Monsanto: Solving World Hunger or Causing World Famine?
By NICHOLAS DESIMONE
If there were ever anything that could be perceived as the one of the worst threats imaginable to the planet and its inhabitants, it would be the genetic modification of organisms ranging from plant life, animals, and humans.
The multinational company, Monsanto, is one of the leading companies in the biotechnology industry, which practices genetically modifying organisms (GMO or GM). Historically, they developed the dangerous and highly toxic herbicide, Agent Orange, which was used in Vietnam during the war to defoliate hiding places, and to this day, still causes birth defects in babies born from those exposed during the war in existing contaminated areas. The damage is so extensive Congress enacted a law, Agent Orange Act of 1991, to secure compensation for those still suffering from harmful exposure. Monsanto also produces the highly controversial recombinant bovine growth hormone (rBGH) used in dairy cows, which today most farmers reject using in their cows.
o different types of GM seeds for crops around the world. The first, herbicide-tolerant crops are produced when a gene from bacteria that is resistant to the herbicide is inserted into the plant and the end result is when the crop is sprayed with the herbicide; all the other biodiversity is killed except resistant crop. Conveniently, Monsanto also produces the herbicide, RoundUp, which is used to spray the crops genetically modified to resist the herbicide.
The second, insecticide-producing crops, are produced by taking a gene from a soil bacterium, Bacillus Thuringiensis (Bt), which produces a natural insecticide and inserting it into the DNA of a plant. The end result is the crop produces its own insecticide. Typically, people wash insecticides off their food before ingesting. With insecticide-producing crops, it’s impossible to wash the insecticide off the food. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) even registers Bt Corn as an insecticide, along with 17 other Bt varieties. Furthermore, according to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), National Agricultural Statistics Service, “All biotech varieties” of corn biotechnology as a percent of all corn planted in the U.S. totals 88%. Most consumers aren’t aware when they eat corn-based foods; they’re more than likely eating something genetically modified because there is no GM labeling required by the FDA.
Dr. Mercola, from FoodConsumer.org, an online food, diet, and health news outlet, reports that GMO’s are “Banned in Germany, But You’re Probably Still Eating It,” referring to the U.S. as consumers still eating GMO’s. Mercola also states, “Ninety percent or more of all US-grown corn, soybeans, canola, and sugar beets are genetically modified versions, which means that virtually all processed food items contain at least one or more genetically modified ingredients.”
With respect to GMO’s, Monsanto’s view on the health risks from their own website state, “Requiring labeling for ingredients that don’t pose a health issue would undermine both our labeling laws and consumer confidence.” However, in March 2010, the Huffington Post reported, “Monsanto’s GMO Linked To Organ Failure, Study Reveals.” The study reported by the International Journal of Biological Sciences states, “Effects were mostly concentrated in kidney and liver function, the two major diet detoxification organs…data strongly suggests that these GM maize varieties induce a state of hepatorenal toxicity.”
Currently, no human testing has been done on GMO’s and little to no testing has been published on the effects of GMO’s on animals, yet people are eating GMO’s everyday. However, Dr Arpad Pusztai was a world-renowned expert on food safety discovered the dangers of GMO’s and attempted to publish his findings. He worked at the Rowett Institute, United Kingdom’s leading food safety research lab. Pusztai’s studies concluded that GM potatoes fed to rats produced damage to their immune system, liver, heart, and they suffered stunted growth. When he tried to go public with his findings, he was suspended from his job; his data had to be handed over, and a gag order placed, which threatened legal action if he spoke to anyone about his findings.
Jeffery Smith, from the Institute for Responsible Technology, and the worlds leading consumer advocate promoting healthier non-GMO choices, mentions Pusztai on his website, “He had been an enthusiastic supporter of genetic engineering, working on cutting edge safety research with genetically modified (GM) foods. But to his surprise, his experiments showed that GM foods were inherently dangerous. When he relayed his concerns during a short television interview in the UK, things got ugly. With support from the highest levels of government, biotech defenders quickly mobilized a coordinated attack campaign trying to distort and cover up the evidence. It worked for a while, but when an order of Parliament lifted Dr. Pusztai’s gag order, the revelations touched off a media firestorm that ultimately kicked GM foods out of European supermarkets, and derailed the industry’s timetable to quickly replace virtually all food with genetically engineered alternatives.”
What is the U.S. doing about this issue? In July 2009, the Huffington Post reported a post from Jeffery Smith, which states, “The Fox Guarding the Chickens: If GMOs are indeed responsible for massive sickness and death, then the individual who oversaw the FDA policy that facilitated their introduction holds a uniquely infamous role in human history. That person is Michael Taylor. He had been Monsanto’s attorney before becoming policy chief at the FDA. Soon after, he became Monsanto’s vice president and chief lobbyist.” It seems the U.S.’s response is promoting individuals. Michael Taylor was recently appointed by President Obama from U.S. Food Safety Czar to Senior Advisor to the Commission of the FDA, which would continue to allow Monsanto’s unsafe practices go unchecked.
The fact is both sides of this argument claim to have science backing their arguments, However, if GMO’s don’t “pose a health issue” and Monsanto and other companies are so confident in their products being safe, then what’s the harm in putting a label on it and letting the consumer decide whether or not to purchase it?
In Europe, GM foods are required by law to have labels indicating that they are genetically modified. But Europe isn’t the only one taking action. A Ballot Initiative in the state of California has been proposed for the 2012 ballot to require the state to enforce a mandatory labeling law on all GM foods. This would be a huge success for the non-GMO movement, if passed.
The only thing GMO crops have done is created superbugs and superweeds resistant to regular continuous applications of herbicides. In an effort to combat this issue, farmers just apply more pesticides and insecticides. The end result of this is a complete destruction of the soil and eco systems above and below the ground that help maintain healthy mineral-rich soil, and the contamination of underground water supplies by harmful chemicals.
When Percy Schmeiser, a Canadian canola farmer, had his field contaminated by seeds drifting in his fields that were Monsanto’s patented GMO canola crop planted by a neighboring farmer in the area, Monsanto tried suing him for using Monsanto’s patented seeds, for $1 million, and tried ceasing his land, his home, and farm equipment. He was fortunate and the Supreme Court of Canada ordered that he did not have to pay any money or surrender his land or property to Monsanto. This was just one victory. However, the effort invoked a judgment to deny a company the right to patent any “higher life forms,” such as plants, animals, and humans, was denied. Countless other farmers who weren’t so fortunate to have the publicity or money Schmeiser did, suffer the fate of Monsanto’s giant arm of devastation, superior legal team, and still continue to this day. It’s been reported that GM crops have pollinated and contaminated non-GMO crops up to a thousand miles away. With a distance like that, if going unopposed, Monsanto can have total control of the food supply in no time through patent protection and indeed that seems to be their intention.
Monsanto also patented their “terminator technology,” which only allows one life cycle of the crop and farmers are forced to keep buying seeds from them after every harvest. Loans being taken out, and collateral being offered to keep up with the pace of affording these seeds, which studies show produce lesser yields as with the cotton farmers in India. The cotton farmers in India are committing suicide in record numbers because they cannot afford Monsanto’s hefty costs, and lesser yields. In December 2011, the Hindu reported, 90 farmers committed suicide in two months in Andhra Pradesh. “These were cotton growers. Actually, last year, Andhra farmers killed themselves at the rate of 210 each month on average, according to the National Crime Records Bureau.”
Terminator technology is currently being used in field trials in forests. The contamination of non-gmo forests by gmo forests could be devastating to the environment. Eco systems will be destroyed when seeds for food for local wildlife are not being produced, and whole forests will suffer sterility on a massive scale from this biological pollution. And with biotech industry holding the patents to seeds, whole lands can be controlled and the forestry on them. In 2008, Greenpeace Canada reports, “Canada continues to permit field tests of transgenic forest trees. The fear is that these tests are just a prelude to the commercialization of GE trees.”
To convey the magnitude of Monsanto’s reach for control of the food supply, they even submitted gene patents for pigs. Dating back to August 2005, Greenpeace reports, “It’s official. Monsanto Corporation is out to own the world’s food supply, the dangers of genetic engineering and reduced biodiversity notwithstanding, as they pig-headedly set about hog-tying farmers with their monopoly plans. We’ve discovered chilling new evidence of this in recent patents that seek to establish ownership rights over pigs and their offspring,” So, now, when a pig reproduces, the offspring of that pig becomes Monsanto’s property.
Currently, in February 2012, British newspaper, The Guardian reports, “A French court has declared the US biotech giant Monsanto guilty of chemical poisoning of a French farmer, a judgment that could lend weight to other health claims against pesticides.”
Monsanto’s efforts to patent its GM seeds, when those seeds pollinate other crops reported up to a thousand miles away, and farmers are sued for patent infringement is precarious at best. The farmers can’t combat the legal team of Monsanto, and potentially lose their farms when an infringment occurs. It’s concievable that Monsanto’s agenda, could be complete monopoly of the food supply. And, according to the facts and data, the subsequent destruction of those crops by GMO technology and the soil by over application of chemicals also could suggest a potential famine of catastrophic proportions.