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Monsanto

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Submitted By Xtasy21
Words 2647
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Juan Colon
GE217 Composition II
Mr. Cardew
Final Paper
August 30, 2012

Monsanto and Genetically Modified Foods

Monsanto is an agricultural biotech corporate giant that genetically modifies animals and crop seeds. On their website, they come across a deeply committed humanitarian organization that provides an ecologically sustainable answer to global hunger and malnutrition. The sad reality is that Monsanto is a wolf in sheep’s clothing, and perhaps one of the most unethical corporate giants in the world today. I will argue that Monsanto is on a power trip, and that they have a hidden agenda that has nothing to do with compassion, ecology or human hunger, and everything to do with greed. In the following paragraphs, I will provide a brief history of Monsanto. Then I will examine some of the promises made in their marketing propaganda, and provide evidence that these promises are little more than blatant lies.
Monsanto started out in 1901 developing a highly controversial artificial sweetener called saccharine. Monsanto eventually shifted their focus to genetically modified plants and animals. They are still a major chemical production corporation, developing and marketing Roundup and several other herbicides, Bovine Growth Hormone, and genetically modified seeds. Among the most widely recognized of their genetically modified products include corn, soy and canola. These seeds have a gene inserted that makes them resistant to Monsanto's own herbicide called Roundup. These seed crops are called Roundup Ready. The purpose of Roundup is to destroy weeds that threaten crops. Seeds that are Roundup Ready can be heavily sprayed with Roundup without killing the plant. The plants are kept weed-free. This sounds like a good thing, but in fact, the plants are being covered in a toxic herbicide. These chemicals have been shown to cause genetic damage and to be endocrine disruptors in both animals and human tissues (Gasnier 184). Endocrine disruptors negatively affect our endocrine system, hormones and reproduction.
According to the powerful documentary film, The World According to Monsanto, Monsanto is responsible for putting 90 percent of all modified corn and soy on the market. On their official homepage website, Monsanto claims that their purpose is “to help farmers”, “produce healthier foods”, and to reduce “agriculture’s impact on our environment”. They make a pledge of integrity, honesty, decency, consistency and courage, stating that these values provide the foundation for all they do. The truth is that these statements serve only to trick the public into believing that Monsanto is a corporation with honorable morals and ethics, when in fact they have a hidden agenda that is fuelled by greed and guided by deception.
Monsanto is a corporation that cannot be trusted. After World War 1 Monsanto started mass production of industrial chemicals such as PCB’s, and become the leading producer of PCB’s in America. For over four decades, they secretly dumped up to 250 pounds of PCB’s per day, in Anniston, Alabama without letting the townspeople know. The water they drank, the streams they swam in, the soil used to grow their vegetables, and the air they breathed, were all laced with PCB’s. Before too long, the blood that coursed through their veins was also brimming with PCB’s, and cancer incidence skyrocketed. Many residents had to relocate, their homes having been torn down. Today, our oceans, our great lakes, rivers and streams are contaminated with this toxic chemical. Monsanto did not pay adequate attention to studies on PCB’s before manufacturing them, and secretly dumping them in Anniston. Alabama.
I discovered a report dated September 15th, 1938 titled “Report to the Monsanto Company” by a professor of physiology, Cecil K Drinker, MD, who was doing research on PCB’s and small animals (Drinker 2-11). Dr. Drinker found that PCB’s can be inhaled and absorbed through the skin, and concluded that this chemicals is extremely toxic and great care should be taken to keep levels in the air at an extremely low level (Drinker 8). This is proof that Monsanto knew about the harmful effects of PCB’s before they chose to spend 35 years injecting it into the ecosystem. Monsanto’s response when confronted with this fact was “we can't afford to lose one dollar” (The World According to Monsanto). Apparently it would have been too costly for Monsanto to inform the public. Monsanto had told the Alabama Water Improvement Commission that it was releasing PCB’s into Snow Creek Alabama. Together they worked to keep it a secret from the public. Monsanto had a chance to come clean when they found that the fish in local lakes and streams had extremely high levels of PCB’s in their blood. However, instead of informing the public, they kept quiet, allowing the locals to continue to fish for, and to consume PCB-contaminated animals. This problem lingered for 36 years before the truth was revealed and Monsanto had to move its PCB production plant to Illinois. On January 1st, 2002, the front page of the Washington Post printed a front page story entitled “Monsanto Hid Decades of Pollution” The story reveals that Monsanto hid advanced knowledge of the health and ecological consequences of PCB’s from the people of Anniston and from the general public. This startling cover-up provides concrete proof that Monsanto is not only dishonest, but completely lacking in any genuine concern for people or the planet.

Monsanto obviously has an agenda to help farmers only use their GM products through cross pollination or gene pollution. Monsanto trespasses onto farmer’s property to see if their seeds are on the farmer’s property, and if they are successful they sue the farmer. It would make more sense for the farmer to sue Monsanto for contaminating a perfectly good crop with their genetic manipulations of nature.
The story gets even more shocking when we look at the workings of Monsanto globally. In poor countries such as India, where there has been a rich tradition of seed saving, Monsanto has managed to coerce farmers into growing their so called “magic seeds” with promises that they will be free of parasites and insects, and that they will reap huge harvests and enjoy considerable wealth. These farmers, buying into Monsanto’s lies, end up shackled in debt when their harvests fail. Monsanto’s salesmen fail to mention that the GM crops take double the water of traditional crops, and that many GM crops have been virtually wiped out by bull-worms.
Having to purchase seeds each year at a cost that is 1,000 times that of traditional seeds, their debt climbs as their earnings dwindle, and their families go hungry. When all hope is lost, many turn to suicide. Thus far, an estimated 125,000 Indian farmers have taken their lives as a result. The sad irony of the situation is most of these people die slow and unbelievably excruciating deaths after consuming a cup of insecticide. The social disaster is widely known as “GM Genocide”. Monsanto takes no responsibility for this shocking human disaster. To forgive the debt of these desolate farmers would be a small drop in the bucket for Monsanto. Instead, the go on murdering innocent farmers, and devastating families with their lies.
Monsanto products do not help reduce agriculture’s impact on the environment. If anything, they utterly devastate the environment. I went onto Monsanto’s website to find out what their argument is for claiming that they reduce agriculture’s impact on the environment. I clicked on the search bar and typed in “environment”. It is rather interesting that the only thing that came up was statements that they help reduce the impact of agriculture on the environment. They never once did they mention how their products or research contribute to this outcome. The funny thing is that the search yielded 164 results. Numbers 5 through164 were the exact same quote from their homepage, which states: ‘Monsanto is an agricultural company. Farmers around the world use our innovative products to address on-farm challenges and reduce agriculture’s overall impact on our environment.” That was the summary of 98.1 % of all the search results. When I started to click on the links, I ended up at new products and articles that have nothing to do with the environment. Monsanto does not give a very accessible explanation of just exactly how they help reduce the impact of agriculture on the environment on their website. They don't mention the key issues relating to the environment that are most concerning to the public and to environmental activists. These issues include gene pollution (cross pollination/contamination), soil pollution, water pollution, and the impact of their products on wildlife and the ecosystem where the crops survive. I tried searching more specifically to see what their position on these types of issue might be, and I came up empty-handed, except for “wildlife”. When I searched “wildlife”, I found that Monsanto had made a rather pathetic attempt to convince people that they actually care about wildlife by donating 71,000 dollars to Ducks Unlimited (www.monsanto.ca). Ducks Unlimited is a pro-hunting wetland conservation group who believes that population control is best achieved by “culling” or shooting and killing animals. The fact is that Monsanto’s claim that they reduce agriculture’s impact on the environment is a lie.
Genetically Modified food technology is capable of producing super-weeds and super-pests. Monsanto’s herbicides turn our soil into a toxic wasteland, draining through, or running off the soil into our water systems, and killing small mammals that happen to wander into the crop site.
Cross pollination, or gene pollution, from Monsanto’s biotech freak seeds are making it close to impossible to save our heritage seeds and the ‘natural’ food sources provided by Mother Nature through millions of years of evolution. Monsanto is playing God in its attempts to re-define life on earth, manipulating its way through DNA. We know through experience that invading native land with unknown species causes imbalance to any ecosystem. The potential danger to our environment is undeterminable, with an absolute absence of research regarding Monsanto’s foreign seeds cross pollinating and escaping into our ecosystems. We know that introducing drought resistant, invasive species into foreign ecosystems has the potential to devastate the delicate ecosystem and destroy the native plant life. We don't know what is going to happen when the super weeds born in Monsanto crops leak into our natural environment and adapt to natural ecosystems. The genetic contamination of our environment has the potential to turn it into a biotechnological danger zone where no natural life could survive. We know of the fragility of nature and the need to respect that she has worked for billions of years to produce the glory that we see today. It is morally reprehensible to uncontrollably contaminate the environment with their genetic offence without fully understanding all of the potential problems. Monsanto is conducting an experiment on this planet, and unfortunately they have not been confined to a lab. Once a seed is released into the ecosystem, it is impossible to take it back.
Monsanto claims that its food is safe for consumption. I strongly disagree. First, one must understand that Monsanto wields immense political power. Monsanto has many former politicians working for them, and some former employees are now politicians. Monsanto has been successful in getting the FDA to ignore its own scientist’s warnings about the health safety of their genetically modified products. Tons of GM food went to market without being tested, even though FDA scientists strongly advocated for such testing. The toxicology section of the FDA claims that GM plants can sometimes contain unexpectedly high concentrations of plant toxicants. This means that you can take a plant that is totally safe for human consumption and make it unsafe through the process of genetic modification. FDA scientists have also claimed that GM foods can create new allergens that have previously never been in our food supply. A professor in Japan has revealed that to destroy the harmful proteins in Monsanto GM soy you must cook the soy at 220 degrees C for 25 minutes. This is far higher temperatures than anybody cooks soy, therefore the soy should never have even been put on the market as safe. One has to really wonder when the British headquarters of Monsanto bans GM soy and corn from its own cafeteria. It starts to look even more questionable when you discover that President Obama, and even former President Bush, refuse to eat Monsanto’s GM food (The Genetic Conspiracy). The truth is that Monsanto has bullied its way into the marketplace, and into our farmer’s fields. It has tried to make regulations on safety and trade more favorable for their success. They have made it very difficult for anybody who wants to see high standards set for the food that they consume. This may be the very reason why most of Europe does not consume GM products, because they see it as unsafe for their health and for their environment. Anything that is bad for the environment will have long term effects on the health of individuals. Monsanto has a hidden agenda which is aimed at keeping people in the dark, and keeping their own pockets lined with cash.

In conclusion, Monsanto’s claims are just a part of their corporate hidden agenda. This is the agenda that kept the Anniston residents in the dark, the agenda that files lawsuits against unsuspecting farmers whose fields are contaminated by their seeds, and the agenda that has led to the suicides of thousands of poor farmers throughout the world. Although Monsanto makes noble claims such as reducing the impact of agriculture on the environment, and helping farmers.
There is not a shred of doubt that their top priority has nothing to do with helping people or the planet. Their words keep ringing in my brain, it does not matter if people die because “we cannot afford to lose one dollar”, Monsanto’s top priority, and very likely their only priority, is money. Our environment has become laced with PCB’s, destroying water and contaminating soil because “we can’t afford to lose one dollar”. Farmers drink pesticides to end their Monsanto induced-misery because “we can't afford to lose one dollar”. Monsanto’s story is one of lies and deception. They cannot and should not be trusted, and should in no way be supported. While Monsanto is a huge and powerful corporate giant, people can put an end to their empire by simply refusing to purchase their products. For the most part, this means buying organic canola soy and corn. Every dollar that you spend is a vote, a vote for what you want this world to become. Monsanto’s vision is of a world that sits at their feet. Monsanto’s legacy is one of deception. We must do all that we can to ensure that our choices measure moral and ethical costs. We must take a stand and ensure that the legacy we leave our children is one of integrity and honesty, rather than corruption and greed.

Works Cited

Drinker, Cecil K. Chemical Industry Archives 'Report to The Monsanto Chemical Company'
September 15, 1936: 1-11.

Elliott, Charlene. "Unlabelled: Law, Language, and Genetically Modified Foods in Canada." Canadian Journal of Communication Jan. 2006: 247+. Academic Search Premier. EBSCO.

Gasnier, Céline, Dumont, Coralie, Benachour, Nora, Clair, Emilie, Chagnon, Christine and Séralini, Gilles-Eric. "Glyphosate-based herbicides are toxic and endocrine disruptors in human cell lines". Toxicology June 2009: 262 (3): 184-191.

Grunwald, Michael. 'Monsanto Hid Decades of Pollution PCBs Drenched Ala. Town, But No One Was Ever Told' 1 Jan. 2002. Washington Post: A01.

Malone, Andrew. 'The GM genocide: Thousands of Indian farmers are committing suicide after using genetically modified crops' Global Research 6 Nov. 2008.

Monsanto. Monsanto Company 10 2006 http://www.monsanto.ca/

Savich, Jason. "Monsanto V. Scruggs: The Negative Impact of Patent Exhaustion on Self-Replicating Technology." Berkeley Technology Law Journal 22.1 (2007): 115-135. Academic Search Premier. EBSCO.

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Monsanto

...Litigation As plaintiff Since the mid1990s, Monsanto indicates that it has sued 145 individual U.S. farmers for patent infringement and/or breach of contract in connection with its genetically engineered seed.[130] The Center for Food Safety has listed 112 lawsuits by Monsanto against farmers for claims of seed patent violations.[131] The usual claim involves violation of a technology agreement that prohibits farmers from saving seed from one season's crop to plant the next, a common farming practice.[132] One farmer received an eight-month prison sentence for conspiracy to commit fraud during litigation with Monsanto[133] in addition to having to pay damages.[134] Monsanto sued the Pilot Grove Cooperative Elevator in Pilot Grove, Missouri, on the grounds that by cleaning harvested seeds covered by Monsanto's patents so that farmers could replant them, the elevator was inducing them to infringe Monsanto's patents. The Pilot Grove Cooperative Elevator had been cleaning conventional seeds for decades before the development of genetic engineering and developments in patent law led to the existence of issued patents that cover seeds.[135] In one case in 2002, Monsanto mistakenly sued Gary Rinehart of Eagleville, Missouri for patent violation. Rinehart was not a farmer or seed dealer, but sharecropped land with his brother and nephew, who were violating the patent. Monsanto dropped the lawsuit against him when it discovered the mistake.[135] In 1997 Percy Schmeiser discovered...

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