I won’t try to do so with any high-falutin’ rhetoric. I’ll just let the facts speak for themselves.
Sofia Gatica is a regular Argentine working woman who lives amid the soy plantations. For years her home has been bombarded with Roundup on a regular basis. Her three older children all suffer from illnesses related to this poison. Her fourth died as an infant of kidney failure. These diseases and deaths are common in Argentina’s GMO soy country. This is why Argentina has become ground zero for scientific research on the health effects of glyphosate. Clinical and epidemiological studies have established that glyphosate causes miscarriages, birth defects, cancer, and child mortality. The experience of Gatica’s family is typical. The evidence is so complete that the Cordoba province was moved to pass laws strictly regulating the application of glyphosate. Although there’s been some improvement, these laws are seldom enforced.
Her family’s suffering, and her will to ensure that future families won’t have to endure the same tragedies in order to feed the profits of a handful of corporations, is what’s motivated Sofia Gatica to become an activist. She and many others started out lobbying government for reforms, including the Cordoba laws. When they saw how this doesn’t work, they moved on to direct action. Today they’re engaged in the occupation of a site in Malvinas where Monsanto plans to construct a massive seed processing factory. Gatica and others manning this blockade have previously been beaten by the police.
Throughout, Gatica has been a cogent spokeswoman for this movement, proving the need for it and its moral authority though her words and what she represents, the nimbus of how her family has been assaulted.
This is why Monsanto has targeted her. After the typical smear campaign failed to work, the criminals have moved on to violence. A few days ago Gatica’s life was threatened by a man holding a gun. Two days later, she was beaten up outside her workplace. She’s reported both of these crimes to the police, but no one expects much police action, since they know whose side the police are on. Not that of the people.
Gatica went to the hospital to have her injuries treated, but within a few hours she returned to the occupation site to continue sharing direct action with the many farmers, democracy advocates, and regular working people who have had enough of they and their families being poisoned.
This kind of violence is nothing new for anyone who questions GMOs in the global South. In 2010 Andres Carrasco, the scientist most publicly involved in the research I linked above, was assaulted by a gang of thugs and had a public presentation broken up. The same kind of violence is rife around the world.
While in most parts of the West we’re not yet up against this kind of direct violence (except from the police at demonstrations, of course), the vicious tone of GMO flacks clearly portends violence. The kind of person who launches a vicious personal attack on anyone who even questions the Monsanto imperative certainly will not shrink from violence if he thinks its necessary to enforce his criminal prerogative. The violence in Argentina demonstrates this. There’s a clear continuity from the technical hacks and professional trolls who infest Internet comment threads and the thugs who physically use fists and guns. Abolitionists must think this through and be ready.
I salute Sofia Gatica and her comrades for their courage and perseverance under such harsh conditions and against such long odds. A tragedy like she suffered would reduce most Westerners to passivity, and often to apologizing for the corporations attacking them. But she and the millions like her show the best of the human spirit and the human potential. I thank them, and will do my best to support them and conduct the same abolition fight from within the West, however that can be done.