In “Monsanto,” another series of package-related artworks by Peruvian artist, Eduardo Villanes, we find an email campaign and silk-screened collages on the inside panels of unfolded Kellogg’s corn flakes boxes—a prominent brand, known to contain Monsanto’s patented, genetically modified corn. (The exterior package design of the corn flakes box remains as he found it.)
In 2007, Monsanto and the Peruvian government (under President Alan Garcia) intended to legalize the use of GMO seeds. By that time I was living in a rural area in the US for many years. This allowed me to imagine what could be the impact of GMO crops in my country, if they were allowed.
At that time there was not much awareness in Peru regarding this imminent threat, except for an indigenous farmer’s organization. So I decided to start a visual campaign in Lima, the political bastion of the country…
(More maize artworks, after the fold…)
Time was crucial, the importation of GMOs seeds could happen any day… This was the beginning of the email campaign that lasted from 2007 to 2009.
Subject: Transgenic Corn Field
I share with you this photo I took in a transgenic corn field in Massachusetts. The sign is a requirement from the seed company, it alerts that it is “prohibited” to take seeds away to plant them in another place because those seeds are their “intellectual property”.
Can you imagine the shame of having those signs in our land? Maybe in Cuzco?
The silkscreen on Kellogg’s corn flakes box titled Monsanto Comemaiz (Monsanto Maize-eater) reproduces an email. The background image is the cover page of the application form used at the US Patent and Trademark Office to request a patent. I found the one that was filled by Monsanto to request the patent of corn DNA in 2004.
In 2010 Villanes produced a series of beaded “Microtextiles” based on the genetic sequence of Monsanto’s corn patent.
It’s title: The Extinction of Corn (La Extinción del Maíz) is a comment on the threat that GMO agro-industry poses to biodiversity, as Monsanto’s dominance in agriculture tends to crowd out alternative seed sources, and its genetically modified seeds tend to contaminate other crops.
In 2011 Villanes made a series of razor wire sculptures…
Monsanto recently won a key Supreme Court victory here in the U.S., reaffirming that farmers are prohibited from planting a second generation of their patented seeds (no matter how they are obtained) and must instead buy a new batch with every growing season.
Villanes’s efforts, however, may have succeeded in Peru. In 2012, his country banned GMO seeds for the next 10 years.