Monsanto & The Evil Empire of Franken-Food!
Generally known for producing genetically modified organisms (GMOs), having a bad environmental record, using dangerous pesticides, and clashing with local farmers Monsanto is the bad neighbor that won't go away.
Monsanto is a large company that does a lot of science work for the corporate agriculture industry. Science based research and development over the past 100 years have resulted in a huge increase in US crop production via improved agronomic practices, the adoption of ever improving mechanical, chemical and biological tools. The only problem is it makes people unhealthy and destroys the land or endangers healthy plant species that otherwise would thrive if not for the proxinity of Monsantos crops.
The herbicide Roundup is widely associated with Monsanto. Paraphrasing the Motley Fool It's safe to say that agricultural technology leader Monsanto is not among the world's most admired companies and never will be. Monsanto made nearly 5 billion dollars pushing a potent active ingredient in many widely used herbicides: glyphosate. That's because the company was the first to introduce the chemical back in 1974, and it continues to sell the well-known Roundup brand of glyphosate herbicides for home and commercial use.
Even though it has harmed the health of innumerable people, and glyphosate is back in the news again, thanks to toxicity assessments from the World Health Organization and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Agreements were reached on about 95,000 claims filed over Roundup, forcing the company to shell out about $11 billion to settle all litigation over the widely used herbicide famous for the short term effects being (If you're exposed), your eyes, skin, nose, and throat may get irritated. If you get it in your eyes, it could lead to mild irritation or a superficial corneal injury. If you swallow it, you may have increased saliva and burns and pain in your mouth and throat. It can cause nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. In the long term glyphosate depletes the amino acids tyrosine, tryptophan, and phenylalanine, which can then contribute to obesity, depression, autism, inflammatory bowel disease, Alzheimer's, and Parkinson's. Not to mention Glyphosate, an herbicide that remains the world's most ubiquitous weed killer, raises the cancer risk of those exposed to it by 41%.
Monsanto became famous for being a leader in engineering food through DNA manipulation. Those in opposition to this coined the term Frankenfood which is also used to describe natural foods that have some level of toxicity harmful to humans. The Ackee fruit of Jamaica has toxic black seeds. There are many poisonous types of mushrooms; consuming about half of a death cap mushroom for instance is deadly for adults. Cassava contains linamarin; when eaten raw, the digestive system will convert it to cyanide. Eating just a few pieces of uncooked cassava root can provide a lethal dose. Potatoes contain solanine, a natural toxin. As a result, consuming an uncooked potato can cause vomiting and diarrhea. The National Institute of Health advises against eating potatoes that are green below the skin because it is an indication of a high concentration of solanine.
There is an intense and ongoing debate about the way Monsanto creates its food species varieties and the way it has been done by farmers and nature for a millennia. Wide-cross hybridizations and radiation-induced mutagenesis represent drastic tinkering with nature (they say) and some scientists on the Monsanto payroll believe will lead to far less predictable results—than the modern molecular techniques used to alter genes, but neither legislators nor anti-genetic-engineering activists have shown any concern about creating new plant varieties with those older techniques. They are not subject to mandatory testing or review before entering the food chain…In contrast, if a gene is moved by recombinant DNA techniques, the resulting variety is subject to lengthy, hugely expensive, and increasingly politicized regulation…To be clear, it’s not the source of genetic material or whether DNAs from different organisms are mixed that confers risk; what is important is the function of the genetic alteration—for example, whether it could cause the organism to express a new toxin or allergen or become more weed-like.
The Hate for Monsanto Is worldwide they often go after small farmers and use their money to put them out of business and take their land. Germany's Agriculture Minister Ilse Aigner announced in 2009 that Germany was banning the cultivation of MON 810, a genetically modified (GM) corn produced by Monsanto.
Europeans as a whole believed that MON 810 was the "Frankenstein" of GM crops by at least five other European countries -- France, Austria, Hungary, Greece and Luxembourg -- all of whom banned its use. MON 810 was approved by the European Union in 1998, and was the only GM crop approved for cultivation in Germany. Aigner said she had legitimate reasons to believe that the genetically modified Monsanto seed "presented a danger to the environment." The plant produces a toxin that not only destroys the larvae of the corn borer moth, but other, beneficial, insects as well. Andreas Thierfelder, spokesman for Monsanto Germany, responded that Monsanto would take legal proceedings.
She said the "matter was very urgent as the planting season was about to start." Just how urgent was evident days later when Monsanto filed a lawsuit against the German government, claiming that its ban on MON 810 was arbitrary and contravened EU rules. Although Monsanto sued France in an effort to overturn its ban on genetically modified corn, and lost that battle in March when France's highest court ruled that the corn "may" harm the environment and wildlife, the German government was justifiably edgy, but eventually it proved conclusively to the German court that MON 810 damages the environment.
But the feeder GM corn is just one tiny blip on the Frankenfood radar. And, it's not just Europeans who should worry, we all should.