individually” Ranitsiraka tried to explain to a skeptical crowd. Raktofalala was quick to engage this point noting that “Golden Rice is a myth and not needed here, children can get enough vitamin A from our ample supply of fruits and vegetables. It is true, there are problems – my own cousin has lost his vision early in life, but he should have eaten a better diet, not untested western technologies funding private corporations! And Ranitsiraka LIES - we don't need ANY GMOs here, he is paid by Monsanto DIRECTLY, this is a JOKE!!!”. Madagascar currently prohibits the agricultural production or importation of GMOs, yet multiple recent reports indicate strong pressure to change these laws and flood the food system with processed food imports and expensive patented seeds from developed countries. 

No comments:

Post a Comment