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By Prof. Jose Maria Sison
Chairman, International Network of Philippine Studies
General Consultant, International League for Peoples’ Struggle

April 2, 2002

I stand firmly in solidarity with the International Alliance against Agrochem TNCs (IAAATNCs) and the Resistance and Solidarity Against Agrochem TNCs-Philippines (RESIST) in the struggle for the closure of the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI). This struggle is of high importance in the Philippines, in Southeast Asia, in Asia and the rest of the world.

I support wholeheartedly the forum and protest activities on April 3 and 4 2002, which condemn the increasing foreign monopoly control of food and agriculture and which call for intensifying the people’s resistance. I appreciate the important role of the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas in this resistance.

The IRRI has been an instrument of US monopoly capitalism, for capturing and impounding all the pre-IRRI rice varieties in the Philippines and then genetically manipulating some of them to develop new rice strains heavily dependent on chemical fertilizers and pesticides and extraordinary amounts of water.

In the last 42 years, the IRRI has effected direct imperialist control over rice production and has made an intolerably heavy superimposition of imperialist exploitation on the feudal and semifeudal exploitation of the peasant masses and farm workers. The foreign monopoly firms have made superprofits from their control and sale of seeds and agrochemicals and from the building of overpriced irrigation systems.

The costs of rice production have thus soared beyond the reach of more and more owner-cultivators, have bankrupted them and put them in debt peonage. The poor peasants, farm workers and middle peasants have become even more subject to feudal and semifeudal modes of exploitation used by the landlords, merchant usurers and farm capitalists.

The fascist dictatorship of Marcos facilitated the double squeeze on the peasant masses and farm workers by both the imperialists and feudalists by pushing one unstable strain of so-called miracle rice after another from the IRRI and forcing the peasant massses to buy seeds and agrochemicals from imperialist and big comprador firms (such as Planters Products) and take onerous agricultural credit loans under "Masagana 99".

The bureaucrat capitalists add a distinctive weight to the burden of the peasant masses either by raising the costs of agricultural production and/or by failing to provide adequate technical, credit, marketing and price support. They use the rising costs of production to undercut or take back their own promise of land reform.

In recent times, under the economic policy bias of "free market" globalization, the landless peasants are simply told to forget about state-sponsored land reform and to buy land at "free market" prices. The peasants in general are also told to forget about direct and indirect forms of state assistance to agricultural production and to allow foreign competition and import liberalization to take their course against local rice production.

The so-called First Green Revolution imposed severe imperialist and feudal exploitation on the peasant masses and farm workers even while the Marcos fascist dictatorship pretended to carry out land reform and extend assistance to the peasants. Now, the so-called Second Green Revolution seeks to do worse against the masses of peasants and farm workers under conditions of neoliberal globalization and under conditions whereby the foreign monopoly masters of the IRRI continue to control and market "new seeds" (stolen from various countries in Southeast Asia) and the agrochemicals.

The IRRI must be held accountable for crimes against the peasants, farm workers and the entire people. Presidential Decree (PD)1620, which provides immunity to the IRRI from criminal, civil and administrative charges, must be nullified. Above all, IRRI must be closed down. And the impounded seeds must be recovered. A new rice research institute must be established to serve the peasant masses and not the imperialists and the landlords. It must develop better seeds that are not dependent on expensive imported chemical inputs and that are suited to ecologically sound agricultural practices.

I am confident that the campaign to condemn and close down IRRI will be sustained and will ultimately achieve its goals in the course of the new democratic movement in the Philippines as well as in the course of the broad anti-imperialist movement on an international scale.#

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