Environment & People

Monsanto – The GMO Giant

Posted in - Environment & People on May 12th 2010 0 Comments Monsanto: Maker of DDT, Agent Orange, Round Up, Aspartame & More

Monsanto Company was founded in the U.S. in 1901 by John Francis Queeny (a former pharmaceutical extraordinaire). The name Monsanto was derived from his wife’s former maiden name and father-in-law, Emmanuel Monsanto.

Monsanto evolved from producing artificial sweeteners for Coca-Cola, into acids, aspirin and rubbers, then, to plastics and synthetic fibers, and eventually to producing DDT (pesticides) and experimenting with genetic engineering.

The fight to stop the dangerous chemical DDT, began with the company’s production of it in 1944. Environmentalists persisted that the public be informed of the dangers of insecticides, and DDT was eventually banned by Congress in 1972.

During the evolution of the company, they purchased and maintained a large number of patents for various chemicals and materials. They are best known for their product, “Roundup, and their “Roundup Ready” soy beans.

Monsanto has become a giant in the industry of genetically engineered crops, and has produced a number of products, including aspartame sweeteners (known to have negative health effects), bovine growth formula (known to sicken and mutate cattle) and even nuclear weapons technology.

Starting in the late nineties, the company became infamous for taking small farmers to court on patent infringement claims… The wind, carrying Patented Monsanto Seeds into neighboring crops, became an issue of dispute that has allowed the company to destroy numerous small farms.

Monsanto Doesn’t Want You To Know:

Monsanto owns rights to, and produces 90% of Genetically Modified crops grown around the world today. They have been heavily involved in the process of preventing labeling laws that would allow consumers to know if a product has been genetically modified. 70% of US products contain GMOS and there are still no labeling laws requiring companies to release this information to the public.

Scientists have frequently publicized research revealing the severe damage caused to animals who are fed GMO foods. Knowing the effects on livestock should alarm people as well, but the FDA passed a vote to prevent the consumer’s right to know what has been genetically modified, and even prevented requiring Monsanto to safety test their foods.

Monsanto has put numerous small farms out of business: Percy Schmeiser paid thousands of dollars in damages to Monsanto when the company’s seed contaminated his crops. Roger Nelson’s family is currently fighting a patent infringement case brought against them by Monsanto, and many others share similar stories…

A 2007 report found that thousands of investigations and nearly 100 lawsuits had been brought against small farmers by Monsanto. Farmers are sued if they save seeds from Monsanto crops and replant them the next year (they are required to purchase new seeds every year), and they are sued if Monsanto seeds are found in their fields (which usually occurs naturally by wind).

Monsanto was not only responsible for the production of DDT, but also Agent Orange (and aerial spray used to defoliate forests during Vietnam). Agent orange victims are still being born in Vietnam with severe mutations. “Inside the Tu Du hospital in Saigon, grotesque birth defects – babies born with two heads, others with short stumps in place of arms or legs – are a routine sight.”

An environmental study launched by a Canadian firm, proved the continuing health problems caused by Agent Orange in Vietnam, despite the response from Monsanto Representative Jill Montgomery, who said in email, “There were seven manufacturers who were required to make Agent Orange at the specific request of the US government for military use. Production ended more than 30 years ago. The government of Vietnam resolved its claims as part of the treaties that ended the war and normalized relations with the United States.”

“We are sympathetic with people who believe they have been injured and understand their concern to find the cause, but reliable scientific evidence indicates that Agent Orange is not the cause of serious long-term health effects.”

Currently, aerial spraying of Roundup in Columbia, is being used as a government tactic to prevent insurgency by contaminating crops and poisoning the people.

Monsanto has many government connections. For example, Michael Taylor once worked for the FDA, then moved to Monsanto as a lawyer, and again returned to the FDA as it’s Deputy Commissioner for Policy. He was responsible for helping to approve the use of rBGH in cattle.

Monsanto has been brought to court by France for lying about the safety of the weed killer Roundup, which they claimed was biodegradable (and is not). Many companies, under pressure from consumers since the publicity of rBGH dangers, have begun to ban rBGH milks. Research from 58 countries has recently concluded that GMO crops could never sustain situations of poverty, hunger or climate change.

Monsanto also had to pay 1.5 million in penalties for bribing a bid in Indonesia to bypass screening of their new GE cotton crops.

Monsanto has taken ownership of the soy market, now producing 90% of US soybeans which contain their own gene, and often spread to any neighboring farms who try to produce safer varieties of soybeans. Furthermore, research by the York Laboratory found that allergic reactions to soy had skyrocketed by over 50% since the imports of GMO soybeans became popular in the UK.

Monsanto in the Future

Just as Monsanto has taken ownership of the soybean, they intend (and continue to try) to take over ownership of nearly every crop imaginable. They have, however, run into major snags with small farmers and companies who do not plan to support genetically engineered foods.

Recently, Monsanto has taken a different approach by releasing reports intending to paint them as a green company, “concerned for a better world”. On their website they say, “We will listen carefully to diverse points of view and engage in thoughtful dialogue to broaden our understanding of issues in order to better address the needs and concerns of society and each other.”

When the International Assessment of Agricultural Science and Technology for Development group decided to start a research project to determine how to best improve hunger and quality of life for rural people and countries, Monsanto got right on board: UNTIL they learned that the research did not promote GE crops. They pulled out of the project, along with several other GE companies.

Many large milk producers in the US have been ditching Monsanto’s rBGH and rBST products from their milk supply. Monsanto chose to sue the Oakhurst dairy company to force them and other companies to stop using labels that identified them as rBGH-free products… Monsanto does not want other companies marketing products HONESTLY to the consumer, since it degrades the image of the products Monsanto creates.

Monsanto did everything in its power to prevent the release of documents which outlined testing of their maize products on rats. The release of these documents was eventually forced by German courts and contained proof of severe kidney and liver damage in the test rats. Monsanto was able to convince many Philippino farmers to grow this same maize. The seed eventually became so costly, the farmers lost ALL profits.

If it were possible, Monsanto would take over ownership of every crop in the U.S and perhaps even the world. We would be unable to grow anything but Monsanto seed without being sued, which would eventually lead to the scarcity of not only safe food, but of hardy, reproducible crops. In the event of severe climate problems, Monsanto crops will not survive.

Efforts by many are in effect to save naturally grown seeds in the event of disaster. The Svalbard Global Seed Vault was built in Norwegian country to preserve real seed in the event that it may cease to exist one day….

To help with the fight against Monsanto… Visit: http://www.combat-monsanto.co.uk/ and http://www.organicconsumers.org/monlink.cfm

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