Posted tagged ‘Chile’

HAS MONSANTO INVADED CHILE’S SMALL PLANTERS?

October 4, 2013

HAS MONSANTO INVADED CHILE’S SMALL PLANTERS?

 

Erle Frayne D. Argonza

 

“God must be angry on Chilean peasants, He’s sending Monsanto here!” could be an apt idiom by angry Chileans over the passing of the Monsanto Bill in their legislature. I am very much in sync with the protesting farmers and concerned Chileans, as I know the dire implications of getting Monsanto to invade their country.

 

I was among the social activists in the Philippines who opposed the signing of the GATT-Uruguay Rounds in the mid-90s, and spoke in many venues to expose the social costs that the treaty would spawn. The rise of gigantic trusts or monopolies has been on the agenda plate of the global oligarchs in the the 90s when the treaty was signed, and, as an adroit observer of international political economy, I was among those who forecast the rise of such global monopolies that will control certain sectors of agriculture such as seed production.

 

That monopolization is taking place in steel and mining. Ditto for agriculture, with Monsanto as the flagship trust. I am no professional basher of genetic modification of organisms, as I myself witnessed the great benefits brought forth by genetic engineering on many varieties of veggies, fruits, and grains in my backyard country. However, the likes of Monsanto gobbling up grains, which effectively prohibits small farmers to own seeds for re-cultivation later, is pure EVIL.

 

The Monsanto Bill had raised blood pressures in Chile that is rising fast as a developing country in South America. Details of the issues raised are reflected in the reportage below.

 

[Manila, 30 September 2013]

 

Source: http://www.scidev.net/global/bioprospecting/news/farmers-rights-at-stake-in-chile-s-monsanto-law-bill.html

Farmers’ rights ‘at stake in Chile’s Monsanto law bill’

Speed read

  • Campaigners say the bill suits big firms rather than ordinary farmers
  • But biotech companies deny claims that it would unfairly restrict seed use
  • Strong intellectual property rights could also aid agricultural exports, say the bill’s supporters

[SANTIAGO] Campaigners who last month marched through more than a dozen Chilean cities against a bill dubbed the ‘Monsanto law’ after the giant US biotech firm, plan to protest again if the bill progresses through the country’s Senate.
 
Meanwhile, the bill’s supporters — mainly associations of large-scale farmers — are lobbying senators to back it.
 
At issue is the legal implementation in Chile of the latest version of the International Convention for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants (UPOV 91).
 
As a signatory to the 1978 version, Chile already protects plant breeders’ rights, but campaigners claim that the new version of the convention suits commercial rather than conventional breeders.
 
“UPOV 91 extends the intellectual property rights of companies that produce seeds, thus increasing their monopoly over seed production and exchange,” Iván Santandreu, co-founder of the NGO Chile without GMOs (genetically modified organisms), tells SciDev.Net.
 
“If UPOV 91 becomes law, it will become illegal for farmers to save and exchange seeds,” he adds.

But Miguel Sánchez, executive director of ChileBIO, an association that represents agricultural biotechnology companies, says: “UPOV 91 allows a seed developer to charge a farmer for using any intellectually protected seed, even retroactively.
 
“But nobody forces this farmer to buy and use intellectually protected plant varieties. If he does, it is because he believes the protected seed will increase his yields.”
 
Sánchez adds that campaigners’ fears that UPOV 91 will not stop large firms from appropriating native vegetable species and varieties or their agricultural or medicinal uses are misplaced.
 
“A seed developer cannot claim intellectual property rights for a vegetable species such as maize. He can only do so if he has bred a maize variety that is new and distinct,” Sánchez tells SciDev.Net.
 

“If UPOV 91 becomes law, it will become illegal for farmers to save and exchange seeds.”

Iván Santandreu,
Chile without GMOs

Another of the campaigners’ concerns is that the proposed law would introduce GMOs into the country through the backdoor by allowing companies to register GM seeds (GMOs are banned in Chile).
 
“This allegation is wrong: UPOV 91 does not mention GMOs,” Patricio Parodi, scientific advisor to the Ministry of Agriculture of Chile, tells SciDev.Net.
 
“Campaigners are conflating it with the bill on genetically modified plants, which has been stagnating in the National Congress since 2006. Only this law would make way for the general use of GMOs in Chile,” he adds.
 
Santandreu replies that, while UPOV 91 may not mention GMOs by name, it refers to genetic improvement and defines this process as ranging from hybridisation to genetic engineering.
 
But the politicians, large farm owners and agricultural companies backing the bill argue that an agricultural exporter such as Chile needs solid intellectual property rights.
 
“We cannot be seen as a country that practises intellectual property piracy. Chile has signed many free trade agreements, including with the US and Japan, on the basis of reciprocal intellectual property rights,” says Parodi.
 
José Antonio Poblete, commercial manager of the Fruit Nurseries Association of Chile, told the Constitutional Court last year: “If Chile does not adhere to UPOV 91, there will be no reward for all the efforts made by 12 new, state-backed genetic programmes that are developing new fruit varieties”.
 
But anti-GMO campaigners remain unconvinced.
 
“We are waiting for the next significant development in Congress before we march again,” Santandreu says.
 
Link to International Convention for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants

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ROBOTS BETTER DO MINERS’ JOB IN NEAR FUTURE

September 14, 2010

Erle Frayne D. Argonza

Good evening from the suburban boondocks south of Manila!

It’s playing Latin music in my multimedia at home right now. As I play the danceable tunes by Buena Vista Social Club, my eyes are focused on the news “Some Chile miners showing mental crack” in the world news of the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Aug. 29, 2010).

Let me then dedicate this piece to the task of mining as a way to honor the miners of the world. Honoring them means that eventually the human miners will retire from the job, with robots taking over those rather hazardous tasks related to mineral extraction.

To quote the report’s inception, “Five of the miners trapped underground in Chile for months to come are struggling psychologically, officials said on Friday, as engineers prepared to start drilling an escape shaft.”

The news coming from Copiaco, Chile further heralded, “While the rest of the 33 trapped miners were happy to take part in a video to show families they were bearing up despite what has so far been a three-week ordeal, the smaller group refused and were exhibiting signs of depression.” [AFP Report]

Well, what else can we expect from toiling workers trapped deep down underground, with hardly much hope for coming back to the planet’s surface till after months of hard rescue operations to come. Even a person who doesn’t suffer from manic-depressive disorder can crack up and manifest depression.

If we go back to the times of the Roman republic, and maybe backtrack 2,000 years earlier than Rome, we can review their mining practices then. Mind you, contrast our mining extraction today with those of ancient times, and you just might have the shock of your life to find out that there isn’t much contrast really.

The technology of extracting minerals down underground remains to be dependent on human or anthropocentric labor for thousands of years now. Not even the impressive engineering works to dig the minerals from rocks down under can impress me much at all, they remain the same technology: human-driven extraction.

While the miners of antiquity were slaves of the imperial deus ex machina, today’s miners are cogs of the business empires’ deus ex machina. Marginal or small-scale miners, like the ones we have in the boondocks of northern and southern tips of the Philippines, are all the more risk-prone to the appalling extraction conditions and technology as they can be buried anytime by mining-related calamities without healthcare or ‘life plan’ to compensate them.

A cursory examination of the Chilean miners’ condition allows this analyst to facilely forecast that at least 1/3 of them (around 2 persons) will be in advanced form of depression and nervous breakdown as soon as the rescue operators reach them. Sad!

That’s how human labor is treated by corporate capital since the birth of the money economy anyway: mere objects worth throwing away if they die during production operations. Miners are among the most classic cases of how capital treats human labor as cheap dirty eater stuff.

If indeed corporate capital—and its cultural deodorant ‘corporate social responsibility—has the sanguine love for human miners, it should strive pronto to innovate on robotics that can do the work for the miners. Retire all the miners of today pronto, compensate them for social security and healthcare, and then gradually employ the robot miners.

Only token labor—comprising of technicians and engineers—are needed to operate robotics-driven mining. Robots won’t suffer from depression in case of mishaps, they won’t require healthcare and social security but rather maintenance expenditures appropriate and sufficient for their upkeep.

Retired miners can then afford to exhibit more productive engagements such as to serve as eco-tourist guides for students and visitors who may wish to examine former open-pit mines that have been re-greened with lush vegetation. They can likewise do some tour guide tasks for mine visits that would be as less risk-prone as their previous jobs.

Meantime, let me share my own lines of solidarity to all those suffering miners in Chile and the rest of the planet. May they find light at the end of the tunnel of oligarchic pseudo-slavery down shafts and pits, and tell their narratives to the planet as part of our human history heritage.

[Philippines, 10 September 2010]

[See: IKONOKLAST: http://erleargonza.blogspot.com,

UNLADTAU: https://unladtau.wordpress.com,

COSMICBUHAY: http://cosmicbuhay.blogspot.com,

BRIGHTWORLD: http://erlefraynebrightworld.wordpress.com, ARTBLOG: http://erleargonza.wordpress.com,

ARGONZAPOEM: http://argonzapoem.blogspot.com]

POST-PINOCHET CHILE MARCHES ON IN S & T FUNDING

July 28, 2008

Erle Frayne Argonza

Let us continue our reflections about wonderful news that brighten up our day.

Going back to Chile, as it continues to celebrate the air of freedom beyond the Dark Age of the Pinochet regime, we have another news item concerning the boosting of S&T funding in the said emerging market.

Chile is proving itself as a model of development that is worth watching. See what’s going on in this exemplar country through its S&T prioritization as indicated by funds boosting.

Happy reading!

[23 July 2008, Quezon City, MetroManila. Thanks to the SciDev database news.]

 

Chile crea un fondo para becas en ciencia y tecnología

Paula Leighton

25 may 2008 | ES

La presidenta Michelle Bachelet durante su cuenta anual al país

Presidencia de la República de Chile

[SANTIAGO] Aumento en las becas para estudios de posgrado, fondos para equipamiento científico e incentivos para atraer a investigadores extranjeros son algunos de los anuncios que hizo la presidenta de Chile, Michelle Bachelet, en su cuenta pública anual (21 de mayo).

La mandataria destacó que su gobierno creará un fondo con US$6 mil millones para financiar un ambicioso programa de becas de posgrado y de formación en oficios tecnológicos de alta especialización, tanto en Chile como en el extranjero.

Dicho fondo permitirá que las mil becas de formación en universidades extranjeras destinadas para 2008 aumenten a 2.500 en 2009 y a 6.500 en 2012, anunció Bachelet.

Además, el próximo año 150 técnicos que se desempeñen en áreas prioritarias para el país accederán por primera vez a becas de perfeccionamiento en el extranjero, las que en 2010 aumentarán a 2.000.

Bachelet dijo que en 2009 también aumentarán las becas para maestrías y doctorados que se dictan en Chile y se entregarán 35 mil becas para estudios técnicos superiores. 

Otro anuncio fue un programa para atraer en dos años a al menos 100 científicos extranjeros, los que se desempeñarán en universidades regionales “en áreas donde aún no contamos con suficientes expertos nacionales”, señaló.

“Todos estos anuncios que contribuyen a que en Chile haya personas con mayor formación son muy bienvenidos, porque le dan valor agregado al país. Al mismo tiempo, es muy positivo que científicos extranjeros vengan y contribuyan a formar estudiantes y nuevos investigadores”, dijo a SciDev.Net Servet Martínez, presidente de la Academia Chilena de Ciencias.    

Para fortalecer los centros de investigación científica, Bachelet anunció también que  “durante los próximos dos años estableceremos un programa de equipamiento científico al que destinaremos US$30 millones”.

Finalmente, la mandataria se comprometió a entregar en 2009 treinta mil computadores de uso personal a escolares pobres académicamente destacados, implementar laboratorios móviles de computación para niños de educación primaria y apoyar la conectividad digital en 35 comunas del país.

Texto completo del mensaje presidencial de Michelle Bachelet