Monsanto and the Merchants of Death
Michael Hoffman – Revisionist Review January 6, 2011
In the 1990s, Monsanto found an ingenious way to sell large quantities of its broad-spectrum toxic herbicide RoundUp to farmers. The company’s scientists gene-spliced corn, soy, cotton, and canola with foreign DNA, enabling these “Frankencrops” to survive massive doses of RoundUp. Farmers could now repeatedly spray their fields with RoundUp, killing weeds but not the crop. Unfortunately, the collateral damage of heavy RoundUp spraying includes groundwater pollution, toxic residues in crops, and destruction of essential soil microorganisms.
The Genetically Modified (GM) crops themselves create herbicide-resistant Superweeds and spread genetic pollution to organic and non-GMO crops as well as plant relatives. Last but certainly not least, Monsanto’s GM foods have been linked to serious health damage – not only for animals, but humans as well.
Today, a major portion of cropland in the US is sown with Monsanto’s “RoundUp Ready” corn, soy, cotton, canola, and sugar beets. Eighty percent of these GM crops are then sold as animal feed to the nation’s 125,000 factory farms or Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs) that produce most of the non-organic meat, dairy, or eggs sold in grocery stores or served in restaurants, schools, and hospitals. The other 20% of Monsanto’s Genetically Modified Organisms are laced into non-organic processed foods (soy lecithin, corn or sugar beet sweeteners, cooking oils, etc.) that are found in every grocery store aisle.
There is a direct correlation between our genetically engineered food supply and the $2 trillion the US spends annually on medical care, namely an epidemic of diet-related chronic diseases. Instead of healthy fruits, vegetables, grains, and grass-fed animal products, US factory farms and food processors produce a glut of genetically engineered junk foods that generate heart disease, stroke, diabetes and cancer.
Monsanto’s GM crops are highly profitable for the food industry, turning cheap, federally subsidized, genetically engineered crops and GE-fed animals into cheap, ubiquitous, junky foods. But from the standpoint of public health and environmental sustainability, Monsanto and their factory farm collaborators are nothing less than merchants of disease and death.
A critical mass of consumers would turn away from GMOs and Factory Farmed meat, dairy, and eggs – if they knew what they were eating. Please join and support OCA (Organic Consumers Association) in their new Truth-in-Labeling campaign.
Consumers have the right to know what is in their food! OCA is calling on retailers to pledge voluntary compliance with our Truth-in-Labeling campaign by clearly identifying all food products containing genetically modified ingredients with a label or shelf sign that says “May Contain GMOs” and by identifying all factory farmed animal products with a label or shelf sign that says “CAFO.”
President Obama knows that agribusiness cannot be trusted with the regulatory powers of government.
On the campaign trail in 2007, he promised:
We’ll tell ConAgra that it’s not the Department of Agribusiness. It’s the Department of Agriculture. We’re going to put the people’s interests ahead of the special interests.
But, starting with his choice for USDA Secretary, the pro-biotech former governor of Iowa,Tom Vilsack, President Obama has let Monsanto,Dupont and the other pesticide and genetic engineering companies know they’ll have plenty of friends and supporters within his administration.
President Obama has taken his team of food and farming leaders directly from the biotech companies and their lobbying, research, and philanthropic arms.
Michael Taylor, former Monsanto Vice President, is now the FDA Deputy Commissioner for Foods.
Roger Beachy, former director of the Monsanto-funded Danforth Plant Science Center, is now the director of the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture.
Islam Siddiqui, Vice President of the Monsanto and Dupont-funded pesticide-promoting lobbying group, CropLife, is now the Agriculture Negotiator for the US Trade Representative.
Rajiv Shah, former agricultural-development director for the pro-biotech Gates Foundation (a frequent Monsanto partner), served as Obama’s USDA Under Secretary for Research Education and Economics and Chief Scientist and is now head of USAID.
Elena Kagan, who, as President Obama’s Solicitor General, took Monsanto’s side against organic farmers in the Roundup Ready alfalfa case, is now on the Supreme Court.
Ramona Romero, corporate counsel to DuPont, has been nominated by President Obama to serve as General Counsel for the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
A Monsanto executive told The New York Times that the safety of genetically engineered foods was the government’s problem, not the company’s:
“Monsanto should not have to vouchsafe the safety of biotech food,” said Phil Angell, Monsanto’s director of corporate communications. “Our interest is in selling as much of it as possible. Assuring its safety is the FDA’s job.”
As Angell implies, Monsanto’s interest in selling as much genetically engineered food as possible is in direct conflict with the government’s responsibility for food safety.
The most telling evidence that Monsanto’s strategy has been an overwhelming succes is the number of former Monsanto employees who have been given jobs in the FDA and other regulatory agencies that monitor Monsanto’s products.
Margaret Miller is just one example. While working as a Monsanto researcher, she contributed to a scientific report for the FDA on Monsanto’s genetically engineered bovine growth hormone.
Shortly before the report was submitted, Miller left Monsanto to work at the FDA, where her first job was to review the same report! Assisting Miller was another former Monsanto researcher, Susan Sechen. Needless to say, the FDA accepted Monsanto’s findings, which became the basis for its approval of Monsanto’s genetically engineered bovine growth hormone and its decision not to require labels on milk produced through the use of the artificial hormone.
The FDA official who made the decision not to label Monsanto’s milk was Michael Taylor, who had worked as a lawyer for Monsanto. Today, Michael Taylor is in the Obama Administration, in charge of food safety.