July 17, 2011
By Anne Mendenhall
Monsanto began to take over our food supply in the 1990s. First came soybeans with genes manipulated to withstand Monsanto's chief money maker, Roundup. Shortly thereafter came Bt corn. Bacillus thuriengensis is a natural organism which was being used by organic farmers for pest control. Monsanto blasted it into corn seed and had its second patented crop. GM canola and papaya followed soon after, and then along came Roundup Ready corn and rice. Other biotech seed companies entered the game and applied for patents on vegetable crops and trees. My understanding is that rice was manipulated to contain vaccines and to my knowledge has not been grown commercially.
Recently, in spite of many protests and comments to the contrary, the US Department of Agriculture approved Monsanto's Roundup Ready sugar beets and alfalfa for unlimited planting. GM Kentucky bluegrass is also just approved without restrictions.
GM alfalfa will cross with regular alfalfa in the area and will destroy organic farms on a wide scale, especially dairies which depend on alfalfa. A requirement of organic certification is that no genetically modified crops can be grown.
Almost immediately upon introducing patented seeds, Monsanto began suing farmers whose land had been accidentally contaminated by those patented seeds, and/or farmers who dared to save their own seed from a Monsanto crop to replant. Hundreds of farmers are said to have been sued. Monsanto is believed to employ 75 people who work full time on investigating and prosecuting farmers who do not cooperate with Monsanto's plans.
The truly sad thing is that GM crops are no better than ordinary non-GM crops, in fact they are worse. They require increasing amounts of RoundUp and other herbicides to control super weeds, and yields fall drastically after only a few years of GM crops.
Now comes the food crime of the century. Monsanto has applied in 170 countries for patents on common pig genes. A European pig farmer has found that approximately 75 percent of the pigs in his area already carry this/these ordinary gene[s]. If Monsanto obtains patents, pig farmers will owe fees to Monsanto for every pig born with that gene. They will either pay or give up farming. It's a win/win for Monsanto and a lose/lose for farmers everywhere, and for us.
This attempt to patent pig genes is the most cruel, the most insidious, the most far reaching and stealthy thing in the long list of Monsanto's sins, making Agent Orange and Bovine Growth Hormone [sBGH] look like strawberry sherbert. And have we read about this latest gamut in the media? Doubtful. Monsanto exercises strict control over the media. These latest patent applications, if successful, will affect every hog farmer in the world and every consumer of pork in the world. And Monsanto won't stop here. Monsanto's business plan is to control ALL food in ALL the world in 20-30 years. They are well on their way, my friends. We cannot sit on our puff pillows. The time to protest is now.
What can we do? I am no lawyer, but I think mere consumers with no potential financial damage have no standing to protest the patent. Our lives and health don't count. However, the Public Patent Foundation is filing suit against Monsanto to prevent Monsanto from suing farmers who are accidentally impacted by M's genes. This is huge, especially in view of the pending pig patents, and already has about 60 farmers, farm organizations, organic certifiers, and seed companies as plaintiffs. Monsanto will of course fight to the death to delay, confuse, and defeat that suit. [And of course legal action really needs to go much further to protect us from unwanted food by requiring that GM foods be labeled.]
Mark Kastel, Senior Farm Policy Analyst for plaintiff The Cornucopia Institute said, "Family-scale farmers desperately need the judiciary branch of our government to balance the power Monsanto is able to wield in the marketplace and in the courts. Monsanto, and the biotechnology industry, have made great investments in our executive and legislative
branches through campaign contributions and powerful lobbyists in Washington. We need the court system to offset this power and protect individual farmers from corporate tyranny. Farmers have saved seeds since the beginning of agriculture by our species. It is outrageous that one corporate entity, through the trespass of what they refer to as
their 'technology,' can intimidate and run roughshod over family farmers in this country. It should be the responsibility of Monsanto, and farmers licensing their technology, to ensure that genetically engineered DNA does not trespass onto neighboring farmland. It is outrageous, that through no fault of their own, farmers are being intimidated into not saving seed for fear that they will be doggedly pursued through the court system and potentially bankrupted." And I should add that farmers are also intimidated into not growing certain crops that could result in a suit.
We can certainly refuse to buy or consume anything that contains genetically modified organisms such as would be found in non-organic corn products, soybean products, canola, papaya, sugar beets and some crookneck squash. And we can certainly share the fact of this insidious and continuing invasion of our food supply with as many as possible via educational meetings, letters to editors, demonstrations, tabling at our coops. We need to really push back in whatever way works for each of us. Bringing light to our fellow humans and to the biotech invaders is vital.
Here is a website that reveals M's plans: http://www.youtube-nocookie.com/watch?v=MtkKLcpxTWc&NR=1
I am a retired Biodynamic farmer.