The Monsanto menace takes over

The feds see no evil as a belligerent strongman seeks control of America's food supply

The problem is that plants sweat these chemicals out in the morning dew, where they're picked up by bees like a morning cup of Starbucks.

Last year, Dr. Christian Krupke, a professor of entomology at Purdue University, did one of the first studies linking neo-nics to the collapse of bee colonies, which threatens the entire food system. One-quarter of the human diet is pollinated by bees.

These mysterious collapses — in which bees simply fly off and die — have been reported as far back as 1918. Yet over the past seven years, mortality rates have tripled. Some U.S. regions are witnessing the death of more than half their populations.

"We're looking at bee kills, persistently during corn-planting time," Krupke explains. "So what was killing these bees at corn planting?"

While he's still not sure how much responsibility the chemicals bear, his study indicates a link to Monsanto's GM corn, which has been widely treated with neo-nics since 2005.

But while other countries run from the problem, the U.S. government is content to let its citizens serve as guinea pigs.

What's Mine Is Yours

The same worries apply to contamination from GM crops. Ask Frank Morton, who grows organic sugar-beet seeds in Oregon's Willamette Valley and is among the few non-GM holdouts.

This became abundantly clear in 2010, when a federal judge demanded that all U.S. farmers stop planting GM sugar beets. Farmers were surprised to find that there was very little non-GM sugar-beet seed to be had. Since the GM variety was introduced in 2005, Monsanto had driven just about everyone out of the market.

Morton's farm is just two miles from a GM sugar-beet farm. Unfortunately, beet pollen can travel as much as five miles, cross-pollinating other farmers' fields and, in the case of an organic farmer, threatening his ability to sell his crop as organic and GM-free. The contamination can arrive in the most benign ways.

He recalls how a landscaper bought potting soil from a nearby GM beet farm, then sold it to homeowners throughout the area. A scientist from Oregon State University happened to discover the error. Morton claims the landscaper was forced to retrieve the soil — lest nearby farms become contaminated — paying his customers $100 each to not say anything.

It's especially galling because GM crops have perverted longstanding property law. Organic farmers, for example, are responsible for protecting their farms from contamination, since courts have consistently refused to hold GM growers liable.

Kansas farmer Bryce Stephens had to stop growing organic corn and soybeans for fear of contamination; he has 30-foot buffer crops to protect his organic wheat. (Wheat pollen doesn't travel far.)

"Monsanto and the biotechs need to respect traditional property rights and need to keep their pollution on their side of the fence," says Maine farmer Jim Gerritsen. "If it was anything but agriculture, nobody would question it. If I decided to spray my house purple and I sprayed on a day that was windy, and my purple paint drifted onto your house and contaminated your siding and shingles, there isn't a court in the nation that wouldn't in two minutes find me guilty of irresponsibly damaging your property. But when it comes to agriculture, all of a sudden the tables are turned."

Contamination isn't just about boutique organic brands, either. It maims U.S. exports, too.

Take Bayer, which grew unapproved, experimental GM rice at test plots around Louisiana State University for just one year. Within five years, these plots had contaminated 30 percent of U.S. rice acreage. No one's certain how it happened, but Bayer's rice was found as far away as Central America and Africa.

Within days of the announcement, rice futures lost $150 million in value, while U.S. rice exports dropped by 20 percent during the next year. (Bayer ended up paying $750 million in damages.)

Last month brought another hit. A Monsanto test of GM wheat mysteriously contaminated an Oregon farm eight years after the test was shut down. Japan and South Korea immediately halted imports of U.S. soft white wheat — a particularly harsh pill for the Japanese, who have used our white wheat in nearly all their cakes and confectionery since the 1960s.

Monsanto's response? It's blaming the whole mess on eco-terrorism.

Just Label It

Given the company's history, is it any wonder that developing countries like Ecuador, Peru, and Haiti have shied away from GM crops? Haiti felt strong enough that in the wake of its 2010 earthquake, it turned down Monsanto's offer of seeds, even with assurances that the seed wasn't GM.

Brazil is poised to become the world's largest soybean exporter on the strength of Monsanto seed. Still, the country's farmers aren't big fans of the company. Thousands are suing Monsanto for more than $600 million after the company continued to charge them royalties two years after the expiration of its patent.

Trust, unfortunately, has never been Monsanto's strong suit. It's become one of the main motives behind the push for GM labeling.

"If they're going to allow the American people to be lab rats in an experiment, could they at least know where it is so they can decide whether they want to participate or not?" asks Lance Harvell, a Republican state representative from Maine. "If the FDA isn't going to do their job, it's time we stepped in."

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19 comments
ask.4j
ask.4j

Current members of the board of directors of Monsanto are:

  • David L. Chicoine, president of South Dakota State University Yikes!
  • Hugh Grant, president and CEO (" a Scottish-born business executive and CEO ..."Hugh Grant Is Elected President and Chief Executive Officer of Monsanto"--Scotland--isn't that where mad cow disease was created?
  • Arthur H. Harper, managing partner of GenNx360 Capital Partners ("As front-line operating executives at General Electric, several of our senior partners led and transformed diverse industrial businesses; generating billions in operating profits. ")
  • Gwendolyn King, president of Podium Prose, a speakers bureau
  • Laura K. Ipsen, senior VP and general manager of Connected Energy Networks at Cisco Systems, Inc.(NASDAQ:CSCO)
  • C. Steven McMillan, former chairman and CEO of the Sara Lee Corporation  (McMillan=Cargil)
  • William U. Parfet, chief executive officer of MPI Research Inc. ("...built its reputation on its toxicological experience and knowledge with small molecules. However, the company is ahead of the curve in responding to recent market trends with biotechnology-derived products, commonly known as “biologics,” or biopharmaceuticals.")
  • Janice L. Fields, president of McDonald's USA (food that doesn't rot or nutritious -my personal thouts/experience)
  • George H. Poste, chief executive of Health Technology Networks
  • Jon R. Moeller, chief financial officer of The Procter & Gamble Company.[64][65]

Lobbyist--here's one example: http://www.ibtimes.com/army-lobbyists-led-monsanto-helped-neuter-gmo-labeling-law-connecticut-1295489


that's one powerful board but isn't it just as easy to make lots of money creating edible safe food?  do we really need to kill every weed, insects and small animal that attacks crops resulting in food that may harm those who eat it?  The world is protesting and here's what's going on in your world:  http://occupy-monsanto.com/


their moto is "feeding the world" or is this a new form of birth control--kill off the poor.  sad but making lots of money isn't satisfying enough, complete world control is the ultimate level of self-serving satisfaction.  Oh there's lots of stuff out there about Monsanto to read most is bs but it is a sign that "we've had enough and we're not taking it any more" and our main weapon is sarcasm which just confuses and voids any real protests.

ExpertShot
ExpertShot topcommenter

I wonder how much I can get paid writing for Monsanto on comments like these?  Does anyone know? 

earl.jacob.netwal
earl.jacob.netwal

The city pages should be ashamed to print this yellow journalism.

jujucar2002
jujucar2002

Maybe someday they will see the connection between Celiac and other food intolerances like Gluten intolerance and sensitivity. Those illnesses exploded as Monsanto products became more and more widespread. I have to be careful what foods I eat, most foods make me explosively ill. 

We need labelling on our foods so those of us who cannot tolerate these modified non-foods can steer clear of them.

gratefulmom
gratefulmom

Deepest thanks for your well-informed coverage of this important issue.  GMOs are next cigarettes--the FDA has totally abdicated its job protecting us from these "foods." 

Even the University of Minnesota says HALF of the studies they reviewed showed risk inherent in eating GMOs. And most of the rest are industry funded. 

Minnesota has a bill in the House and Senate to label GMOs--at least we should be able to decide whether we eat GMOs or not. But that's only the first step. Farmers are taking their livestock off GMO feed because they're becoming sick and infertile--and we're still feeding them to our kids.

No yield increases, toxic chemicals, health risks for all of us, profits for big biotech. It's sad that our government is in the pocket of this industry. Twenty years from now we're all going to be talking about who was to blame for letting us eat untested GMOs for so long and no one will take responsibility.

Look for the non-GMO seal, organize to pass labeling, and do all you can to fight the corporate takeover and contamination of the food on which we all depend.

RSweeney
RSweeney

"Learning" of Monsanto from this biased propaganda screed is like learning African-American history from the KKK.

Monsanto's seed patents expire in 20 years, to be free for ALL.

The first Roundup-ready seed to expire is soybean, becoming free in 2014.

Non-gmo seed is available, no one FORCES farmers to buy GMO, but farmers prefer the lower cost farming and greater yields provided by the GMO varieties. Roundup ready saves an immense amount of expensive tractor fuel and no-til has allowed America to avoid a dust bowl despite droughts.


Take the ignorant 2 minute hate somewhere else.

anjh
anjh

My backyard squirrels won't eat GM corn.

Yvonne Schram
Yvonne Schram

If we had labeled food, we could choose to stop buying GMOs.

Drewey
Drewey topcommenter

Why would a "job creator" hurt us? This sounds like more "lame stream media" brainwashing. This is the kind if governing that happens when we are completely divided as a country. While we waste our time arguing about simple equality issues and backwards abortion laws politicians are playing yes men to guys with a shit load if cash.

RSweeney
RSweeney

@jujucar2002  

So you believe that a gluten molecule from one corn ear is different from another?

How about the sugar molecules in GMO beets? 

foodisgood
foodisgood

@RSweeney Round-up Ready seeds lose their effectiveness much earlier than 20 years.  In mono-culture systems, pests, weeds, & disease respond as if on cue every time.  GM crops solve nothing.  They simply prolong an agri-business model that has only existed a relatively short time on a massive scale.  

pammanda
pammanda

@RSweeney Actually, seed diversity is going down in countries that grow GMOs...Nongmo varieties are simply not available to them.  Patents are going to be extended via trade agreements (see the TTIP, TPP), plus it doesn't matter as Roundup is not working any more so they just create new patented varieties to replace them.  Please dig deeper before spreading your hate. 

earl.jacob.netwal
earl.jacob.netwal

@anjh 

Corn's a great example, it's not a natural food to begin with, It was cross bread recently in history. ~5,000 years ago. Virtually all the corn you see today are hybrids form the 1860s and on.

RSweeney
RSweeney

@foodisgood @RSweeney  

We have lived (in the US) in monoculture system of agriculture for over 100 years.

But you are correct, evolution never sleeps.

RSweeney
RSweeney

@pammanda  

So here we are in a 2 minute hate screed against Monsanto and I am the one spreading hate?

Please.

 

 
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