Thursday, December 8, 2016

And You Thought Glyphosate Was Bad: Big Agrichem Companies Using Quasi-Slave Labor

And You Thought Glyphosate Was Bad: Big Agrichem Companies Using Quasi-Slave Labor
By Kurtis Bright

Near-Slave Conditions Exist in the U.S. For Migrant Workers At Big Agrichem Facilities

It’s difficult to overstate the length and breadth of the list of complaints against Monsanto and others in big agrichem.

Naturally (unnaturally, actually) there are the engineered seeds, perversely designed to not self-reproduce, thus locking farmers into a vicious cycle of indebtedness.

Then of course there are the chemicals, the cancer-causing glyphosate with which they have dusted nearly the entire earth in their stultifying, poisonous embrace, with over 8.6 billion kilograms (18 billion pounds) of the stuff having been sprayed in the U.S. alone.

And then there are the as-yet unknown dangers of feeding humans and animals genetically modified foods, research for which is constantly harried and hampered by government and industry.

But it gets even worse than that. How, you may well ask? How bad could it get?

How about slave labor bad?

New reports are emerging that name Monsanto and other big agriculture giants as being behind the horrific conditions in which they and their subsidiaries force migrant laborers to work and live--on U.S. soil.

Thousands of workers labor under conditions that, according to reports are akin to modern-day slavery at camps all across the Land of the Free. Makes you wonder just what that phrase really means: free for whom?

According to an expose in the journal In These Times, state inspectors are routinely summoned to deal with complaints about such camps. And they end up writing citations a shocking 60 percent of the time they are called out.

Which is all well and good. But there’s another problem when it comes to Big Agrichem: it’s too big to jail.

Companies like Monsanto, Bayer, BASF, Syngenta and others have woven such a powerful network of enablers among lazy and compliant lawmakers and regulators that even these limp warnings and demands that they comply with the law are tossed aside contemptuously.

These companies have also perfected the art of plausible deniability and distancing themselves from operations from which they profit. They hire intermediaries, third-party recruiters and “independent” landlords who are paid to run the facilities, allowing Monsanto and DuPont to pretend ignorance when it comes to mistreatment of workers.

But now the details of the travails of these migrant laborers under the dubious care of the Big Ag companies has come to light, painting a disturbing picture--and it was told in the words of the very workers who have been so mistreated.

According to In These Times, one migrant worker, 50-year-old Baltazar Arvizu said, “I’ve stayed in housing that is very similar to barns for animals. We used to live 80 in a barn. We just had two bathrooms for 80 people.”

And Arzivu’s story took place not in some sketchy border town. This is happening, right now, in modern-day Indiana. This isn’t some long ago Dust Bowl land of Tom Joad.

But the ringing echoes of The Grapes of Wrath rings throughout the stories these workers tell, even some 80 years after the Great Depression ended and labor laws were supposedly reformed.

Worker complain they are being paid less than minimum wage, and they are often forced to plunk down $300 monthly rent or more on company-provided housing in shoddy motels and disused nursing homes.

The kitchen facilities the workers were promised in one of these housing units turned out to be a converted school bus with a couple of stoves and refrigerators and no ventilation, a shabby makeshift kitchen meant to serve over 30 people.

The entire article is linked here, if you can stomach it.

And the next time some troll wants to tell you how Monsanto and others like them are actually working to feed the world’s poor, send them a copy.

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