Farmers, agricultural workers, and scientists in various regions of Asia have united in calling for the shutdown of the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI). More than 60 years of lies, anti-farmer policies, and grave environmental damages are enough.
We should not let another year pass without holding IRRI accountable and responsible for its lies against the people and the environment.
Why is this important?
1. Erosion of farmers’ knowledge and genetic diversity through its top-down approach
High-tech yet simplistic solutions peddled by IRRI such as gene mapping, gene modification and editing (i.e CRISPR Cas 9), promotion of hybrid rice, and use of Big Data and robotics relegated our farmers into being passive recipients, effectively erasing indigenous practices of sustainable agriculture.
2. Enforcement of anti-farmer policies
IRRI promotes entrepreneurial farming systems that are capital and chemical-intensive. This launched farming into a lucrative activity afforded only by the rich, which then pushed farmers into poverty and debt. In India alone, an estimated 250,000 farmers committed suicide between 1997 and 2012, primarily driven by inhumane and unjust farming policies.
3. Violation of Worker and peasant rights
Presidential Decree 1620, penned in 1979 by then President Marcos, granted IRRI immunity from suit. This is used to breach Philippine labor laws and to shield IRRI against complaints and protests by its workers. In 2003 six IRRI employees died due to work-related illnesses, yet to this day the victims’ families were left with no compensation.
4. Irreversibly damaging the environment and the people
The prevalent use of fertilizers and chemicals peddled by agrochemical TNCs has contributed much to the production of greenhouse gases, leading to global warming and climate change. IRRI continuously exploits genetic resources with biotechnological approaches or breeding genetic resources into a narrow diversity of ‘modern’ rice that requires heavy use of fertilizers and pesticides that poisons the environment and the people.
5. Ushering Corporate control of seeds and agriculture
To date, about 25% of IRRI’s operational funds come from philanthrocapitalists such as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and private companies (Bayer, Syngenta), 25% come from Consultative Group of International Agricultural Research(CGIAR) funds, 7% from international organizations (World Bank, Africa, and Asian Development Bank, FAO) and 33% from national governments (US, China, India, Switzerland, Germany). The supposedly public nature of the institute, in reality, is a source of cheap technical manpower for TNCs and lends credibility to TNC science. It eventually gave rise to seed industries, making seeds a business.
6. Widespread food insecurity
Sixty years after IRRI’s founding, 821 million people remain undernourished (lacking calories) while two billion are malnourished (lacking essential nutrients), according to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO). It’s empty and dangerous propaganda of the Green Revolution, in effect, raised calorie consumption in developing countries while permitting the destruction of diversity in farmers’ fields.
We urge everyone to support our farmers by signing this petition and joining our call to:
Shut down IRRI now!
Stop corporate control in food and agriculture!
Uphold people’s right to food and food sovereignty!