Monsanto’s Worst Fear May Be Coming True
by Jonathan Lathman, PhD, May 18, 2015
The decision of the Chipotle restaurant chain to make its product lines GMO-free is not most people’s idea of a world-historic event. Especially since Chipotle, by US standards, is not a huge operation. A clear sign that the move is significant, however, is that Chipotle’s decision was met with a tidal-wave of establishment media abuse. Chipotle has been called irresponsible, anti-science, irrational, and much more by the Washington Post, Time Magazine, the Chicago Tribune, the LA Times, and many others. A business deciding to give consumers what they want was surely never so contentious.
The media lynching of Chipotle has an explanation that is important to the future of GMOs. The cause of it is that there has long been an incipient crack in the solid public front that the food industry has presented on the GMO issue. The crack originates from the fact that while agribusiness sees GMOs as central to their business future, the brand-oriented and customer-sensitive ends of the food supply chain do not. Continue Reading the full article
Monsanto is notorious for launching court battles to financially and legally bulldoze whomever dare stand in its way. The company has sued farms, counties, states, and countries to subvert democratic processes that threaten its corporate interests. In its latest battle, the agriculture giant is backing a lawsuit against a county is Southern Oregon that recently passed a ballot initiative banning genetically engineered foods in the county.
It is important to remember that all local battles are part of a greater national campaign to resist pesticides, GMOs, and industrial agriculture. A win here is a win everywhere. We are powerful when we stand together. Please donate and share! Boost, boost, boost!
“I went to Monsanto and I spent a lot of time with the scientists there, and I have revised my outlook. And I’m very excited about telling the world. When you’re in love, you want to tell the world.” -Bill Nye
In his book Undeniable: Evolution and the Science of Creation, published just last November, Nye reiterated these points. His concern about GMOs centered mainly on unintended consequences of growing them over large expanses—he cited the example of crops engineered to resist herbicides, which have been linked pretty decisively to the decline of monarch butterflies, which rely on abundant milkweeds, which in turn have been largely wiped out in the Midwest by GMO-enabled herbicide use. Nye praised certain GMOs, such as corn engineered to repel certain insects, but concluded that “if you’re asking me, we should stop introducing genes from one species into another,” because “we just can’t know what will happen to other species in that modified species’ ecosystem.”
Now, Nye’s doubts have evidently fallen away like milkweeds under a fine mist of herbicide. In a February interview filmed backstage on Bill Maher’s HBO show (starting about 3:40 in the below video), Nye volunteered that he was working on a revision of the GMO section of Undeniable. He gave no details, just that he “went to Monsanto and I spent a lot of time with the scientists there.” As a result, he added with a grin, “I have revised my outlook, and am very excited about telling the world. When you’re in love, you want to tell the world!” Click HERE to read more!
BASAVILBASO, Argentina (AP) — Argentine farmworker Fabian Tomasi was never trained to handle pesticides. His job was to keep the crop-dusters flying by filling their tanks as quickly as possible, although it often meant getting drenched in poison.
Now, at 47, he’s a living skeleton, so weak he can hardly swallow or go to the bathroom on his own.
Schoolteacher Andrea Druetta lives in Santa Fe Province, the heart of Argentina’s soy country, where agrochemical spraying is banned within 500 meters (550 yards) of populated areas. But soy is planted just 30 meters (33 yards) from her back door. Her boys were showered in chemicals recently while swimming in the backyard pool.
After Sofia Gatica lost her newborn to kidney failure, she filed a complaint that led to Argentina’s first criminal convictions for illegal spraying. But last year’s verdict came too late for many of her 5,300 neighbors in Ituzaingo Annex. A government study there found alarming levels of agrochemical contamination in the soil and drinking water, and 80 percent of the children surveyed carried traces of pesticide in their blood.
American biotechnology has turned Argentina into the world’s third-largest soybean producer, but the chemicals powering the boom aren’t confined to soy and cotton and corn fields.
The Associated Press documented dozens of cases around the country where poisons are applied in ways unanticipated by regulatory science or specifically banned by existing law. The spray drifts into schools and homes and settles over water sources; farmworkers mix poisons with no protective gear; villagers store water in pesticide containers that should have been destroyed.
Now doctors are warning that uncontrolled pesticide applications could be the cause of growing health problems among the 12 million people who live in the South American nation’s vast farm belt.
In Santa Fe, cancer rates are two times to four times higher than the national average. In Chaco, birth defects quadrupled in the decade after biotechnology dramatically expanded farming in Argentina.
“The change in how agriculture is produced has brought, frankly, a change in the profile of diseases,” says Dr. Medardo Avila Vazquez, a pediatrician and neonatologist who co-founded Doctors of Fumigated Towns, part of a growing movement demanding enforcement of agricultural safety rules. “We’ve gone from a pretty healthy population to one with a high rate of cancer, birth defects, and illnesses seldom seen before.”
A nation once known for its grass-fed beef has undergone a remarkable transformation since 1996, when the St. Louis-based Monsanto Co. promised that adopting its patented seeds and chemicals would increase crop yields and lower pesticide use. Today, Argentina’s entire soy crop and nearly all its corn and cotton are genetically modified, with soy cultivation alone tripling to 47 million acres (19 million hectares).
Agrochemical use did decline at first, then it bounced back, increasing ninefold from 9 million gallons (34 million liters) in 1990 to more than 84 million gallons (317 million liters) today as farmers squeezed in more harvests and pests became resistant to the poisons. Overall, Argentine farmers apply an estimated 4.3 pounds of agrochemical concentrate per acre, more than twice what U.S. farmers use, according to an AP analysis of government and pesticide industry data.
Monsanto Co. has long been a lightning rod for debate, but at its annual shareholder meeting Friday, the biotech-seed company was tagged with blame or credit for an even larger number of issues than usual.
The sometimes emotional, nearly two-hour meeting sounded at times like a daytime talk show, minus thrown chairs and shouting. Critics charged Monsanto with responsibility for spikes in diabetes and autism, among other human and environmental problems. Springing to Monsanto’s defense were farmers, its own employees, and a nun who praised its efforts to reduce water use.
The meeting at Monsanto’s St. Louis headquarters tested CEO Hugh Grant’s stated determination to more directly engage critics of large-scale agriculture and genetically modified crops.
For some environmentalists and advocates of organic farming, Monsanto has become the poster child for a kind of industrialized farming reliant on synthetic fertilizers and pesticides, including the company’s trademark Roundup.
Advocacy groups that had purchased Monsanto shares and submitted shareholder resolutions focused on corporate governance used some of their time at the microphone to lambast Monsanto over human health problems, particularly in children, which they attributed to widespread use of Roundup, a formulation of the chemical glyphosate.
“I’m imploring you to choose a new direction,” said Zen Honeycutt, founder of Moms Across America, who spoke at length. “Stop poisoning our children.”
Monsanto’s Mr. Grant, who noted that he was the father of three children as well, responded that myriad studies had shown “no linkage” between Roundup and the maladies described by Ms. Honeycutt.
To read more about this meeting, click HERE.