Hungary Kicks out Monsanto and IMF
THE AUTOMATIC EARTH | SEPTEMBER 8, 2012
I don’t know about you, but I would label my personal knowledge of Hungary as wanting, if not painfully incomplete. It’s not an easy country to come to grips with, not least of all of course because Hungarian doesn’t look like any western language we know with the possible exception of Finnish. I did visit just after the Wall came down, and remember huge contrasts, almost paradoxes, between rural poverty and a capital, Budapest, that was much richer than other capitals such as Prague, a leftover of Budapest’s status as meeting place between western and eastern diplomats and businessmen.
The riches were not for all, though, the city center was full of beggars and panhandlers, mostly Roma. To keep up the paradox, Mercedes sold more luxury models in Hungary than just about anywhere else back then, reportedly mostly also to Roma; just not the same.
In the years since, precious little attention has been and is being devoted to the former eastern bloc countries in the Anglo press. We know most of the countries are now members of the European Union, but only a few have been allowed to enter the hallowed grounds of the eurozone.
One thing I did pick up on last year was the news that Hungary’s PM Victor Orbán had thrown chemical, food and seed giant Monsanto out of the country, going as far as to plow under 1000 acres of land. Now, I have little patience for Monsanto, infamous for many products ranging from Agent Orange to Round-Up, nor for its ilk, from DuPont to Sygenta, all former chemical companies that have at some point decided they could sell more chemicals than ever before by applying them on and inside everyone’s daily food. Patenting nature itself seems either unworthy of mankind or its grandest achievement. I don’t care much for either one. So Orbán (who has a two-thirds majority in parliament, by the way) has my tentative support on this one.
This is from July 22, 2011, International Business Times:
Hungary Destroys All Monsanto GMO Maize Fields
In an effort to rid the country of Monsanto’s GMO products, Hungary has stepped up the pace. This looks like its going to be another slap in the face for Monsanto. A new regulation was introduced this March which stipulates that seeds are supposed to be checked for GMO before they are introduced to the market. Unfortunately, some GMO seeds made it to the farmers without them knowing it.
Almost 1000 acres of maize found to have been grown with genetically modified seeds have been destroyed throughout Hungary deputy state secretary of the Ministry of Rural Development Lajos Bognar said. The GMO maize has been ploughed under, said Lajos Bognar, but pollen has not spread from the maize, he added.
Unlike several EU members, GMO seeds are banned in Hungary. The checks will continue despite the fact that seed traders are obliged to make sure that their products are GMO free, Bognar said. During their investigation, controllers have found Pioneer and Monsanto products among the seeds planted.
It’s remarkably hard to find sources on this, ironically. It’s even harder, even more ironically, to find anything that mentions the Wikileaks report on the connections between the US government and the chemical/seed industry. Which is curious, in my opinion; it’s not as if there’s nothing newsworthy in the topic. Just about the only thing I could find was this from Anthony Gucciardi at NaturalSociety.com.
US to Start ‘Trade Wars’ with Nations Opposed to Monsanto, GMO Crops
The United States is threatening nations who oppose Monsanto’s genetically modified (GM) crops with military-style trade wars, according to information obtained and released by the organization WikiLeaks. Nations like France, which have moved to ban one of Monsanto’s GM corn varieties, were requested to be ‘penalized’ by the United States for opposing Monsanto and genetically modified foods. The information reveals just how deep Monsanto’s roots have penetrated key positions within the United States government, with the cables reporting that many U.S. diplomats work directly for Monsanto. [..]
Perhaps the most shocking piece of information exposed by the cables is the fact that these U.S. diplomats are actually working directly for biotech corporations like Monsanto. The cables also highlight the relationship between the U.S. and Spain in their conquest to persuade other nations to allow for the expansion of GMO crops. Not only did the Spanish government secretly correspond with the U.S. government on the subject, but the U.S. government actually knew beforehand how Spain would vote before the Spanish biotech commission reported their decision regarding GMO crops.
It doesn’t look like Orbán and Hungary have a lot of support in their fight against Monsanto and GMO in general on the political front. But that still does little to explain the radio silence.
There was more international reporting earlier this year, when Orbán again faced up to two other major forces, in this instance the IMF and the EU. On January 1, the Hungarian parliament and president signed a new constitution into law. And it contains a number of things that the Troika members don’t like. In particular, they are probably at odds with taxes levied on bank transactions, and especially central bank transactions. Not the kind of thing the IMF is likely to ever agree with. It all gets clad in protesting (the EU even threatens with courts) the independence under fire of the central bank, the media and other parts of Hungarian society.
The IMF and EU, like the tandem team of Monsanto and Washington before them, act like schoolyard bullies. It’s become their standard MO, and it usually works. Portraits of Orbán as a fool, a reckless idiot and a dangerous populist, on par with that of Hugo Chavez or newly found international enemy Rafael Correa, are much easier to find than those links to Wikileaks Monsanto cables. It would be good to see Orbán continue to stand up to the IMF bullies, but he may not have that choice. They can simply financially bleed him dry, like they have so many other countries and their leaders. It’s a time tested model.