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«by Kirsten Francescone A thesis submitted to the Faculty o f Graduate and Postdoctoral Affairs in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the ...»

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...no estamos de acuerdo con estos cultivos porque danan la salud de los bolivianos, tampoco aceptamos el Tratado de Libre Cambio (TLC) con los Estados Unidos1 8 porque eso significa dar via libre para que los productos transgenicos se produzcan en el pais y tambien ingresen al mercado boliviano.1 9 143 Interview July 1 5,2 0 1 1.

146 Despite the fact that the m iddle and urban classes constantly attempted to frame the issue this w ay, I experienced this first hand in som e o f the m eetings I attended at the C ED IB organizational networking m eetings, where som e o f the urban organizations were focused on the health or environm entally destructive aspects o f transgenic seeds, w hich em erged as a point o f contention between the m ore radical organizations.

147 Even though both o f these organizations a p p ro v e d the LRPCA w ithout modification when it was rereleased by the government.

148 In 2004 the FAO (with collaboration from the U S ) recommended that the Bolivian state approve the use o f transgenic seeds arguing that their implem entation could benefit small-producers w h o do not have market access.

149 Gina Mendia and Guisela Lopez, “ C am pesinos en Contra de C ultivos transgenicos.” E l D eb e r (2005).

Roman highlights the potential private interests and thus dangers that would come with the modification and patenting o f seeds. Colonisadora organizations, the CSUTCB, AEOPEB, and the Bartolina Sisas, on numerous accounts were cited for their threats and actions directed against the introduction and regulation o f genetically m odified organisms. In fact, Evo Morales in 2002, with a group o f campesino producers, lead various mobilizations and blockades against the possibility o f legalization by the Gonzales Sanchez de Lozado government, leading to the stalling o f the project for another year.1 0 With this history o f opposition against GMO seeds, Bolivia’s popular sectors had pre­ existing experience and knowledge o f genetically m odified seeds,11 and had been leading the fight, campesino and indigenous populations alike, for nearly a decade. The debate, which endured up until the election o f the MAS government, continued to maintain central relevance with Evo making several international and national addresses against the legalization o f GMOs. In 2006, he claimed “yo quisiera que en poco tiempo gritemos que Bolivia es un territorio libre de semillas transgenicas.” 1 2 Despite the insistence from the president at international climate conferences and UN meetings, it appeared as though transgenic seeds would be implemented in Bolivia. Several o f the MAS ministers made public statements arguing for the absolute necessity o f the legalization o f transgenic seeds based on the rising food crises including Carlos Romero (also a member o f the triTransgenicos: Un C onflicto mas para el C ongreso.” E l D eb er, July 7, 2002.

151 It is also important to note that the governm ent on several occasions claimed that people sim ply did not understand the possibilities that transgenic seeds possess- nor did they understand that this w as the on ly w ay in which the food crisis could be solved.

152 A s quoted in “Morales propone que B olivia sea pais libre de transgenicos,”£7 O pinion, April 29, 2010.

commission) who argued that “los transgenicos son necesarios para increm entar la produccion y exportar mas.” 1 3 Regardless of the M AS’ previous position on genetically modified seeds, or the history o f opposition from the campesino sectors o f society, the LRPCA was approved without modification- the articles surrounding transgenic seed regulation included.1 4 Beyond the M AS’ approval, the Bartolinas, Interculturales and CSUTCB all of whom previously expressed their rejection o f genetically modified organisms signed o ff on the law ’s approval.1 5 As a response to an open letter written by 17 civil society organizations and institutions against the LRPCA, Carlos Romero, m inister o f the office o f the presidency claimed that civil society misinterpreted the LRPCA and its positioning on transgenic

seeds. He writes:

...hay una confusion...cabe aclarar que el articulo 15 de la Ley de la Revolucion Productiva Comunitaria Agropecuaria al contrario de viabilizar los transgenicos, establece mayores limitaciones a las y a existentes (my emphasis)...con el fin de proteger nuestros recursos geneticos a los cuales hay que recuperar y aprovechar para beneficio a los bolivianas y las consideraciones presentes y futuras.1 6 1,3 SOMOS SUR, Ley d e la Revolucion P rodu ctiva.

154 The contradictions that are also quite clear in the M A S governm ent’s decision to introduce the issue o f transgenic seeds into legislation echo the arguments made by the neoliberal governments attempting to do the same thing in the past. For exam ple, the argument that claim ed ‘these organisms are already in the country and that w e need to regulate them in som e w a y ’ that was used several times by the Garcia Linera and Carlos Romero, also centrally framed the discussions in the early 200 0 s which included headlines like “Transgenicos: ya estan en la m esa” and “[los bolivianos] se consumen alimentos geneticam ente

manipulados”. Taken from: CED1B, “D ossier Tematico: Transgenicos 2000-2011.” CED IB (Cochabamba:

CEDTB, 2011) 153 According to a Bartolina Sisa who has requested to remain anonym ous, the issue o f the approval o f the law is a com plex one. On the one hand the Bartolinas support the M AS ideologically, again m any link this support to their experiences o f struggle alongside E vo him self. On the other hand she argued, the Bartolinas have access to power, and thus resources, that before they did not. She continued to insist that GM Os would eventually be removed from the law, that it was a m istake that they had been approved to begin with.





156 Ministerio de la Presidencia. Carlos Rom ero, “Carta de Repuesta a las instituciones de C ochabam ba” (La Paz: Ministry o f the Presidency, 2011).

The reality is that there are some varieties o f genetically modified seeds that have m ade their way into the country- the majority within cash crop and biofuel industries; m any o f which were introduced proceeding 1985. Presently organizations like FO N TA G R O,1 7 and Technoserve have open projects operating in Bolivia. FONTAGRO currently has 15 active projects in Bolivia; the majority o f which m ake explicit claims to genetic modification and technological improvements o f seed varieties, while sim ultaneously working towards consolidating “market logic” in campesinos (see Table III).

Despite this fact, we have failed to see a slowing down in the continued production o f cash crops and oilseed industries, despite rising food and energy costs with the M orales administration. According to the FAO, total soya production in 2009 had reached 1,499,380 MT, which compared to the total soya production in 1999 is 35% m ore (see table I). In Santa Cruz specifically, soya production alone has increased over 90% between the years 2005-2010.1 8 That is to say that during the MAS governm ent’s presidency the production o f soya, with transgenic seeds has increased significantly which has contributed to a strengthening o f the regional oligarchy in Santa Cruz and the consolidation o f transnational and regional capitalist interests through land-grabbing, social conflicts, and extreme environmental degradation.

–  –  –

Coinciding with the increase in production o f soy, deforestation rates have also increased exponentially. According to the 2009 Atlas de Potencialidad Productiva, the rate o f deforestation from 1986-2005 has been 36% in the Integrated North o f the departm ent o f Santa Cruz (where the majority o f the forest is located), with the average deforestation rate predicted for the coming years to hover around 1-2% per year.15 The report continues to outline the ways in which deforestation can be attributed to the expansion o f

agricultural production:

Es importante resaltar que la tendencia anual de deforestation estaria entre 1% y 2 %, y de mantenerse asi, en 15 o 30 anos m as no habrxa cobertura de bosques en el area de analisis. De acuerdo a lo descrito, parrafos arriba, se puede establecer que el area seleccionada de analisis representa claramente el crecimiento del sector agricola del departamento de Santa C ruz.160 In Bolivia, agro-industrial production has led to significant deforestation levels. This deforestation is so significant that it cannot simply be attributed to sm all-scale slash-andburn production, rather by large-scale agro-industrial production that sim ultaneously profits from the short-term gains o f wood and soy industries, and then longer-term cattle ranchers. In a recent article published by Erbol, the three main causes for deforestation are listed sequentially, with subsistence farming listed as the first cause, to be followed by mechanization and agro-industrial production, and finally cattle grazing. However, the article proceeds to outline the ways in which soya production in the 1990’s and 2000’s “coincidio con politicas que favorecieron el sector privado, inversiones estrategicas en infraestructura y condiciones de mercado favorables para la soya.”11 Several times during my fieldwork news coverage would focus on forest fires that would arise in Santa Cruz, attributing their causes to campesinos clearing their fields, failing to 159 Ministerio de Desarollo, A tlas Productiva.

160 Ibid.

161 ERBOL. “Estudio revela 5 m illones de hectareas de bosque deforestados en 3 decadas.” P erio d ico ERBOL, January 14, 2012.

recognize the other ways in which deforestation rates are climbing as a result o f the immensely expanding cash-cropping industry in the same department.

–  –  –

It also allows for financial speculation practices, and has been achieved by the continued existence and maintenance o f agro-industrial land that was untouched by the Agrarian Reform, or obtained illegally during the massive land gifting in the 1970’s and 1980’s.

This is something that I will explore in the chapter that follows.

–  –  –

162 Fabricant, "Ocupar, Resistir, Producir.” It is clear then that genetically modified seeds represent not solely a segm ent in the chain of production but yet that they represent a means through which neo-imperialist capitalist extraction occurs in agricultural production in Bolivia. They also present us with a clear example o f the contradictions within the NCPE and the LPRCA, which now simultaneously tout protecting the environment while continuing to enable exploitation o f resources and people at the behest o f the capitalist class.

Aside from the risks o f eliminating the diverse variety o f species and expansive deforestation that industrialized agriculture can bring, it is important to clarify the political and economic implications. Industrialized production-for-export using cash crops like soya does not solve the “hunger problem.” In fact, as we saw, imports are still high for consumption products like wheat, while Bolivia continues to produce products that are not primarily consumed in Bolivia. Second, industrialized production for exportation purposes means that agricultural production is tied to the boom -bust price cycles o f the market, which, in the context o f an increasing energy crisis, means that the country becomes even more vulnerable with an industry that is bound to energy consumption for its production, like we saw in the 70s and 90s. Finally, with the expansion o f the agro-industry and the proceeding destruction of arable land, campesinos and indigenous communities are left with what is left over, making the possibilities for small-scale, sustainable production, and thus “food sovereignty”, impossible.

Now that the economic and political interests o f the LRPCA have been defined, I will explore the ways in which land and land tenancy has failed to be adequately accounted for and dealt with by the MAS administration which will, I argue, severely restrict the possibilities for the development o f sustainable, small-scale campesino production.

Chapter 3: La Via Campesina, or the Industrial Route?

On January 22, 2012, Evo Morales and Alvaro Garcia Linera gave the Inform e a la Nation, an overall economic and political review o f the past year. In this address, Morales claimed that the Social Economic Function o f Land (FES) would be paralyzed for five years.1 3 The FES has been a mechanism put in place to prevent (or at least maintain) large-landholdings and financial speculation which inhibit the inversion o f funds into the country and thus into national social and economic development. During his speech he continued on to argue that “el pequeno productor con el agroindustrial siempre estaban enfrentados, lo que nunca los dos sectores acuerdan sobre la FES...esperam os que esta pausa sea para dar utilidad a la tenencia de la tierra de los empresarios, vamos a respetar pues es importante para fomentar la produccion de alimentos.” 1 4 In the Law 1715 fNRA it is outlined that all medium and large properties are subject to state revision to ensure that their property fulfills a social-economic function every two years. That is to say that property must contribute to the social and economic development o f Bolivians collectively, in a way that is environm entally and economically sustainable.1 5 This mechanism is extremely important for limiting exploitation o f labour, land-grabbing and financial speculation (to name a fe w ).166 Its 163 At the annual cum bre n a tio n a l land w as discussed in tw o real w ays. The first w as the suspension o f the 5-year FES revision and the second regarded TCOs. With regards to the FES, agricultural producers proposed the demand that they wanted “ flexibilized land tenancy,” with the president o f the C AO o f Santa Cruz claim ing that Santa.Cruz was responsible for 72% o f the agricultural production o f “ food”. From Ivan Cordovi. “Los agropecuarios piden flexibilizar la tenencia d e la tierra.” L a Razon, January 5lh, 2012.

164 Fundacion Tierra, “El Presidente anuncio la paralizacion de la Funcion Economica Social (F E S).” Fundacion Tierra, 22nd o f January, 2012.

165 Law 3545.



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