The Bad Seeds

Let’s talk about evil. Specifically, Dr. Evil. Remember him? He wanted to take over the world. Oh, if only this amusing character and his desire for one million dollars were the most dangerous force on the planet. Unfortunately, there are much more threatening entities today. One of them is the Monsanto Corporation. Their patented, genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are a threat to our health, freedom and environment.

A genetically modified organism (GMO) is one that has been altered in a laboratory in order to enhance desired features or products. The process involves using “recombinant” technology to change genomes at the molecular level. Genetic material is incorporated into the plant from other species in order to breed traits that might otherwise not be possible in that organism, even through selective breeding. In modern agriculture, some of the desired traits are increased yield and inborn insecticide. This insecticide is produced in the target by implanting a gene from a kind of bacteria, which produces a natural insecticide called Bt toxin (Encyclopedia Britannica).

Perhaps unbeknownst to many of us, genetically modified food has already infiltrated our lives. According to the Center for Food Safety (2012), “The genetic engineering of plants and animals is looming as one of the greatest and most intractable environmental challenges of the 21st Century.”

The Monsanto Corporation began in 1901 and created some of the most toxic chemicals known to man, according to Vanity Fair editors Bartlett and Steele (2008). For years, Monsanto’s best-selling product was the weed killer “Roundup.” Then in the 80s their biotechnology investments paid off and they became the world leader in genetic modification of seeds. They created a seed that can withstand the toxicity of its own weed killer “Roundup.” They market this GM seed and its partner Roundup, as the perfect solution for farmers and the answer to world hunger. These GMO seeds contain “terminator technology,” which means the seeds don’t renew. For the first time in human history, farmers cannot save seeds from year to year. They must buy new seeds each planting season.

In the 1990s farmers in countries like India and Africa were encouraged by government agencies to convert to GMO seed. Many of them did so to their extreme detriment. Monsanto bought up competing seed companies and has taken conventional seeds off the market. In the US, they now control an estimated 85% of corn production, 91% of soybeans, 88% of cotton, among other crops (Center for Food Safety, 2012). As they control more and more of the supply, Monsanto continues to jack up the prices for seeds, leaving farmers all over the world, who are dependent on them, financially plundered.

Suicide among farmers in India has skyrocketed.  According to recent figures (provided by the New York University School of Law), 17,638 Indian farmers committed suicide in 2009 — about one death every 30 minutes. (Anthony Giuccardi, Natural Society, 2012)

More bad news: Genetically modified food is harmful to our health. Recent studies on rats fed GMO corn have demonstrated shocking results. The Daily Mail reported: “The animals on the GM diet suffered mammary tumors, as well as severe liver and kidney damage. The researchers said 50 percent of males and 70 percent of females died prematurely, compared with only 30 percent and 20 percent in the control group” (NaturalNews.com, 2012). We don’t know yet what kind of damage GM food is doing to humans, but the testing on rats also indicated that GMOs caused digestive and reproductive problems.

In 2009 The American Academy of Environmental Medicine encouraged all doctors to prescribe a diet of non GMO foods citing a range of health problems associated with them, including immune and reproductive problems, insulin and cholesterol dysregulation and organ damage, among others.

Sorry to keep bringing it, but here’s worse news: You are already eating GM food. There’s a good chance you have eaten some today.  If you eat anything with corn or soy that’s non organic, you are probably eating GMOs.  If you eat something with “sugar” in it, that is not “cane sugar” or “organic sugar,” then you may very well be eating beet sugar from genetically modified beets. Cereal, chips, ketchup… GMOs are everywhere.

How did we get here, to this moment where we are waking up to the pervasiveness of GMO invasion? Corruption and greed had a lot to do with it. The list of government officials with close ties to Monsanto is very long. In the Vanity Fair article “Monsanto’s Harvest of Fear” at least 6 individuals are named who have served both in governmental agencies like the EPA and the FDA, and also in some position for Monsanto. The most famous is Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas who was a lawyer for Monsanto in the 70s.  He went on to write a Supreme Court opinion in a seed case that helped Monsanto (Bartlett and Steele, 2008).

The Reagan administration was definitely a good friend of big business. In the documentary “The World According to Monsanto,” there is footage of George Bush Sr. touring a Monsanto factory in the 80s. As he and executives chitchat, one of the men jokes that they don’t want to wait too for a USDA authorization. Bush says “Call ME… we’re in the dereg business.”  In other words: I’ve got your back.  You’ll make your millions and screw the people who want to make sure your product is healthy and safe.

GM seeds were approved by the FDA in a process that was breathtakingly easy.  The usual protocol of requiring peer-reviewed published studies and scientific consensus did not happen (Moore, 2009). Up until 1980 no one could patent seeds.  Now Monsanto has 674 biotech patents, and they employ an army of “seed police” across the American heartland to enforce them by spying on and harassing farmers.

What can we do? Disempower Monsanto with our dollars. If we stop buying food that contains GMOs, the food companies will stop using GM ingredients. Here are some simple steps you can take today:

  1. Eat Organic. Organic producers cannot intentionally use GMOs
  2. Buy products with the Non-GMO Verified Seals
  3. Buy dairy products with the “no RBST” seal
  4. Avoid beet sugar. Look for 100% cane sugar, evaporated cane juice or organic sugar.
  5. Avoid Aspartame, aka NutraSweet and Equal, which is derived from GM microorganism

And if you care about this, vote for laws that require GMO labeling on food. In California, Prop 37 was defeated. Monsanto was the top donor in the anti-37 campaign, spending 8.1 million dollars (Huffington Post, 2012). Vote for political candidates who support health and safety regulations over big business.

So, is Monsanto evil?  I can’t answer that. But I will borrow from the film “The Corporation,” which compares the behavior of egregious corporations with symptoms from the DSM-IV.  Their diagnosis: Psychopaths. Monsanto is one psychopath that I would like to see locked up for good. Will you join me in arresting their efforts?

References

Center for Food Safety (n.d.) Genetically Engineer Foods.  Retrieved November       18, 2012.  http://www.centerforfoodsafety.org/campaign/genetically-engineered-food/crops/

Genetically modified organism (GMO). (2013). In Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved from https://www.britannica.com/science/genetically-modified-organism

Natural News.com. (Sept, 2012)  Adams, Mike.  Shock Findings in New study of GMO Study.  http://www.naturalnews.com/037249_GMO_study_cancer_tumors_organ_damage.html

Natural Society.  (April 4, 2012).  Anthony Gucciardi.  Monsanto’s GMO Seeds Contributing to Farmer Suicides Every 30 Minutes.  http://naturalsociety.com/monsantos-gmo-seeds-farmer-suicides-every-30-minutes/

Vanity Fair.  (May, 2008) Bartlett, Donald L. and Steele, James B.  Monsanto’s Harvest of Fear. http://www.vanityfair.com/politics/features/2008/05/monsanto200805