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Saturday, 24 May 2014 21:04

May march might modify Monsanto mantra madness

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How lucky us Australians are when it comes to food. Most if not all of our vegetables and grains are GMO-free and we have among the strictest processed food labelling laws in the world. Why then do we permit companies like Monsanto, Dupont, Dow and Syngenta to pressure us to allow their poisons to be introduced into our food chain? Much of the world has woken up to this and marches of millions of the masses are planned as May comes to a close.

While birds drop from the sky and honey bee colonies die by the millions worldwide, poisoned by pesticides sprayed on impervious GMO crops, the PR flacks of Monsanto and its cohorts are working overtime to convince us that GMO food technology is the saviour of our overpopulated starving planet.

“But GMO is exactly the same thing as what plant breeders have been doing for hundreds of years just speeded up,” the PR hacks and their gullible journalist cohorts tell us. “Without the increased crop yields that GMO provides we would not be able to feed the vastly increased population of our planet,” they bleat.

Let’s get a couple of things straight. As anyone who has done Biology 101 at a credible institution of learning should be able to tell you, selective cross-breeding of plants over generations is biogenetically not even in the same league as injecting the genes of a firefly into corn DNA or putting the DNA of a flounder fish into a tomato.

Anyone who tells you that producing seedless watermelons or grapes is the aim of GMO or getting greater crop yields per acre is what GMO is all about is either severely misinformed or a BS artist.

Whenever a for profit corporation pushes an agenda, its raison d’être is indubitably singular - money. In the case of Monsanto, the motive for anyone who cares to examine the evidence, is not to save humanity from starvation but to sell more products. That would be fine if the products were of benefit to humanity. Unfortunately, the exact opposite is true.

Anyone who tells you that GMO is all about increasing crop yields per hectare to feed humanity is either misinformed or a liar. GMO and the associated toxic pesticides do more damage to the biodiversity of the soil that produces the world’s crop foods than any perceived benefits from the claimed increased yields. In addition, there has been insufficient independent testing on the safety of the GMO foods, brought to market. The few independent tests that have shown possible harmful effects have been mercilessly crushed by carefully constructed media campaigns.

Monsanto, founded in 1901, has been for the most part of its history first and foremost a chemical company. It is famous for its highly potent defoliation chemicals and weed killers. The infamous Agent Orange, widely used by US forces in the Vietnam conflict, was manufactured for US forces primarily by Monsanto (as well as Dow Chemical and ICI). More recently, Monsanto has been making money selling its toxic weed killer Roundup.

The problem for Monsanto was that Roundup is so toxic that it not only killed weeds but crops as well. Some time back, say 25 years ago, Monsanto, being the enterprising company that it is, hit upon the magic sauce that turns ordinary companies into great companies - in financial parlance. Why not invent crops that are resistant to Roundup? In fact, why not patent the seeds of these crops and make even more money than from the chemicals that kill weeds?

Thus, we saw the birth of GM crops, patented seeds, and quite possibly the beginning of the end of biodiversity on this planet if we don’t put our collective foot down right now and say “enough is enough!”

As we speak, species by the thousands are disappearing off this planet every day. One of the more concerning of these disappearances, are the dying honey bees.

As much as many of us love honey, its taste, and medicinal qualities, we could live without it if we had to. What we can’t live without is the cross pollination of plants that bees provide - in fact that is their primary purpose in the food chain. Yet we are allowing pesticide producers to kill off hives with toxic pesticides containing neonicotinoids, a known bee killing agent.

While biodiversity gets killed off, we are also allowing traditional farmers to get forced out of business by corporate bully boys, using intimidation tactics through legal systems that have been bought and paid for. In the US, farmers, whose crops have been contaminated with GMO products are being sued for patent violations and they are not allowed to save and reuse their own seeds without paying royalties to companies who produce the GMO seeds that contaminated their crops.

There is enough in this story to write a book - and many have been written. We have not even broached the subject of the factory farming of animals so for meat eaters I’ll try to sum it up in one sentence. Only eat grass fed livestock; only eat free range chickens; and only eat free range eggs.

The fact that millions of people feel strongly enough to march against Monsanto, which is really just the symbolic figurehead for GMO contamination of the world’s food supply is both encouraging and discouraging. It is encouraging that millions feel strongly enough to march for the integrity of their food. However, it is discouraging that billions more will stay at home and happily munch on their GMO processed snacks, while watching their favourite reality show on TV.

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Stan Beer

 

Stan Beer co-founded iTWire in 2005. With 30 plus years of experience working in IT and Australian technology media, Beer has published articles in most of the IT publications that have mattered, including the AFR, The Australian, SMH, The Age, as well as a multitude of trade publications.

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