Monsanto, the bane of my existence

5 03 2012

Since Monsanto, the multinational chemical turned biotechnology company, has done more harm to the world in their 100 year tenure than any other person or company in history, I feel it fitting that my first post be a tribute of sorts to them. (All company history comes directly from Monsanto’s website, http://www.monsanto.com/whoweare/Pages/monsanto-history.aspx)

Monsanto, originally a chemical company, was founded in 1901 by chemist John F. Queeny. In the hundred years between its founding and its conversion to a biotechnology company in 2000, Monsanto was responsible for quite a few well-known inventions:

  • saccharin and aspartame – artificial sweeteners that are believed to cause cancer and other health defects
  • 2-4D – a major ingredient in Agent Orange, which was used during the Vietnam War to kill not only the enemy, but also innocent Vietnamese farmers and, yes, our own troops
  • Roundup – a powerful herbicide that, according to recent studies, causes cancerous tumors and effectively stops the body from fighting them
  • bovine growth hormone – rBGH, rBST, or Posilac; whatever name it is called, it increases cows’ milk production and gives them mastitis, polluting the milk with somatic cells (puss) and insulin-like growth factor (IGF, a human growth hormone)

And then, in the year 2000, EVERYTHING changed. Early in that year, Monsanto merged with a few other companies, and changed its name to Pharmacia Corporation. A few months later, Pharmacia Corporation spat out a subsidiary named – you guessed it – Monsanto, a primarily agricultural biotechnology firm that happened to have the same corporate structure, be staffed by the same people, and operate toward the same goals and products, as “the old Monsanto”. This was “the new Monsanto”, the self-proclaimed messiah, completely disconnected with the shady activities of its past.

Thus, we come to modern day. The Monsanto Company mainly produces what are called genetically engineered seeds. That is, plant organisms which have genetic material from another species, possibly from another taxonomic family entirely, forcibly inserted into their DNA, and that are only minimally tested for safety. Since around 1994, when the company first put its foot through the door of agribusiness, it has specialized in two major “products”, as they insist on calling the living creatures that they mutate and sell to the unknowing public – the Roundup Ready™ and Bt traits:

  • Roundup Ready™, as the name would imply, is a line of plants (mostly soybeans) that have been genetically modified to survive being liberally sprayed with the plant toxin glyphosate (the main ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup brand weed killer). What it does not say on the label is that glyphosate bonds to soil molecules, is taken up into the plant through its roots, and is consumed by innocent people like you and me, where it increases our risk of cancer while blocking our cells’ natural defenses against carcinogenesis (the formation of cancer).
  • Bt, Bacillus thuringiensis, is a soil bacteria whose genetic material is inserted into the DNA of plants (mostly corn), so that the organism will produce a toxic chemical, thus making the plant act as its own pesticide. The toxin is present in every bit of the plant, including the part we eat, and studies have shown that it is not as narrowly “targeted” to specific pests as the company would like us to believe.

At this, one might ask: “Well, what do I have to worry about? I eat corn on the cob a couple of times a summer, and I never eat soybeans. This stuff really doesn’t affect me, right?” This, my friends, brings us to the pièce de résistance, if you will, of Monsanto’s invisible corporate empire. According to recent estimates, upwards of 75% of processed foods in the US contain at least one genetically modified ingredient. Through a clever game of intellectual property rights, manufacturing demand, and the “revolving door syndrome” with the US government (issues I will address, in due course, at a later time), Monsanto has unilaterally ensured that some form of its products, especially processed extracts, of extracts, of corn and soy, manifest themselves in most of the things we eat every day. When you start to think about it, the list goes on and on: (high fructose) corn syrup, soy lecithin, citric and lactic acid, dextrose, soy protein concentrate, soybean oil, soy meal and corn flour, soy isolate, mono- and diglycerides, “natural flavors”, of course, and many, many others.

With such a presence in our modern world, your next question might be “Why have I never before heard of Monsanto Company?” To this, I can only say, you – all of us – were never supposed to. In the past decades, Monsanto has spent huge sums of money fighting citizen and government initiatives to label food that contains the company’s products. There is no “fine print” mentioning that the ingredients in any of the processed foods in the United States comes from Monsanto, and there is definitely no indication that they are derived from genetically modified sources. With the help of the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA), with whom the company shares quite a few employees, Monsanto has constructed a system in which the public has absolutely no idea, unless they adamantly look for it, that the food they are eating is different than that eaten by their grandparents. The desire, the ultimate goal, of this shadowy entity seems to be a presence in every house, and every human body, in the world, while ensuring that its name never leaves the tongue of those destined to bear the effects of its unsafe creations. Forgive me, because I recognize that the way I say these ideas, they sound like conspiracy theories. I assure you, however, that they are far from that. Money and power make people to disturbing things, and the Monsanto Company is a perfect example of, in the paraphrased words of a blogger whose piece I read more than a year ago, “a company that is bat-s**t crazy with power”. Though it seems unreal, there is, in fact, a company that holds quite a bit of control over your life, and which takes great pains so that you have no idea that this is the case. What I have discussed here has only scratched the surface. There is a world of lies and deceit, both from this and other entities that feed you their poison and regulatory agencies that allow it to happen – and this is a topic I plan to cover at great length on this blog. At that, I leave you with a quote:

“And if all others accepted the lie which the Party imposed—if all records told the same tale—then the lie passed into history and became truth. ‘Who controls the past’ ran the Party slogan, ‘controls the future: who controls the present controls the past.”     George Orwell, 1984

Advertisements

Actions

Information

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s




%d bloggers like this: