Monsanto: The Belligerent Strongman Trying to Control America's Food Supply

And the government that looks the other way.

Never mind that no accepted science backed his theory.

"It's simply a political calculation invented by Michael Taylor and Monsanto and adopted by U.S. federal policy-makers to resist labeling," says Jim Gerritsen, a farmer in Maine. "You have this collusion between corporations and the government, and the essence is that the people's interest isn't being served."

The FDA is a prime example. It approves GM crops by doing no testing of its own. It simply takes Monsanto's word for their safety. Amusingly enough, Monsanto spokesman Phil Angell says the company agrees that it should have nothing to do with verifying safety: "Our interest is in selling as much of it as possible," he told The New York Times. "Assuring its safety is the FDA's job."

So if neither Monsanto nor the feds are doing it, who is?

The answer: no one.

We've Got a Bigger Problem Now

So far, it appears that the GM revolution has done little more than raise the cost of food.

A 2009 study by Dr. Doug Gurian-Sherman, a senior scientist with the Union of Concerned Scientists, looked at four Monsanto seeds and found only minimal increases in yield. Since GM crops cost more to produce, their economic benefit seemed questionable at best.

"It pales in comparison to other conventional approaches," Gurian-Sherman says. "It's a lot more expensive, and it comes with a lot of baggage ... like pesticide use, monopoly issues and control of the seed supply."

Use of those pesticides has soared as weeds and insects become increasingly resistant to them. Since GM crops were introduced in 1996, pesticide usage has increased by 404 million pounds. Last year, Syngenta, one of the world's largest pesticide makers, reported that sales of its major corn-soil insecticide more than doubled in 2012, a response to increased resistance to Monsanto's pesticides.

Part of the blame belongs to a monoculture that developed in farming. Farmers know it's better to rotate crops and pesticides and leave fields fallow for a season. But when corn prices are high, who wants to grow a less profitable crop? The result has been soil degradation, relatively static yields and an epidemic of weed and insect resistance.

Weeds and insects are fighting back with their own law: that of natural selection. Last year, 49 percent of surveyed farmers reported Roundup-resistant weeds on their farms, up from 34 percent the year before. The problem costs farmers more than $1 billion annually.

Pests like Roundup-resistant pigweed can grow as thick as your arm and more than 6 feet high, requiring removal by hand. Many farmers simply abandon weed-choked fields.

In order to kill the pests, chemical giants like Monsanto and Dow are developing crops capable of withstanding even harsher pesticides, resulting in an endless cycle of greater pesticide use at commensurate financial and environmental cost.

Nature, as it's proved so often before, will not be easily vanquished.

"We are not making our agriculture more resistant to environmental stress, not lowering the amount of pesticides and not creating a sustainable agricultural system that works," says Mary-Howells Martens, an organic grain farmer in New York. "There are so many things that are short-term, quick-buck kind of things, without any kind of eye to if this is going to be a good deal long-term."

Next Stop: The World!

The biggest problem for Monsanto's global growth: It doesn't have the same juice with foreign governments as it does with ours. That's why it relies on the State Department to work as its taxpayer-funded lobbyist abroad.

Yet this has become increasingly difficult. Other nations aren't as willing to play corporate water boy as America is. The countries that need GM seeds often can't afford them (or don't trust Monsanto). And the nations that can afford them (other than us) don't really want them (or don't trust Monsanto).

Ask Mike Mack, CEO of the Swiss biotech giant Syngenta. The Swiss, he argues, are more interested in environmental safety and food quality than in saving a few pennies at the grocery store.

"Switzerland's greatest natural resource is that it is a beautiful country that brings in a lot of tourism," he says. "If the Swiss could lower their consumption spending by 1 percent by applying high-productivity farming, they probably would not do it if it requires changing their approach to how they think about food. Countries like Switzerland are a good example where such things as GM food would be very difficult and perhaps commercially inadvisable."

Maybe Europe has simply been around the block enough to know better than to entrust its health to a bottom-line mentality. Although the European Union imports 30 million tons of GM crops annually for livestock feed, it's approved only two GM crops for human consumption.

In April, biotech companies took another hit when the European Union banned neonicotinoids — aka "neo-nics" — one of the most powerful and popular insecticides in the world. It's a derivative of nicotine that's poisonous to plants and insects. German giant Bayer CropScience and Syngenta both make neo-nics, which are used to coat seeds, protecting crops in their early growth stages. In America, 90 percent of the corn crop comes with the coating.

The problem is that plants sweat these chemicals out in the morning dew, where they're picked up by bees like a morning cup of Starbucks.

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I remember working as a FedX tracking monitor for a major Dallas law firm that was supplying part of the defense of Monsanto after the Bhopal incident, the poisonous gas leak responsible for the deaths of 20,000 people.  Since I was dead-set against what Monsanto had done and how Monsanto was trying to wriggle like a worm out of accepting any responsibility for chemical murder quite similar to Nazi concentration camps, when a "crucial" package of documents involving Monsanto's wormy defense crossed my desk, I came about a finger's click away from sending the package to Point Barrow, Alaska, rather than to India.  If I had, I most certainly would have lost my job, but Monsanto's defense might have been compromised. 

Isn't it just great how employees cannot act with any sense of "individual sovereignty" or "personal responsibility" when on the job? 

Personally, I'd like to drown the executive staff of Monsanto in a big tub of Roundup. 


"The so-called no-till revolution promised greater yields"

I have read that the GMO crops do not always produce greater yields.


Monsanto is pure evil. What the heck do we do? 

I buy local as much as possible, eat natural or organic, but I understand it's hard to source certain non-GMO ingredients. Educate me, please.


Yo eyz too gots uh bridge ah wants ta uh sells you.


@Obummer If you've ever heard the terms "as popular as a fart in church" or "went over like a lead balloon," that's you, dude. 

Again, I'm telling you this as a friend. Your bit doesn't fly.


@Obummer Dude, your comments, and I've read a LOT of them...fall flatter than anything I've ever seen. No likes, no replies, nothing. You need to find a new bit, seriously. Because this one isn't funny at all. 

I'm telling you this as a friend, and friends are up front with each other. It's really bad, dude.



Yo as uh friend eyez say dat use obviously gots uh different sense o' humor than eyez do, and yo if use don’ts disparage whats eyez say again eyez won’ts uh disparage whats use say.