25 October 2007
A private military and security company hired by global agribusiness Syngenta has shot and killed 32 year old Valmir Motta, father of 3, and severely wounded six other on 21 October 2007 in Santa Teresa do Oeste, in the Brazilian state of Paraná
Motta was a member of Via Campesina, an organization representing millions of small farmers around the world that helps them to resist the exploitation of multinational corporations and governments. War on Want is a proud partner in Via Campesina's work around the world.
Seventy peasant families had occupied the multinational company's experimental test site since March 2006 to denounce the illegal planting of genetically modified (GMO) soy and maize seeds in the area. The soy seeds had been planted within the boundaries of the protected Iguaçu Falls National Park, which was declared a UNESCO world heritage sight in 1986. In July 2007, after 16 months of resistance the families left the area moving to a provisional settlement called Olga Benário.
On the morning of 21 October 2007, about 150 peasants from Via Campesina re-occupied Sygenta Seeds' test site. At around 1:30pm, a bus stopped in front of the main entrance and approximately 40 heavily armed gunmen got off and started shooting at the peasants. The gunmen killed Valmir Motta with two gunshots to his chest, shot five other peasants and assaulted Isabel do Nascimento de Souza, leaving her in critical condition. Syngenta Seeds, one of the world's biggest agribusinesses with sales of over $8 billion in 2006, hired corporate mercenaries who have carried out violent evictions and attacks on landless peasant camps in the region. The company's actions have been denounced repeatedly, including on 18 October during a public hearing coordinated by the Human Rights and Minorities Commission of the Federal House of Deputies.
Via Campesina is demanding an investigation into the attacks on rural workers. They, and the residents of the Olga Benário settlement which borders with the Syngenta test site, continue to oppose the company's oppose GMO experiments in the area as it will contaminate their own seeds and will damage their health and the environment.
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