Revolution in South Asia

An Internationalist Info Project

Monsanto’s zombie crops in Nepal?

Posted by redpines on November 21, 2011

Imperialist countries often use development aid to force neoliberal economic reforms on poorer countries. USAID, the US government’s notorious ‘foreign aid and assistance’ program has a history of promoting export-oriented agricultural production in countries like Haiti. This is what happened there: 

This “aid” from the Americans, along with the structural changes in the countryside predictably forced Haitian peasants who could no longer survive to migrate to the cities…where the new manufacturing jobs were supposed to be.  However, when they got there they found there weren’t nearly enough manufacturing jobs go around.  The city became more and more crowded.  Slum areas expanded.  And to meet the housing needs of the displaced peasants, quickly and cheaply constructed housing was put up, sometimes placing houses right “on top of each other.”

USAID is operating in Nepal, and not just in easily accessible urban areas. Reporters from the blog Winter Has Its End observed projects associated with USAID in fairly remote, rural areas of the country, where small-scale peasant agriculture is the primary occupation. If Nepal follows a capitalist path of development, its future might resemble Haiti’s. 

The article below suggests USAID  in Nepal is working with Monsanto, one of the most widely hated corporations in the world.  Genetically modified crops sold by companies like Monsanto have destroyed the lives of farmers in India, causing many to commit suicide. This note  from USAID’s site confirms that the organization is helping Monsanto to push its hybrid varieties of corn, However,  it disavows the claim that GMO seeds are part of the deal. 

As usual, reports from the bourgeois press should be considered with some caution. The article originally appeared here.

Monsanto partners with USAID to push GM corn in Nepal

Sunday, November 20, 2011

by Jonathan Benson

The southeast Asian country of Nepal is once again having to fight against foreign interests that are trying to take over its agricultural system. Biotechnology giant Monsanto apparently has its sights set on bringing genetically-modified organisms (GMOs) to this sliver of a country just north of India, and it is allegedly working with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), a so-called humanitarian group, and officials in Nepal to make it happen.

USAID issued a statement on Sept. 13, 2011, saying that it had partnered with Nepal’s Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives (MoACs) and Monsanto to “promote hybrid maize (corn) seeds among 20,000 farmers of Chitwan, Nawalparasi and Kavre districts and provide training to them.” Media across Nepal quickly picked up on the story, and massive public outcry ensued.

GMOs are not widely cultivated in Nepal, and the country has always taken a very cautious approach to adopting them. In fact, when it was discovered that some GMO ingredients had potentially already contaminated the nation’s food supply back in 2003, government officials quickly made precautionary recommendations at the time to require GMO labeling on all food items.

But with multinational corporations and the US government working overtime to force GM corn on Nepali farmers, Nepal appears to be getting pushed to the brink of no return. Though Nepal still imports some of its corn from elsewhere, the country is having no problems with the conventional, organic, and heirloom varieties it currently cultivates, and has no need whatsoever for GM varieties.

Since the controversy erupted, Nepali officials have reportedly backed off from the plan. Hari Dahal, joint secretary at MoACs, told reporters recently that his agency had “no idea why USAID issued the statements saying that the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives was partnering with Monsanto” because “no agreement had been signed.”

USAID was a little more ambiguous about whether or not MoACs was specifically involved in the matter, but the agency did make it very clear that it is working with Monsanto to promote GMOs around the world, including in Nepal. And based on the way Monsanto continues to thrust GMOs on the people of India just to the south, there is no doubt that the biotech giant is doing the same thing to people of Nepal as we speak.

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