The Nerve

1 05 2012

First of all, sorry all for not posting in a while (has it been over a month?). I’ve been busy with school, an independent alternative energy project, etc.

That being said, here’s the way I see it:

Let’s say that I’m Monsanto (I know, I feel dirty already). 20 years ago, I developed this new technology – I found an efficient way to take genetic material from anywhere in any of the Kingdoms of Life, and put it in a plant. I also found a way to inject cows with something that makes them produce 10% more milk, no questions asked (except for a malfunctioning uterus, increased mastitis, and the chemically altered milk…shhh). I decided that these technologies were quite good, and because I had enough money from the last century of manufacturing toxic pollutants and my Better Living Through Plastic campaign, I went full-force in implementing them. So a little later, I was going about my business, slowly integrating my creations into the food supply, when out of blue, an obstructive Big Government gets in my way with unfounded questions like “Are you sure that’s safe?” and “Should the FDA label your stuff?”. Well, I put them in their place, or more accurately, I replaced them with my own people: Michael Taylor, Deputy Food Commissioner at the FDA, and Clarence Thomas, Supreme Court Justice. You got it, they are both mine. Well, at this point, the unthinkable happened. Some idiots in the local and organic foods movement started talking about my business, my products, and my unannounced presence in the refrigerators of most Americans. They touted lies (i.e. complete truths) about how my genetic tinkering created new allergies, how my RoundUp gave people cancer, and how my milk made 8 year olds go through puberty – well, I would have none of that, so I did what any sensible multinational corporation would do, and denied it all. I hired lots of researchers to worship the merits of my products, got a bunch of lawyers to sue the pants off of people and governments in court, and insisted, in debate after debate, that my opponents had no true arguments and that they were just bitter Luddites. Also, just for good measure, I slapped the phrases “farmers” and “Feed the World” on my website a couple thousand times, to convince people of my altruism. Well, what good any of that did: it was time for brute, multinational corporate force. Try to label milk from cows treated with rBST…BOOM, you’ve got a multimillion dollar lawsuit on your sorry keister. Try to label GMOs…BOOM, lawsuits for everyone! Basically, I adopted the stance: I am here to stay, I make a bunch of probably dangerous food products, and if you don’t like that, too bad. You’re going to eat it, and if your government tries to give you the choice not to, everyone gets sued. Period. Deal with it. It’s not my problem. My newest strategy is working quite well, don’t you think?

Here’s some thoughts that have occurred to me along the way:

  1. Pretty much all of the things I genetically modify and sell are made into fat-based foods – soy, corn, cotton(seed), and canola are damn near the only sources of oil in the U.S. (aside from that olive oil, and those Europeans are hard nuts to crack with their objection to GMOs), and the milk is mostly made into cheese and butter. Plus, soybeans produce a chemical, phytoestrogen, similar to human estrogen (shh, don’t tell anyone) and the milk is laced with IGF-1, a human growth hormone. So, excessive amounts of lipids, sex- and growth-hormones in all the wrong places – I always say, “a fat, hormonally confused population is a subservient population”, so bring on the soybean oil and rBST milk!
  2. Once I got farmers to spray enough RoundUp and petroleum fertilizers on their farms while growing RoundUp resistant soybeans, they were pretty much hooked. Fertilizers depleted the natural fertility of the soil and the residual RoundUp made everything sterile and lifeless, so all they could plant next year was my soy – job security! Corn was pretty much the same. When the bugs became resistant to all but the most powerful pesticides (because of my overuse), I showed up with a corn that produces just that. Yum!
  3. A little slogan I like to live by: If something moves and it’s not a potential customer (so, if it’s a farmer or a bug), spray it with the most powerful neurotoxin available. If it’s a potential customer, give it high cholesterol and hormone imbalances with the ol’ Trinity of corn, milk, and soy, and launch a Monsanto Pharmaceuticals Division.

Am I not the most disgusting, immoral thing you’ve ever heard of? Well, guess what: As of January, 2010, I’m a legal Person in the United States, and I’m allowed to buy off your politicians and tell you nothing. What do you think of me now…….? That’s what I thought.

**Just as a quick note, I want to mention that, when I sarcastically refer to Monsanto’s use of helping farmers and feeding the world, it is not done with malice toward the farmers or poor people in third world countries. I believe in taking action to make sure there are no starving people, and it keeping at the forefront of my mind the value, tangible and intangible, that farmers add to society – I just don’t believe any of what Monsanto does actually helps any of these people, and is in fact making the third world poorer and the farmers bankrupt.

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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