Monday, April 16, 2018

A Merger Affecting Millions and Billions: Farmworkers and Rural Communities on the Front Lines: FWAF Statement of Principles


It crept in quietly yesterday in the news, but the impact will be felt worldwide.  And, it will be coming to your dinner plate soon.

The underreported decision by the U.S. Department of Justice to give the green light to the mega-merger of agrochemical giants Bayer and Monsanto will insidiously affect the lives of everyone on the planet.  Does this sound like hyperbole?  Consider this:

The obvious impacts of this merger are the consolidation of corporate control in fewer and fewer hands and the political power that gives to the corporations.  And, there is growing international concern over companies putting profits above people.  If you are concerned about increased GMO products on the grocery store shelves; pesticides in your food or causing bee colony collapse; chemical fertilizers poisoning our lakes, rivers and streams; small, family farms becoming on “endangered species;” and large conventional farms using mono-crop growing techniques that strip the nutrients from the soil and exacerbate the need for more chemical inputs, then you should be concerned about this merger.

But, there are less apparent potential impacts, as well.  For farmworkers and those living in rural, agricultural communities, it is likely that your risk of exposure to pesticides and agrochemicals will increase, now that the corporations will have every incentive to develop and sell more and more pesticides to ensure farmers’ need for and dependence upon their products.  If you live outside the United States, you can expect that these corporations will be looking to your country to “expand their markets”, and for countries with lax regulations, this could mean more chemical contamination and subsequent health consequences.

Two important impacts of this merger that will be more subtle are the increase in land grabs worldwide that we can expect to be on the horizon, as incentives for agricultural land to be swallowed up by big landholders beholden to – and/or owned by – these corporations increases.  When land grabs of small land holders and subsistence farmers explodes, (as some may well argue it already has!) we can expect more migration and worldwide instability.  Yet, no one is talking about this, though we know it to be true. It is a pattern that we have already seen – and felt - the consequences of.

The Farmworker Association of Florida, in collaboration with many other organizations around the country, worked diligently over the past year and a half to oppose the merger of giants Bayer and Monsanto.  We collectively conducted a farmer survey that was delivered to US DoJ, as well as we have worked with ally organizations, states, and others to raise awareness and elicit public comment.  Over one million people responded by commenting on the record that they stood in opposition to the merger.  Now that that merger has been given the ill-conceived ‘green light’, FWAF wants to affirm its commitment of principles: of justice and safety for farmworkers everywhere; of support for small family farms and farmers in the U.S. and abroad; for land-based subsistence communities at the base of our society; and for food sovereignty and the theory and practice of agroecology. We also affirm our continued and concerted RESISTANCE to the corporate control of our lands, our air, our water, our communities, our cultures, our people, our system of agriculture, our lives and our planet.  This merger of titans may have been approved by the highest levels of national government, but we, the Davids in our communities, are armed with our slingshots.

Viva La Lucha!  Long live the Struggle! 

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