Just another Reality-based bubble in the foam of the multiverse.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

The Department of Monsanto: Son of Agent Orange is Coming to a Field Near You

Expect the price of food to rise, expect Roundup on everything, and expect Monsanto to approach its long cherished goal of ending all crops in Amerika that aren't genetically manipulated to be sterile and Roundup resistant.

Oh, by the way, your ethanol- in your car or your whiskey- will likely be that, too. Especially your car.

Why? Because Monsanto owns Tom Vilsack, the guy who thinks rural entrepreneurial development is a good idea.

Some of the terrible ideas Monsanto and Tom Vilsack actively promote are pre-emptive seed laws. Monsanto has heavily backed these laws across the country. Basically, they remove all local control of the kind of seed farmers can purchase, driving farms not affiliated with large agribusiness completely out of business.

As a professional scientist trained in molecular biology, I'm not intriniscally opposed to genetically manipulated organisms. But as a trained professional I can testify the kinds of genetically manipulated organisms being promoted by agribusiness are almost all really bad ideas. Sterile seed does not help poor farmers. It destroys the diversity of the global crop gene pool. Engineering pesticides, or pesticide resistance to allow large scale use of the these chemicals is also a an environmental and potential public health disaster.

These are the only kinds of genetically resistant organisms Monsanto has to offer.

Take a look at what's happening in Iraq if you think the Vilsack-Monsanto agenda has good points.

...Five years of occupation, more than $558 billion spent, 4,182 U.S. soldiers and 655,000 Iraqi civilians dead, and it now looks like Monsanto (NYSE.MON - $71.95) is going to be the real victor in Iraq thanks to a postwar document known as Order 81.

Part of the infamous 100 Orders, Order 81 mandates that Iraq’s commercial-scale farmers must now purchase "registered” seeds. These are available through agribusiness giants like Monsanto, Cargill Corporation (a private company) and the World Wide Wheat Company (also private), but Monsanto is far and away the most significant player in the registered seed market.

Monsanto’s seeds are “terminator” seeds. This means they are inherently sterile, and any seed they produce does not give birth to more plants.

The technology behind registered seed is called genetic modification, and genetically modified (GM) seeds supposedly can’t reproduce, though “drift,” via wind currents and bird consumption, has resulted in a great many instances where GM crops ended up in fields where they were not planted.

A classic example is Canadian farmer Percy Schmeiser, whose canola fields inexplicably sprouted GM varieties from Monsanto. Monsanto promptly sued Schmeiser for patent infringement.

Originally developed to avert world hunger (at least according to Monsanto), these GM crops not only do not produce more than their non-modified cousins, but the herbicide Roundup, developed in tandem by Monsanto to treat GM fields, is becoming increasingly ineffective. This has led to more herbicide purchases among farmers, greater profits for Monsanto, increasingly smaller yields, and greater environmental pollution overall.

Roundup, a glyphosate, is the direct descendant of Agent Orange (also produced by Monsanto), and is especially toxic to marine animals. Glyphosates, known as endocrine disruptors, are being increasingly implicated in neurological disorders, DNA damage and even death. However, as often (and mistakenly) reported, Roundup does not contain pesticide. Pest control is part of the genetic modification of seeds...

...In India, where regional governmental studies show Monsanto’s GM cotton producing seven times less than an indigenous variety of cotton, farmers are drinking the toxic chemicals they formerly used to treat their fields in an effort to escape rising debt and poverty. This so-called “suicide by pesticide” is the final solution for farmers locked into Monsanto contracts that benefit no one but Monsanto.

In Columbia, where Monsanto’s RoundUp Ultra has been deployed in the war against drugs (under the name Plan Columbia), local communities and human right’s organizations are charging that Ultra is destroying indigenous food crops, water sources and indeed entire protected ecologies in the Andes. Ironically, cocaine production has jumped almost 10 percent since the plan's inception, moving higher into the mountains and decimating even more remote ecologies.

Monsanto’s share of this American taxpayer-funded drug eradication enterprise ($1.3 billion) is more than $25 million. Ultra, a concentrated version of Roundup with added surfactants to increase its toxicity, has been implicated in the deaths of a number of children. DynCorp International (NYSE.DCP - $10.83), the company doing the spraying, is under contract to the U.S. government.

Order 81, by first forcing Iraq’s farmers to use GM seeds, and then by declaring natural seeds an infringement on Monsanto technology, will result in the sorts of tragedies seen elsewhere in the developing world, reducing Iraq’s farmers to drinking field-grade herbicides to escape financial catastrophe.

Nor will the Iraqi people benefit in terms of more food. Order 81, mandated under the dystopian title "Plant Variety Protection,” turns the agricultural world on its head by defining indigenous crops as invasive and GM crops as uniform and stable. Moreover, the six varieties of wheat developed for Iraq are primarily used in pasta. Since the Iraqis don’t eat pasta, one can only assume these food crops are destined for Western nations, leaving the average Iraqi that much closer to starvation.

Order 81, carefully crafted to look like humanitarian legislation aimed at rescuing a country decimated by half a decade of war, is in fact a Monsanto power play under U.S. government sponsorship. Farmers who do not comply will have seeds, farm implements and even land seized...

I like that. The natural seed corn is an infringement on Monsanto copyrights. Sometimes real evil outdoes itself.

No comments: