Threat to traditional corn: one of many threats (en español)
April 17, 2004

this page is at http://site.www.umb.edu/faculty/salzman_g/Strate/Salz/2004-04-17.htm

Friends:

      Your corn is threatened. Your way of life, your land, your very existence as a distinct ethnic group -- all are threatened. And you are not alone in facing threats to your lives. All of Latin America is under siege by the forces of giant capitalism, eager to steal the wealth and the labor of a half billion people. They, the rich rulers of the wealthy nations, want your timber, your oil and gas, your minerals, your water and electric energy, your pharmeceutical plants, everything so that they become even more wealthy. And of course it’s not just the people of Latin America. Everywhere in the world the robbery of the poor by the rich goes on, causing terrible pain and hardship, and even death, to millions of ordinary people.

      On March 11, 2004 in Oaxaca City the NAFTA Commission for Environmental Cooperation (CEC) of North America held a symposium on Maize and Biodiversity, focused on the effects of transgenic corn in Mexico. The meeting was in the Hotel Victoria on Fortin Hill, the most luxurious hotel in the city. Most of the papers were by academic, industrial and bureaucratic scientists. Apparently for the first time, non-invited campesinos and indigenous people were allowed to attend and to speak during question periods. One presentation, by a Zapotec from Guelatao de Juárez, was a manifesto adopted the preceding day at a campesino forum, “In defense of corn.” Part of the manifesto stated,

      “Blind official policy does not take into account that for us corn is more than a cereal ... We eat it, but it is not only food. It is cause for fiestas, for exchange, for celebrating our lives together, for mutual aid. It is our life ...

      “The great lies of the market or of the state appear at times among us, dressed up as researchers of new technologies or specialists in improving cultivation. They tell us our seeds are not useful or that our method of cultivation is inadequate. They want us to buy their seeds and learn their methods of killing the corn and the earth.

      “The time has come to say, Enough already! We’re not putting up with more! We’re not permitting the damage to deepen and the risk to grow.

      “We don’t reject experimentation. We have practiced it for thousands of years. We are interested in change, but not in what leads to forms of cultivation that destroy instead of conserving. We reject commercial activity, obsessed with profits. It destroys the land, weakens the social and cultural fabric of our towns and disrupts the relations among people. We are fighting to conserve our varieties of corn, which during thousands of years have acclimated to live in the climates, altitudes and soils of our lands and share the spirit of our communities.

In Oaxaca we will not have transgenics

      “We have listened with patience to the scientists who defend them. But we are tired already. The most serious risks in using transgenics are in the long run. Sufficient time has not passed. There don’t exist any long-term studies. Everything that they say now about the effects of transgenics is pure speculation. Besides, they don’t want to respect the precautionary principle, they manipulate information and use false and senseless arguments. The fear, for us, is that they are doing it entirely without concern for the immense cultural damage that their experiments can cause. We are not going to listen any more.”

      The complete manifesto, “Defend our corn, be careful of life” is available at http://site.www.umb.edu/faculty/salzman_g/Strate/Salz/2004-03-10.htm and at http://site.www.umb.edu/faculty/salzman_g/Estrate/SalzEs/2004-03-10Es.htm in the original Sopanish.

      The manifesto correctly understands reality. I agree with its call for solidarity in the struggle for a world free of transgenics. This is one of many, many struggles in which the peoples of the world must succeed if we are to preserve life with dignity for every human being, and in which all other animals and plants can live. It is nothing less than the struggle to build a true global civilization, one in which life is held sacred. To win this struggle we must rely on ourselves. Governments, banks, corporations, all the institutions of giant capitalism, for whom profits are valued above all else, are obstacles to be overcome, not allies. Our allies are the billions of humble people in the world.

      We must struggle to educate ourselves and each other, so we may all be free of the false ideas promoted by the propaganda of the dominant social sectors. In each community we need to work together, face to face, towards communal autonomy and self-sufficiency, especially in meeting basic needs. We must build trust among ourselves. We need to resolve disputes among communities by ourselves -- to make treaties to respect each other’s use of land, water, forests, and so on -- without appealing to so-called “higher authorities”. As we all know, corrupt politicians and their greedy friends often benefit from our disputes. They prefer to keep us divided community against community, with unresolved boundaries to fight over, and so on. It will not be easy to overcome old angers and distrust, but we must do it to become free.

      There are two key essays on my website. One is Communality and Autonomy, by Jaime Martínez Luna, fully available in Spanish at http://site.www.umb.edu/faculty/salzman_g/Estrate/ComunEs/indexEs.htm, and partly translated into English at http://site.www.umb.edu/faculty/salzman_g/Strate/Commu/index.htm. The other is Getting Free: A sketch of an association of democratic, autonomous neighborhoods and how to create it, by James Herod, in English at http://site.www.umb.edu/faculty/salzman_g/Strate/GetFre/C.htm, and soon to be available translated into Spanish at http://site.www.umb.edu/faculty/salzman_g/Estrate/LiberEs/indexEs.htm.

      In summary, transgenic corn was not invented to make better corn, to provide food for hungry people, to be more nutritious. It had a single purpose: to make money for large agribusiness companies. It was a bad idea to begin with, and should be abandoned.


All comments and criticisms are welcome.    <george.salzman@umb.edu>

If you want me to remove your name from my e-mail
distribution list, please let me know.

*      *      *
Return to the opening page of the Salz-mania sub-folder
Return to the opening page of the Strategy for Revolution folder
Return to the opening page of the Website

Last update of this page: April 19, 2004