Plato’s Republic came to my mind this week when I read how the Agro giant Monsanto is moving ever closer to controlling what we eat. In his book the Republic, Plato says that if we do not involve ourselves in politics then we will inevitably be ruled by worse ‘men’. For me this means that I can not expect things to change for the better if I do not involve myself in the world of people. If I hide my head under the pillow then why should I expect situations to change when I finally emerge.
Anyway back to Monsanto, producer of GM seeds and Roundup weed killer (remember Bees / Neonicotinoids in the last posting?) has been busy at work. In the USA, a Monsanto sponsored Senator, Roy Blunt, (who is Monsanto’s chief recipient of political funds), sneaked into an unrelated bill wording that will put Monsanto above federal law. It will allow Monsanto to continue selling and growing crops even if there is a suspicion of danger to human health. (read more http://bit.ly/10UC9At ).
In Europe, Monsanto are trying to use a loophole that would allow it to patent common fruit and vegetables such as tomatoes, broccoli and melons. This would mean that Monsanto would control our food supply chain. It would be illegal to grow these crops without paying royalties to Monsanto. This is the first step and it’s not that far away when even private individuals could be sued or raided by the police for growing from non-Monsanto registered seeds on their allotments.
In the 90’s when India was forced to globalise by the world bank, many farmers went from using heirloom varieties of crop seeds to GM seeds. These seeds work only in conjunction with heavy doses of herbicides and pesticides. Inevitably the soil is destroyed and only continuing use of GM seeds and agro chemicals. Unfortunately when you are poor you can not afford these and many farmers in India (reports up to 20,000) committed suicide.
Maybe we would all become more interested in ‘Politics’ if it was called something else. How about lifeanomics or citizenry. Anyway, what ever we call it, we ignore it at our own peril and the peril of those we care about.
So what can an individual person do to change things? Here is my list of things to do:
- Become informed, ignorance will not make issues disappear. Spread the word around to family, friends and colleagues. I believe only when a critical level of people become knowledgeable about an issue that change can begin to happen.
- Lobby your government. If you live in a ‘democracy’ you can write to your member of parliament or minister. They are civil servants (and lets keep reminding them). Because we can make our voice heard, we often don’t (a privilege that those living in autocratic dictatorships will die for).
- Choose carefully where you spend your £$€. Our spending has to be congruent with our beliefs.
- Do not give up hope. Although at times it can feel that you are a lone voice, there is a wave of change happening in the world.
PS you can sign a petition against Monsanto trying to patent our crops on the avaaz.com website.
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