The gigantic biotech corporation Monsanto is threatening to destroy the agricultural biodiversity which has served mankind for thousands of years. The endless list of genetically modified seeds sold and controlled by Monsanto are putting at enormous risk age-old agricultural patterns under the presumptuous slogan of aiming at solving the huge problem of hunger in the world.
On March 11 a new documentary was aired on French television (ARTE � French-German cultural tv channel) by French journalist and film maker Marie-Monique Robin, entitled 'The World According to Monsanto' (Le Monde selon Monsanto). Starting from the Internet over a period of three years Robin has collected material for her documentary, going on to numerous interviews with people of very different backgrounds. She traveled widely, from Latin America, to Asia, through Europe and the
United States, to personally interview farmers and people in influential positions.
As an example of pro-Monsanto interviews, she talked at length with Michael Taylor who has worked as a lawyer for Monsanto and also for the Federal Drug Administration (FDA), where he had great influence on the legalization of the genetically modified bovine growth hormone (BGH). It also became FDA policy during
Taylor's tenure that GM seeds are declared to be "substantially equivalent to non-GM seeds, hence proclaiming proof of the harmlessness of GMs to be unnecessary. Michael Taylor is a typical example of technocrats employed via 'the revolving door policy'. He is now head of the
D.C. office of Monsanto Corporation.
The gospel according to Monsanto is that their patented GM seeds and their bovine growth hormone (BGH) will increase worldwide production of agricultural, dairy and meat products and Bt cotton to the extent that worldwide hunger and poverty will be eradicated.
The actual truth is rather the opposite. GMOs are creating serious damage all over the world and artificial BGH injection in cows cause numerous health problems, and even death.
Monsanto is not held back by any considerations of ethics and it hides the reality of its sordid machinations behind a wall of secrecy. Everything Monsanto does is exclusively with the intent of increasing its own profit � everything else be damned. If left to its own devices it will most certainly destroy the livelihood of millions of farmers � a process begun a decade ago in India and certainly in many other countries as well. The planet's ecosystems will be seriously threatened by unnatural ways of changing agricultural patterns. The dangers of GMO cultivation to the environment come in many forms:
- Switching from age-old biodiverse crops that can tolerate low-level amounts of water to industrial monocultures of crops such as GM soya, cotton, sugarcane, etc. that require large amounts of irrigation.
- Inundating cultivated lands with toxic herbicides, in particular the dangerous Monsanto product Roundup, to which the GMO seeds have been made biotechnically resistant. Any other growth should succumb to Roundup, were it not for the fact that weeds to a very large extent become Roundup resistant.
- Putting an end to biological farming and poisoning non GM cultures through pollenization from GM crops and accidental exposure to Roundup herbicide.
- Deforestation to make more land available for the culture of the GM seeds Monsanto sells at high prices to poor farmers.
On top of all these dangers to biodiversity and biological farming comes the fact that Monsanto has patented its products and farmers are legally bound not to save seeds for replanting for the following year. They must buy new seeds from Monsanto every year and the company has a sizeable staff that just deals with prosecuting farmers suspected of illegally using one year's seeds for the planting of the next year's crop.
Globalization and Poverty
Biological farming is adapted to existing ecosystems. But age-old biological farming has had to give room to industrial monocultures that enrich the few and cause poverty and despair for millions of small farmers. Now there is soil erosion, destruction of biodiversity and social/economic disasters in tow. Contrary to Monsanto promises that GM seeds and Roundup would reduce production cost, farmers now have to pay skyrocketing prices for herbicides, pesticides and fertilizer.
The destructive effects of genetically engineered crops are worldwide, but the extensive damage done in
India has been widely documented by Dr Vandana Shiva. She is a physicist and environmentalist as well as a tireless activist and author of many books concerning the nefarious consequences of GM farming as opposed to the wisdom of traditional family and biological farming. She is currently based in
Quote from Dr. Vandana Shiva:
"I am writing this statement from beautiful Doon Valley in the Himalaya where the monsoons have arrived, and our Navdanya (Nine Seeds�Our National Movement on Conservation of Biodiversity) team is busy with transplanting of over 300 rice varieties which we are conserving along with the rich diversity of other agricultural crops. Our farm does not use any chemicals or external inputs. It is a self-regenerative system which preserves biodiversity while meeting human needs and needs of farm animals. Our 2 bullocks are the alternative to chemical fertilisers which pollute soil and water as well as to tractors and fossil fuels which pollute the atmosphere and destabilise the climate."
"Economic globalization has become a war against nature and the poor" says Dr. Vandana Shiva.
"Recently I was visiting Bhatinda in
Punjab because of an epidemic of farmers� suicides. Punjab used to be the most prosperous agricultural region in
India. Today every farmer is in debt and despair. Vast stretches of land have become waterlogged desert. And, as an old farmer pointed out, even the trees have stopped bearing fruit because heavy use of pesticides has killed the pollinators � the bees and butterflies.
Punjab is not alone in experiencing this ecological and social disaster. Last year I was in
Warangal, Andhra Pradesh, where farmers have also been committing suicide. Farmers who traditionally grew pulses and millets and paddy have been lured by seed companies to buy hybrid cotton seeds referred to as �white gold�, which were supposed to make them millionaires. Instead they became paupers."
In India as well as in China it has been proven that the unscrupulous promises of Monsanto that Bt cotton (genetically engineered cotton) would produce a far higher yield and prove less costly in terms of herbicide and fertilizer required has been the exact opposite of what was promised. Bt cotton increases irrigation and water requirements where biological cotton would thrive without added irrigation. Thus the yield of Bt cotton has been far inferior to that of biological cotton and the costs of production significantly higher.
Disastrous health problems caused by GMO products
In spite of the reassurances from Monsanto and its own lawyers and scientists that GMO cultures and Roundup herbicide are not health hazardous, it has been proven in their own research that rats have developed different forms of tumors and other health problems. However, instead of pushing the research further, they put a complete stop to it.
"As farmers know there is a cancer epidemic in
America's heartland � partly resulting from exposure to chemicals like Roundup, and partly from ingesting contaminated food and drinking water." (Economic, health & environmental impacts of Roundup-type chemical and Roundup Ready soybeans)
Particularly when Roundup is applied by aerial spraying the risk of drift of the herbicide to close-by crops and trees is considerable. Both trees and nutritious and medicinal herbs have been proven to be killed or producing severely damaged fruit and leaves from the effect of Roundup being sprayed on nearby cultures, by air as well as by ground spraying.
Quote from "New research on the impact of GMOs on health"
"Although some GMOs have been approved and marketed for several years, there was no body of scientific research on their impact on the biology of living organisms. This is partly because animal feeding trials are not required in the current safety approval process for GMOs in the EU or
USA. Only now is a body of evidence starting to emerge from a small number of animal feeding trials into the health effects and progress in the new science of epigenetics. This indicates that genetic engineering is much more unpredictable and risky than traditional breeding."
Various health problems from GMO products have been identified, from serious skin problems in humans in Argentina at soya plantations (documented by Marie-Monique Robin in her film � The World According to Monsanto), to allergies in humans as well as tumors, damage to internal organs and internal bleeding in rats fed with genetically engineered potatoes.
From a lack of sufficient research and the fact that many health hazards develop over a long period of time, there is still no complete list of real health hazards to humans caused by GMO products. Monsanto who provides 90% of the world's long list of genetically engineered products (having bought up 50 smaller companies during the last decade) does their business with such complete secrecy that there are still sold-out individuals out there who praise the complete revolution of agriculture achieved by the culture of GMO crops. These corrupt people seem to be totally unaware of the health hazards and the drive to despair and ruin of small farmers caused by GMO products. They seem to still believe that genetically engineered seeds can save the world's food problems. Or worse yet, they don't care.
A high representative for Monsanto has openly admitted that "We want to control the world's food supply." It is also very clear that they have no concern for health hazards or human disasters caused by the callous decisions of world leaders to give up on biological farming and opt for genetically engineered food production and monoculture industrial farming.
The proofs that GM huge industrial monocultures and Roundup herbicide are destroying the earth's environment and human health are completely censured and ignored, due to intense lobbying and pressure from sold-out individuals at the United States Department of Agriculture and the Federal Drug Administration.
Once again, only corporate profit counts and people as well as the environment are of no importance. And the neocon puppets are playing the game with great gusto.
 Also entitled 'Monsanto, une enterprise qui vous veut du bien' (Monsanto, a company that wants the very best for you.) Monsanto is the multinational producer of Agent Orange, dioxin, bovine growth hormone, Round Up and 90% of the world production of GMOs. New movie damns Monsanto's deadly sins See also:
Le Monde selon Monsanto
 [Michael Taylor] Attorney for Monsanto who rewrote the "regulations" for Genetically Modified foods. His brilliant addition is the "substantial equivalence" measure which says if the nutrition measures are the same for the GMO as the natural food it is nobody's business what the chemical companies add.
Reporters Jane Akre and Steve Wilson Blow Whistle On News Station -
Florida Milk Supply Riddled with Artificial Hormone Linked to Cancer. They Were Ordered to Lie About it on Fox-TV.
The shift from farm-saved seed to corporate monopolies of the seed supply is also a shift from biodiversity to monocultures in agriculture. The District of Warangal in Andhra Pradesh (
India) used to grow diverse legumes, millets, and oilseeds. Seed monopolies created crop monocultures of cotton, leading to disappearance of millions of products of nature's evolution and farmer's breeding. Monocultures and uniformity increase the risks of crop failure as diverse seeds adapted to diverse ecosystems are replaced by rushed introduction of unadapted and often untested seeds into the market. When Monsanto first introduced Bt Cotton in
India in 2002, the farmers lost Rs. 1 billion due to crop failure. Instead of 1,500 Kg / acre as promised by the company, the harvest was as low as 200 kg. Instead of increased incomes of Rs. 10,000 / acre, farmers ran into losses of Rs. 6400 / acre. (Vandana Shiva)
Greenpeace researcher uncovers chilling patent plans. One way or another, Monsanto wants to make sure no food is grown that they don't own -- and the record shows they don't care if it's safe for the
environment or not. (Direct quote in Marie-Marianne Robin's documentary)
The full documentary is now on line and can be viewed here.
Siv O�Neall is an Axis of Logic columnist, based in France. She can be reached at email@example.com
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