On Friday, March 16th, as thousands of activists around the world drew attention to the atrocities being perpetrated by Monsanto, the Washington Fair Trade Coalition joined the Community Alliance for Global Justice’s AGRA Watch, GMO Free Washington, Washington Biotechnology Action Council &  Seattle Educators Association and Social Equality Educators to call out the support of Monsanto by the Gates Foundation.

We know that through trade agreements such as NAFTA and CAFTA, Monsanto and big agri-business flooded Mexican and Central American countries with cheap food and overloaded their water systems, land and community with chemicals.

Our most recent trade deal with Colombia was touted as a way to solve the problem of displaced farmers and loss of livelihood, by reducing tariffs and opening up Colombia’s agricultural markets. However, we, the US tax payers gave some $25million to Monsanto to use their Round-Up Ultra to fumigate coca fields. This led to the destruction of all crops (not just coca) as well as poisoning water sources and protected areas. This Plan Colombia, anti-drug fumigation, actually increased coca cultivation as desperate farmers turned to the drug trade as a means of economic survival. So Monsanto is the cause of the problem and through the trade deal will again benefit from the solution.

The US does not require labeling of GMO products, it is voluntary. That is not the case in Australia or New Zealand, two countries currently in the TP FT negotiations. GMO labeling is also mandatory in Japan-another country that  wants in. By controlling TP FT negotiations, the US is driving down standards worldwide on food safety and consumer transparency.

How is this happening exactly? Meet, Islam Siddiqui, the US Chief Agricultural Negotiator on trade, and ‘former’ Monsanto lobbyist. He is at the trade negotiating table with Philip Morris, PhRMA, Chevron and others. Not farmers or workers or environmentalists. The Gates Foundation’s work of poverty alleviation, global health and sustainable development is at odds with their investment in Monsanto, which is causing unprecedented harm to the food and water of communities and undermining their health. The same is true of US trade policies. With Monsanto at the table our communities will not be safe.