Monsanto isn’t just another agribusiness company. It’s an empire, a St. Louis-based, multinational empire—with a funny little back history—that has its tentacles in many governments and countries throughout the world.
Although most of you who are reading this week’s headlines have stumbled upon several blogs and news stories on Monsanto lately, below is a very modest and condensed list of some of the top things you should know and hate about Monsanto.
1.) Monsanto didn’t always do food.Back in the 60s and early 70s, Monsanto was a chemicals company. And it was one of the U.S. companies hired by our government to kill Vietnamese communists and poor farmers (ironic and disgusting), and deform future generations of Vietnamese children by way of Agent Orange, a chemical weapon that is technically a militarized version of a herbicide.
2.) A majority of Monsanto’s work used to be primarily focused on genetically modified corn and soybeans, which are used for processed foods or animal feed. The company, according to an LA Times article, plans on dominating the $3 billion global seed market. And they’re pretty much right on track.
3.) Monsanto, the mad food scientist corporation, has created plants with built-in weed-killer.(Think of a box of chocolate with crème nugget inside, but instead of nugget it’s poison, and instead of chocolate it’s genetically modified fruits and vegetables). It owns the majority of the world’s genetically modified seeds and engineering ingredients. Many countries are becoming aware to Monsanto’s dangerous genetically engineering (GE) practices. Denmark has officially banned Monsanto’s own pesticide, RoundUp.
4.) With the recent business expansion to South America (Brazil, Argentina), Monsanto announced a first-quarter total profit of $126 million, according to The NY Times.
5.) There is a movement growing in California to make it mandatory for companies that use genetically modified ingredients inside their food to have a label warning the consumer. If it gets on the ballot and voters pass it, California would be the first state that mandates a labeling of genetically modified organisms (GMOs).
6.) Perhaps one of the scariest speculations is the implications Monsanto’s genetically modified products can have on the environment. One such scenario goes like this: Monsanto has created a plant with a built-in biopesticide known as Bt. Some say that insects and other animals that naturally live off certain plants have been adversely affected by Bt and have mutated, with many building a fast resistance to the biopesticide. On a similar note: the RoundUp-ready Monsanto plants have also been known to backfire and instead of killing weeds, have produced herbicide-resilient super-weeds.
7.) Monsanto, most recently, has been in the cross hairs of the Occupy Movement for the corporation’s direct undermining ties with federal government, specifically as former Monsanto employees, such as former VP and lobbyist Michael Taylor, have been appointed to positions within the Food and Drug Administration (supposedly to help protect and regulate foods for the American people; this is like saying former Halliburton CEO Dick Cheney should be the nation’s Secretary of Defense. Oh wait.). Protests nationwide have called on much-needed attention on Monsanto’s environmentally dangerous and unhealthy genetically modifying practices. Just look on Facebook, Twitter and Reddit. Monsanto is trending like nothing else right now.
8.) Monsanto has successfully applied enough pressure on Whole Foods Market to stop opposing the mass commercialization of genetically engineered crops, such as the RoundUp Ready Alfalfa. The reason why the so-called health-food messiah would cave in? Turns out it’s more profitable to sell food labeled “natural” instead of “certified organic,” and if it’s “natural” it can contain un-natural ingredients and sell them at “certified organic” prices. Go fig.
9.) Because of the company’s monopoly on the food and seed market, small-time independent farmers have taken a big hit. The company is known to be ruthless when taking farmers to court over legal issues of harvesting licensed seeds without knowing (since the genetically modified seeds are virtually contaminating most crops in the world, it’s harder and harder to keep crops clean from Monsanto’s seeds). Additionally, farmers are no longer allowed to save seeds, since the new genetically altered seeds are only good for one harvest, known as terminators or terminator seeds. (Talk about raking in profits with that scheme – so awesomely cruel, it should be in a fucking movie). Also, the ramification that such seeds and plants can have on the environment and the animals that rely on those plants in their ecosystems is as of yet not known. But can it be good? I mean, that shit was engineered to kill things. Also, since Monsanto is buying up all the seeds, farmers are forced to pay the company royalties for cultivating seeds.
10.) Monsanto actually owns the patent to seeds and certain plants. In other words, you can’t use it without permission. Sí, they fucking own that shit. Owning living organisms: that’s a scary realization. And with a multi-million-dollar lobbying budget, it’s no wonder legislation keeps passing or being blocked in protecting this corporate food giant. Today it’s a simple organism, tomorrow, as technological progress and corporate influence dictates, it could be a more complex life form. It could and probably will get worse. How Sci-Fi-fucked-up is that?
So, there you have it. Monsanto didn’t start out as a food company and it sure as hell is anything but a benign food company; it’s a monster genetic research corporation with heavy direct national and global influence that has acquired the terms and conditions of all things food.
You have to remind yourself of this: genetically modified foods are incredibly new to the world. They’ve only been doing it since the late 90s. That’s only slightly over 20 years. Countries like Hungary, Germany, Ireland (and other parts of Europe), Nepal, India, Denmark and parts of El Salvador have all taken actions against Monsanto and GMOs. But Haiti takes the spotlight with rural farmers burning all of Monsanto’s donated 400-ton of GMO seed back in 2010 after the devastated earthquake.
If ever there was a reason to boycott a company or at least build awareness of genetically engineered foods, there is no better time than now and no better company and foods to hate than Monsanto and all things GM.