COLUMBIA, MO, June 8, 2012 - Monsanto is a multinational corporation that should be a household name, yet eerily, it is not. Many of the foods we eat can be traced back to them. As a producer of herbicides, such as Roundup®, and one of the world’s largest producers of seeds, the company has rapidly expanded its control over the American food supply over the last decade in its effort to fulfill its mission to end world hunger. The concept sounds admirable but beneath the lofty concept and Monsanto’s bioengineering solutions lie questionable tactics and seemingly less humanitarian motives.
In 1994, Monsanto released its first wave of genetically modified organisms (GMO’s) into the American food source in the form of hormones designed to increase the milk production of dairy cattle. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration accepted Monsanto’s practice without independent testing, but assured the public that this genetically modified product was safe. However, this claim is disputed by scientists whose testing determined that milk from cows injected with the hormones is not safe; and when consumed, presents significant risks to human health. These risks include numerous types of cancer and the development of drug-resistant bacteria. Consequently, the practice has been banned in several countries, but remains common in the United States.
Amid consumer worries of the health risks of artificial hormones, some companies, such as Dean’s Foods and Wal-Mart, have chosen not to subscribe to the practice. Several companies began to label their milk with a promise that their farmers do not use the hormones. These labels inspired Monsanto and the FDA to fight the labeling, resulting in a required FDA disclaimer which appears to be an attempt to negate the effect of the “hormone free label”. It states that the FDA does not recognize any difference between cows treated with the hormones and those that are not.
A Fox News exposé on the dangers of these hormones was met by threats from Monsanto to pull all advertising from the NewsCorp conglomerate’s stations if the story aired. The journalists, who had attempted to inform the public of the scientific evidence that the milk was unsafe, were fired and the story never aired. The journalists sued, yet the judge ruled that the media has no obligation to tell the truth when reporting the news.
Advances in GMO’s have continued, and Monsanto has now developed an insect-resistant seed. Here’s how these “enhanced” seeds work: should a rootworm eat corn sprouted from a GMO seed, its stomach explodes due to the toxins in the corn, and the bacteria leaks into the insect’s blood supply, killing it from septic shock. Monsanto believes that this will allow farmers to obtain a larger harvest every season. The company also believes they have ultimately solved the problem of world hunger.
Like artificial hormones for cows, these GMO seeds present risks not only to the insects, but to the farm, the farmer, and the consumers. Farmers have reported that their farmland was ruined and their animals died after planting GMO corn. Some farmers have even committed suicide after their livelihood was destroyed by Monsanto’s seeds. For the consumer, GMOs are linked to drug resistant infections, genetic mutations, infertility problems and sterility, gastrointestinal disorders, cancer, autoimmune disease, new viruses, allergies, kidney failure, hemorrhaging and death, among other concerns. Some researchers are concerned that these modified crops may cross pollinate with natural crops, contaminating them and threatening the entire food supply.
While it is the FDA’s responsibility to monitor the safety of the food supply, these new seeds have only been studied for 30-90 days before being released to the farmer and, shortly thereafter, introduced on your dinner table. In many instances, Monsanto has blocked independent researchers from studying the safety of their product at all, sometimes going as far as threatening the scientists themselves.
Recently, there has been an explosion of Monsanto executives working for the United States government. Most recently, President Obama appointed Michael Taylor, a former vice president of Monsanto who oversaw the project to introduce hormones to increase dairy production, as the FDA Food Safety Czar. Linda Fisher, an executive with the Environmental Protection Agency Office of Pollution, Pesticides and Toxic Substances went to work for Monsanto, later returning to the EPA. Even Secretary of State Hilary Rodham Clinton was employed by the Rose Law Firm, which represented the agri-giant, prior to her political career. U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas is a former Monsanto attorney.
While these genetically-engineered seeds have only been on the market for a short time, farmers have already seen the evolution of regular pests into superbugs. As Monsanto develops the engineered crops and heavily pollutes them with chemicals such as Roundup®, experts at the EPA say mutant insects are evolving, immune to our current methods of eradication.
Meanwhile, the FDA raids family farms to protect us from making the personal decision to drink natural, raw milk. In addition to raw milk, the government goes after sheep farms, pig farms, and other small, private, natural farms. Critics and activists feel the connected corporation is utilizing its political affiliations to reduce competition with the force of law.
The United States is the only developed country in the world that both allows GMOs in its food supply and does not require manufacturers to list them on the label. Some countries, such as France, have even attempted to block Monsanto GMOs altogether. WikiLeaks recently exposed plots to retaliate against such nations.
Does Monsanto understand the risks its products poses? Consider for a moment that before a farmer can purchase seeds from Monsanto, he must sign a contract in which he agrees to take on all liability should anything undesirable happen as a result of planting the crop. Monsanto is relieved of any and all obligations should a lawsuit follow.
Now that some companies are labeling their milk, it is much easier to choose a brand that you know won’t contain their toxic chemicals. But the task becomes much more daunting when it comes to produce. GMO corn could be on shelves as early as summer 2012, and GMOs are not listed on the label. Vermont recently proposed a bill that would require GMO labeling, but Monsanto has threatened to sue the state if the measure is approved.
We’ve all been taught to be wary when the fox is guarding the hen house. With the incestuous, revolving door of employment between Monsanto and the U.S. Government, wariness would be prudent. But seems that even the fox now has a worry of his own if the hens have been pecking at Monsanto’s new super corn.