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Successful blockade of Monsanto in The Netherlands

On May 17 2010 about 40 persons of the action group ‘Roundup Monsanto’ blocked both gates of the Monsanto seed company in Bergschenhoek (near Rotterdam). ‘Roundup Monsanto’ wants Monsanto to back out of the seed market, and demand an end to patents on seeds and living organisms. poortMonsanto and other agro-chemical multinationals are lobbying the Dutch government and the EU for legislative changes that would make it easier for large companies to take control of the seed market and food production.[1] The blockade took place at the former De Ruiter Seeds, acquired by Monsanto in 2008, where research laboratories, offices, greenhouses, and a central storage for seeds and seedlings are to be found.

The two most important access doors to the Monsanto terrain have been closed off. The action group put up banners with the message “Imagine, monopoly of food, poisonous agriculture, The World according to … Monsanto”, adbusting the company’s logo. It has also adjusted the giant cucumber and tomato on the lawn to Monsanto’s manipulated reality. Employees and customers haven been greeted with coffee, tea, and background information on arrival.

spandoekThierry Boyer, head of Monsanto’s European vegetable division, contacted his superiors and decided not to press charges. As a result the police will not interfere. “The company will be effectively close for the day”, the police chief in charge confirmed. Clearly Monsanto is afraid of more negative publicity connecting the company to a police eviction, and prefers to close down the plant where 350 people are employed. Many employees welcomed the action and said they were not happy with the take over of De Ruiter Seeds by Monsanto.

The chemical company Monsanto has 23% of the worldwide market of commercial seeds  in its hands. In the last 5 years, the company has bought up three large internationally active seed companies in the Netherlands: besides De Ruiter Seeds as well Western Seeds, and Seminis. As a result, Monsanto now dominates the world market for vegetable seeds and seedlings. In addition, Monsanto is the market leader in genetically engineered soy, corn, sugar beets, and cotton, and has a large market share in pesticide sales. “Farmers and vegetable growers are becoming increasingly dependent on these big seed companies and patented seeds will make the situation even worse,” says Flip Vonk, an organic farm employee present at the action.

Monsanto is a chemical company which has grown large due to the production of pesticides, Agent Orange, and PCBs. [2] After countless scandals revolving around these chemical substances, the company found a new market strategy: development and sales of genetically manipulated crops. These crops are cultivated in enormous monocultures, with excessive use of fertiliser and pesticides. Monsanto represents a destructive model of chemical agriculture.

werknemersThe current system of agriculture, based on mass import and export, is completely dependent on the consumption of fossil fuels. Chemical agriculture is responsible for a quarter to a third of the release of all the greenhouse gases. Over 80% of the cultivated GMOs are pesticide resistent, the remaining 20% produces insecticide inside the plant. This form of food production is extremely harmful to people, nature, and the climate. Genetical engineering will not contribute any solution to climate change.

Monsanto is part of the ‘Round Table of Responsible Soy’ (RTRS), a greenwash initiative to label RoundupReady GM soy as ‘responsible’. The label will be launched in June 2010.

Genetic engineering is often presented as a solution to the global food question. But in spite of 15 years of cultivation of genetically manipulated crops, 2009 witnessed a record amount of starvation. GM crops have not increased yields. “The food problem requires

completely different solutions. We need to drastically change course, away from large-scale chemical agriculture, towards local food production in harmony with nature, without pesticides and without genetically manipulated crops. A world without Monsanto is a good step in that direction,” according to Miranda de Boer from ‘Roundup Monsanto’.

Three days later the group Latinos Locos occupied the Monsanto Office in Madrid.

[1] For further information about the development of patent law and breeders’ rights, consult a press release from ASEED Europe about the subject: https://www.aseed.net/kwekersrecht-vs-patentrecht
[2] See the film ‘The World According to Monsanto’

A series of photos you can find at the picture report of the action.

More background information can be found at: