Target: U.S. Ambassador to El Salvador, Mari Carmen Aponte
Goal: Stop pressuring El Salvador by threatening to withhold aid unless the country purchases harmful, genetically modified seeds
The U.S. government is taking things too far by bullying a poor agrarian nation into incorporating genetically modified (GM) seeds into its society. “I would like to tell the U.S. Ambassador to stop pressuring the Government [of El Salvador] to buy ‘improved’ GM seeds,” said Ricardo Navarro, President of the El Salvadoran Center for Appropriate Technologies (CESTA).
The U.S. government is using the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), an “independent” U.S. foreign aid agency, to pursue these interests. The MCC is considering withholding $277 million in aid to El Salvador unless the country converts to the use of GM seeds produced by the biotech company Monsanto. Monsanto is a proud supporter of the MCC and as Jeffrey Smith of the Institute for Responsible Technology puts it, “If we’re dealing with the government, we’re dealing with an arm of Monsanto.”
The Salvadoran Agriculture Ministry currently buys seeds from small Salvadoran producers in order to promote its Family Agriculture Plan. This practice is very smart and “makes sense both economically and agriculturally,” according to Dr. Jeff Ritterman, writing for the Huffington Post. The seeds produced in El Salvador have adapted to the unique climate and soil, and the government should be applauded for trying to support its own economy and people rather than transnational companies like Monsanto.
It is shocking and disheartening to see the U.S. government try to force El Salvador to buy GM seeds despite the clear objections of its citizens. A study published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health links exposure to a common Monsanto herbicide to Central America’s chronic kidney disease epidemic. Glyphosate, a chemical found in Monsanto’s GM seeds, weedkillers and food is thought to be the culprit.
Urge the MCC and the U.S. government to stop bullying other nations into using harmful GM products.
Dear Ambassador Aponte,
It is not right for the U.S. to pressure El Salvador to incorporate genetically modified (GM) products against its will, and it is definitely not right to use foreign aid to as bait. El Salvador is definitely in need of foreign aid but the last thing the country needs is to introduce GM seeds into its agricultural system.
It is in El Salvador’s best interests for the Salvadoran Agriculture Ministry to stick to its current Family Agriculture plan and continue buying seeds from small, Salvadoran producers. These seeds are much more fit for their environment, and the project supports small-scale, sustainable farms. In addition it has been found that glyphosate, a chemical prominent in GM seeds and products, is likely to blame for the chronic kidney disease epidemic afflicting many in Central America.
The U.S. government and Millennium Challenge Corporation should not be pressuring the Salvadoran government into buying these seeds by withholding foreign aid money. The U.S. as a whole should support the nation of El Salvador in creating a strong economy through supporting Salvadoran seed producers rather than wealthy transnational corporations.
Please stop bullying El Salvador into buying Monsanto’s GM seeds to increase the company’s profits at the cost of Salvadorians’ health and autonomy.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: PDPics via Pixabay