More Monsanto News – More Labor Lawsuits; Ties to Paraguayan Coup?

FIC keeps a constant critical eye on biotech giant Monsanto due to its frequent violations of food integrity – food production that is consistent with community values, principles, and beliefs. Recurring news on the agribusiness behemoth definitely keeps us on our toes. (See FIC’s previous blog posts about Monsanto).

Last week, eight migrant farmworkers filed a federal lawsuit against Monsanto for paying them sub-minimum wages, placing them in substandard housing, and charging rent despite promises that it would be free. The farmworkers had traveled from Texas in summer 2010 to detassel (remove the pollen-producing flowers so that a hybrid seed can be produced) and sort Monsanto’s corn crops in Indiana, an already thankless job that the company seemingly worsened by this alleged treatment (which also included leaving the workforce to fight over kitchen facilities in a cramped school bus).

Food integrity? We think not. Good for these farmworkers for speaking up for themselves, a rarity given the obstacles of having to find seasonal work every year to provide for their families, frequent exploitation that inhibits their right to tell, and no whistleblower protections.

pres_lugoOusted Paraguayan President Fernando LugoAccording to Natural News, Monsanto has also been stirring up trouble abroad – purportedly linked to a controversial coup that recently ousted Paraguayan President Fernando Lugo. Apparently, the company has had a strong corporate influence in the country over the years, converting much of Paraguay’s arable land into fields of genetically engineered (GE) crops. But the democratic election of President Lugo in 2008 moved to threaten Monsanto’s dominance due to Lugo’s resistance against the company’s GE crop agenda. The local oligarchy, and transnational corporations like Monsanto that “have established a powerful stronghold in the country” weren’t having President Lugo’s policy changes that upset their status quo. So now forced impeachment has been added to the list of retaliation measures used to keep governments in line with biotech interests. Scary indeed.

While Monsanto continues to assert control both overseas and at home, individuals with firsthand experience continue to question its practices. Earlier this month, FIC reported on a former Monsanto employee talking on the radio about why he became disillusioned with the company’s claims regarding GE crops. Similarly, a conventional corn and soybean farmer in Illinois that used to grow Monsanto’s Roundup Ready crops has finally become fed up. Wendel Lutz, a member of the American Soybean Association, said that his first year of growing the GE crops went without a hitch, but in the years that followed, he was forced to increase his rates of Roundup herbicide (a concern refuting the industry’s claim that GE crops reduce herbicide use), weeds became resistant to the chemical and yields didn’t increase as promised. So this year, Lutz is growing non-genetically modified corn and soybeans instead. He also stated he opposes Monsanto’s patents on seeds, supports the labeling of GE foods, and urges scientists to find out the truth about the products’ safety.

The more whistleblowers that stand up to Monsanto and shine a light on its food integrity deficiencies, the better. We mustn’t let coup d’états and other scare tactics silence those that hold the truth. We’re keeping our eye on you, Monsanto.

Sarah Damian is New Media Associate for the Government Accountability Project, the nation’s leading whistleblower protection and advocacy organization.

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*Patricia Lohan *

Helping you find peace in your life.........*Sacred Sound Healing Practitioner * BodyMind Balancing Therapist * Reiki Master * Yoga Teacher

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