genetically engineered seeds
|Written by Jesse Richard|
|Sunday, 26 October 2008 15:06|
According to disclosed documents, minutes of a series of private meetings of representatives of 27 governments disclose plans to “speed up” the introduction of the modified crops and foods and to “deal with” public resistance to them.
Forget about immoral wars based on lies that result in the murder of hundreds of thousands of people, including the soldiers who “followed orders” and die in those wars. Forget about false flag operations like the Reichstag fire, 9/11, and the London bombings, when world leaders murder their own people in order to frighten them into submission. Forget about the international banking conspiracy to control all of the wealth on earth. Forget about the bio weapon programs run by our government that increased dramatically under the Bush administration, where an accident, an earthquake (or an evil individual like Dick Cheney) could potentially unleash life-ending viruses onto the nation and the world. And forget about the criminal suppression of technologies that would provide enough clean and cheap energy to fulfill all our needs.
If there is one reason that serves as an even stronger reason for the people of this planet to unite and storm virtually every government associated with the ruling establishment, it is the secretive, but confirmed, manipulation of the food chain of the entire planet! The people who rule this planet are altering the food chain in a way that is irreversible and in a way that could possibly lead to the extinction of life on earth!
As part of a presentation I give on media deception (in which I show people what media deception is and teach them how to spot it), I spend a short time talking about the ridiculous myth that Americans live in some sort of democracy. To illustrate this, I ask people who attend my presentations whether their consent was requested by our government before some scientists, some horrible evil scientists who misused their knowledge to create the world’s most destructive weapons, detonated the first hydrogen bomb. You see, when these scientists detonated the first H-Bomb they were not certain as to whether or not the explosion would be contained. Hydrogen bombs detonate in the atmosphere. The scientists in charge raised some concern that testing the bomb might cause the entire planet to explode in a huge nuclear chain reaction. Yet they went ahead despite this calculated risk! Your government risked your life and the lives of everyone who lived on earth that day. And they risked the lives of everyone who will live on this planet in the future. If you ask me…the people who decided that this would be OK, and the people who followed the orders of the decision makers, should have been charge with crimes against humanity and hanged…or worse!
Today, this risk is being taken without your consent again! Genetically modified crops and livestock are being infused into our food chain, forever changing the genetic makeup of our plants and animals. We have no idea what problems this may cause. We have no idea how this will affect our own health or the health of the ecosystem. We don’t know if or how viruses that infect any GM animals may mutate and kill us all. There is a clear risk that if you break one link in the food chain, the entire chain can collapse. And then what?
We recently had a big scare that still has not been resolved. You probably don’t know much about it because we don’t have a national news media in this nation. We have a perception management industry that is called mainstream media, but their job is to keep your false impression of reality alive and well. While they were reporting around the clock about the activities about two pre-selected presidential candidates, they made sure you did not pay too much attention to the fact that bees all over this planet started to mysteriously die off. Well, something was killing them, and no one knew what that was. There are some indications that GM crops caused them to mysteriously die off. Remember that without bees we have no pollination and as a result, for the most part, no plants. That means there are no trees or flowers to provide the earth with most of its food. And that also means that we significantly reduce the supply of oxygen that green plants give us in exchange for our carbon dioxide. And that’s pretty scary.
However, the bee issue pales in comparison to the even scarier human (corporate and government) manipulation of the genetic makeup of plants and animals on this planet. Talk about big government! It does not get any bigger than that! It’s one thing to tell me whom I can marry or what kind of sex I may enjoy, but it is a far greater crime to tamper with my food supply!
Many people have different opinions as to why governments are tampering with our food. Some believe it is conspiracy to control the profits of food sales. Monsanto, for example, has manipulated corn so that the corn does not produce seeds, and assures that farmers consistently have to buy new seeds…from whom?…from Monsanto of course! Not a bad business model…with a little help from legislators. Others believe that eugenics is at play here. It is a well kept secret that the global ruling elite have concluded that in order for the human species to survive we must bring the world population down to about 500,000 people. Well, we are closing in on 7 billion people on this planet. If the population of the world continues to grow at the current rate, we are about 10 years away from having to go to war over access to drinking water!
But no matter what the reason…the fact that my food supply is being tampered without any explanation, and without a way to reverse the changes…makes me want to ge out there and hang people. I have never been angrier than I am over this issue. I know that it is a crime to threaten people or to instigate a revolution. But I am going to say what needs to be said…there are people on this planet that have taken over aspects of life on earth and have left us with no way to protect ourselves from them or the ramifications of their actions. These people are at this moment secretively manipulating your life. They are murdering you. They are murdering your children. And I’ll tell you this…I would have no problem marching those bastards to the gallows!
According to disclosed documents, minutes of a series of private meetings of representatives of 27 governments disclose plans to “speed up” the introduction of the modified crops and foods and to “deal with” public resistance to them. OK, then I say that society should speed up an effort to eliminate these dangerous people…and then “deal with the government resistance!”
And to you police officers, FBI agents, CIA agents, Department of Homeland Security thugs and Blackwater hit men, you are all victims as well. You need to think about that before you protect those bastards! I am on your side! Remember that.
You know…sometimes I feel like the John McCarthy character at the end of the film, Invasion of the Body Snatchers! I sound crazy telling everyone about the pods…but, my friends…trucks of pods overturn on highways every day…you just have to stop for a moment to ask what they are! Heed the warnings…we really don’t have much time left. Think about it.
Jesse Richard – Editor, TvNewsLIES.org.
Saturday, August 02, 2008 by: Barbara L. Minton
(NaturalNews) The global food crisis won’t go away any time soon. Capitalism has the average consumer by the belly. Amid growing signs of famine and outrage, the entire chain of commodities and resources of the world are now being cornered by giant corporations. Farmland, water, fertilizer, seed, energy, and most of the basic necessities of life are falling under corporate control, providing increased wealth and power to the ruling elite while the rest of humanity struggles.
Commodity scarcity in India was recently reflected in the need to distribute fertilizer from the police station in Hingoli. Now police have to control the lines that form outside of dealer outlets, because the dealers won’t open for business otherwise. Without this intervention there would be no fertilizer for the planting that must take place before the rain comes. In Akola and Nanded, police involvement is also needed. Agriculture officers have fled their work places to escape angry farmers. In Karnataka, a farmer was shot dead during protests, while farmers stormed meetings and set up road blocks in other districts.
And it’s not just fertilizer that is scarce. Seeds are also in short supply which is being blamed on agitation that has interfered with freight train traffic. However, the shortfall in seeds is 60 percent, a level more indicative of corporate intervention to drive up prices than the actions of powerless farmers.
As farmers fume, the Wall Street Journal heralds the whopping 42 percent jump in the fiscal third quarter profits of huge agriculture giant Archer-Daniels Midland. This increase includes a sevenfold rise in new income in units that store, transport and grade grains such as wheat, corn and soybeans.
The soaring profits of fertilizer maker Potash Corporation of Saskatchewan are reflected in the parabolic movement of its stock price from a yearly low of $70.35 to its current price of $238.22 per share. Shares of fertilizer and animal feed producer Mosaic Corp. have risen from a yearly low of $32.50 to a current price of $159.38.
Some onlookers blame the financial speculators for driving up the prices of commodities related to agriculture as wealthy investors have piled on looking to cash in on the rising stock prices. And in many ways, today’s commodity market resembles the dot.com boom seen at the turn of the century, as well as the housing boom now in the throws of its bust.
The Commodity Futures Trading Commission recently held a hearing to investigate the role that index funds and hedge funds are playing in driving up the prices of agricultural commodities. Total public fund investment in corn, soybean, wheat, cattle and hogs has risen by 37 billion dollars since 2006. This figure does not include the huge investments of hedge funds which don’t have to make such disclosure. It also doesn’t include the massive world wide investments in farmland made by the wealthy.
The corporate spin is that these investments are helpful to humanity because they will ultimately result in increased food production at a time of rising world demand. They cite the need for increased corporate profits to invest in and develop new technologies that will help farmers improve productivity. This is how GMO seeds are being driven down the throats of farmers, who are told that the modified seeds can squeeze even more yield from each acre of planting.
India has joined other developing countries in the decision to invest less in agriculture as advised by the World Bank-IMF, whose agenda has been to discourage crops for domestic consumption while encouraging production to spur export driven growth. This advice coupled with corporate sponsored deregulation has paved the way for corporate control of the farming process from seed to market. Research and development that was once the domain of universities has also fallen into corporate control.
Farmers in India are caught in a credit crunch. Even if they are able to get the needed fertilizer, they will not have the credit to pay for it. With no increase in farmer income, larger loans are not advanced. The outlook for the small farmer there is much the same as it was in the U.S. thirty years ago, during the height of the small farms falling to big agribusiness.
Corporations blame food shortages and rising prices on the people of China and India whose burgeoning income from manufacturing has allowed the average worker to increase both the amount and quality of his food consumption. But for the corporations, the increased demand for food is a guarantee of super profits to come.
Of course the other commodity you can’t get along without is water, which is now the focus of huge multinational companies seeking to privatize water world wide, perhaps even patent it as Monsanto did with seeds. The fight over water may bring chaos, conflict and misery on a scale never seen before as corporations and governments go so far as to grab the wells from under people’s houses.
And then there’s oil. To produce chemical fertilizer you must make use of fossil fuel. So rising oil prices and rising food prices are joined at the hip. The behavior of corporations in the oil business has been so egregious that there is talk of a windfall profits tax here and abroad.
No, the food crisis will not go away anytime soon. North Korea, Burma and Western Sudan are currently feeling a real threat of starvation while western governments manipulated by corporations continue to promote the diversion of food into biofuels to further exacerbate the upward movement in food prices. Almost all U.S. corn production between 2004 and 2007 has gone into the production of ethanol. European production of ethanol has more than tripled during the same period. This has led to a fall off in grains relative to overall demand which is not a market phenomenon but is the direct result of the government sponsored, corporate backed programs. This comes at the expense of people looking for something to eat, particularly the world’s poor who are now effectively priced out of the food market.
P. Sainath, The Hindu, “Fertilizing profit, sowing misery”
Bogdan C. Enache, China Confidential, “Biofuels and the threat of starvation”
About the author
Barbara is a school psychologist, a published author in the area of personal finance, a breast cancer survivor using “alternative” treatments, a born existentialist, and a student of nature and all things natural.
There is nothing like a good disaster, either real or manufactured, to set up the conditions to sell your tainted goods and policies to a traumatized society. When desperate and in shock, people, disoriented and confused, will take any assistance, or swallow any economy program that promises immediate relief, even relief that in the long run will make them worse off than if they let the disaster run its natural course. This is the premise of Naomi Klein’s latest book “The Shock Doctrine, ” and Myanmar (Burma) today is going to be the next test case for this doctrine.
Klein writes on her website: “Biotech Companies Using Food Crisis to Push for More GMO Crops.” It reads:
“Soaring food prices and global grain shortages are bringing new pressures on governments, food companies and consumers to relax their longstanding resistance to genetically engineered crops….
With food riots in some countries focusing attention on how the world will feed itself, biotechnology proponents see their chance. They argue that while genetic engineering might have been deemed unnecessary when food was abundant, it will be essential for helping the world cope with the demand for food and biofuels in the decades ahead.
Opponents of biotechnology say they see not so much an opportunity as opportunism by its proponents to exploit the food crisis. “Where politicians and technocrats have always wanted to push G.M.O.’s, they are jumping on this bandwagon and using this as an excuse,” said Helen Holder, who coordinates the campaign against biotech foods for Friends of the Earth Europe. G.M.O. refers to genetically modified organism.”
Today, with a good chunk of Myanmar’s “rice bowl” area in ruins due to cyclone Nargis, the transnational corporations, the UN, and various NGOs, like vultures, are attempting to sweep in and use the Shock Doctrine to reap the benefits of this conveniently-timed disaster. (Conveniently timed because these groups have been leveraging the man-made food crisis for their own political and financial benefit).
By vilifying Myanmar leadership (a feat not hard to do), and by insisting that Burma’s leaders open their ports for U.S./U.N. “humanitarian assistance” a.k.a. — genetically modified foods and to “aid experts,” they will have expertly used the Shock Doctrine to its full effect.
Maybe this is why the Burmese leadership are extremely leery of the U.S. and UN’s motives and have refused to let them operate freely in the country. In a news report from “The Irrawaddy,” we have this news analysis which sounds credible:
“After days of stalling, the junta gave clearance Thursday for the first major international airlifts carrying aid to cyclone survivors. But it was not allowing US military planes to fly in critical relief and continued to withhold visas for several UN teams seeking entry, said Richard Horsey, a UN spokesman in neighboring Thailand.
A foreign military’s presence in Burma would mark a major concession for the junta.
“They’re afraid that if foreign soldiers come in they are the spearhead to overthrow the government,” said Josef Silverstein, a retired Rutgers University professor who studied Burma for more than a half century. From the junta’s perspective: “Aid workers could be carrying weapons to give to the people, they could give them ideas of how to overthrow the government.” — Why Is Burma Junta Afraid of Letting Foreign Aid Workers?
Hmmm, aid workers arming an insurrection? You don’t say. Oh, those paranoid Burmese leaders.
Besides their concerns that nefarious actors pretending to be humanitarian aid workers would help to destabilize the country, the Burmese leadership might also be concerned that some of these actors might want to get their genetically modified rice into the hands of needy people, rice which if planted would contaminate local crops and provide companies like Monsanto, Syngenta, Dow and Dupont with annual royalties due to patents.
The transnational AgBio companies with their partners in the UN and USAID have already been accused of forcing GMO foods on countries who don’t want them even for humanitarian aid. According to Zambian Vice President Enock Kavindele said his country had declined a $50 million line of credit from the U.S. Department of Agriculture because of provisions that it would have to purchase GMO commodities. Starving Africa should accept GMO food, US says
Should we be so cynical as to think that there might be another agenda behind the urgent and passionate calls for massive and immediate relief for Burma from first lady Laura Bush and Josette Sheeran Shiner, a long-time Moonie and currently the director of the U.N. World Food Program?
With Laura Bush many of us might be tempted to suspend our disbelief that she is acting as a good faith agent. After all, just because you married a criminal doesn’t mean you are one. The same logic can be used when describing Josette Sheeran Shiner and her connections with the Bush administration and the self-proclaimed messiah, cult-leader and businessman, Reverend Sun Myung Moon. But to believe that they are innocent from any corrupting influence would be negligent on our part. We have to be skeptical as to their motives, as much of U.S. foreign policy can be interpreted as nothing more than piracy. And, as many observers have noted, the UN, being controlled by industry insiders and people with dubious bona fides, is just an extension of that piracy.
In the case of Josette Sheeran Shiner, Bush’s nominee to head the UN World Food Program, concerns were raised over her close ties to neo-conservative, free-trade elements in the Bush administration and over her long association with Reverend Moon, who is one of the most powerful figures in Washington DC. Rev. Moon is also the owner of a number of newspapers, including the influential Washington Times, where Sheeran was for a time the managing editor.
Is there any reason why we should concern ourselves with Sheeran’s religious and political affiliations and her position as head of the most powerful food aid agency in the world? As any astute follower of the global elite and their intelligence agencies knows, they hide behind front organizations to sell their bill of goods, whether that is tainted GMOs, bankrupt free-market ideology, or repressive control of the state. This is illustrated by the various shell companies, organizations and foundations that the CIA and their mind-controlled cults, like the Moonies, use to cover their tracks.
One of these organizations is American Freedom Coalition, a “political education and lobbying group” started by Rev. Moon that has been tied to fake pro-Monsanto marches at the World Summit on Sustainable Development. Rev. Moon has also used his Washington Times and his press service, United Press International (UPI), as a bully pulpit to promote BioAg in a favorable light.
So, is Sheeran, a Moonie-cult member for 21 years (she claims she left it in 1997), just an agent for Moon and his CIA friends? Have they surreptitiously taken over control of the most powerful food aid agency in the world in order to get genetically engineered foods into Asia, and with that control over the world’s food supply?
Think about this statement by Meyer Nathaniel Rothschild at a gathering of world bankers February 12, 1912: “Let me control a people’s currency and I care not who makes their laws.”
Now, imagine what he would say today if he could control the world’s food and water supply.
* * *
April 24, 2008 by: Jo Hartley
(NaturalNews) Who and what is the Monsanto Corporation? The Monsanto Chemical Company has a diverse and interesting history. Monsanto is the leading chemical producer for agricultural products. They manufacture the best-selling herbicide RoundUp (as well as other herbicides). They are also the producer of leading seed brands such as DEKALB and Asgrow and they are heavily involved in providing farmers and seed companies with the necessary biotechnology for insect protection and herbicide tolerance.
Monsanto was established in 1901 in St. Louis, MO. How exactly has Monsanto spent its 100+ years in business and what are some of the more notable facets of its world influence? Let’s find out.
Founder John Francis Queeny spent 30 years in the pharmaceutical industry before the inception of Monsanto. While still an employee of Meyer Brothers Drug Company, he depleted his entire savings and borrowed from a Chicago soft drink supplier to form a new company to produce products for the food and pharmaceutical industry. The new company was named for his wife, whose maiden name was Olga Monsanto. Monsanto was born on November 29, 1901.
In 1902, Monsanto’s first product was none other than saccharin. Between the years of 1903 and 1905 their entire saccharin production was shipped to a growing soft drink company based in Georgia called Coca-Cola. In 1904 Monsanto introduced caffeine and vanillin to the growing soft drink industry.
By 1915, Monsanto sales hit the one million mark. Approximately two years later Monsanto began producing aspirin. Monsanto was the top aspirin producer in the U.S. until the 1980s.
In 1917, the first suit over the safety of saccharin was filed by the U.S. Government. This case was filed at Monsanto’s request as a test case and was dismissed in 1925. In 1981, the safety of saccharin was again challenged. No conclusive scientific evidence was ever presented, however, so in 2001 the warning label was removed from products.
In 1985, G.D. Searle & Company bought Monsanto. At this point Monsanto became even more involved in pharmaceuticals and the sweetener industry. In addition, NutraSweet was acquired by Monsanto.
World War II was the catalyst to a new partnership between Monsanto and the U.S. Government. Monsanto became involved in research for the Manhattan Project which led to the world’s first nuclear bombs. Until the late 1980s, Monsanto also operated the Mound Laboratory (a nuclear facility) on behalf of the Federal Government.
By 1955, Monsanto had branched out in the petroleum business. They acquired Lion Oil essentially to provide themselves with petrochemical materials. With the acquisition of Lion Oil, Monsanto was also introduced into the fertilizer business. This brought them the industries of hydrocarbon technology, oil and gas reserves, as well as retail gasoline businesses. They sold their service stations and refineries in 1972.
In the 1960s and 1970s, Monsanto was the leading producer of Agent Orange (containing the chemical dioxin) for the U.S. Military in Vietnam. Between the years of 1962 and 1970, the U.S. military sprayed 72 million liters of Agent Orange on over one million Vietnam civilians and over 100,000 U.S. troops. Within ten years of the end of the war, 9,170 veterans had filed claims for disabilities believed to be caused by Agent Orange.
In 1977, Monsanto entered a joint petrochemical venture with Conoco Oil Company. They were bought out at a later time and they utilized the profit to acquire a pharmaceutical company. By this time, G.D. Searle & Co was successful in getting the U.S. FDA to approve aspartame (NutraSweet) for a second time. In 2000, Monsanto sold its sweetener business (including NutraSweet) for a tidy sum of $440 million.
By the late 1990s, Monsanto turned its focus to agriculture and started buying seed companies and genetic laboratories. In December 1999, Monsanto and Pharmicia & UpJohn announced an impending merger. Upon the completed merger in March 2000, the new company Pharmicia Corporation was created. The agricultural portion of the corporation has retained the Monsanto name.
What does the future hold for Monsanto? They have formed a wheat industry advisory committee to provide advice and support for the best way to incorporate biotechnology into the wheat industry. They are also marketing the drug L-DOPA (used to treat Parkinson’s). They have also placed the first U.S. corporate order to GM for pickup trucks that use ethanol-based E85 fuel. This is part of a larger move on their part to focus new research toward the use of bioenergy resources. They are also currently involved in the current controversy involving recombinant Bovine Growth Hormone and the labeling of U.S. milk.
About the author
Wife, Mother of 8, and Grandmother of 2
Jo is a 40 year old home educator who has always gravitated toward a natural approach to life. She enjoys learning as much as possible about just about anything!
Monsanto’s Harvest of Fear
Monsanto already dominates America’s food chain with its genetically modified seeds. Now it has targeted milk production. Just as frightening as the corporation’s tactics–ruthless legal battles against small farmers–is its decades-long history of toxic contamination.
by Donald L. Barlett and James B. Steele May 2008
Gary Rinehart clearly remembers the summer day in 2002 when the stranger walked in and issued his threat. Rinehart was behind the counter of the Square Deal, his “old-time country store,” as he calls it, on the fading town square of Eagleville, Missouri, a tiny farm community 100 miles north of Kansas City.
The Square Deal is a fixture in Eagleville, a place where farmers and townspeople can go for lightbulbs, greeting cards, hunting gear, ice cream, aspirin, and dozens of other small items without having to drive to a big-box store in Bethany, the county seat, 15 miles down Interstate 35.
Everyone knows Rinehart, who was born and raised in the area and runs one of Eagleville’s few surviving businesses. The stranger came up to the counter and asked for him by name.
“Well, that’s me,” said Rinehart.
As Rinehart would recall, the man began verbally attacking him, saying he had proof that Rinehart had planted Monsanto’s genetically modified (G.M.) soybeans in violation of the company’s patent. Better come clean and settle with Monsanto, Rinehart says the man told him—or face the consequences.
Rinehart was incredulous, listening to the words as puzzled customers and employees looked on. Like many others in rural America, Rinehart knew of Monsanto’s fierce reputation for enforcing its patents and suing anyone who allegedly violated them. But Rinehart wasn’t a farmer. He wasn’t a seed dealer. He hadn’t planted any seeds or sold any seeds. He owned a small—a really small—country store in a town of 350 people. He was angry that somebody could just barge into the store and embarrass him in front of everyone. “It made me and my business look bad,” he says. Rinehart says he told the intruder, “You got the wrong guy.”
When the stranger persisted, Rinehart showed him the door. On the way out the man kept making threats. Rinehart says he can’t remember the exact words, but they were to the effect of: “Monsanto is big. You can’t win. We will get you. You will pay.”
Scenes like this are playing out in many parts of rural America these days as Monsanto goes after farmers, farmers’ co-ops, seed dealers—anyone it suspects may have infringed its patents of genetically modified seeds. As interviews and reams of court documents reveal, Monsanto relies on a shadowy army of private investigators and agents in the American heartland to strike fear into farm country. They fan out into fields and farm towns, where they secretly videotape and photograph farmers, store owners, and co-ops; infiltrate community meetings; and gather information from informants about farming activities. Farmers say that some Monsanto agents pretend to be surveyors. Others confront farmers on their land and try to pressure them to sign papers giving Monsanto access to their private records. Farmers call them the “seed police” and use words such as “Gestapo” and “Mafia” to describe their tactics.
When asked about these practices, Monsanto declined to comment specifically, other than to say that the company is simply protecting its patents. “Monsanto spends more than $2 million a day in research to identify, test, develop and bring to market innovative new seeds and technologies that benefit farmers,” Monsanto spokesman Darren Wallis wrote in an e-mailed letter to Vanity Fair. “One tool in protecting this investment is patenting our discoveries and, if necessary, legally defending those patents against those who might choose to infringe upon them.” Wallis said that, while the vast majority of farmers and seed dealers follow the licensing agreements, “a tiny fraction” do not, and that Monsanto is obligated to those who do abide by its rules to enforce its patent rights on those who “reap the benefits of the technology without paying for its use.” He said only a small number of cases ever go to trial.
Some compare Monsanto’s hard-line approach to Microsoft’s zealous efforts to protect its software from pirates. At least with Microsoft the buyer of a program can use it over and over again. But farmers who buy Monsanto’s seeds can’t even do that.
The Control of Nature
For centuries—millennia—farmers have saved seeds from season to season: they planted in the spring, harvested in the fall, then reclaimed and cleaned the seeds over the winter for re-planting the next spring. Monsanto has turned this ancient practice on its head.
Monsanto developed G.M. seeds that would resist its own herbicide, Roundup, offering farmers a convenient way to spray fields with weed killer without affecting crops. Monsanto then patented the seeds. For nearly all of its history the United States Patent and Trademark Office had refused to grant patents on seeds, viewing them as life-forms with too many variables to be patented. “It’s not like describing a widget,” says Joseph Mendelson III, the legal director of the Center for Food Safety, which has tracked Monsanto’s activities in rural America for years.
Indeed not. But in 1980 the U.S. Supreme Court, in a five-to-four decision, turned seeds into widgets, laying the groundwork for a handful of corporations to begin taking control of the world’s food supply. In its decision, the court extended patent law to cover “a live human-made microorganism.” In this case, the organism wasn’t even a seed. Rather, it was a Pseudomonas bacterium developed by a General Electric scientist to clean up oil spills. But the precedent was set, and Monsanto took advantage of it. Since the 1980s, Monsanto has become the world leader in genetic modification of seeds and has won 674 biotechnology patents, more than any other company, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture data.
Farmers who buy Monsanto’s patented Roundup Ready seeds are required to sign an agreement promising not to save the seed produced after each harvest for re-planting, or to sell the seed to other farmers. This means that farmers must buy new seed every year. Those increased sales, coupled with ballooning sales of its Roundup weed killer, have been a bonanza for Monsanto.
This radical departure from age-old practice has created turmoil in farm country. Some farmers don’t fully understand that they aren’t supposed to save Monsanto’s seeds for next year’s planting. Others do, but ignore the stipulation rather than throw away a perfectly usable product. Still others say that they don’t use Monsanto’s genetically modified seeds, but seeds have been blown into their fields by wind or deposited by birds. It’s certainly easy for G.M. seeds to get mixed in with traditional varieties when seeds are cleaned by commercial dealers for re-planting. The seeds look identical; only a laboratory analysis can show the difference. Even if a farmer doesn’t buy G.M. seeds and doesn’t want them on his land, it’s a safe bet he’ll get a visit from Monsanto’s seed police if crops grown from G.M. seeds are discovered in his fields.
Most Americans know Monsanto because of what it sells to put on our lawns— the ubiquitous weed killer Roundup. What they may not know is that the company now profoundly influences—and one day may virtually control—what we put on our tables. For most of its history Monsanto was a chemical giant, producing some of the most toxic substances ever created, residues from which have left us with some of the most polluted sites on earth. Yet in a little more than a decade, the company has sought to shed its polluted past and morph into something much different and more far-reaching—an “agricultural company” dedicated to making the world “a better place for future generations.” Still, more than one Web log claims to see similarities between Monsanto and the fictional company “U-North” in the movie Michael Clayton, an agribusiness giant accused in a multibillion-dollar lawsuit of selling an herbicide that causes cancer.
Monsanto’s genetically modified seeds have transformed the company and are radically altering global agriculture. So far, the company has produced G.M. seeds for soybeans, corn, canola, and cotton. Many more products have been developed or are in the pipeline, including seeds for sugar beets and alfalfa. The company is also seeking to extend its reach into milk production by marketing an artificial growth hormone for cows that increases their output, and it is taking aggressive steps to put those who don’t want to use growth hormone at a commercial disadvantage.
Even as the company is pushing its G.M. agenda, Monsanto is buying up conventional-seed companies. In 2005, Monsanto paid $1.4 billion for Seminis, which controlled 40 percent of the U.S. market for lettuce, tomatoes, and other vegetable and fruit seeds. Two weeks later it announced the acquisition of the country’s third-largest cottonseed company, Emergent Genetics, for $300 million. It’s estimated that Monsanto seeds now account for 90 percent of the U.S. production of soybeans, which are used in food products beyond counting. Monsanto’s acquisitions have fueled explosive growth, transforming the St. Louis–based corporation into the largest seed company in the world.
In Iraq, the groundwork has been laid to protect the patents of Monsanto and other G.M.-seed companies. One of L. Paul Bremer’s last acts as head of the Coalition Provisional Authority was an order stipulating that “farmers shall be prohibited from re-using seeds of protected varieties.” Monsanto has said that it has no interest in doing business in Iraq, but should the company change its mind, the American-style law is in place.
To be sure, more and more agricultural corporations and individual farmers are using Monsanto’s G.M. seeds. As recently as 1980, no genetically modified crops were grown in the U.S. In 2007, the total was 142 million acres planted. Worldwide, the figure was 282 million acres. Many farmers believe that G.M. seeds increase crop yields and save money. Another reason for their attraction is convenience. By using Roundup Ready soybean seeds, a farmer can spend less time tending to his fields. With Monsanto seeds, a farmer plants his crop, then treats it later with Roundup to kill weeds. That takes the place of labor-intensive weed control and plowing.
Monsanto portrays its move into G.M. seeds as a giant leap for mankind. But out in the American countryside, Monsanto’s no-holds-barred tactics have made it feared and loathed. Like it or not, farmers say, they have fewer and fewer choices in buying seeds.
And controlling the seeds is not some abstraction. Whoever provides the world’s seeds controls the world’s food supply.
After Monsanto’s investigator confronted Gary Rinehart, Monsanto filed a federal lawsuit alleging that Rinehart “knowingly, intentionally, and willfully” planted seeds “in violation of Monsanto’s patent rights.” The company’s complaint made it sound as if Monsanto had Rinehart dead to rights:
During the 2002 growing season, Investigator Jeffery Moore, through surveillance of Mr. Rinehart’s farm facility and farming operations, observed Defendant planting brown bag soybean seed. Mr. Moore observed the Defendant take the brown bag soybeans to a field, which was subsequently loaded into a grain drill and planted. Mr. Moore located two empty bags in the ditch in the public road right-of-way beside one of the fields planted by Rinehart, which contained some soybeans. Mr. Moore collected a small amount of soybeans left in the bags which Defendant had tossed into the public right-of way. These samples tested positive for Monsanto’s Roundup Ready technology.
Faced with a federal lawsuit, Rinehart had to hire a lawyer. Monsanto eventually realized that “Investigator Jeffery Moore” had targeted the wrong man, and dropped the suit. Rinehart later learned that the company had been secretly investigating farmers in his area. Rinehart never heard from Monsanto again: no letter of apology, no public concession that the company had made a terrible mistake, no offer to pay his attorney’s fees. “I don’t know how they get away with it,” he says. “If I tried to do something like that it would be bad news. I felt like I was in another country.”
Gary Rinehart is actually one of Monsanto’s luckier targets. Ever since commercial introduction of its G.M. seeds, in 1996, Monsanto has launched thousands of investigations and filed lawsuits against hundreds of farmers and seed dealers. In a 2007 report, the Center for Food Safety, in Washington, D.C., documented 112 such lawsuits, in 27 states.
Even more significant, in the Center’s opinion, are the numbers of farmers who settle because they don’t have the money or the time to fight Monsanto. “The number of cases filed is only the tip of the iceberg,” says Bill Freese, the Center’s science-policy analyst. Freese says he has been told of many cases in which Monsanto investigators showed up at a farmer’s house or confronted him in his fields, claiming he had violated the technology agreement and demanding to see his records. According to Freese, investigators will say, “Monsanto knows that you are saving Roundup Ready seeds, and if you don’t sign these information-release forms, Monsanto is going to come after you and take your farm or take you for all you’re worth.” Investigators will sometimes show a farmer a photo of himself coming out of a store, to let him know he is being followed.
Lawyers who have represented farmers sued by Monsanto say that intimidating actions like these are commonplace. Most give in and pay Monsanto some amount in damages; those who resist face the full force of Monsanto’s legal wrath.
Pilot Grove, Missouri, population 750, sits in rolling farmland 150 miles west of St. Louis. The town has a grocery store, a bank, a bar, a nursing home, a funeral parlor, and a few other small businesses. There are no stoplights, but the town doesn’t need any. The little traffic it has comes from trucks on their way to and from the grain elevator on the edge of town. The elevator is owned by a local co-op, the Pilot Grove Cooperative Elevator, which buys soybeans and corn from farmers in the fall, then ships out the grain over the winter. The co-op has seven full-time employees and four computers.
In the fall of 2006, Monsanto trained its legal guns on Pilot Grove; ever since, its farmers have been drawn into a costly, disruptive legal battle against an opponent with limitless resources. Neither Pilot Grove nor Monsanto will discuss the case, but it is possible to piece together much of the story from documents filed as part of the litigation.
Monsanto began investigating soybean farmers in and around Pilot Grove several years ago. There is no indication as to what sparked the probe, but Monsanto periodically investigates farmers in soybean-growing regions such as this one in central Missouri. The company has a staff devoted to enforcing patents and litigating against farmers. To gather leads, the company maintains an 800 number and encourages farmers to inform on other farmers they think may be engaging in “seed piracy.”
Once Pilot Grove had been targeted, Monsanto sent private investigators into the area. Over a period of months, Monsanto’s investigators surreptitiously followed the co-op’s employees and customers and videotaped them in fields and going about other activities. At least 17 such surveillance videos were made, according to court records. The investigative work was outsourced to a St. Louis agency, McDowell & Associates. It was a McDowell investigator who erroneously fingered Gary Rinehart. In Pilot Grove, at least 11 McDowell investigators have worked the case, and Monsanto makes no bones about the extent of this effort: “Surveillance was conducted throughout the year by various investigators in the field,” according to court records. McDowell, like Monsanto, will not comment on the case.
Not long after investigators showed up in Pilot Grove, Monsanto subpoenaed the co-op’s records concerning seed and herbicide purchases and seed-cleaning operations. The co-op provided more than 800 pages of documents pertaining to dozens of farmers. Monsanto sued two farmers and negotiated settlements with more than 25 others it accused of seed piracy. But Monsanto’s legal assault had only begun. Although the co-op had provided voluminous records, Monsanto then sued it in federal court for patent infringement. Monsanto contended that by cleaning seeds—a service which it had provided for decades—the co-op was inducing farmers to violate Monsanto’s patents. In effect, Monsanto wanted the co-op to police its own customers.
In the majority of cases where Monsanto sues, or threatens to sue, farmers settle before going to trial. The cost and stress of litigating against a global corporation are just too great. But Pilot Grove wouldn’t cave—and ever since, Monsanto has been turning up the heat. The more the co-op has resisted, the more legal firepower Monsanto has aimed at it. Pilot Grove’s lawyer, Steven H. Schwartz, described Monsanto in a court filing as pursuing a “scorched earth tactic,” intent on “trying to drive the co-op into the ground.”
Even after Pilot Grove turned over thousands more pages of sales records going back five years, and covering virtually every one of its farmer customers, Monsanto wanted more—the right to inspect the co-op’s hard drives. When the co-op offered to provide an electronic version of any record, Monsanto demanded hands-on access to Pilot Grove’s in-house computers.
Monsanto next petitioned to make potential damages punitive—tripling the amount that Pilot Grove might have to pay if found guilty. After a judge denied that request, Monsanto expanded the scope of the pre-trial investigation by seeking to quadruple the number of depositions. “Monsanto is doing its best to make this case so expensive to defend that the Co-op will have no choice but to relent,” Pilot Grove’s lawyer said in a court filing.
With Pilot Grove still holding out for a trial, Monsanto now subpoenaed the records of more than 100 of the co-op’s customers. In a “You are Commanded … ” notice, the farmers were ordered to gather up five years of invoices, receipts, and all other papers relating to their soybean and herbicide purchases, and to have the documents delivered to a law office in St. Louis. Monsanto gave them two weeks to comply.
Whether Pilot Grove can continue to wage its legal battle remains to be seen. Whatever the outcome, the case shows why Monsanto is so detested in farm country, even by those who buy its products. “I don’t know of a company that chooses to sue its own customer base,” says Joseph Mendelson, of the Center for Food Safety. “It’s a very bizarre business strategy.” But it’s one that Monsanto manages to get away with, because increasingly it’s the dominant vendor in town.
Chemicals? What Chemicals?
The Monsanto Company has never been one of America’s friendliest corporate citizens. Given Monsanto’s current dominance in the field of bioengineering, it’s worth looking at the company’s own DNA. The future of the company may lie in seeds, but the seeds of the company lie in chemicals. Communities around the world are still reaping the environmental consequences of Monsanto’s origins.
Monsanto was founded in 1901 by John Francis Queeny, a tough, cigar-smoking Irishman with a sixth-grade education. A buyer for a wholesale drug company, Queeny had an idea. But like a lot of employees with ideas, he found that his boss wouldn’t listen to him. So he went into business for himself on the side. Queeny was convinced there was money to be made manufacturing a substance called saccharin, an artificial sweetener then imported from Germany. He took $1,500 of his savings, borrowed another $3,500, and set up shop in a dingy warehouse near the St. Louis waterfront. With borrowed equipment and secondhand machines, he began producing saccharin for the U.S. market. He called the company the Monsanto Chemical Works, Monsanto being his wife’s maiden name.
The German cartel that controlled the market for saccharin wasn’t pleased, and cut the price from $4.50 to $1 a pound to try to force Queeny out of business. The young company faced other challenges. Questions arose about the safety of saccharin, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture even tried to ban it. Fortunately for Queeny, he wasn’t up against opponents as aggressive and litigious as the Monsanto of today. His persistence and the loyalty of one steady customer kept the company afloat. That steady customer was a new company in Georgia named Coca-Cola.
Monsanto added more and more products—vanillin, caffeine, and drugs used as sedatives and laxatives. In 1917, Monsanto began making aspirin, and soon became the largest maker worldwide. During World War I, cut off from imported European chemicals, Monsanto was forced to manufacture its own, and its position as a leading force in the chemical industry was assured.
After Queeny was diagnosed with cancer, in the late 1920s, his only son, Edgar, became president. Where the father had been a classic entrepreneur, Edgar Monsanto Queeny was an empire builder with a grand vision. It was Edgar—shrewd, daring, and intuitive (“He can see around the next corner,” his secretary once said)—who built Monsanto into a global powerhouse. Under Edgar Queeny and his successors, Monsanto extended its reach into a phenomenal number of products: plastics, resins, rubber goods, fuel additives, artificial caffeine, industrial fluids, vinyl siding, dishwasher detergent, anti-freeze, fertilizers, herbicides, pesticides. Its safety glass protects the U.S. Constitution and the Mona Lisa. Its synthetic fibers are the basis of Astroturf.
During the 1970s, the company shifted more and more resources into biotechnology. In 1981 it created a molecular-biology group for research in plant genetics. The next year, Monsanto scientists hit gold: they became the first to genetically modify a plant cell. “It will now be possible to introduce virtually any gene into plant cells with the ultimate goal of improving crop productivity,” said Ernest Jaworski, director of Monsanto’s Biological Sciences Program.
Over the next few years, scientists working mainly in the company’s vast new Life Sciences Research Center, 25 miles west of St. Louis, developed one genetically modified product after another—cotton, soybeans, corn, canola. From the start, G.M. seeds were controversial with the public as well as with some farmers and European consumers. Monsanto has sought to portray G.M. seeds as a panacea, a way to alleviate poverty and feed the hungry. Robert Shapiro, Monsanto’s president during the 1990s, once called G.M. seeds “the single most successful introduction of technology in the history of agriculture, including the plow.”
By the late 1990s, Monsanto, having rebranded itself into a “life sciences” company, had spun off its chemical and fibers operations into a new company called Solutia. After an additional reorganization, Monsanto re-incorporated in 2002 and officially declared itself an “agricultural company.”
In its company literature, Monsanto now refers to itself disingenuously as a “relatively new company” whose primary goal is helping “farmers around the world in their mission to feed, clothe, and fuel” a growing planet. In its list of corporate milestones, all but a handful are from the recent era. As for the company’s early history, the decades when it grew into an industrial powerhouse now held potentially responsible for more than 50 Environmental Protection Agency Superfund sites—none of that is mentioned. It’s as though the original Monsanto, the company that long had the word “chemical” as part of its name, never existed. One of the benefits of doing this, as the company does not point out, was to channel the bulk of the growing backlog of chemical lawsuits and liabilities onto Solutia, keeping the Monsanto brand pure.
But Monsanto’s past, especially its environmental legacy, is very much with us. For many years Monsanto produced two of the most toxic substances ever known— polychlorinated biphenyls, better known as PCBs, and dioxin. Monsanto no longer produces either, but the places where it did are still struggling with the aftermath, and probably always will be.
Twelve miles downriver from Charleston, West Virginia, is the town of Nitro, where Monsanto operated a chemical plant from 1929 to 1995. In 1948 the plant began to make a powerful herbicide known as 2,4,5-T, called “weed bug” by the workers. A by-product of the process was the creation of a chemical that would later be known as dioxin.
The name dioxin refers to a group of highly toxic chemicals that have been linked to heart disease, liver disease, human reproductive disorders, and developmental problems. Even in small amounts, dioxin persists in the environment and accumulates in the body. In 1997 the International Agency for Research on Cancer, a branch of the World Health Organization, classified the most powerful form of dioxin as a substance that causes cancer in humans. In 2001 the U.S. government listed the chemical as a “known human carcinogen.”
On March 8, 1949, a massive explosion rocked Monsanto’s Nitro plant when a pressure valve blew on a container cooking up a batch of herbicide. The noise from the release was a scream so loud that it drowned out the emergency steam whistle for five minutes. A plume of vapor and white smoke drifted across the plant and out over town.Residue from the explosion coated the interior of the building and those inside with what workers described as “a fine black powder.” Many felt their skin prickle and were told to scrub down.
Within days, workers experienced skin eruptions. Many were soon diagnosed with chloracne, a condition similar to common acne but more severe, longer lasting, and potentially disfiguring. Others felt intense pains in their legs, chest, and trunk. A confidential medical report at the time said the explosion “caused a systemic intoxication in the workers involving most major organ systems.” Doctors who examined four of the most seriously injured men detected a strong odor coming from them when they were all together in a closed room. “We believe these men are excreting a foreign chemical through their skins,” the confidential report to Monsanto noted. Court records indicate that 226 plant workers became ill.
According to court documents that have surfaced in a West Virginia court case, Monsanto downplayed the impact, stating that the contaminant affecting workers was “fairly slow acting” and caused “only an irritation of the skin.”
In the meantime, the Nitro plant continued to produce herbicides, rubber products, and other chemicals. In the 1960s, the factory manufactured Agent Orange, the powerful herbicide which the U.S. military used to defoliate jungles during the Vietnam War, and which later was the focus of lawsuits by veterans contending that they had been harmed by exposure. As with Monsanto’s older herbicides, the manufacturing of Agent Orange created dioxin as a by-product.
As for the Nitro plant’s waste, some was burned in incinerators, some dumped in landfills or storm drains, some allowed to run into streams. As Stuart Calwell, a lawyer who has represented both workers and residents in Nitro, put it, “Dioxin went wherever the product went, down the sewer, shipped in bags, and when the waste was burned, out in the air.”
In 1981 several former Nitro employees filed lawsuits in federal court, charging that Monsanto had knowingly exposed them to chemicals that caused long-term health problems, including cancer and heart disease. They alleged that Monsanto knew that many chemicals used at Nitro were potentially harmful, but had kept that information from them. On the eve of a trial, in 1988, Monsanto agreed to settle most of the cases by making a single lump payment of $1.5 million. Monsanto also agreed to drop its claim to collect $305,000 in court costs from six retired Monsanto workers who had unsuccessfully charged in another lawsuit that Monsanto had recklessly exposed them to dioxin. Monsanto had attached liens to the retirees’ homes to guarantee collection of the debt.
Monsanto stopped producing dioxin in Nitro in 1969, but the toxic chemical can still be found well beyond the Nitro plant site. Repeated studies have found elevated levels of dioxin in nearby rivers, streams, and fish. Residents have sued to seek damages from Monsanto and Solutia. Earlier this year, a West Virginia judge merged those lawsuits into a class-action suit. A Monsanto spokesman said, “We believe the allegations are without merit and we’ll defend ourselves vigorously.” The suit will no doubt take years to play out. Time is one thing that Monsanto always has, and that the plaintiffs usually don’t.
Five hundred miles to the south, the people of Anniston, Alabama, know all about what the people of Nitro are going through. They’ve been there. In fact, you could say, they’re still there.
From 1929 to 1971, Monsanto’s Anniston works produced PCBs as industrial coolants and insulating fluids for transformers and other electrical equipment. One of the wonder chemicals of the 20th century, PCBs were exceptionally versatile and fire-resistant, and became central to many American industries as lubricants, hydraulic fluids, and sealants. But PCBs are toxic. A member of a family of chemicals that mimic hormones, PCBs have been linked to damage in the liver and in the neurological, immune, endocrine, and reproductive systems. The Environmental Protection Agency (E.P.A.) and the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, part of the Department of Health and Human Services, now classify PCBs as “probable carcinogens.”
Today, 37 years after PCB production ceased in Anniston, and after tons of contaminated soil have been removed to try to reclaim the site, the area around the old Monsanto plant remains one of the most polluted spots in the U.S.
People in Anniston find themselves in this fix today largely because of the way Monsanto disposed of PCB waste for decades. Excess PCBs were dumped in a nearby open-pit landfill or allowed to flow off the property with storm water. Some waste was poured directly into Snow Creek, which runs alongside the plant and empties into a larger stream, Choccolocco Creek. PCBs also turned up in private lawns after the company invited Anniston residents to use soil from the plant for their lawns, according to The Anniston Star.
So for decades the people of Anniston breathed air, planted gardens, drank from wells, fished in rivers, and swam in creeks contaminated with PCBs—without knowing anything about the danger. It wasn’t until the 1990s—20 years after Monsanto stopped making PCBs in Anniston—that widespread public awareness of the problem there took hold.
Studies by health authorities consistently found elevated levels of PCBs in houses, yards, streams, fields, fish, and other wildlife—and in people. In 2003, Monsanto and Solutia entered into a consent decree with the E.P.A. to clean up Anniston. Scores of houses and small businesses were to be razed, tons of contaminated soil dug up and carted off, and streambeds scooped of toxic residue. The cleanup is under way, and it will take years, but some doubt it will ever be completed—the job is massive. To settle residents’ claims, Monsanto has also paid $550 million to 21,000 Anniston residents exposed to PCBs, but many of them continue to live with PCBs in their bodies. Once PCB is absorbed into human tissue, there it forever remains.
Monsanto shut down PCB production in Anniston in 1971, and the company ended all its American PCB operations in 1977. Also in 1977, Monsanto closed a PCB plant in Wales. In recent years, residents near the village of Groesfaen, in southern Wales, have noticed vile odors emanating from an old quarry outside the village. As it turns out, Monsanto had dumped thousands of tons of waste from its nearby PCB plant into the quarry. British authorities are struggling to decide what to do with what they have now identified as among the most contaminated places in Britain.
“No Cause for Public Alarm”
What had Monsanto known—or what should it have known—about the potential dangers of the chemicals it was manufacturing? There’s considerable documentation lurking in court records from many lawsuits indicating that Monsanto knew quite a lot. Let’s look just at the example of PCBs.
The evidence that Monsanto refused to face questions about their toxicity is quite clear. In 1956 the company tried to sell the navy a hydraulic fluid for its submarines called Pydraul 150, which contained PCBs. Monsanto supplied the navy with test results for the product. But the navy decided to run its own tests. Afterward, navy officials informed Monsanto that they wouldn’t be buying the product. “Applications of Pydraul 150 caused death in all of the rabbits tested” and indicated “definite liver damage,” navy officials told Monsanto, according to an internal Monsanto memo divulged in the course of a court proceeding. “No matter how we discussed the situation,” complained Monsanto’s medical director, R. Emmet Kelly, “it was impossible to change their thinking that Pydraul 150 is just too toxic for use in submarines.”
Ten years later, a biologist conducting studies for Monsanto in streams near the Anniston plant got quick results when he submerged his test fish. As he reported to Monsanto, according to The Washington Post, “All 25 fish lost equilibrium and turned on their sides in 10 seconds and all were dead in 3½ minutes.”
When the Food and Drug Administration (F.D.A.) turned up high levels of PCBs in fish near the Anniston plant in 1970, the company swung into action to limit the P.R. damage. An internal memo entitled “confidential—f.y.i. and destroy” from Monsanto official Paul B. Hodges reviewed steps under way to limit disclosure of the information. One element of the strategy was to get public officials to fight Monsanto’s battle: “Joe Crockett, Secretary of the Alabama Water Improvement Commission, will try to handle the problem quietly without release of the information to the public at this time,” according to the memo.
Despite Monsanto’s efforts, the information did get out, but the company was able to blunt its impact. Monsanto’s Anniston plant manager “convinced” a reporter for The Anniston Star that there was really nothing to worry about, and an internal memo from Monsanto’s headquarters in St. Louis summarized the story that subsequently appeared in the newspaper: “Quoting both plant management and the Alabama Water Improvement Commission, the feature emphasized the PCB problem was relatively new, was being solved by Monsanto and, at this point, was no cause for public alarm.”
In truth, there was enormous cause for public alarm. But that harm was done by the “Original Monsanto Company,” not “Today’s Monsanto Company” (the words and the distinction are Monsanto’s). The Monsanto of today says that it can be trusted—that its biotech crops are “as wholesome, nutritious and safe as conventional crops,” and that milk from cows injected with its artificial growth hormone is the same as, and as safe as, milk from any other cow.
The Milk Wars
Jeff Kleinpeter takes very good care of his dairy cows. In the winter he turns on heaters to warm their barns. In the summer, fans blow gentle breezes to cool them, and on especially hot days, a fine mist floats down to take the edge off Louisiana’s heat. The dairy has gone “to the ultimate end of the earth for cow comfort,” says Kleinpeter, a fourth-generation dairy farmer in Baton Rouge. He says visitors marvel at what he does: “I’ve had many of them say, ‘When I die, I want to come back as a Kleinpeter cow.’ ”
Monsanto would like to change the way Jeff Kleinpeter and his family do business. Specifically, Monsanto doesn’t like the label on Kleinpeter Dairy’s milk cartons: “From Cows Not Treated with rBGH.” To consumers, that means the milk comes from cows that were not given artificial bovine growth hormone, a supplement developed by Monsanto that can be injected into dairy cows to increase their milk output.
No one knows what effect, if any, the hormone has on milk or the people who drink it. Studies have not detected any difference in the quality of milk produced by cows that receive rBGH, or rBST, a term by which it is also known. But Jeff Kleinpeter—like millions of consumers—wants no part of rBGH. Whatever its effect on humans, if any, Kleinpeter feels certain it’s harmful to cows because it speeds up their metabolism and increases the chances that they’ll contract a painful illness that can shorten their lives. “It’s like putting a Volkswagen car in with the Indianapolis 500 racers,” he says. “You gotta keep the pedal to the metal the whole way through, and pretty soon that poor little Volkswagen engine’s going to burn up.”
Kleinpeter Dairy has never used Monsanto’s artificial hormone, and the dairy requires other dairy farmers from whom it buys milk to attest that they don’t use it, either. At the suggestion of a marketing consultant, the dairy began advertising its milk as coming from rBGH-free cows in 2005, and the label began appearing on Kleinpeter milk cartons and in company literature, including a new Web site of Kleinpeter products that proclaims, “We treat our cows with love … not rBGH.”
The dairy’s sales soared. For Kleinpeter, it was simply a matter of giving consumers more information about their product.
But giving consumers that information has stirred the ire of Monsanto. The company contends that advertising by Kleinpeter and other dairies touting their “no rBGH” milk reflects adversely on Monsanto’s product. In a letter to the Federal Trade Commission in February 2007, Monsanto said that, notwithstanding the overwhelming evidence that there is no difference in the milk from cows treated with its product, “milk processors persist in claiming on their labels and in advertisements that the use of rBST is somehow harmful, either to cows or to the people who consume milk from rBST-supplemented cows.”
Monsanto called on the commission to investigate what it called the “deceptive advertising and labeling practices” of milk processors such as Kleinpeter, accusing them of misleading consumers “by falsely claiming that there are health and safety risks associated with milk from rBST-supplemented cows.” As noted, Kleinpeter does not make any such claims—he simply states that his milk comes from cows not injected with rBGH.
Monsanto’s attempt to get the F.T.C. to force dairies to change their advertising was just one more step in the corporation’s efforts to extend its reach into agriculture. After years of scientific debate and public controversy, the F.D.A. in 1993 approved commercial use of rBST, basing its decision in part on studies submitted by Monsanto. That decision allowed the company to market the artificial hormone. The effect of the hormone is to increase milk production, not exactly something the nation needed then—or needs now. The U.S. was actually awash in milk, with the government buying up the surplus to prevent a collapse in prices.
Monsanto began selling the supplement in 1994 under the name Posilac. Monsanto acknowledges that the possible side effects of rBST for cows include lameness, disorders of the uterus, increased body temperature, digestive problems, and birthing difficulties. Veterinary drug reports note that “cows injected with Posilac are at an increased risk for mastitis,” an udder infection in which bacteria and pus may be pumped out with the milk. What’s the effect on humans? The F.D.A. has consistently said that the milk produced by cows that receive rBGH is the same as milk from cows that aren’t injected: “The public can be confident that milk and meat from BST-treated cows is safe to consume.” Nevertheless, some scientists are concerned by the lack of long-term studies to test the additive’s impact, especially on children. A Wisconsin geneticist, William von Meyer, observed that when rBGH was approved the longest study on which the F.D.A.’s approval was based covered only a 90-day laboratory test with small animals. “But people drink milk for a lifetime,” he noted. Canada and the European Union have never approved the commercial sale of the artificial hormone. Today, nearly 15 years after the F.D.A. approved rBGH, there have still been no long-term studies “to determine the safety of milk from cows that receive artificial growth hormone,” says Michael Hansen, senior staff scientist for Consumers Union. Not only have there been no studies, he adds, but the data that does exist all comes from Monsanto. “There is no scientific consensus about the safety,” he says.
However F.D.A. approval came about, Monsanto has long been wired into Washington. Michael R. Taylor was a staff attorney and executive assistant to the F.D.A. commissioner before joining a law firm in Washington in 1981, where he worked to secure F.D.A. approval of Monsanto’s artificial growth hormone before returning to the F.D.A. as deputy commissioner in 1991. Dr. Michael A. Friedman, formerly the F.D.A.’s deputy commissioner for operations, joined Monsanto in 1999 as a senior vice president. Linda J. Fisher was an assistant administrator at the E.P.A. when she left the agency in 1993. She became a vice president of Monsanto, from 1995 to 2000, only to return to the E.P.A. as deputy administrator the next year. William D. Ruckelshaus, former E.P.A. administrator, and Mickey Kantor, former U.S. trade representative, each served on Monsanto’s board after leaving government. Supreme Court justice Clarence Thomas was an attorney in Monsanto’s corporate-law department in the 1970s. He wrote the Supreme Court opinion in a crucial G.M.-seed patent-rights case in 2001 that benefited Monsanto and all G.M.-seed companies. Donald Rumsfeld never served on the board or held any office at Monsanto, but Monsanto must occupy a soft spot in the heart of the former defense secretary. Rumsfeld was chairman and C.E.O. of the pharmaceutical maker G. D. Searle & Co. when Monsanto acquired Searle in 1985, after Searle had experienced difficulty in finding a buyer. Rumsfeld’s stock and options in Searle were valued at $12 million at the time of the sale.
From the beginning some consumers have consistently been hesitant to drink milk from cows treated with artificial hormones. This is one reason Monsanto has waged so many battles with dairies and regulators over the wording of labels on milk cartons. It has sued at least two dairies and one co-op over labeling.
Critics of the artificial hormone have pushed for mandatory labeling on all milk products, but the F.D.A. has resisted and even taken action against some dairies that labeled their milk “BST-free.” Since BST is a natural hormone found in all cows, including those not injected with Monsanto’s artificial version, the F.D.A. argued that no dairy could claim that its milk is BST-free. The F.D.A. later issued guidelines allowing dairies to use labels saying their milk comes from “non-supplemented cows,” as long as the carton has a disclaimer saying that the artificial supplement does not in any way change the milk. So the milk cartons from Kleinpeter Dairy, for example, carry a label on the front stating that the milk is from cows not treated with rBGH, and the rear panel says, “Government studies have shown no significant difference between milk derived from rBGH-treated and non-rBGH-treated cows.” That’s not good enough for Monsanto.
The Next Battleground
As more and more dairies have chosen to advertise their milk as “No rBGH,” Monsanto has gone on the offensive. Its attempt to force the F.T.C. to look into what Monsanto called “deceptive practices” by dairies trying to distance themselves from the company’s artificial hormone was the most recent national salvo. But after reviewing Monsanto’s claims, the F.T.C.’s Division of Advertising Practices decided in August 2007 that a “formal investigation and enforcement action is not warranted at this time.” The agency found some instances where dairies had made “unfounded health and safety claims,” but these were mostly on Web sites, not on milk cartons. And the F.T.C. determined that the dairies Monsanto had singled out all carried disclaimers that the F.D.A. had found no significant differences in milk from cows treated with the artificial hormone.
Blocked at the federal level, Monsanto is pushing for action by the states. In the fall of 2007, Pennsylvania’s agriculture secretary, Dennis Wolff, issued an edict prohibiting dairies from stamping milk containers with labels stating their products were made without the use of the artificial hormone. Wolff said such a label implies that competitors’ milk is not safe, and noted that non-supplemented milk comes at an unjustified higher price, arguments that Monsanto has frequently made. The ban was to take effect February 1, 2008.
Wolff’s action created a firestorm in Pennsylvania (and beyond) from angry consumers. So intense was the outpouring of e-mails, letters, and calls that Pennsylvania governor Edward Rendell stepped in and reversed his agriculture secretary, saying, “The public has a right to complete information about how the milk they buy is produced.”
On this issue, the tide may be shifting against Monsanto. Organic dairy products, which don’t involve rBGH, are soaring in popularity. Supermarket chains such as Kroger, Publix, and Safeway are embracing them. Some other companies have turned away from rBGH products, including Starbucks, which has banned all milk products from cows treated with rBGH. Although Monsanto once claimed that an estimated 30 percent of the nation’s dairy cows were injected with rBST, it’s widely believed that today the number is much lower.
But don’t count Monsanto out. Efforts similar to the one in Pennsylvania have been launched in other states, including New Jersey, Ohio, Indiana, Kansas, Utah, and Missouri. A Monsanto-backed group called afact—American Farmers for the Advancement and Conservation of Technology—has been spearheading efforts in many of these states. afact describes itself as a “producer organization” that decries “questionable labeling tactics and activism” by marketers who have convinced some consumers to “shy away from foods using new technology.” afact reportedly uses the same St. Louis public-relations firm, Osborn & Barr, employed by Monsanto. An Osborn & Barr spokesman told The Kansas City Star that the company was doing work for afact on a pro bono basis.
Even if Monsanto’s efforts to secure across-the-board labeling changes should fall short, there’s nothing to stop state agriculture departments from restricting labeling on a dairy-by-dairy basis. Beyond that, Monsanto also has allies whose foot soldiers will almost certainly keep up the pressure on dairies that don’t use Monsanto’s artificial hormone. Jeff Kleinpeter knows about them, too.
He got a call one day from the man who prints the labels for his milk cartons, asking if he had seen the attack on Kleinpeter Dairy that had been posted on the Internet. Kleinpeter went online to a site called StopLabelingLies, which claims to “help consumers by publicizing examples of false and misleading food and other product labels.” There, sure enough, Kleinpeter and other dairies that didn’t use Monsanto’s product were being accused of making misleading claims to sell their milk.
There was no address or phone number on the Web site, only a list of groups that apparently contribute to the site and whose issues range from disparaging organic farming to downplaying the impact of global warming. “They were criticizing people like me for doing what we had a right to do, had gone through a government agency to do,” says Kleinpeter. “We never could get to the bottom of that Web site to get that corrected.”
As it turns out, the Web site counts among its contributors Steven Milloy, the “junk science” commentator for FoxNews.com and operator of junkscience.com, which claims to debunk “faulty scientific data and analysis.” It may come as no surprise that earlier in his career, Milloy, who calls himself the “junkman,” was a registered lobbyist for Monsanto.
The World According to Monsanto – A documentary that Americans won’t ever
1 hr 49 min 0 sec – Mar 28, 2008
The video has been pulled. Corporate money seems to have manipulated the censorship strings.
1st amendment need not apply to some.
by Brit Amos
Global Research, March 25, 2008
This essay will discuss the arguments and seriousness pertaining to the massive deaths and the decline of Bee colonies in North America. As well, it will shed light on a worldwide hunger issue that will have an economical and ecological impact in the very near future.
There are many reasons given to the decline in Bees, but one argument that matters most is the use of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO) and “Terminator Seeds” that are presently being endorsed by governments and forcefully utilized as our primary agricultural needs of survival. I will argue what is publicized and covered by the media is in actuality masking the real forces at work, namely the impact of genetically modified seeds on the reproduction of bee colonies across North America
Genetically modified seeds are produced and distributed by powerful biotech conglomerates. The latter manipulate government agricultural policy with a view to supporting their agenda of dominance in the agricultural industry. American conglomerates such as Monsanto, Pioneer HiBred and others, have created seeds that reproduce only under certain conditions, often linked to the use of their own brands of fertilizer and/or insecticide.
The genetic modification of the plant leads to the concurrent genetic modification of the flower pollen. When the flower pollen becomes genetically modified or sterile, the bees will potentially go malnourished and die of illness due to the lack of nutrients and the interruption of the digestive capacity of what they feed on through the summer and over the winter hibernation process.
I will argue that the media’s publications distracts public opinion from the true cause which underlies the destruction of bee colonies. As such, outlined are four major arguments which the biotech conglomerates (which produce and market GMO seeds) have used to mislead the public regarding the demise of the bees. These arguments include Varroa mites, parasites, cell phones, and terminator seeds
Argument 1: Varroa mites2
Firstly, while there are some people who want to pin the blame on these mites, such views are unconvincing in that the argument does not make any sense because the main source of disease for these bees is intestinal disease. In fact, ‘many bee experts assumed Varroa mites were a major cause of the severe die-off in the winter of 2005. Yet when researchers from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Bee Research Laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland, traveled to Oakdale, California, where Anderson and a number of his fellow beekeepers spend winter and spring, they could find no correlation between the level of Varroa mite infestation and the health of bee colonies. ‘We couldn’t pin the blame for the die-off on any single cause,’ says Jeff Pettis, a research entomologist from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Bee Research Laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland,3 However, treatments against mites may be leaving hives open to the onslaught of powerful pathogens, much in the same way the overuse of antibiotics lead to super bugs in society today. What does that say about our future? We have learned that in the 1960’s and 1970’s, among other human ailments, DDT was a major cause of cancer in humans and animals; however, the substitution of such pesticides was a closely guarded secret. Unfortunately, the long term effects on the human population has yet to be understood as the compromise of the immune system may be happening quicker than we are ready to accept, even regarding the advent of super bugs. One can see that even this medical implication has severe economical implications.
Argument 2: Parasites
Secondly; Crops and even hedges, verges, and woodlands, and even where bees remain are sprayed with pesticides or herbicides. These chemicals are the practical extension of an exasperating belief that nature is our enemy. Pouring poison on our food is a very simplistic way of dealing with our problems however it ignores the root causes. “New genetically modified crops, designed to be immune to certain pesticides and herbicides, have resulted in the increased usage of these chemicals. Pesticides, particularly Bayer’s imidacloprid, a nicotine-based product marketed under the names Admire, Provado, Merit, Marathon, and Gaucho have been concretely implicated4 in the destruction of bee populations before (see also)5. The fact that other bees and insects are not raiding deserted hives to feed on the honey as they normally would lends some credence to the theory of a toxic overload. The toxic overload is certainly a concern, but wouldn’t it also need to be considered that this is systematic in the degeneration of the digestive process, such as in humans inability to digest preservatives and not absorb the enzymes to break down the foods eaten for survival?
Argument 3: cell phones
Thirdly, there was also a misconstrued study on cell phone radiation 6 and its effects on the bee’s ability to navigate which turned out to be an over-zealous unthinking reaction by an article in the Independent news. Some have also mentioned other navigational hindrances such as UV radiation, shifting magnetic fields and even quantum physics7 as a reason to the destruction of the bees.
There is certain implications to this theory, and it has been proven that electromagnetic radio wave lengths to affect the navigation of the bees. However the sun emits radiation spurts all the time, yet this has not offered a hindrance to the bees.
Argument 4: Terminator Seeds
Lastly, ‘Leaked documents seen by the Guardian show that Canada wants all governments to accept the testing and commercialization of “Terminator” crop varieties. These seeds are genetically engineered to produce only infertile seeds, which farmers cannot replant, also to mention that the bees that are trying to collect pollen, found to have their digestive tract diseases, such as amoeba and nosema disease’8. These diseases are mainly located in the digestive tract system. After studies of the autopsy, the most alarming trait is that the lower intestine and stinger have discolored to black vs. the normal opaque color, Synominus with colon cancer in humans.
Figure 1: Extreme discoloration of intestinal tracts of bees.
‘When thoracic discs were cut from sample Georgia A-2 the musculature of bees was notably soft and discolored (A) when compared to healthy thoracic cuts (B).
This discoloration suggests that the bees were dead upon collection. When questioned the beekeeper confirmed that the bees were alive at the time of collection. Further, the tracheal system of these bees did not show signs of desiccation usually associated
with the collection of dead bees. Thoracic discs from this sample, after being placed in KOH for 24 hours, revealed peculiar white nodules”9
As seen above, it is certain that the digestive shutdown is due to hard material in the digestive tract that compromises the immune system. Circulatory problems would without doubt. Could it be that humans are going through the same process with the rise of Colon Cancer? As seen below in the comparison of the healthy Bee and the unhealthy bee, it is obvious that the bees that are ingesting GMO pollen are having severe digestive problems, so severe that the disease is terminal.
Figure 2: Digestive shutdown of the Honey Bee
The rectal contents of Georgia bees (A) were distinctly different then the contents of Pasadena bees (B). The rectal walls of GA bees were notably transparent revealing contents that looked like small stone packets (C). While Fyg (1964) describes similar stone like contents in poorly laying queens, the stones observed in the GA bees were not attached to the epithelium layer as Fyg (1964) describes. When these packets were ground and mounted, some unidentified floating objects (UFO’s) were observed. A cubic particle that resembles the cubic bodies of polyhedrios viruses (this viruses attacks wax moths) excepting that the cube observed was ~10x too big for a virus particle. There were fragments of pollen grains husks in all samples examined. All PA samples were found to have nosema spores in their rectal contents while none of the GA samples did. In two samples, epithelial cells were packed with spores.10
The North American reliance on bees for pollination is at minimum from 30 to 40%. Does it not seem obvious that the digestion of foreign genetic agriculture directly affects the digestive process of the bees. Could it also be that there are similarities in the human population digestive process? It must also be noted that this increased epidemic of the bee colony collapse has risen significantly since the use of GMO agriculture in our foods. It is also suspect in the rise of new cases of medical ailments in humans such as colon cancer, obesity, heart disease, etc… In the writers’ opinion, the inability of the bees to pass matter digestively is quite similar to the present problems in the human digestive system
The proof is obvious that one of the major reasons of the bees’ decline is by the ingestion of GMO proteins. This is problematic, as there is such an increase of indigestible foods in humans and bees. The situation of colon cancer in humans is somewhat similar in occurrence. This is only a theory but leaves one to wonder what are we eating en mass. The external or complementary good of the bee is obviously a rise for a global concern. The long-term economical and environmental impact has yet to be completely understood.
The Ecological Impact of horizontal gene transfer and increase of rampant disease is not fully examined and if so, is kept silent by these Conglomerates. The Economic Impact of the Colony collapse would mean higher inflation, scarcity of agricultural goods, and ultimately the collapse of North America Agriculture Business.
The Environmental Impact of scarcity and increased demand for resources, will beyond doubt have severe repercussions for our long-term food security. The bio-diversity of the bees causes positive economic and ecological externalities. The negative externalities have yet to be fully grasped or understood.
Organic crops: still relatively untouched
The truth is that organic farming is relatively untouched as the bee crisis is concerned. Organic farming maintains the diversity of the eco-system and preserves the quality of the foods produced. The economic impact that the scarcity of bees will potentially have on our society as a whole is very worrisome. In the end, only our children will fully realize; that it was greed that destroyed our beautiful blue planet.
Thill, John. Colony Collapse: Do Massive Bee Die-Off Mean an End to Our Food System as We Know it? AlterNet
http://www.alternet.org/module (Accessed 7/9/2007 10:06 PM)
Colony Collapse Disorder. Wikkapedia Encyclopedia Online
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/’Colony Collapse Disorder’
(Accessed July 12, 2007)
Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD)
(Accessed June 30, 2007)
CROP PROTECTION. Monthly 28 February 2001 – Issue No 135
Market Scope Europe Ltd.
http://www.crop-protection-monthly.co.uk (Accessed July 10, 2007)
HONEY BEE Research Program. RIRDIC Honeybee Research Program Home Page. http://rirdic. gov.au/program/hb.html#top, (Accessed July 7, 2007)
Ho, Dr. Mae-Wan. ‘Recent Evidence Confirms Risks of Horizontal Gene Transfer’. ISIS Contribution to ACNFP/Food Standards Agency Open Meeting 13 November 2002, Institute of Science in Society, PO Box 32097, London NW1 0XR (Accessed July 16, 2007)
ISIS Contribution. ‘Recent Evidence Confirms Risks of Horizontal Gene Transfer”. ISIS Contribution to ACNFP/Food Standards Agency Open Meeting 13 November 2002 (Accessed July 17, 2007)
Vidal, John. ‘Canada backs terminator seeds’, The Guardian. Wednesday, February 9, 2005.
http://www.guardian.co.uk/gmdebate/Story/ (Accessed July 17, 2007)
Wilson, Dan. Lost colonies: ‘Where have the bees gone’? Appelton Post-Crescent, 5/18/2007 (Accessed July 19, 2007)
What’s Causing the Mass Disappearance of Honeybees? ‘What is causing the Dramatic decline in Honeybee Populations in the U.S and Elsewhere in Recent years’? HealthNewsDigest.com – New York, NY, June 2, 2007
http:/www.emagazine.com/earthtalk/archives.php (Accessed July 10, 2007)
3 ‘The Vanishing’
8 Vidal, John. ‘Canada backs terminator seeds’ Wednesday February 9, 2005. The Gaurdian
9 Fall Dwindle Disease: A preliminary report
December 15, 2006
December 15, 2006
|Global Research Articles by Brit Amos|
Bad Patents, Evil Corporations and the Rise of Intellectual Imperialism
Saturday, March 01, 2008 by: Mike Adams
(NaturalNews) It is a defining characteristic of Western civilization that power-hungry men seek to declare ownership over all things they discover. For most of human history, such ownership efforts were focused on usable land. Owning land that could grow food, after all, was a valuable strategy for staying alive. As mechanized farming methods spread, power-hungry white men sought to own and control a labor force — and so human slavery was pursued.
I don’t just mean slavery in the U.S., by the way, and it wasn’t pursued exclusively by rich white men. World history is rife with nations engaged in routine slavery, from the Roman Empire and ancient Egypt to the not-so-ancient Brazil, where nearly genetically-identical people enslaved each other to work the rich Brazilian soils and produce agricultural profits.
From agriculture came the recognition of the value of seeds, and it wasn’t long before power-hungry men began patenting the seeds they discovered in nature. Corporations like Monsanto even began performing dark experiments on those seeds, inserting “Terminator” genes that caused second-generation seeds to self-destruct, thereby ensuring their continued ownership and control over those seeds.
Now, as the U.S. patent office has allowed corporations to patent life forms and human gene sequences, we are entering a new age where human beings no longer control their own genes. Corporations currently own 20 percent of the human genome, and in the near future, couples who wish to reproduce may be forced to pay intellectual property royalties to wealthy corporations in exchange for the “rights” to copy their own genes through sexual reproduction.
This is not some distant dystopian future I’m describing, by the way: This is present-day reality. Corporations are attempting to exert control over every thing of value that can possibly be patented, from natural botanical medicines invented by Mother Nature to the very seeds of life found in human DNA. The goal in all this? Complete ownership over the human race and every thing of value on the planet.
You see, there is no longer any need to enslave the human race with whips and chains. Now, corporations have figured out how to accomplish the same thing by creating a web of virtual rules (patent laws) that don’t really exist in the real world, but can still enslave the population if the People are foolish enough to agree to honor those virtual rules. If the People of the world agree to play the patent game, they are playing right into the hands of the corporations that only seek to exploit and enslave them.
Be sure to see the related CounterThink cartoon at: http://www.naturalnews.com/022754.html
How corporations intend to enslave the human race
In the future being created by these corporations, you will not only have to pay money to reproduce, you’ll also have to pay to grow crops, to fertilize those crops, and to harvest those crops. And once that season is gone, you’ll have to pay all over again to buy seeds and pesticides for the next season. Forget about saving seeds or self reliance. The wealthy corporations of the world want the entire population to be dependent on them for food, medicine and even human reproduction. There is no human action that cannot be exploited by corporations for intellectual property claims.
The road to totalitarian enslavement is paved with patents…
If we continue to allow corporations to claim ownership over our money, our medicines, our seeds, plants and genes, then make no mistake about the outcome: We will all end up as worker slaves in an elitist plutocracy run by corporations. Some say we’re close to that already. Just look at how effectively corporate interests now control the U.S. Congress, for example. There’s hardly a law passed today that doesn’t have the backing of a profit-minded corporation.
What’s infuriating about the patents currently being awarded to corporations is that most of the things being patented were invented by Mother Nature! Arrogant Man, of course, comes along and claims that he “invented” these things by merely discovering them. It’s like walking through a forest, finding a beautiful waterfall, and proclaiming, “I invented this waterfall!” That’s what the U.S. patent office allows corporations to do right now with animals, genes, seeds and medicines. The human genome, for example, wasn’t “invented” by scientists; it was merely mapped by scientists. It was invented by Mother Nature or God, depending on your particular spiritual or religious beliefs. By what arrogance should Man grant other men patents on the human genome?
Stealing from the poor to pay the rich
Distorted in this way, the patent process followed in the United States is a system whereby the wealthy steal resources from the poor. Instead of a seed belonging to everyone (i.e. “community property”), ownership of that seed is now granted to one entity (a corporation) which can then charge the People for using it. This sort of patenting is nothing more than a fabricated system of ownership that funnels wealth from the hands of the many to the pockets of the few.
No wonder U.S. corporations so strongly favor the U.S. patent system. It is the legal machine by which corporations can strong-arm the masses, stealing not only their present resources but also their future wealth, effectively criminalizing farmers and peasants for daring to plant the same seeds they’ve planted for generations.
It is not surprising, then, that this system of patent protection was invented by power-hungry white men. It is the greedy white men who have invaded the world, committed genocide against the American Indians, wiped out ancient civilizations in South America, enslaved Southeast Asia, drugged the Chinese with Opium, colonized India, annexed Hawaii and subjugated defenseless populations all over the world. Can you guess where it all points back to? The British Empire, of course. No single empire has done more to decimate the cultures, religions and populations of this world than the British Empire. And today, the American Empire borrows its own brand of tyranny and imperialism from the historical actions of the British Empire. (America has created the very same tyranny and cruelty it sought to escape hundreds of years ago…)
Today, these two English-speaking nations (the U.K. and America) continue to invade the world with their junk foods, pharmaceuticals, soda pop, medical systems and exploitive intellectual property laws. The pushing of patents and intellectual property law onto third world nations amounts to a kind of intellectual imperialism And every nation that embraces Western culture finds itself, usually within one generation, diseased, bankrupt and destitute. Its monies have been stolen and exchanged for endless debt to the International Monetary Fund. Its crops have been replaced with seeds patented by Monsanto. Its cultural foods have been replaced with Western processed junk foods, and its People have been feed lies and propaganda about the “superiority” of Western banking, Western medicine, Western capitalism and Western culture.
This is how we wind up with doctors in China denouncing their own Chinese Medicine, or working people in South America giving up eating quinoa and starting to eat fast food hamburgers. The ultimate outcome for these people is not in doubt: Within a few years, they will find themselves diseased and bankrupt, with their natural resources exploited, their crops genetically contaminated and their futures mortgaged to corporations that rule the world.
I’m not sure exactly how corporations and patents will play a role in the destruction of Western civilizations. It could be that genetic pollution of our primary food crops causes runaway genetic contamination of corn, wheat and soy, followed by a blight that collapses the food supply (wheat supplies are already down to a 10-week supply for the entire world). Or it could be that financial disaster strikes first, collapsing the fractional-reserve financial institutions and worthless paper currencies that somehow still manage to move the economic machinery of modern society. There are a hundred different reasons why our current systems of consumption, pollution and economics are simply not sustainable — and it’s anyone’s guess which one is going to reach the point of implosion first.
How we protect our futures and stop the tyranny of intellectual property claims over seeds, genes and medicines
After Western society collapses (which will happen in our lifetimes, most likely, given the food bubble, oil bubble, financial bubble, massive chemical contamination, etc.), we will all have an opportunity to rebuild a new society based on new rules. When this opportunity arises, it is crucial that we radically reform intellectual property laws that deny the corporations the ability to steal our futures by claiming ownership over genes, seeds and medicines. These things in particular must be protected as being non-patentable so that the People of the world are never driven into povery by corporate claims over basic life necessities like food and medicine.
Much of the Western capitalism model must be thrown out, actually. It is a model that only subsists on the non-stop exploitation of natural resources and human beings. It is a model where everything is disposable, where the next fiscal quarter is more important than the next generation, and where ethics and integrity have absolutely no role. Any nation that trains its future on this model of mass exploitation ultimately has no future.
That’s why I support the immediate cancellation of all patents on life forms, genes, seeds and medicines. Those who ask, “But what is the incentive for people to create new medicines?” That’s an example of limited Western thinking. Greed is not the sole motivator for innovation. Individuals, universities and governments can create new medicines for the benefit of all people. Besides, Nature has already invented nearly all the medicines we really need. All we need to do is propagate those medicines through the mindful planting and harvesting of medicinal plants.
And if you really think only drug companies can come up with new medicines, then ask yourself this question: Why are 80% of all the “new” medicines invented by Big Pharma just “me-too” drugs that work no better than the older drugs with patents that are about to expire? Clearly, the motivation in Big Pharma today is not to create medicines for the benefit of mankind, but to create medicines for the benefit of corporate shareholders. Drug companies as operated today have no useful role in the future of society. We’d all be better off without them.
It’s time to end the “ownership” of genes, seeds and medicines. These belong to the People. I urge everyone reading this to take part in the movement to end greed-based intellectual property rights and help return our future to our children. And someone please yank the corporate charter out from under Monsanto so we can shut down that evil monstrosity that has already plundered our world’s resources and stolen so much from future generations.