April fool 2011 :-)
After Monsanto’s 2009 announcement to end their production of GMO seeds and research, the company is now making amends with the developing world. After selling extensive amounts of “terminator seeds,” or seeds that last one year and then die, the company is paying its dues. Many farmers had not been not educated on the single lifespan of the seeds and lost years of productive agriculture due to a suddenly short seed supply. Seed saving, an age-old practice, is one of the key elements in subsistence agriculture found across the developing world. Monsanto sold and donated terminator seeds to agriculture worldwide, despite a UN Convention on Biological Diversity moratorium in 2000. They marketed the seeds as “safe” because they were unable to reproduce in the wild, eliminating the fear of GMO contamination across wild and agricultural landscapes. For many farmers these seeds marked the end of their agricultural livelihood, and rose serious questions about the mixing of these seeds with reproductive seeds being donated to struggling countries.
Today, Monsanto has announced its intention to right the situation, well over 10 years after the initial strife hit developing countries. The company’s extensive reparations plan includes installing organic, self-sufficient farming systems across struggling developing nations communities. They hope to address the destruction of subsistence and communal farming systems caused in large part by the company’s over-industrialized farming products. Monsanto will also be sponsoring a global microfinance program to support, inspire, and fund sustainable agriculture entrepreneurs in the communities the terminator seeds and GMOs severely jeopardized.
The company’s CEO stated “We [Monsanto] take full responsibility for our unethical and predatory practices in the developing world. We misused our marketing budget and inappropriately leveraged our powerful network to gain additional markets in these countries. Although our initial global strategy laid out plans to integrate GMOs, especially terminator seeds, across poor markets that would create a pattern of reliance between farmers and their governments upon our company, we now recognize this was wrong. We recognize that for many farmers, the veiled introduction of terminator seeds as any other seed ruined their livelihoods for not only them, but for their families and communities as well. We ask you to let us into your communities once again, this time so we can make ethical, smart, and fair investments in your people without the intention of profiting directly from your downfall.”
Monsanto’s stock took a dip in US markets preceding the announcement, but rose on global markets. They are expected to role out their microfinance programs in the Fall of 2011, and start work directly with farmers on organic small-scale agriculture in 2012.
APRIL FOOLS DAY! Sadly.