August 2020

Indigenous Peoples and Human Rights

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Navajo Commercial Farm Using Genetically Modified Seeds, Despite Global Protests

By Brenda Norrell
Censored News

While Indigenous Peoples protest Monsanto’s genetically modified seeds around the world, the Navajo Nation’s commercial farm, Navajo Agricultural Products Industries, continues to use these seeds for commercial crops.

Haitian farmers are now burning donated Monsanto seeds. In India, thousands of farmers committed suicide after switching from traditional seeds to genetically modified seeds. In Chiapas, Mayan farmers have refused to use the seeds which damaged heritage seed stock. Cross pollination from genetically modified seeds can endanger crops from ancient seed stock in the region.

Navajos have long planted century-old corn using traditional dry farming. Navajos relied on the stars to know when to plant and sometimes planted in spirals, according to Navajo elders in Rock Point, Arizona.

In the book Navajo Farming, are the words sang while planting in Canyon de Chelly, from the song, "In the Field of the Home God."

"The holy blue corn seed I am planting. In one night it will grow and be healthy. In one night it grows tall, in the garden of the Home God." The planting song tells of hearing the whisper of the corn stalks coming up and the moisture that comes from the dark clouds.

"With dew of the mist, it is beautiful. With white corn it is beautiful." The song journey joins the beans and squash and then ties them together with the strings of lightning and rainbow. Navajo elder Tabaahi Ts'osi, George Blue-eyes, medicine man and storyteller, shared his knowledge of the magic and mystery of dry farming with a planting stick.

However today the Navajo commercial farm boasts on its website that it plants genetic hybrid corn seed purchased from “Pioneer Seed Company, Syngenta Inc., and Monsanto companies." The commercial farm, NAPI, is located on the Navajo Nation near Farmington, N.M., and grows commercial food crops, including corn for potato chips, along with potatoes, wheat and other crops.

Around the world, Monsanto and genetically modified seeds have meant death for Indigenous Peoples and their crops.

In Bolivia, Navajos joined Bolivian President Evo Morales and Indigenous Peoples from around the world calling for a halt to the use of genetically modified seeds. At the World Peoples Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth in April, the final Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples states:

“We call on States not to promote commercial monoculture practices, nor to introduce or promote genetically-modified and exotic crops, because according to our people’s wisdom, these species aggravate the degradation of jungles, forests and soils, contributing to the increase in global warming. Likewise, megaprojects under the search for alternative energy sources that affect Indigenous Peoples’ lands, territories, and natural habitats should not be implemented, including nuclear, bio-engineering, hydroelectric, wind-power and others.”

The working group on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in Bolivia was co-chaired by two Indigenous Peoples from the Southwest, Ofelia Rivas, O'odham, and Manny Pino, Acoma Pueblo.

In Chiapas, heritage seed-stocks of Indigenous corn are being infected by genetically-engineered corn imported by multinational companies from the United States under the terms of the North American Free Trade Agreement, according to Schools for Chiapas.

In Haiti, farmers are now committed to burning Monsanto’s seeds. Monsanto planned to donate 60,000 sacks of hybrid corn and vegetable seeds to Haiti -- some treated with highly toxic pesticides. Jean-Baptiste, spokesperson for the National Peasant Movement of the Congress of Papay, called the entry of Monsanto seeds into Haiti "a very strong attack on small agriculture, on farmers, on biodiversity, on Creole seeds and on what is left of our environment in Haiti."

In India, thousands of farmers committed suicide after switching from traditional to genetically-modified seeds. They borrowed money on the promise of better crops. When the crops failed, there was no way out.

In Bolivia, Indigenous Peoples shared traditional wisdom on how genetically modified crops aggravate the degradation of jungles, forests and soils and contribute to the increase in global warming.

While Indigenous Peoples were among 35,000 in Bolivia concerned about global warming, the Navajo Nation continued its negotiations with Peabody Coal to continue coal mining on Black Mesa. Roberta Blackgoat, who spent her life resisting forced relocation because of Peabody's coal mining, said coal mining "rips out the liver of Mother Earth."

The Navajo Nation has two coal-fired power plants in the area of the Navajo commercial farm near Farmington, N.M., and another at Page, Ariz., which contribute to global warming. In fact, coal-fired power plants in the US are among the primary causes of the destruction of the Arctic and the melting ice homeland of polar bears, walrus, seals and other wildlife.

The area of northwest New Mexico has been known as a "US Sacrifice Area," since the 1970s. It is the Navajo people who have been sacrificed, by way of the US government working in collusion with corporations and the elected Navajo Nation government.

While NAPI continues to use genetically modified seeds on its commercial farm, NAPI also has a Raytheon Missile manufacturing plant located on the commercial farm where the crops are grown, a fact many would like kept secret.

The fact that the Raytheon Missile factory is located on the Navajo farm was censored by Indian Country Today in 2006. At that time, Cuba was expressing interest in purchasing food products from NAPI and Indian Country Today editors demanded that no research be done on Raytheon's missile plant at the farm or any possible pollutants discharged from Raytheon.

Indian Country Today staff reporter Brenda Norrell was terminated after being told by editors not to research Raytheon Missiles on NAPI and other issues. Censored News is now published as a result of Brenda Norrell's termination by Indian Country Today. Censored News, which has no sponsors or advertising, focuses on the censored issues of Indigenous Peoples and global human rights.

Also see: Comparison between Bolivia's Peoples Agreement and Copenhagen Accord:

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