it's 3am and you hear a rustling in your backyard garden.
You look out to see shadowy figures rooting around. You wake
the next morning in a cold sweat, thinking it was only a
bad dream, to find a letter pushed through your mail slot.
It reads: “Dear Occupant: We suspect that you have been growing
Monsanto's Roundup Ready ® canola. To avoid legal action,
send us $1000 and tell no one about this, especially not
the media. If you do not send us $1000, we will sue you for
$20,000 in damages.”
From Canada to Iraq, Saving Seeds is Under Attack
The above letter is fiction, but according to Percy Schmeiser
- a Canadian farmer who was sued by Monsanto - this is exactly
the type of letter Monsanto has been sending to farmers,
as a means of intimidation. As for the rustling in your backyard
garden, farmers in the prairies call them the Gene Police .
They are former RCMP officers, now working on private contracts
for Monsanto. As Schmeiser puts it, their role it to harrass,
intimidate, investigate, and create a culture of fear.
Why such heavy-handed tactics? It's simple. Monsanto currently
controls 91% of the global GMO seed stock, but they want
to control 100% of the food supply. These issues, however,
are just the tip of the iceberg. The biotechnology of genetically
modified organisms (GMOs) is a stepping stone on the path
to nanotechnology. While biotech manipulates matter at the
molecular level, nanotech seeks to control matter at the
atomic level. Proponents argue unprecedented and world-changing
benefits will arise from this new technology, and perhaps
that is the case. But the question we need to ask is this:
by whom and for whom is this technology being developed?
Percy Schmeiser was in Toronto on Friday May 13, 2005 at
a public forum talking about his legal battle with Monsanto,
which made its way to the Supreme Court of Canada in 2004.
ACT for the Earth organized the event to launch a Nano-Justice
campaign focussed on the convergence of GMOs and nanotechnology.
ACT for the Earth is calling on governments and corporations
involved in biotech and nanotech to heed the precautionary
principle and uphold the safety of our ecosystems, human
health, and the food supply.
Corporate Control: for Whom the Cell Tolls
stresses that “there's a lot more advancement
in nanotechnology... than really people realize. The driving
force is more control.” Nanotech covers a broad range of
technologies, but one of the varieties that has many people
concerned is the advent of assemblers .
Drexler was one of the first people to seriously look
at the social, economic and ecological consequences of
nanotechnology in his book Engines
Of Creation: The Coming Era of Nanotechnology . Drexler
calculated that assemblers - self-replicating nano-machines
- could consume the entire surface of the Earth if they
got out of control. More ominously, he anticipated that
this dire scenario could happen in a matter of days.
is currently at the same stage biotechnology and GMOs were
10 years ago. And while nanotech is advancing
much more rapidly, so too is the resistance to it. It
is marching forward due to large government subsidies in
nanotech initiatives, with no public input. As was the case
with biotech 10 years ago, there is now an urgent need for
society to debate the worth of nanotechnology. It is already
clear from the corporate record on biotech, that such technologies
are prone to abuse. According to Schmeiser, it is only a
matter of time until we understand the long-term effects
of biotechnology and nanotechnology on “the environment,
indigenous plants, seeds, and what about human health?”
notes that “if you would ask our [Members of Parliament]
that 90% wouldn't even know what nanotechnology is... I make
that statement based on different meetings that I've gone
to where that topic has come up.” It is time we made nanotech
a political issue. If more people knew what was going on
in our names, with our tax dollars, there would be outrage.
Sponsoring Suicide Seeds and Biopiracy
a lot of talk about sponsorship scandals these days, and
rightly so. But there are some important sponsorship scandals
that aren't being talked about. Through the Canada Pension
Plan the Canadian Government is funding military corporations
that are profiting from so called "Missile
Defence" and the War in Iraq, such as Lockheed-Martin, SNC
Lavalin, and Halliburton. The Canada Pension Plan is also
funding Monsanto and it's activities to the tune of over
$4 million. The Canada Pension Plan has also embarked on
a high profile nanotech "investment" venture .
It is time we all stood up to the backdoor funding of Star
Wars, the War on Iraq, as well as attempts to control our
food supply and matter itself. By demanding
peaceful pensions , we can help to end the "war on terror" as
well as the war on terra.
81 in Iraq, issued by Paul Bremer before the “handover”,
made saving seeds effectively illegal. The purpose of this
has been to pave the way for seed privatization. With the
Canadian Seed Sector Review (SSR), self-described as “an
industry led, industry wide assessment of the seed sector”,
anti-seed saving legislation could soon become a reality
in Canada as well, if we don't act quickly. The SSR is, not
coincidentally, funded by the Canadian government. The same
government, which has recently taken on the role of leading
global advocate for terminator seeds . The same government
which nearly prevented Dr.
Tewolde Egziabher , one of the world's leading advocates
of biosafety, from entering Canada by witholding his Visa
until the very last moment. While the Canadian Food Inspection
Agency, which recently engaged in consultations on the Plant
Breeders' Rights (PBR) Act , has
said seed saving is not threatened , many Canadian
farmers remain skeptical . So should we all.
cautions that “when the terminator gene is installed
in the seed, and when the seed is planted, it will produce
a plant where the seed from this plant is not fertile (will
not germinate). The danger of the terminator gene is that
in pollination stage it can cross-pollinate with other plants,
especially close cousins, and make these also sterile.”
Assemblers: a New Threat, a New Resistance
What we are witnessing is a new global tapestry of invasion,
which threads events in Iraq and Canada into a common fabric.
It is crucial that we pay attention to the technologies and
politics behind the curtain. Seed supplies in both countries
are under attack. There are those who want to patent matter
from cells all the way down to basic molecules, to enhance
corporate control, not just of life, but reality itself.
The problem is there is a fertile resistance bent on such
radical ambitions as biosafety and human survival.
The ETC Group has
pointed out that the "Canadian government has proposed that nanotechnology
be discussed at the G8 meeting in July in Scotland". ACT
for the Earth will be there with many others to help
put Nano-Justice on the people's agenda. This is one genie
that we can still put back in the bottle.
Dylan Penner is Executive Director of ACT for the Earth,
which organized Percy Schmeiser's May 13, 2005 speaking
engagement in Toronto, Ontario.
Further Reading and Action
SECTOR REVIEW: Undermining farmers' rights to their seed
Biodemocracy 2005 Protests
Resisting GMOs in Africa