Monsanto And The Mortal Danger To Traditional Agriculture

Monsanto and the mortal danger to traditional agriculture (Aug 20, 2011):

The greatest threat to the future of food production in the world is the introduction of genetically engineered foods from the bio-tech industry. Contrary to their mendacious propagandized promises of solving the problem of world hunger through the so-called second green revolution, the bio-tech companies are instead in the process of destroying the world’s ecosystems, and thus the natural food chains and life cycles. Their goal is certainly not to solve any problem at all, but instead to fill the corporate coffers with the profits from selling their dangerous products to countries with already high mortality rates from malnutrition and starvation.

Despite its growing economy, India is still a country with enormous poverty. What is happening in India is the most visible example of what is going on in the poor countries all over the world. Giving the green light for genetically modified (GM) products, which have caused medical and financial disasters for poor farmers, is outrageous and a positive danger to Indian agriculture in general.

The farmers are lured by the promise of easy loans and increased yields to buy genetically engineered, patented seeds. They subsequently find out that they also need pesticides, chemical fertilizers and weed killers (Round-up and other ecologically damaging products). Added to the toxic and destructive nature of these products is the fact that the seeds are not suitable for non-irrigated fields, which means for most agricultural fields in India and in poverty-stricken countries all over the planet.

The Revolving Doors

Monsanto is in the lead of these bio-tech companies, coddled by the governments in both India and the United States simply because of deep-seated corruption – the policy of the ‘revolving doors’ being one of the major ways these companies get favorable treatment in  India as well as in the united States. People like Michael Taylor, recently appointed by Barack Obama to become the senior advisor to the commissioner of the FDA, the US food safety czar, go through the swinging doors from top positions at the Monsanto headquarters to positions at the FDA and back again.

The FDA is of course supposed to look after the safety of foods produced and sold in the U.S. Michael Taylor is the person who facilitated the introduction of GM products on the U.S. market because of his close links both to Monsanto and to the FDA.1 His corrupt dealings will have the most serious consequences on the health and economic well-being of people everywhere.2 Even though the EU is not so easily sold on GM products, the false promises and heavy-hammer advertising by the bio-tech companies have succeeded in these products slowly making inroads in Europe too. There are, however, strong movements afoot to keep Europe free of GM products.

Labeling of GM foods

In Europe, supermarkets are filled with foods labeled as ‘non-GMO’ or ‘raised without GMO’, whereas in the U.S.A. some states have fought hard to achieve that right and the bio-tech companies are still scheming to ban, for instance, the labeling of milk as non rBGH (= recombinant bovine growth hormones, manufactured by Monsanto).

This genetically engineered hormone, injected into the cows every other week, forces the cows to produce more milk than their bodies normally would. It has been proven, however, that this milk contains more pus, antibiotics residues and a cancer-accelerating hormone called IGF-1.

“Whenever cows are forced to produce more milk, they become more susceptible to udder infections called mastitis. Mastitis is a condition which can increase the amount of cow’s pus which ends up in the milk. Monsanto’s own data shows that there is a 79% increase in mastitis (udder infections) and a resulting 19% increase in somatic cell counts (pus & bacteria in the milk).” (‘Bovine Growth Hormone Milk does nobody good…’)

The United States is the only developed nation to permit humans to drink milk from cows given artificial growth hormone.

From NaturalNews:

The official U.S. position on genetically-modified organisms, also known as GMs or GMOs, is that there is no difference between them and natural organisms. Crafted by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Department of Agriculture (USDA), the position set forth to the Codex Alimentarius Committee on the issue goes even further to suggest that no country should be able to require mandatory GMO labeling on food items, even though science shows that GMOs act differently in the body than do natural organisms and are a threat to health.
Lack of information on GMOs

Information on health hazards by genetically modified products as well as damages done to ecosystems is totally unsatisfactory. The highly toxic bio-tech products cause the destruction of the soil, kill insects necessary for traditional farming and for the ecosystems and also make weeds resistant to weed killers and pesticides. The entire food chain, ecosystems and life cycles for animals are destroyed. Added to the destructive effects of these toxic products is also the fact that essential biodiversity is sacrificed to the immediate profit of giant industrial monocultures which impoverish the soil and in the end ruin it.

Due to insufficient information, the mass media of course also being silent concerning the truth about GM products, people just don’t know what they are buying when they see the tempting and misleading labels on GM food products.

Another crucial problem, economic and ecological

The Monsanto ‘Terminator seeds’ are, according to the Monsanto patent, not to be used for the following year’s crop.  Farmers are not allowed to replant the seeds from one year’s crop for the following year. If they violate this outrageous law, they are sued by Monsanto. Thus the thousands-year-old tradition of saving seeds and protecting biodiversity would be lost were it not for extremely important efforts underway, mainly in India by Dr. Vandana Shiva* and her organization Navdanya. Had it not been for these biodiversity-saving efforts, traditional farming methods might be doomed.

The GMO scandals in India

The introduction of genetically engineered cotton seeds (Bt cotton) in India has led to an outbreak of farmer suicides in several states all over India. Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh have been hit the most drastically, but many other states such as Chattisgarh, Karnataka, Kerala, Gujarat, etc. have seen suicide rates rising since 1997. According to Vandana Shiva* and other reliable sources, 200,000 farmers have committed suicide since 1997.  (200,000 Indian farmers committed suicide since 1997: BBC)

The fight in India now concerns the possible introduction of Bt brinjal, (eggplant). On October 14, 2009 an Indian governmental agency, the Genetic Engineering Approval Committee (GEAC), gave its approval for the environmental release of Bt brinjal. This agency is part of the Environment Ministry.

Faced with the extraordinary public opposition to Bt brinjal, the Minister of the Environment, Jairam Ramesh, withdrew his support for the introduction of genetically modified brinjal.

“Update: On 9 February 2010, in response to the widespread concern expressed by the public and some scientists, Jairam Ramesh, Minister of Environment and Forests, announced an indefinite moratorium on the release of Bt-brinjal.

“Groups are lobbying strongly to force the Indian government to reverse its decision permanently. According to G. Nammalvar from Vanagam, a non-profit-making organisation in Tamil Nadu that campaigns in favour of ecological farming, “there is no necessity for the introduction of a Bt brinjal in India, which holds the merit of having huge biodiversity. We have 2,500 traditional brinjal varieties in India. Every community is used to consuming a particular variety, i.e. locally produced. Introduction of Bt brinjal with false claims for its advantages will contaminate the local varieties and erode the biodiversity of the vegetable that is consumed by millions.” He says that environmental activists, women’s collectives, consumers’ movements, farmers’ associations and traders’ associations would join together to resist the introduction of Bt brinjal in Tamil Nadu.

His voice of protest has been echoed across the country. On 7 November 2009 a conference on genetic engineering, farming and food, held in Mysore, called on the state government to declare Karnataka a GM-free region. “We do not want GM crops which can prove apocalyptic for mankind”, declared the conference statement. “Let us say never to Bt brinjal.”” (‘ Indian farmers organise to stop Bt brinjal‘)

* Dr. Vandana Shiva is a former nuclear physicist, a philosopher, environmental activist, and eco feminist. She has founded an organization, Navdanya, with organic farms all over India. If there is anybody in the world who might possibly succeed in the now worldwide fight against genetically modified agricultural products, it will no doubt be Vandana Shiva. She has written over twenty books, she lectures, she is interviewed, she travels all over the world to inform people of the deadly dangers of GM cultures and foods. She is a figure of the global solidarity movement known as the alter-globalization movement, or counter-globalization movement, which is critical of the globalization of corporate capitalism. “Navdanya means “nine seeds” (symbolizing protection of biological and cultural diversity) and also the “new gift” – for seed as commons, based on the right to save and share seeds. In today’s context of biological and ecological destruction, seed savers are the true givers of seed.

“Navdanya has helped set up 54 community seed banks across the country, trained over 500,000 farmers in seed sovereignty, food sovereignty and sustainable agriculture over the past two decades, and helped setup the largest direct marketing, fair trade organic network in the country.” (Navdanya)

[1] Largely between 1997 and 1999, genetically modified (GM)  food ingredients suddenly appeared in 2/3rds of all US processed foods. This food alteration was fueled by a single Supreme Court ruling. It allowed, for the first time, the patenting of life forms for commercialization.(RAW-WISDOM)

1. Recorded Deaths from GM; 2. Near-deaths and Food Allergy Reactions; 3. Direct Cancer and Degenerative Disease Links (RAW-WISDOM)

Further background on this issue: ‘Monsanto accused of “biopiracy” by India‘, by Julien Bouissou (Le Monde) – translation by Siv O’Neall
and also: ‘The Great Seed Robbery‘ by Vandana Shiva

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