Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Why Monsanto?

A comment on my seed post led me to make a post dedicated to Monsanto. Farmgirl_dk from a lovely blog that I check frequently wondered why I dislike Monsanto enough to financially boycott them. I've been meaning to post about this since I delved into it about a month ago, so here goes. I'm not particularly eloquent, especially with two girls and a 41 week pregnancy brain, so definitely use my links - they'll explain it better than I can.

Some key points for me:

-Monsanto owns a vast percentage of the world's seed market. You control the seed, you control the food. That's not good for one company to control the world's food.

-Monsanto has introduced GMO foods to a largely unsuspecting American market. *I* didn't know about it and I considered myself fairly well-informed. How did this happen? Monsanto's political lobbying made it possible for them to slip GMO corn and soybeans into our food supply without any fanfare. In the meantime, consumers in the European Union refused to allow GMO products on their shelves without labeling and then refused to buy those products. The EU has also (if I understand it right) refused to allow GMO crops to be grown in their countries. The crops take over neighboring fields and destroy pure strains of plants.

-Monsanto produces and aggressively markets rBGH, a bovine growth hormone, and lies about the effects of this hormone on the cows, the milk and the consumers of that milk. In fact, they successfully sued a family dairy because the dairy advertised that they do *not* use the hormone in their herd.

Resources you should check out:

GMO Trilogy, Seeds of Deception book - I bought my Seeds of Deception on Amazon along with the GMO Trilogy after it was recommended on an email list by Danielle. It is scientific, but easy to read. It has a section in the back that tells you what you can do to counter the biotech companies.

If you have a Netflix account, you can watch a documentary called "The Future of Food" online in their "Watch Instantly" section. If you don't have a Netflix account, go rent it. It's not as in-depth as Seeds of Deception and it explains issues to an audience that it assumes does not know what 'biotechnology' or 'genetically modified' means. It is a basic primer on this issue, but well worth watching - especially for the small producer.

Wikipedia entry on Monsanto. Just reading through the Table of Contents should give you a good idea about major issues consumers should have with Monsanto.

The Organic Consumers Association's "Millions against Monsanto" page. For a quick, succinct rundown of current issues that should make you think twice about Monsanto, scroll down the right hand side of the page. Scroll down the left hand side to see a list of some of the bigger government employees who have ties to Monsanto. The successful lobbying starts to make more sense... In his movie "Sicko", Michael Moore uses a brilliant technique to bring home how much lobbying brings about change in the government. He puts the amount of money each senator in a crowd of senators accepted from pharmaceutical companies. It would be interesting to see that done with Monsanto donations and ties.

Monsanto Watch, a webpage to help keep activists informed.

And now just some rambling...

Monsanto advertises itself as an agricultural company. A blurb on their homepage says "We apply innovation and technology to help farmers around the world be successful, produce healthier foods, better animal feeds and more fiber, while also reducing agriculture's impact on our environment." (A claim that farmers around the world who have used their genetically modified (GMO) seed would contradict.) In point of fact, Monsanto is using third-world countries and their farmers as testing grounds for their new products, to the detriment of the soil, crop, and livelihood of those countries and farmers.

Monsanto sells Roundup, an herbicide that kills every plant it falls on. They also now sell Roundup Ready seed. If you plant the Roundup Ready seed, you can spray Roundup on it and it will survive while the plants around it do not. It's a brilliant marketing technique since farmers today with huge mono-culture crops depend on herbicides and Roundup is especially effective - for now. Nature has a way of getting around these kinds of things and already Roundup-resistant weeds are being reported.

If you are a small farmer or small producer, watch The Future of Food. You will be stunned to hear about lawsuits brought by Monsanto against Canadian and US farmers for having Monsanto's patented "Roundup-Ready" seeds growing on their property. The farmers didn't buy the seeds, they didn't even *want* the seeds. The seeds were blown onto their property from neighboring farms that had bought the seeds, and signed Monsanto's contract. For the organic farmers who find the GMO plants on their property, organic certification is forfeit if they do not take drastic measures to get it off their property. For one farmer in Canada who saved, and sold, his own seeds that had been meticulously bred for his specific area, his livelihood was lost when GMO seeds invaded his property. Not only did he have to destroy his seeds, he was sued by Monsanto for illegally having their plants growing on his property. Monsanto won. Imagine, if you will, that my goats get into my neighbors fields. My neighbors hate goats and my goats are ruining their fields and their business. I sue my neighbors for having said goats in their fields. The government says that my neighbors should not have the goats on their property and I win a large settlement. It makes no sense.

My girls have been generous with their time, but now are demanding my attention. I'll post some blog entries from other blogs later after I go through them. I hope this helps!


green said...

Preach it sister! Preach it!

But wait, first, who's going to be the next person kicked off of Survivor?

This French lady just began working in my office... we are the only ones in the office that have any knowledge of these issues. Europeans are better educated - I'm guessing because big business doesn't have as much influence on their politics as it does ours.

Christy said...

I also am boycotting anything made by or owned by Monsanto. I've been very careful with which companies I'm ordering seeds from this year.