Binyod Acharya, an official with a National Tea and Coffee Development Board in Nepal, launched a broadside against GMOs, accusing the technology of causing a litany of health and environnmental problems, which independent scientists say are exaggerated or outright wrong. “If Indian experience is anything to go by, we should all be worried,” he writes.
Those tempted to give Monsanto benefit of doubt would do well to remember, agriculture patterns once disturbed by their farm trials will be heavily dependent on their agro products. Also, we may have lost our valuable local seed varieties by then. So the sensible thing to do is to preempt the impending danger rather than regret later.
Luckily, Nepal still has a vibrant local seed market. We have diverse genetic base of crops and large number of open pollinated varieties. We also have freedom over which variety of seeds we want to use. We still have vibrant and integrated organic farming practices, unscathed by chemical driven monoculture. We have our own food system, and agriculture here is a profession with shared cultural values. Substituting it with a market-run cultivation culture, controlled by multinational corporations whose sole end is to earn profit, even at the cost of destroying crop diversity and threatening national food security, makes no policy sense.
Modernization of agriculture must not lead to unchecked commercialization that disregards local needs. We should all be worried about what David Harvey calls accumulation by dispossession. Resisting Monsanto may be need of hour, but, certainly not the only task.
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