How Bad Is Monsanto?

Reader Contribution by Staff

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<font face=”Calibri”>Recently I spent several evenings reading</font>
<a href=”http://www.yearoftheflood.com/”>
<font face=”Calibri”>The Year of the Flood</font>
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<font face=”Calibri”>, the newest novel by award-winning Canadian writer</font>
<a href=”http://www.margaretatwood.ca/”>
<font face=”Calibri”>Margaret Atwood</font>
</a>
<font face=”Calibri”>. In this visionary fiction story of societal and environmental  breakdown caused by gene splicing free-for-alls run by the Corporations, the world is populated by strange animals including wild pigs with superior intelligence, and sheep with human hair. Don’t ask where the meat in the burgers comes from, and watch your back when you’re outside a Corporate compound. An extremist cult, God’s Gardeners, welcomes outcasts as long as they are willing to go along with the religion that goes with growing your own food. It’s a cool religion that honors folks like Saint Euell (Gibbons) for his wisdom of useful wild plants</font>
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<font face=”Calibri”>Considering my recent immersion in Atwood’s nightmarish post-gene-stacking world, I had to read the recent investigative report on</font>
<a href=”http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2009/12/14-5″>
<font face=”Calibri”>Monsanto’s growing list of misdeeds</font>
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<font face=”Calibri”> (by award-winning Associated Press writer</font>
<a href=”http://mopressnews.wordpress.com/2008/01/29/st-louis-reporter-is-ap-staffer-of-the-year/”>
<font face=”Calibri”>Christopher Leonard</font>
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<font face=”Calibri”>) three times before it sunk in. It’s really happening. In 2006 Monsanto bought</font>
<a href=”http://www.nytimes.com/2006/08/16/business/16seed.html”>
<font face=”Calibri”>Delta and Pineland</font>
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<font face=”Calibri”>, a leading producer of cotton seed, so that it now controls a huge share of the cotton seed market. Monsanto’s genes are in about 95 percent of commercial soybeans and 80 percent of commercial corn, and people like the attorney generals of Iowa and Texas are concerned that Monsanto’s business practices violate federal antitrust laws that protect free competition. When it comes to licensing agreements, Monsanto is reportedly a big time bully.</font>
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<font face=”Calibri”>Either or both accusations may prove to be true, and while I do care about these things, I also feel like I’m watching dangerous games being played by the mean kids at the other end of the playground. I can mind my own business, grow most of my own food using traditionally-bred organic seeds, and what Monsanto or Dow or Sygenta do shouldn’t be my problem.</font>
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<font face=”Calibri”>But it is my problem. Monsanto is constantly adding new food plants to its ensemble of “Roundup Ready” varieties that</font>
<a href=”https://www.motherearthnews.com/nature-and-environment/roundup-weed-killer-zmaz09djzraw”>
<font face=”Calibri”>resist herbicide damage</font>
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<font face=”Calibri”>, and Dow has soybeans that survive</font>
<a href=”http://www.dowagro.com/newsroom/corporatenews/2009/20091215a.htm”>
<font face=”Calibri”>being sprayed with 2-4D</font>
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<font face=”Calibri”>. That’s my planet, my water we’re talking about. There is so much</font>
<a href=”http://www.bxscience.edu/ourpages/users/Villani/bionic/2008/articles/GE%20Corn/GE%20Corn.htm”>
<font face=”Calibri”>Bt corn pollen</font>
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<font face=”Calibri”> out there that no garden is safe from it, and rotting residue from Bt plants is messing with the life cycles of</font>
<a href=”http://www.bxscience.edu/ourpages/users/Villani/bionic/2008/articles/GE%20Corn/GE%20Corn.htm”>
<font face=”Calibri”>stream-dwelling insects</font>
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<font face=”Calibri”>. With Monsanto and other companies polluting the world with genetically modified pollen and plants, Bayer</font>
<a href=”https://www.motherearthnews.com/nature-and-environment/colony-collapse-disorder-zmaz09onzraw”>
<font face=”Calibri”>killing off honeybees</font>
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<font face=”Calibri”> with imidicloprid, and Dow turning horse manure into</font>
<a href=”https://www.motherearthnews.com/organic-gardening/contaminated-compost-clopyralid-aminopyralid-pyralid-dow-chemicals-toxins”>
<font face=”Calibri”>killer compost</font>
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<font face=”Calibri”>, maybe we should worry about big Corporations. A lot.</font>
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<font face=”Calibri”>But what really makes me mad is the way Monsanto is trying to hijack the concept of sustainability. According to the</font>
<a href=”http://www.monsanto.com/”>
<font face=”Calibri”>M Company video</font>
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<font face=”Calibri”> (which depicts happy, remarkably clean third world farmers), sustainability is about three things: Increased production to meet everyone’s needs, thus improving the lives of everyone; more effective use of natural resources, and improving the quality of life for farmers and their families. It does not mention all the hidden costs of reliance on pesticides, nor does it acknowledge the</font>
<a href=”http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601012&sid=aLW8VZBkP3PA”>
<font face=”Calibri”>steady increases in seed prices</font>
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<font face=”Calibri”>, with a very small number of companies setting those prices, cartel style. This is where</font>
<a href=”http://topics.law.cornell.edu/wex/Antitrust”>
<font face=”Calibri”>federal antitrust laws</font>
</a>
<font face=”Calibri”> come into play, at least theoretically.</font>
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<font face=”Calibri”>And here I was thinking that sustainable agriculture was about using Nature’s patterns and human intelligence and resourcefulness to create systems that run themselves with minimal outside inputs, while creating strong local food economies and a cleaner, more honest food supply. At least that’s how we play at my end of the playground.</font>
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<font face=”Calibri”>As for Atwood’s book, I won’t tell you how it ends, but it will make you feel good about knowing  how to grow and store your own food. Maybe it will help you think more clearly about where genetic engineering is headed, and help you make better guesses as to how long we are likely to survive.  At this point, I’m betting on the pigs.</font>
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