March 19, 2012 by Bob Livingston
Monsanto should be named an enemy of the State. It’s definitely an enemy of the people. Instead, the company has essentially become another branch of government.
Monsanto is engaged in government-sponsored agricultural terrorism. It’s government-sponsored because there is a revolving door between the company, the Food and Drug Administration, the Environmental Protection Agency and firms that lobby Congress on Monsanto’s behalf. Dow, Bayer, other chemical companies and Big Agriculture are Monsanto’s co-conspirators in agricultural terrorism.
In addition to contaminating our food supply with pesticides, hormones and genetic modifications, water supplies are being contaminated as well — even for those who live in the city far away from farmland. And anyone trying to grow crops uncontaminated by Monsanto’s genetically engineered (GE) frankenseeds can be slapped with a lawsuit if the prevailing winds or pollinating insects cause pollen from Monsanto-patented crops to mingle with non-Monsanto GE crops.
The Union of Concerned Scientists recently listed eight ways Monsanto fails at being a good steward of food and moves over to food and environmental terrorism:
- Promoting pesticide resistance: Monsanto’s Roundup Ready and Bt technologies lead to resistant weeds and insects that can make farming harder and reduce sustainability. The idea is, supposedly, to create crops that ward off insects and other pests. But the result has been to create insects that are pesticide-resistant. And even worse, application of systemic pesticides like Dow Chemical’s Clothianidin or GE crops that kill “pests” are behind the deaths of hundreds of thousands of honeybee colonies through colony collapse disorder. In almost every case, the EPA and/or FDA ignored science or used junk science to justify approval of the chemicals and crops.
- Increasing herbicide use: Roundup resistance has led to greater use of herbicides, with troubling implications for biodiversity, sustainability and human health. By planting crops engineered to be resistant to herbicides, farmers are able, in theory, to keep down weeds by spraying increasing amounts of herbicides. But these toxic chemicals are finding their way into our foods and contaminating our water supplies. Roundup’s key ingredient, glyphosate, is also linked to a decrease in the monarch butterfly population by killing the plants butterflies rely on for habitat and food. Roundup is also linked to the spread of fusarium head blight in wheat, which makes the crop unsuitable for human or animal consumption. Now we also know that use of these herbicides has created “super weeds” that have developed a resistance to Roundup. So Monsanto and Dow are combining to reintroduce the use of the herbicide 2, 4-D, one-half of the defoliant Agent Orange used in Vietnam. Agent Orange is a carcinogen that caused Hodgkin’s lymphoma, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, leukemia and other diseases in Vietnam veterans.
- Spreading gene contamination: Engineered genes have a bad habit of turning up in non-GE crops. When this happens, sustainable farmers — and their customers — pay a high price. In other words, GE crops are contaminating the crops of those who want to use natural or heirloom seeds and eat and grow foods the way God intended. There is no way of telling what long-term ramifications of these contaminated crops will have on the foods we eat – and, therefore, our health. Plus, as we mentioned above, small farmers are being attacked in courts by Monsanto if their crops — through no fault of their own — become contaminated by Monsanto GE crops. According to a report released by Britain’s Soil Association, GE crops have cost Americans $12 billion in farm subsidies in the past three years and is bankrupting wheat and cotton farmers.
- Expanding monoculture: Monsanto’s emphasis on limited varieties of a few commodity crops contributes to reduced biodiversity and, as a consequence, to increased pesticide use and fertilizer pollution. Monoculture, the planting of a single crop on large swaths of land, is anathema to nature. Everyone knows that crops must be rotated to keep the soil properly balanced. Different plants that bloom and pollinate at different times are essential to sustain the nourishment needed by many insects, birds and animals. Yet Monsanto, Dow and huge corporate farms disavow the laws of nature for profit, and the environment suffers. Monoculture also provides a vast feeding ground that attracts ever-stronger pests, creating a cycle of increased use of pesticides to combat the problem created by the use of monoculture and more pesticides. And when the pests, as in the case of the corn rootworm develop a resistance to the engineered pesticide, they can wipe out thousands of acres of crops, driving up food prices and causing food shortages.
- Marginalizing alternatives: Monsanto’s single-minded emphasis on GE fixes for farming challenges may come at the expense of cheaper, more effective solutions. Relying on genetic engineering to fix the problem creates more problems while limiting natural or less expensive solutions.
- Lobbying and advertising: Monsanto outspends all other agribusinesses on efforts to persuade Congress and the public to maintain the industrial agriculture status quo. Worse, as noted above, it has become a revolving door that sees members of Congress passing to the company to become executives and lobbyists, and company executives moving to the regulatory agencies to regulate their former employer. This is simply crony capitalism at its worst.
- Suppressing research: By creating obstacles to independent research on its products, Monsanto makes it harder for farmers and policy makers to make informed decisions that can lead to more sustainable agriculture. And through its system of crony capitalism, research benefitting the company — even when fraudulent — is approved by the regulatory agencies, while natural alternatives are suppressed or outlawed altogether. Independent organizations attempting to provide a rebuttal to the flawed research are often quashed and silenced.
- Falling short on feeding the world: Monsanto contributes little to helping the world feed itself, and has failed to endorse science-backed solutions that don’t give its products a central role. In fact, what Monsanto is doing is acquiring a state-sponsored monopoly on seeds. GE crops create non-renewable seeds that do not germinate from year to year. This requires the farmer to go back to Monsanto each year to purchase the seeds for the next year’s crop, rather than saving seeds and using seeds from last year’s crop (using the seed corn). This also happens to farmers using heirloom seeds whose crops are contaminated by GE crop pollen.
The European Union has mandated labeling of GM ingredients in food and feed. But that doesn’t happen in the United States, and efforts are afoot to prevent special labeling. But evidence shows that exposure to GE plants and GM feed affects food animals in many ways.
What all this means is that even with the knowledge and desire to avoid GE or GM foods, as the Monsantos and Dows of the world gain more of a hold on world agriculture, it’s going to eventually become impossible to avoid exposure to them. Even planting your own garden with heirloom seeds won’t guarantee you the ability to avoid genetic pollution if someone nearby is using GE crops and pollinators cross pollinate the fields or winds blow the pollen into your garden and it pollinates your crop.
And pesticides and GE and GM foods are being linked to myriad negative health effects including attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, obesity, diabetes and hormonal disorders. The insecticide-producing Bt gene is even being detected in the blood tests of people who eat a typical diet, including in pregnant women and their fetuses. Research shows it also kills human kidney cells.
Fascism is the union of government and big business. In this system, the people are pawns. Government, Big Agriculture and their partners in crime Monsanto, Dow and Bayer are engaged in a fascist system in which an unwitting populace is kept fat and stupid and without choices, and even those who understand and recognize the system for what it is are allowed fewer opportunities to opt out.
These are who the War on Terror should truly be against. And thanks to global activism and the growth of the Internet and advent of social media, the war on the real terrorists is gaining headway against their war on our health.
We can battle agricultural terrorism on our own by minding what we are buying and eating. When you grocery shop, refuse to buy GMO products. Many food producers are now labeling their non-GMO foods as such. You can also use the “Non-GMO Shopping Guide,” available for download here.