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Monsanto

In: Other Topics

Submitted By Blakster55
Words 2141
Pages 9
Blake Rudloff
Professor Burns
English 102:611
24 November, 2015
Big Ag: The Roots are Tainted “GMO efforts may have started out with good intentions, but they ended up in crops that were better improving profits” (Ostrander). This statement by Jonathan Foley in an interview by Madeline Ostrander perfectly summarizes just one of the many concerns the scientific and agricultural community has with the seed giant Monsanto. Not only has Monsanto abused its power as a big Ag corporation to advance its profits through unethical business practices, but also strengthen its stranglehold on farmers. Being a monopoly of the seed industry, Monsanto’s work in GMOs raises concerns as to the effects they have on land, animals, and humans.
Monsanto is utilizing GMOs in an effort to stem the tide of world hunger, but because GMOs have only been implemented since the early 80’s their impact on human, animals, and the environment have yet to be determined. The long term effects caused by herbicides, pesticides, and hormones aren’t fully known by society yet. However, we use Monsanto’s roundup weed killer almost every day in America. This weed killer is what GMO seeds are modified to resist, giving them the ability to grow under such harsh conditions. Little is known about the effects of these roundup ready seeds, “The future of the company may lie in seeds, but the seeds of the company lie in chemicals” (Barlett and Steele). Monsanto’s roots were in chemicals far before they were planted in the agricultural industry.
Those roots were planted in the early 1900’s by John Francis Queeny, who started Monsanto chemical works. Even though, Queeny founded Monsanto it was his son Edgar Queeny who brought Monsanto to power in the chemical industry. Through the years Monsanto would work with a wide range of chemicals goods. Products such as: plastics, resins, fuel additives, artificial caffeine, industrial fluids, fertilizers, herbicides, and pesticides. In the 70’s and 80’s Monsanto shifted its sights into biotechnology, and specifically botany. With their eyes set on a new prize, “they became the first to genetically modify a plant cell” (Barlett and Steele). They have since genetically modified corn, cotton, canola, and soybeans.
However, the trail of their chemical past still followed them. “One of their most notorious product creations was a chemical by the name of ‘Agent Orange’, which was used for chemical warfare in Vietnam—killing and disfiguring what is estimated to be millions of Vietnamese people. Since that time they began to use that same knack for helpful technology for food production and agricultural domination” (Caldwell). Many people know of this part of Monsanto’s unsettling past, but don’t even know the half of it. “For most of its history Monsanto was a chemical giant, producing some of the most toxic substances ever created, residues from which have left us with some of the most polluted sites on earth” (Barlett and Steele). Places such as Nitro, West Virginia where workers were exposed to an herbicide called dioxin, which was a byproduct of Agent Orange or in Anniston, Alabama where workers were exposed to PCBs which are classified as carcinogens. Residents and workers from both places account for cancer and heart disease cases both during and continuing after the fact. Although, the production of dioxin ended, “Repeated studies have found elevated levels of dioxin in nearby rivers, streams, and fish” (Barlett and Steele). This shows that Monsanto’s chemical mess ups still leave a contaminated trail of lies and deceit behind them so how do we know their big Ag motives don’t as well.
Monsanto’s reach spreads far throughout the big Ag industry, and even into our dairy as well. Consequently, Monsanto is putting its hands where they utterly don’t belong, and that’s on our milk. Monsanto injects its cows with the artificial bovine growth hormone, or known as rBGH which increases milk output from dairy cows. In spite of this, farmers like Jeff Kleinpeter go against the grain and produce milk from cows that are hormone free. “Monsanto would like to change the way Jeff Kleinpeter and his family do business. Specifically, Monsanto doesn't like the label on Kleinpeter Dairy milk cartons: From Cows Not Treated with rBGH” (Barlett and Steele). To Kleinpeter, others like him, and his customers this is a big plus in knowing what’s in the milk we drink on a daily basis. Monsanto fought against this advertising, and with help from their government connections including the FDA, they ended up making rBGH legal to sell to the public under the name posilac. In addition, “Today, nearly 15 years after the F.D.A. approved rBGH, there have still been no long-term studies ‘to determine the safety of milk from cows that receive artificial growth hormone,’ says Michael Hansen, senior staff scientist for Consumers Union. Not only have there been no studies, he adds, but the data that does exist all comes from Monsanto. ‘There is no scientific consensus about the safety,’ he says” (Barlett and Steele). With so little known of the real effects from the unethical procedures in which Monsanto operates under one can’t but question is our milk even ok to drink or has it been utterly tampered with.
Monsanto’s political ties to the government along with their wealth and greed have led to them to be seen as a monopoly in the agricultural industry. With each step towards profits alone, we have to look at why Monsanto does what it does. “It is said that if a modern, successful corporation were a type of person, it would be a psychopath” (Louv). Determining the motives of Monsanto, will help us better understand their actions. Louv breaks down ‘patient’ monsanto into four facets, Interpersonal, Affective, Lifestyle, and Antisocial. If Monsanto was in fact the case of study we must look past what Monsanto defines itself as compared social norms and start to reveal its flaws and true motives. Firstly, Monsanto’s interpersonal skills are right on board with that of a psychopath. Monsanto checks of each aspect of “psychopathy, displaying immense glibness and superficial charm, representing itself as a slick transnational concerned with bettering humanity” (Louv). Still, Monsanto views itself as the gift to the world for taking on such big issues in the world. Secondly, if Monsanto were under study they would fit perfectly into each of the four traits. Those being, “lack of remorse, emotionally shallow, lack of empathy, failure to accept responsibility for own actions” (Louv). Monsanto is knowingly capable of each one of these traits and has showed us over the years with its unjust and unethical practices in business, causing many lives to be lost. Thirdly, Monsanto’s choice of lifestyle doesn’t fall far from its other poor tendencies. Monsanto is a leech to the world, society, and nature, and has no interest in anything but profits. Likewise, Monsanto is a delinquent to society as a whole even though it operates above the law. “Monsanto showers politicians with contributions and employs a cadre of well-connected lobbyists” (Pomeroy). With, money comes power and with that comes rule. Monsanto’s biggest interest is to rule, and with that comes consequences that Monsanto sees fit for its rule.
Equally important, is how Monsanto gets away with all of its unethical business practices. Through, the loopholes of our country's judicial system Monsanto finds itself sitting nicely on top of the stand next to the judge. Currently with a few loss record when it comes to taking things to court. Whether its claims, patents, or patent infringement Monsanto rarely loses a battle. This is mostly due to the Monsanto Protection Act, which in returns removes all liability that could be caused by or from any Monsanto product. “Moreover, Monsanto mercilessly defends its intellectual property. Since the mid-1990s the corporation has filed suit against 145 individual farmers for patent infringement, never losing a single case” (Pomeroy). In Monsanto’s eyes what they are doing isn’t corrupt but right, because this protects them and their ever rising profit margins. Monsanto’s ability to set the standard for its industry is based off its control, “And controlling the seeds is not some abstraction. Whoever provides the world's seeds controls the world's food supply” (Barlett and Steele). For this reason we must really look into who controls what we intake as humans and society as a whole.
Monsanto has a lot of control and regulation over the seed industry, farmers, and subsidized foods. From pricing to labeling, Monsanto runs the show when it comes to the seed industry. They set the price, and standard for the majority of farmers who buy from them. However, many farmers have no choice but to buy Monsanto’s seeds mainly out of fear. Monsanto holds a tight rope around its special bag of seeds. Not allowing the reuse of seeds year to year has gotten rid of the older methods of farming and moved in with a new motto, “Out with the old, in with the new.” Every year, farmers are forced to get rid of leftover seed they paid for. This is because Monsanto’s all about the money. Taking away farmers ability to re-use seeds on fear of breaching a contract drives farmers back to where they came from.
However, other times Monsanto has come to the farmer’s doorstep instead, farmers, farmers' co-ops, seed dealers and anyone it suspects may have infringed its patents of GMOs. Monsanto looks towards its men in black, “They fan out into fields and farm towns, where they secretly videotape and photograph farmers, store owners, and co-ops; infiltrate community meetings; and gather information from informants about farming activities” (Barlett and Steele). This is one of the few methods used by Monsanto’s men in black do to strike fear into farmers. Essentially, Monsanto has its own “seed police” (Barlett and Steele). Who by using fear and the power of the big Ag, scare farmers into signing to them or giving up info until they do.
Through scientific research and sustainable agriculture, Monsanto has an opportunity to exchange the world for the benefit of its growing population. With technology growing daily, and population on the rise, how do we combat this issue we now currently face. GMOs are created using a gene gun which inserts a code of DNA into the current GMO being altered. Currently, Monsanto has 674 patented products. With these products they hope to help solve the issue of an ever growing world population, “With global population expected to grow by 40 percent in the next few decades, agriculture will need to become more productive and more sustainable in order to keep pace with rapidly increasing demands” (“Our Commitments”). By producing GMO products we can grow more sustainable lasting crops along with higher yields, Genetic engineering accounts for about half of its business, but it is the key to its power” (Baird). With an ever rising population, advances in technology and agriculture Monsanto must stay on the right path towards a brighter future. Despite this, Monsanto has shown us time and time again it has no interest in changing its current course of death and disease. Through its old and current business practices we see the greed in which the corporation is driven by.
Being a monopoly only focused on its petty pursuits for gains, Monsanto faces the constant issue caused by their control over the agricultural industry, politics, and the people’s food. The best way to go about preparing for the future is to educate yourself. Educate yourself on corporations, facts, food, water, government, etc. Also, support your local shops, stores, and fresh food markets. The time put into educating yourself properly will reflect positivity back on to your life. Start taking interest in how your government interacts with corporations, support, or protest government actions based on concrete information. Many confuse GMO’s as the issue when really the GMO technology is receiving the blame for all the bad that comes from those dirty old roots from which Monsanto sprouted up from their cesspool of lies and deception.

Works Cited
Baird, Vanessa. "Total Control. (Cover Story)." New Internationalist 481 (2015): 12. MasterFILE Premier. Web. 4 Nov. 2015.
Barlett, Donald L., and James B. Steele. "Monsanto's Harvest Of Fear." Vanity Fair 573 (2008): 156. MasterFILE Premier. Web. 4 Nov. 2015.
Caldwell, Tommy. “GMOs Aren’t That Bad, But Monsanto is the worst.” Vice. Vice Media LLC, Jun. 2013. Web. 16 Sept. 2015.
Louv, Jason. "Towards An Understanding Of The Psychopathy Of Patient Monsanto." New Internationalist 481 (2015): 20-22. Academic Search Elite. Web. 4 Nov. 2015.
Pomeroy, Ross. “Monsanto: More Saint than Sinner.” Real Clear Science. Real Clear Science. May. 2013. Web. 16 Sept. 2015.
Ostrander, Madeline. "Can Gmos Help Feed A Hot And Hungry World?." Nation 299.9/10 (2014): 23-27. Academic Search Elite. Web. 4 Oct. 2015.
"Our Commitments." Monsanto.com. Monsanto, Web. 4 Oct. 2015.

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