The CEO of the transnational biotech company Monsanto, Hugh Grant, has said he is proud of what his company delivers.
Regarding genetically modified organisms (GMO), is he proud that Monsanto’s GMO policies have led to loss of agricultural freedom for many farmers – particularly the freedom to save their own seeds, as farmers have done since the beginning of agriculture?
Is he proud of promising farmers decreased use of chemicals when in actuality more herbicides and pesticides are needed to kill the “superweeds” created from the use of these chemicals?
And is he proud that the practice of planting GMO crops threatens to contaminate all life forms with new, untested and potentially dangerous genetic material?
Monsanto controls 90 per cent of GMO seed. The powerful 90 minute documentary The World According to Monsanto reveals the corporation’s collusion with governments, pressure tactics, suppression and manipulation of scientific data, and extra-legal practices that aided Monsanto’s attempts to dominate global agriculture. We learn that GMOs were allowed into our food system by regulatory agencies claiming GMOs are “substantially equivalent” to their original counterpart. How can tampering with a plant’s DNA be equal to anything natural? And how safe are GMOs when there is plenty of documentation that Monsanto has prevented the adoption of strong bio-safety laws?
Today, hundreds of millions of acres of land are planted in GMOs. Initially, farmers were convinced by Monsanto to switch to GMO seed, along with the necessary chemicals, because crop yields would be bigger and costs would decrease. But once farmers were hooked on GMO seed, Monsanto raised prices, in some cases tripling the cost of seed in only two years. And, in a show of control, Monsanto began to buy out competing seed companies.
Even more ludicrous, if any GMO patented seeds are found in fields of non-GMO farmers, regardless of how they got there, Monsanto demands royalty fees. And they have sued hundreds of farmers. What a shameful way to treat those who feed us!
Life is now even tougher for those farmers who feel they have no choice but to continue planting GM crops. Meanwhile, genetic pollution and contamination of conventional crops continues, because co-existence between GMO and conventional crops is impossible to control.
Environmental activist Vandana Shiva says “GM companies have put a noose around the neck of farmers. They are destroying alternatives in the pursuit of profit”. About 250,000 poor farmers in India have committed suicide because their GMO crop (mainly Bt cotton) did not yield as promised - they couldn’t pay their bills or feed their families. The grieving wife and family are left to struggle to survive.
Although Monsanto and other biotech companies tell us GMO crops are the way to “feed the world”, this claim feels like propaganda, telling us what we want to hear. Clearly, we cannot trust large corporations that have no loyalty to any people, country or environment. The international agrarian group La Via Campesina advocates small-scale sustainable farming as the ONLY way to feed the world … and that the people must take back control of seed.
We are being humbled by the stunning hubris of the GMO experiment as we observe the consequences of human arrogance, of playing god with the natural world.
The facts speak: GMO crops are detrimental to our health and the planet. We cannot trust our food supply to profit-seeking corporations. Therefore …
1. Avoid eating GMO foods. There is extensive evidence linking GMO food to disease. (“Genetic Roulette” by Jeffrey Smith). Foods containing soy, corn and canola probably contain GMOs, unless they’re organically grown, because it is not mandatory to label a GMO food ingredient here in North America. Almost all processed foods contain these ingredients, including food sold in health food stores. Be aware that the most likely sugar in many foods is the GMO highly processed, nutritionally inferior High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS).
2. Add your voice to the campaign to label GMO foods. Read about campaigns by Millions Against Monsanto and Occupy Monsanto.
3. Advocate becoming a GMO-free zone. Although this cannot be legally enforced, it is a statement of intent, a soulful symbol of resistance to tyranny.
4. Subscribe to Organic Bytes email newsletter that focuses on issues involving health, justice and sustainability.
5. Donate to farmers suing Monsanto. Farmers are fighting back after living in an atmosphere of fear of being sued by Monsanto.
6. Support small-scale local sustainable farmers who have chosen to take care of the land. These people are our real heroes now, as they work to feed us with authentic food. The more we demand high quality food, more farmers will choose to grow it. This helps protect traditional knowledge.
We really are the ones we have been waiting for, and we are here, alive right now, to do our part.
Tsiporah Grignon has focussed on evolutionary studies for many years. She is a passionate advocate of sustainable agriculture, and “an old foodie”, with the group Gabriolans for Local Food Choices.
Opinions expressed in this column will usually be those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of The Shingle. We welcome your comments, observations, compliments, and insights.
The Waging Wordsmiths
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