The Poverty of the Majority

Farmers march in protest of Monsanto seed donations. Photo credit: Mark Hare, Presbyterian mission connection for MPP.

Ivan Petrella offers a powerful overview of the corporate takeover of agriculture, medications, and other basic human needs in his chapter “The Global Material Context of the Liberation Theologian: The Poverty of the Majority” in Beyond Liberation Theology: A Polemic. He writes of the agricultural sector that the private sector company Monsanto controls staggering amounts of the “world-wide genetically modified (GM)” industry. Monsanto’s power, coupled with agricultural patents like “Patent Number 5,723,765” which “allows for the creation of sterile seeds” (Petrella, 28) destroys the livelihoods of farmers around the world. In May 2010, only 4 months after the disastrous earthquake, Haitian farmers, led by the Peasant Movement of Papay (MPP), joined in mass protest. The farmers protested and threatened to burn a perilous gift: 475 tons of hybrid seeds from Monsanto. Read more about the peasant farmer protests here. These events grew, in part, from the efforts of churches in local farming communities. In early June, I had the privilege of organizing events at the United Nations and in local NYC churches with Chavannes Jean-Baptiste, the leader of the MPP, while I served at the Presbyterian Ministry at the UN. The Peasant Movement of Papay (MPP) is a partner of the Presbyterian Church (USA) through FONDAMA (“Fondasyon Men-lan-Men Ayiti”) or “Foundation Hands in Hands Haiti,” part of the PC(USA) Joining Hands network. Visit the Joining Hands network for more information on FONDAMA. Theology is liberated when the poverty of the majority raises its voice in protest and prayer.

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