Destitute Chilean Farmer Defeats Monsanto in Landmark Legal Victory

A landless Chilean farmer has won a landmark lawsuit against Monsanto and thus exposed the dangers posed by the transnational corporation to the whole country.

Source: Sustainable Pulse

He tried and failed to break the news at a GMO Seminar which took place on January 22 and was organized by Chilean Agriculture Secretary, Luis Mayol. There, international and national speakers preached about the goodness of GMO crops. Pizarro only wanted to speak out to the audience and share that he did not recommend any farmer to work for Monsanto growing GMO seeds for export, because they could end up ruined as he did, besides damaging the soil.

In Chile there are approximately 30,000 hectares of GMO maize, soy and canola grown for export, marketed by transnational biotech corporations such as Monsanto, Pioneer and its Chilean partners, gathered under ANPROS, Asociación Nacional de Productores de Semillas (National Association of Seed Producers).

The Yo No Quiero Transgénicos en Chile campaign (I Do Not Want GMOs in Chile) stands for a moratorium against the possible expansion of these crops into domestic markets and also demands a strict supervision of GMO seedbeds.

On September 2013, María Elena Rozas, coordinator for Red de Acción en Plaguicidas(Pesticide Action Network) RAP-Chile, and Lucía Sepúlveda learned about Pizarro´s experience and were able to observe from first hand the results of environmental and commercial malpractices by Monsanto/ANASAC in Chile.

[Rozas said:] “This farmer did not know exactly what he was planting, he had no idea what a GMO seed was; the contract stated a fantasy name, Mon49 maize. He was compelled to an intensive use of more than 10 hazardous pesticides, harmful for health and the environment. The contract he signed forced him to turn only to the Chamber of Commerce in case of disagreement, he could not file lawsuits in local courts. He explained to us that many producers also have had problems with Monsanto, but they don´t turn to the Chamber because it is too expensive.”

The sentence against Monsanto

The trial sentence favorable to Pizarro can be found under roll number 1385-11 and is filed under “Agrícola Pizarro Ltda. con Agrícola Nacional S.A.C”. It was dictated by the Chamber of Commerce´s arbitration judge Francisco Gazmuri Schleyer. The Santiago Court of Appeals confirmed it in September 2013, rejecting the appeal and complaint presented by the corporation (Monsanto).

But during the four following months, the defendant refused to comply with the ruling. This is why the farmer didn´t let his case be known sooner. Only at the end of December 2013 did Pizarro receive the CLP$37 million that the Chamber ordered Monsanto to pay. According to Pizarro, this amount is not enough to cover the damages suffered. SAG’s (Servicio Agrícola y Gandero, Chilean Agency for Farming and Cattle Service) Form of GMO Seedbeds attached to the lawsuit, identifies the certification application form under ANASAC Chile (Monsanto). These forms are put under questioning by Pizarro, who accuses SAG´s complicity with the corporation.

During the process, expert testimony by INIA (Instituto Nacional de Investigación y Tecnología Agraria y Alimentaria, National Institute for Agrarian and Food Technology) was decisive. Agrarian Engineer Gabriel Saavedra del Real presented INIA´s expert opinion regarding what had occured. Levi Manzur’s appearance [in court] was a key piece of the Pizarro case. Manzur is professor at Valparaiso Catholic University and a prominent geneticist from Los Ande. Manzur´s conclusions went in the same direction as the claims made by the plaintiff.