Roundup Those Genetically Modified Organisms

June 18, 2010 by  
Filed under Environment

In the last two articles, I told you about a little homespun mom and pop operation called Monsanto. I asked if you could feel the love in your heart for them, with the article Don’t You Just Love Monsanto?, and then I gave you A Brief History of Monsanto.

One of the things that Monsanto is known for is their genetically engineered seeds, also known as genetically modified organisms, or GMOs.

Let's genetically modify corn!

Let's genetically modify corn!

Critics call the crops that grow from these GMOs “Frankenfoods,” because of the fact that they are half-biologically real, and half-monster.

One of the main reasons Monsanto has created GMOs is to be able to sell the herbicide Roundup; the crops that sprout from genetically engineered seeds are called “Roundup Ready.”

Roundup is the herbicide for the new millennia. The crops are genetically modified to withstand being sprayed by Roundup, so what happens is Roundup kills all the weeds in the field, but the GMOs stay intact and grow unfettered.

Yippee!! Let’s have three cheers for Monsanto. Thanks to them farmers can feed the world!

Or so they think.

roundup_ready_soybeansYou see, it’s the same thing with the problem with antibiotics. Over the years, superbugs have developed – antibiotic-resistant germs, which have immunity to antibiotics.

And in the fields of farmers, there are now superweeds – Roundup resistant weeds, with immunity to the herbicide.

Does that mean the next step is to have genetically modified weeds?

Horseweed, ragweed and pigweed are just a few of these superweeds. Pigweed can grow three inches a day and reach seven feet or more, choking out crops; it is so sturdy that it can damage harvesting equipment.

Because Monsanto has aggresively marketed their GMOs and Roundup herbicide as the second coming, farmers have sprayed so much Roundup that weeds have quickly evolved to survive it.

That has led Mike Owen, a weed scientist at Iowa State University to say, “What we’re talking about here is Darwinian evolution in fast-forward.”

(Brief aside here: a weed scientist? I didn’t know there was such a thing. I would have thought a weed scientist was someone who specialized in different aspects of hemp.)

A superweed taking over a corn field

A superweed taking over a corn field

Monsanto has things under control, so don’t worry. “It’s a serious issue, but it’s manageable,” said Rick Cole, who manages weed resistance issues in the United States for the company.

Of course, Monsanto stands to lose a lot of business if farmers use less Roundup and Roundup Ready seeds, so what can they be expected to say?

The truth is, a lot of farmers are pissed, and are feeling like they’ve been sold a bill of goods. They now have to use more herbicides, not less, which was the promise of Roundup and GMOs.

As Steve Doster, a corn and soybean farmer in Barnum, Iowa said, “You’re having to add another product with the Roundup to kill your weeds. So then why are we buying the Roundup Ready product?”

One of the promises of Monsanto and the biotechnology agricultural revolution was that GMOs and the use of Roundup was better for the environment.

Attack of the Frankenweed

Attack of the Frankenweed

But with the growth of superweeds, critics of genetically engineered crops say that the use of extra herbicides, which have to be used to deal with the new generation of “Frankenweeds,” include ones that are less environmentally tolerable and far more toxic than Roundup.

“The biotech industry is taking us into a more pesticide-dependent agriculture when they’ve always promised, and we need to be going in, the opposite direction,” said Bill Freese, a science policy analyst for the Center for Food Safety in Washington.

Organics anyone?

Farm experts say the superweeds and the efforts to eradicate them could lead to higher food prices, lower crop yields, rising farm costs and more pollution of land and water.

“It is the single largest threat to production agriculture that we have ever seen,” said Andrew Wargo III, the president of the Arkansas Association of Conservation Districts.

Georgia has been one of the states hit hardest by Roundup-resistant pigweed, and the superweed could pose as big a threat to cotton farming in the South as the beetle that devastated the industry in the early 20th century.

“If we don’t whip this thing, it’s going to be like the boll weevil did to cotton,” said Louie Perry, Jr. a cotton grower in Georgia who is also chairman of the Georgia Cotton Commission. “It will take it away.”

There’s a couple of videos on this page. At the top of the page is a rap song called “Monsanto,” from rap artist Roy Shivers. Listen carefully to the words – it tells the story.

Below are two videos. The first is “Everything You Have to Know About Dangerous Genetically Modified Foods,” with Jeffrey Smith, author of Seeds of Deception and Genetic Roulette.

The second video below is a Roundup commercial from Australian TV. Isn’t that Roundup character just so cute and lovable?

A Brief History of Monsanto

June 16, 2010 by  
Filed under Environment, Featured

In yesterday’s article, Don’t You Just Love Monsanto?, I told you all the wondrous things about the Monsanto corporation and how they were making the world such a better place.

You may have noticed that my tongue was firmly planted in my cheek in writing that article. The truth is I don’t think very highly of Monsanto. And I don’t believe any right-thinking person does either.

monsanto-skull-and-bonesAnd that’s because they have done a lot to make this world a worse place.

But who is this Monsanto corporation? Where did they come from? Today, I give you a brief history of Monsanto.

Monsanto, based out of Creve Coeur, Missouri, is a multinational agricultural biotechnology corporation. It is the world’s leading producer of the herbicide glyphosate, marketed as “Roundup.” Monsanto is also the leading producer of genetically engineered (GE) seed; it sells 90% of the U.S.’s GE seeds.

The reason Monsanto is not a well-loved company – and that’s putting it politely – is because of their development and marketing of genetically engineered seed and bovine growth hormone, as well as its aggressive litigation and political lobbying practices.

Plus in the past, they have created some of the most toxic substances known to the world.

monsantoMonsanto was founded in St. Louis, Missouri, in 1901, by John Francis Queeny, a 30-year veteran of the pharmaceutical industry. He funded the start-up with his own money and capital from a soft drink distributor, and gave the company his wife’s maiden name.

The company’s first product was the artificial sweetener saccharin, which it sold to the Coca-Cola Company.

Over the next few decades, Monsanto produced various chemical products, which cemented its place as one of the top chemical companies in the U.S.

Th 1940’s were a fertile decade for this growing company. Major products developed in this decade were the herbicides 2,4,5-T; DDT; and Agent Orange (used primarily during the Vietnam War as a defoliant agent and later proven to be highly carcinogenic to any who come into contact with the solution); the artificial sweetener aspartame (NutraSweet); bovine somatotropin (bovine growth hormone (BST), and PCBs.

Also in this decade, Monsanto operated the Dayton Project, and later Mound Laboratories in Miamisburg, Ohio, for the Manhattan Project, the development of the first nuclear weapons and, after 1947, the Atomic Energy Commission.

In 1982, Monsanto scientists became the first to genetically modify a plant cell. Five years later, Monsanto conducted the first field tests of genetically engineered crops. This development allowed Monsanto, by the late 1990’s, to make a transition from chemical giant to biotech giant.

frankenfoodsBy this time, Monsanto had gotten patents for their genetically engineered seeds, which then allowed them to swing into high gear.

Thanks to their genetically modified seeds, also known as GMOs, or genetically modified organisms, Monsanto has become the largest producer of glyphosate herbicides through its popular brand, Roundup.

One of the reasons Monsanto’s seed products are genetically modified is to make them immune to Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide. Yet, this new herbicide has been shown to cause liver and kidney toxicity.

In response to questions about the genetically modified organisms they are producing, Monsanto has said, “Monsanto should not have to vouchsafe the safety of biotech food. Our interest is in selling as much of it as possible. Assuring its safety is the FDA’s job.”

The problem with that statement is that Monsanto has a very cozy relationship with the FDA.

And then there are the lawsuits against farmers. Monsanto has filed lawsuits against many farmers in Canada and the U.S. on the grounds of patent infringement, specifically the farmers’ sale of seed containing Monsanto’s patented genes.

In many of the cases, the seeds the farmer have sold were unknowingly sown by wind carrying genetically modified seeds from neighboring farms.

tomatoBut Monsanto has shown no compassion towards these farmers who they say have broken the law, and they have put many farmers out of business.

Monsanto also has patent claims on breeding techniques for pigs which would grant them ownership of any pigs born of such techniques and their related herds. Greenpeace claims Monsanto is trying to claim ownership on ordinary breeding techniques.

Monsanto claims that the patent is a defensive measure to track animals from its system. They furthermore claim their patented method uses a specialized insemination device that requires less sperm than is typically needed.

So if they get the patent, you will hear of many lawsuits against pig farmers/breeders for patent infringement.

And then there’s Monsanto’s environmental track record. Monsanto has been identified by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency as being a “potentially responsible party” for 56 contaminated sites (Superfund sites) in the United States. Monsanto has been sued, and has settled, multiple times for damaging the health of its employees or residents near its Superfund sites through pollution and poisoning.

And how about Monsanto’s bovine growth hormone, which is another technological advance in the quest to have a completely bioengineered food supply – which some have called “Frankenfoods.”

Bovine somatotropin, abbreviated as rBST and commonly known as rBGH, is technically a recombinant bovine growth hormone. It is a synthetic hormone that is injected into cows to increase milk production.

Bovine growth hormone has been found to produce adverse effects, behaving as a cancer accelerator; this biologically active hormone is associated with breast cancer, prostate cancer, lung cancer and colon cancer.

frankenfood-nationalist-times-altermedia-monsanto-gmBut that hasn’t stopped Monsanto from pushing forward their agenda with it, just like they push forward their agenda with everything else they produce.

They have even have had the unmitigated gall to sue dairies for advertising that its milk products did not come from cows treated with bovine growth hormone. Monsanto’s claim was that such advertising hurt its business.

At the top of the page is a video that tells about a collaboration between Monsanto and Fox news to squash a report that two Fox news investigative reporters did on bovine growth hormone. The reporters stated that most of the U.S. milk supply is tainted with the growth hormone, and that there were very specific health risks.

The Fox news reporters showed the insidious connections Monsanto has with government regulators, which allow Monsanto to get its way. But because the report hit so close to home, Monsanto was able to get it suppressed.

Monsanto is a true High Density Lifestyle corporation. They only think of their needs at the expense of what is good for the general public. And it doesn’t matter who gets in the way of Monsanto’s insatiable quest for bigger and higher profits.

Consider yourself forewarned…