Contributing Monkie G Living Staff Monkies
Published on July 30, 2006
Filed Under Green Report / Media
A background note, to appreciate the report you need to understand the author who the author is and know why his words carry so much weight. Ignacio Chapela, was an assistant professor in the Environmental Science Department at the University of California-Berkeley in 1998, pharmaceutical giant Novartis signed a $25,000,000 deal with Berkeley’s College of Natural Sciences. The university Board closed the deal without the consulting the faculty.
In exchange for the funding, Novartis gained exclusive patent rights to one-third of all of research and direct influence over the specific areas of the college’s research. The corporate control of research was a serious concern for the faculty. Many worried what would happen if their work resulted in discoveries unfavorable to the corporate agenda. Ignacio Chapela would find out that an inconvenient truth would not be tolerated.
Chapela discovered GMO contamination of Mexican maze. The GMO crops were prohibited and he set out to publish his findings in the Journal Nature. The biotechs instantly launched attacks. Their attempts to discredit and silence Chapela read like a dime store crime novel. The implications of censorship sent shockwaves through the research community and the American media maintained its silence as it does with all subjects relating to GMO crops and genetically engineered foods.
Chapela has refused to be silenced and is one of the heroes of the anti-GMO movement. If you would like more about the events surrounding the Monsanto and Novartis attacks on Chapela there are links to good summaries. For Chapela’s position on GMOs here are his position papers. What follows is his report.
A Deadly Environmentalist Force: Roundup-Ready Military
by Ignacio Chapela
[Comments regarding item 2 below, article in The Nation]
The US military are establishing bases and new collaborations with the Paraguayan military. Many ask why.
With the excuse of fighting terrorism, the presence of these forces in a US friendly territory may yet give some measure of discomfort to the neighbouring governments of Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay and Bolivia, all of whom continue to build opposition to US hegemony in the hemisphere.
One thing is clear, however: internal military and paramilitary repression has found an immediate use in promoting the spread of GMO soy. Herbicide resistant transgenic soy has brought to this South American region a form of agriculture that is incompatible with campesino or indigenous ways of life.
Instead of changing agriculture to fit people, the landscape is being cleansed through violence to make it fit mechanized, high-input, monoculture soybean production. National armies are now protecting GMO-, export-oriented soybean plants against the diverse ecosystems of the region, but also against the citizens of those countries who insist on rejecting them. Infusing the CIA and the US military into this formula simply adds deadly power to an already raging fire.
In reading these news, one should not forget that the international market for soybeans is being artificially inflated, not least by the new craze to exploit globalized sources of biofuels.
So it is that the Pentagon is finding a new cause in common with environmentalists.
The Nation, 12 July 2006
The US Military Descends on Paraguay by Benjamin Dangl
"The US military is advising the Paraguayan police and military about how to deal with these farmer groups…. "The US troops talk with the farmers and get to know their leaders and which groups, organizations, are working there, then establish the plans and actions to control the farmer movement and advise the Paraguayan military and police on how to proceed…." "They are teaching theory as well as technical skills to Paraguayan police and military. These new forms of combat have been used internally" "The most recent case of this violence is the death of Serapio Villasboa Cabrera, a member of the Paraguayan Campesino Movement, whose body was found full of knife wounds May 8. Cabrera was the brother of Petrona Villasboa, who was spearheading an investigation into the death of her son, who died from exposure to toxic chemicals used by transgenic soy producers. According to Servicio, Paz y Justicia (Serpaj), an international human rights group that has a chapter in Paraguay, one method used to force farmers off their land is to spray toxic pesticides around communities until sickness forces residents to leave." "Paraguay is the fourth-largest producer of soy in the world. As this industry has expanded, an estimated 90,000 poor families have been forced off their land. Campesinos have organized protests, road blockades and land occupations against displacement and have faced subsequent repression from military and paramilitary forces. According to Grupo de Reflexion Rural (GRR), an Argentina-based organization that documents violence against farmers, on June 24, 2005, in Tekojoja, Paraguay, hired policemen and soy producers kicked 270 people off their land, burned down fifty-four homes, arrested 130 people and killed two." [3.]Excerpt from ‘Help the Peasants of Paraguay Resist Genetically Modified Soybeans’
As a result of the rapid expansion of genetically modified soybeans into the area, peasants and indigenous people in Eastern Paraguay have become the targets of land evictions, pesticide poisoning and assassinations.
While Brazilian, Italian and Canadian Mennonite farmers have been the beneficiaries of the global soy boom in Paraguay, the majority of people living in the area only see the worst side of the monocultural invasion.
This is particularly acute in the department of Caaguazu, where three indigenous communities have been forcibly displaced, a dozen peasant communities have disappeared, and the very last of the trees will soon be replaced by fields of beans.
In the last three years alone, hundreds of protesters have been arrested in clashes with police, and six have been killed by military and paramilitary groups protecting the soybeans. With 2006 shaping up to be a very poor harvest, the danger of confrontation over land resources is even more serious than usual.
‘GMO Soy Growers commit Massacre in Paraguay’ link
‘Canadian Anthropologist Witnesses GMO-related Shootings in Paraguay’ link
‘Soybeans and Guns in Rural Paraguay’ link
4.Press release of CLOC-VIA CAMPESINA (in Spanish below)
Subject: [the Soya Case] Violent repression of peasant mobilisation in Paraguay!
In Paraguay yet another violent repression occurred yesterday, 19th of July  at 10:30 in the morning in the southern department of Caazapa, ordered by de president Nicanor Duarte Frutos.
More than 1000 peasants of the MCNOC closed off a road to require the fulfilment of their demands to the government.
The government answered with violent repression. There are 51 arrests, including several children and one pregnant woman. 8 persons got seriously injured and had to be taken to the hospital in the department south of Caazapa, Guaira. During the repression two children disappeared: Alicia Gonzalez (7) and Cesar (11).
More than 200 demonstrators were brutally tortured for more than 2 hours. This all happened after 9 days of enduring mobilisations with roadblocks, land occupations and the enforcement of various encampments. The government is not open for conversation, so the peasants will continue mobilising and maintain the occupations.
The organisations demand halt to the repression and a release of the now more than 60 arrestees. They demand an immediate response to the demands of the MCNOC.