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July 23, 2008
by Linn Cohen-Cole
Where does one even begin?
Do you know who Monsanto is? They are a chemical corporation which made Agent Orange and after that, PCBs, with which they drowned the town of Anniston, Alabama for decades, even after knowing for sure that PCBs were highly carcinogenic. They make organophosphates, including glyphosate (Round-up) - which are highly neuro-toxic.
With this background in illness and killing, Monsanto then began "doing" your food. It genetically engineers food.
But before you say "Oh, that's good because genetic engineering is making food better, adding vitamins, growing bigger crops, ..." I have bad news for you. Please go to http://www.responsibletechnology.org and listen to Jeffrey Smith's lecture on how genetic engineering works and what it does to organs.
What do Indian farmers say? Indian farmers call Monsanto's Bt-cotton seeds, the Seeds of Death. http://www.organicconsumers.org/ge/indiacotton012406.cfm
Beyond India, there are also problems. http://www.slogefree.org/news07/a-disaster-in-search-of-success-bt-cotton-in
Who to believe? Isn't this the same Monsanto that for four decadesdenied that PCBs caused cancer, while sitting on thousands of documents to the contrary? http://www.vanityfair.com/politics/ features/2008/05/monsanto200805
But the important thing to understand - EVEN IF genetically engineered seeds created greater yields and EVEN IF genetically engineered crops were safe to eat and EVEN IF they were not just designed to be used only with Monsanto's pesticides - is that genetic engineering is dangerous because it is imperialism via DNA, given Monsanto power field by field, farm by farm, country by country.
It works like this: Monsanto gets George HW Bush to put one of its employees on the Supreme Court. From there, Clarence Thomas is in time to rule that genetically modified organisms are no different from normal organisms. Science by legal decision. Pandora's box of endlessly mutant organisms being let loose onto the world by Monsanto's influence over Bush and via one single law.
Clarence Thomas also ruled for an extreme extension of the intellectual property laws that allow Monsanto (and other biotech companies) to call their scrambling of DNA, "inventions" and through that, patent them. So, when a farmer buys GE-seeds, he doesn't buy just buy seeds, he buys himself into a deep, deep trap. For after buying the seeds and planting them and tending the plants all season, when the harvest comes and the farmer goes to collect seeds from those plants, Monsanto steps in and says "those are mine." Monsanto, in effect, claims to own biology itself, not just the process by which it screwed with the seeds, but all seeds forever from those seeds. In this way, this Monsanto as god way, it turns farmers into tenant farmers on their own land.
The two main crops in America, corn and soy - the basis of most our food, and now grains that are used for biofuels - are controlled by Monsanto. 90% of soy is GMO and of that, 90% of those traits "belong" to Monsanto. And for corn, the largest crop, 60% is GMO, nearly 100% are Monsanto "owned" traits. http://www.organicconsumers.org/articles/article_9716.cfm
Welcome to hegemony. And it is increased by such things as Monsanto buying up other seed companies so there aren't other seeds available. And for those who save their own normal seeds? Ask Percy Schmeiser. http://www.cbc.ca/news/viewpoint/vp_omalley/archive/martin990925.html Ask the seed cleaners in Ohio. http://lists..essential.org/upd-discuss/msg00053.html Ask the seed cleaners in the small town of Pilot Grove, Missouri. http://www.newstribune.com/articles/2008/07/11/news_state/173state11patent.txt
Now, maybe the news that Monsanto is raising the price of its GE-corn by $100 a bag will have due significance, since farmers have lost other seed companies, are threatened in saving their own seeds, and thus are left not only with a massive monopoly but one that then through patents, "owns" the farmer.
Notice, too, that Monsanto is drastically raising prices while it is making phenomenal profits, while food prices are rising dramatically (related often to its grains), leading to food riots around the world, and while fuel is skyrocketing and Monsanto's corn is now the basis of biofuel, and while our economy is tanking. All the while Monsanto claims that genetically engineering is a wonder - the way to help farmers around the world and to feed the hungry.
Monsanto is not just seeking control over grains, but is genetically engineering vegetables and trees, bought Delta and Pineland in order to own its (and its partner, the USDA's) terminator technology http://www.thirdworldtraveler.com/Transnational_corps/TerminSeeds_Monsanto2.html (seeds built to go sterile after one season, establishing TOTAL control over seeds it sells while risking cross-pollination and thus seeds in nature going sterile, too), is buying up fish farms and privatizing water. http://www.rense.com/general20/re.htm
It has been very hard to reach the liberal and urban community about farming. Not many, for instance, in opposing the war in Iraq, noticed what Bremer got sent there to do for Monsanto. http://www..alternet.org/waroniraq/62273/?page=entire
Kissinger said that if you control food, you control populations. That's what's happening. Fascism is arriving through food. http://www.mindfully.org/GE/2005/Geopolitics-GM-Food6mar05.htm
The fight for farmers here and abroad is not some happy-go-lucky interest in organic and better tasting food. It is a fight against worldwide totalitarian control over land and food and animals and water and all natural substances by multinationals. Farming is at the heart of everything and is deeply political.
It's time to pay serious attention.
With that as lead in, maybe the following press release will not land with the yawns and boredom it might have, given that it comes out of Lincoln, Nebraska, and is "only" about corn seed. Maybe now it will arrive with awareness of the centrality of corn to life itself and into the intense political and human rights interest the article deserves.
Now, let me introduce an organization that progressives need to know about and support as strongly as possible:
Organization for Competitive Markets
P.O. Box 6486
Lincoln, NE 68506
For Immediate Release: July 22, 2008
Lincoln, NE - The Organization for Competitive Markets (OCM) says Monsanto's market power is driving up seed prices and devastating farmers and their communities. OCM sent a letter explaining the economic implications of Monsanto's seed prices on rural communities to 23 state attorneys general today. The organization continues to encourage several state attorneys general to expand their antitrust investigation into Monsanto's suspected anticompetitive practices in the U.S. seed industry
"Monsanto's market power has been quietly accruing over several years and has now begun materially impacting price," said Keith Mudd, OCM's board president. "The lack of competition and innovation in the marketplace has reduced farmers' choices and enabled Monsanto to raise prices unencumbered."
Monsanto executives recently told DTN that they expect to raise the price of some seed corn varieties to $300. The Monsanto executives consider themselves only restrained by the "red-face test." "There is no competitive restraint to this price hike," said Mudd.
OCM points to a specific quote from the DTN article:
Even the list price on seed corn will topple the $300 per bag barrier starting this fall, up about $95 to $100 per bag, or 35 percent on average, according to Monsanto officials who met with DTN and Progressive Farmer editors this week.For 2009, 76 percent of the company's corn sales will be triple stack, 'so we think we can get the pricing right to show farmers the benefits,' John Jansen, Monsanto's corn traits lead. 'We can pass the red-faced test from the Panhandle of Texas to McLean County, Ill.'
"A $100 price increase is a tremendous drain on rural America," said Fred Stokes, OCM's executive director. "Let's say a farmer in Iowa who farms 1,000 acres plants one of these expensive corn varieties next year. The gross increased cost is more than $40,000. Yet there's no scientific basis to justify this price hike. How can we let companies get away with this?" continued Stokes.
The lack of innovation and choice in the seed industry, as well as increased prices, will only get worse over time. "If and when the ethanol boom subsides, Monsanto will not lower its prices, farmers will be forced into bankruptcy, and the lack of an effective remedy for antitrust in crop seed will be a substantial cause," added Stokes.
OCM is a nonprofit organization working for open and competitive markets and fair trade for American food producers, consumers and rural communities. OCM's Seed Concentration Project aims to foster competition, innovation and choice in the crop seed industry.
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I'm a mother and grandmother. There is no way I can leave my family or anyone else's children, things as they are now.