When millets join the fight against GMO's
Global warming has become quite a headache for farmers: either rains do not come, are too late, or result in a flood. These fears can be easily exploited by seed companies who claim to have developed seeds that are “drought-resistant”. It is crucial that farmers not forget that the characteristic feature of drought resistance in plants did exist before the GMO technique! Other solutions have been in place for a long time, and millets are a part of it.
For Monsanto, climate change will bring huge returns.
The firm has already planned everything: be it the business of weather data( consultancy firmspecialising in the prediction of the future of crops), insurance to compensate in case of draught or flood, biofuels, and the so-called drought-resistant seeds.
“Resistant” seeds: from 2012, Monsanto introduces its maize MON87460 in the United States. At the same time the firm looks towards sub-Saharan Africa, threatened episodes of drought increasingly challenging. In this year of 2014, their maize - under different names - is being introduced in Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania. With the help of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and their program ‘Water efficient maize for Africa’, drought-resistant seeds will be distribute free of cost to farmers.
A useless new GMO : conventional cultivation techniques and agricultural best-practices have helped improve the drought-resistance of American maize by 1% every year since several decades. Without ever resorting to GMOs. Moreover, this maize would not allow for saving water as Monsanto claims it will. In fact, farmers will irrigate as usual, this maize being there to compensate for small changes in rainfall.
“Genetics is lagging behind, it tries to artificially reproduce what farmers and nature have been creating and selecting for thousands of years. There are thousands of plants resistant to drought, some that have been conserved in our seed bank. To think that the solution will be in a gene is an extremely crude idea, in comparison with the complexity of the living being.” Vandana Shiva, Navdania
Navdanya has organised from the 1st to 16th October a festival of millets in order to promote them as “water efficient plants” and “plants for the future” to answer the nutrition crisis as well as the one linked to the climate.