Solidarity message on the Year of Rice Action against the 50th year of the IRRI

Solidarity message on the Year of Rice Action (YORA) against the 50th year of the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI)

By Prof. Jose Maria Sison
Chairperson, International League of Peoples’ Struggle

The International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) is a notorious arm of imperialism. When we were in the Philippine countryside organizing the peasants in the 1970s, IRRI was extending its clutches over agriculture and systematically wiping out traditional rice varieties in the Philippines. The World Bank-sponsored Green Revolution paved the way for IRRI in the Philippines during the Marcos dictatorship.

The WB acted like a mob boss. It initially shelled out $1 billion for the program to get Philippine agriculture “addicted” to agro-chemicals that were part of the new IRRI-designed farming package. Eventually, agro-chemicals TNCs raked in super-profits like druglords marketing chemical inputs though they clearly knew that they were harmful to users, in this case, the Filipino peasants.

We should not be deceived by the self-projection and posturing of IRRI.  It is no different from those who commit crimes against the people. Actually, it is worse as it exists to exploit the world’s peasants, destroy the environment and kill those who are regularly exposed to agro-chemicals.  We should not be enticed by the techno-babble of the so-called scientists of IRRI, promising impossible productivity levels as if their genetically-engineered rice varieties are magic pills for the hungry world.

IRRI’s explanations for its products do not intend to enlighten poor peasants but to confuse them and compel them to use expensive and deadly agro-chemicals, consequently condemning them into indebtedness and eventually to further landlessness.  The most important objective of the IRRI is to pave the way for the TNCs to make super-profits.

It is very heartening to see that numerous groups have united in calling for the abolition of IRRI. Fifty long years or five decades are more than enough proof that the IRRI is useless in solving the problem of hunger in the world. The IRRI has exposed itself as a bane to the world’s agriculture.

The development of traditional varieties that are not dependent on agro-chemicals marketed by TNCs is a breakthrough for the human civilization.  We, in the International League of Peoples’ Struggle, applaud the groups who advocate sustainable agriculture using traditional and indigenous seed varieties. But sustainable agriculture can only be widely adopted if it is part of Genuine Land Reform.

Rice is a crucial means of life and freedom, thus, it should be protected from genetic manipulation or bastardization of IRRI and other pseudo-scientific institutions. Peasants should struggle for food security and against the programs of these imperialist-controlled institutions. No country can claim true independence or sovereignty if it cannot produce its own food.

We should uphold food security and self-reliance, the exact opposite of “market-oriented” agriculture that monopoly capitalists impose on semifeudal societies with the help of puppet governments. Food security also lies at the heart of Genuine Land Reform and therefore, social transformation.

Therefore, the Asian Peasant Coalition’s rice campaign and Year of Rice Action is fully supported by the International League of Peoples’ Struggle (ILPS). ILPS member organizations are at the forefront of struggles for food security and against imperialist depredations in agriculture.





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