For related articles and a lot more data, please check out OCA’s Genetic Engineering page and our Millions Against Monsanto web page.
Agricultural biotech corporate giant Monsanto fairly a lot has had its way in Puerto Rico because it first set up seed breeding operations in the island in 1983. But the last few months have seen a hailstorm of negative publicity and protests against the corporation’s local activities.
On June 11, Monsanto Caribe, the company’s nearby affiliate, refused to testify at a Puerto Rico Senate hearing on proposed seed legislation, bill PS 624.
“Monsanto does not produce, sell [or] provide…standard or certified seed with the purpose of planting in Puerto Rico,” argued business representative Eric Torres-Collazo in a letter to the Senate agriculture committee explaining the selection not to testify. Technically accurate, considering that all the seed this and other biotech organizations make in Puerto Rico is for export. But committee chair Ramón Ruiz-Nieves has not accepted Monsanto’s argument, pointing out that the firm receives substantial subsidies from the regional agriculture division and it is registered with the PR government as a bona fide farmer. Ruiz-Nieves informed the press that he intends to summon Monsanto once more.
This certain story has received international coverage following a Corpwatch piece I wrote, which is actually a common story on Monsanto’s woes in the island, not just the seed hearing blow-off. Each Russia’s RT and TruthOut followed up on it, stating that the Senate hearing was about legislation to regulate and rein in the planting of genetically modified (GM) seeds in the island. TruthOut even portrayed the Senate as a formidable adversary, with the headline “Puerto Rico Senate Fights Back Against Monsanto.”
To set the record straight, PS 624 has nothing to say about GM seed. The Puerto Rico Senate has by no means attempted to regulate or constrain the regional activities of biotech corporations in any way, shape or form, much significantly less ever stood up to the likes of Monsanto. In addition, the text of PS 624 reads like one thing that could have been written by a Monsanto attorney.
Not only that, but the biotech seed industry faces a potentially far more essential and contentious battle in the PR Senate wellness committee, as we’ll see later.
The bill’s exposition of motives states that Puerto Rico has a actual quality handle difficulty with locally made seeds and proposes to remedy this with legislation to regulate their production and sale. The bill does not address two main issues of organic farmers and progressive organizations: contamination of seed stocks with GM varieties, and the patenting of standard and heirloom varieties of seed by transnational corporations.