Banned in Germany, But You're Probably Still Eating It
Monsanto, the world leader in genetically modified (GM) crops and seeds, has been named the worst company of 2011 by Natural Society -- for "threatening both human health and the environment."
I couldn't agree more. I have long designated Monsanto the most dangerous corporation on the planet, and clearly this is a growing sentiment …
"Monsanto is so despised by environmentalists that Google's first suggested search term for the St. Louis company is 'Monsanto evil.'
Readers... voted Monsanto the world's most evil corporation in a January poll, giving the corporation a whopping 51 percent of the vote."
What's Wrong With Monsanto?
You may be wondering what Monsanto -- the world's largest seed company whose net income for the first quarter of fiscal year 2012 totaled $126 million (up from $9 million in 2011) --- has done to have earned such ire.
The list is long, easily enough for a novel, but to sum it up, biotech giant Monsanto has created some of the most dangerous products on the planet, including Agent Orange, dioxin, recombinant bovine growth hormone (rBGH)… and genetically modified seeds.
The latter is one of the most pressing concerns because GM crops are now a mainstay of American agriculture.
Ninety percent or more of all US-grown corn, soybeans, canola, and sugar beets are genetically modified versions, which means that virtually all processed food items contain at least one or more genetically modified ingredients.
GM foods are, from what I perceive, one of the most significant threats that we have against the very sustainability of the human race. Why? In a nutshell, these toxins are being linked to a growing repertoire of assaults against human health and the environment -- and they are already migrating into fetal blood, which means future generations are now at risk.
Monsanto is Destroying the Food System Via Their GMO Crops
Virtually all of the claims of benefit of GM crops – increased yields, more food production, controlled pests and weeds, reductions in chemical use in agriculture, drought-tolerant seeds – have not materialized.
The Global Citizens' Report on the State of GMOs states:
- Contrary to the claim of feeding the world, genetic engineering has not increased the yield of a single crop.
- Herbicide tolerant (Roundup Ready) crops were supposed to control weeds and Bt crops were intended to control pests. Instead of controlling weeds and pests, GE crops have led to the emergence of super weeds and super pests … Herbicide resistant crops such as Roundup Ready cotton can create the risk of herbicide resistant "superweeds" by transferring the herbicide resistance to weeds.
- Despite claims that genetically modified organisms (GMOs) will lower the levels of chemicals (pesticides and herbicides) used, quite the opposite has occurred, with 1.6 billion pounds of glyphosate (the active in ingredient in Roundup) being applied to American soil in 2007 alone. This is of great concern both because of the negative impacts of these chemicals on ecosystems and humans, and because there is the danger that increased chemical use will cause pests and weeds to develop resistance, requiring even more chemicals in order to manage them.
- Monsanto has been claiming that through genetic engineering it can breed crops for drought tolerance and other climate-resilient traits. This is a false promise.
- Among the false claims made by Monsanto and the Biotechnology industry is that GE foods are safe. However, there are enough independent studies to show that GE foods can cause severe health damage.
Thanks to glyphosate, the active ingredient in Monsanto's non-selective, broad-spectrum herbicide Roundup, that is sprayed on massive acreages of GM Roundup Ready soybeans, cotton, and corn grown in the United States each and every year, super weeds are growing at an alarming rate. It's estimated that more than 130 types of weeds spanning 40 U.S. states are now herbicide-resistant, and the superweeds are showing no signs of stopping. In fact, the situation is getting progressively worse.
Extremely hardy Roundup-resistant weeds are already boosting costs and cutting crop yields for U.S. farmers. And with world food stores already strained, diminished crop production is a serious problem. In addition, the creation of these superweeds is leading farmers to douse their fields with ever increasing amounts of herbicides in a desperate attempt to stop their spread.
Along with the environmental devastation, research published in 2010 showed that glyphosate causes birth defects in frogs and chicken embryos at far lower levels than used in agricultural and garden applications. And numerous animal studies suggest reproductive problems are a common side effect of glyphosate exposure and the consumption of genetically engineered Roundup Ready crops.
Quite shockingly, the amount of glyphosate residue you can be exposed to through food is remarkably high, and is very close to the maximum residue limit (MRL) legally allowed According to GMO expert Jeffrey Smith, there is so much glyphosate in GM soybeans, when they were introduced, Europe had to increase their allowable residue levels by 200-fold! For more information, please listen to this informative interview with Dr. Don Huber, an expert in an area of science that relates to the toxicity of genetically engineered (GE) foods.
Why GM Foods Should be Labeled with a Skull and Crossbones
Monsanto wants you to simply trust them because they're "experts" and because their industry-funded studies "prove" their GM foods are safe. But these same experts also told you PCB's, Agent Orange, and DDT was safe, and we now know those claims were far from accurate.
Of course, in terms of reliability, there's a big difference between corporate science, which tends to primarily favor and support corporate interests, and independent science, performed without preconceived bias. Scientists have, in fact, discovered a number of health problems related to genetically modified foods, including:
- An analysis of 19 animal studies revealed that nearly 10 percent of blood, urine, organ and other parameters tested were significantly influenced by GMOs, with the livers and kidneys faring the worst.
- A 2009 Brazilian study discovered that female rats fed GM soy for 15 months showed significant changes in their uterus and reproductive cycle, compared to rats fed organic soy or those raised without soy.
- A study performed by Irina Ermakova with the Russian National Academy of Sciences reported that more than half the babies from mother rats fed GM soy died within three weeks, while the death rate in the non-GM soy group was only 10 percent. Additionally, the babies in the GM group were smaller, and, worst of all, could not reproduce. In a telling coincidence, after Ermakova's feeding trials were completed, her laboratory started feeding all the rats in the facility a commercial rat chow using GM soy. Within two months, the infant mortality facility-wide reached 55 percent.
- Milk treated with the Monsanto-developed genetically engineered bovine growth hormone (rBGH) contains higher levels of insulin-like growth factor (IGF-1), a hormone linked to breast, prostate and colon cancers in humans.
Evil Monsanto Continues to Spreads its Poisonous Tentacles
Genetically engineered seeds are banned in Hungary, as they are in several other European countries, such as Germany and Ireland. Peru is also following the precautionary principle, and has even passed a law that bans genetically modified ingredients within the nation for 10 years.
In the United States, certain states are passing legislation that protects the use of GM seeds and allows for unabated expansion. To date, 14 states have passed such legislation and Michigan's Sen. Bill 777, if passed, would make that 15. The Michigan bill would prevent anti-GMO laws and would remove "any authority local governments may have to adopt and enforce ordinances that prohibit or regulate the labeling, sale, storage, transportation, distribution, use, or planting of agricultural, vegetable, flower or forest tree seeds."
Bills like these are obviously music to Monsanto's ears, which spends millions of dollars lobbying the U.S. government at the federal level for favorable legislation that supports the spread of their toxic products.
In the first quarter of 2011 alone, Monsanto spent $1.4 million on lobbying the federal government -- a drop from a year earlier, when they spent $2.5 million during the same quarter. If we all had several million to drop solely on lobbying efforts, suffice to say the world would be a very different place. If you aren't familiar with the power of lobbying please view the recent 60 minutes expansion on it, which is one of the best 60 Minute episodes I have seen in 40 years.
Furthermore, once you realize just how many of Monsanto's employees have shifted into positions of power within the federal government, it suddenly becomes a lot easier to see how this biotech giant has managed to so successfully undermine common sense.
Unfortunately, it's primarily multinational corporations like Monsanto that have this type of clout, and they use it to further their power, wealth and control -- not only in the United States, but throughout the entire world.
For instance, as reported by Netline, Monsanto and other biotech companies have collaborated with the Gates Foundation via the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) to inject genetically modified crops into Africa. And Monsanto's golden rice is being pushed in Asia as a way to alleviate vitamin A deficiency, which is common in developing countries where people don't have regular access to beta-carotene-rich foods, like vegetables and fruits.
But it doesn't take much digging beneath the surface to uncover the true motives of seeking to plant golden rice in the developing world, and they have much more to do with dollars and cents than they do with alleviating nutritional deficiencies. In fact, there's reason to believe that GM golden rice will do little to improve vitamin A levels in the poor -- and may actually make vitamin A deficiency worse.
It would be naive at this point to think that these collaborations are designed to solve any other problem than how to help Monsanto monopolize the world's food supply with expensive GM seeds that have to be purchased each year and require expensive and toxic chemical treatment. After all, if you own the rights to all the food grown everywhere, you literally rule the world ...
You Can Stop Supporting Monsanto by Boycotting GM Foods
It's quite clear that genetically engineered foods threaten not only biodiversity and the environment; they can also pose potentially serious threats to animal and human health when consumed. Unfortunately, the revolving door between Monsanto and the biotech industry as a whole and the agencies in charge of industry legislation makes it very difficult to stop the ongoing madness.
That does not mean it's impossible, however. But it does require your active participation.
First and foremost, avoid buying GM foods! Since the industry has so far successfully squelched every attempt at getting genetically engineered foods labeled, avoiding them requires you to be an educated consumer.
- Print out the Non-GMO Shopping Guide and refer to it often. It can help you identify and avoid foods with GMOs. You can also download the free iPhone application that is available in the iTunes store. You can find it by searching for ShopNoGMO in the applications.
- Better yet, always buy USDA 100% Organic products when possible, as these do not permit GM ingredients, or buy whole fresh produce and meat from local farmers. The majority of the GMO's you're exposed to are via processed foods, so by cooking from scratch with whole foods, you can be sure you're not inadvertently consuming something laced with GM ingredients.
- When you do purchase processed food, avoid products containing anything related to corn or soy that are not 100 percent organic, as any foods containing these two non-organic ingredients are virtually guaranteed to contain genetically engineered ingredients, as well as toxic herbicide residues.
- For ongoing updates, follow our Non-GMO's page on Facebook.
We CAN shift the balance by simply voting with our pocketbooks and forks. Europe successfully did this over a decade ago, without any government assistance, and Americans can drive GMO's out of our food supply as well, but it requires educating the public about what GM foods are.
Important Action Item: Support California's Ballot Initiative to Label GMO's!
In 2007, then-Presidential candidate Obama promised to "immediately" require GM labeling if elected. So far, nothing of the sort has transpired.
Fortunately, 24 US states have (as part of their state governance) something called the Initiative Process, where residents can bring to ballot any law they want enacted, as long as it has sufficient support. California has been busy organizing just such a ballot initiative to get mandatory labeling for genetically engineered foods sold in their state. The proposed law will be on the ballot for 2012.
Michigan and Washington are also starting similar campaigns.
Since California is the 8th largest economy in the world, a win for the California Initiative would be a huge step forward, and would affect ingredients and labeling nation-wide. Last month, a coalition of consumer, public health and environmental organizations, food companies, and individuals submitted the California Right to Know Genetically Engineered Food Act to the State Attorney General. Now, they need 800,000 signatures to get the Act on next year's ballot.
I urge you to get involved and help in any way you can.
If you live in California, volunteer to gather petition signatures. If you live outside of California, please donate to help support this Initiative and spread the word to everyone you know in California. Be assured that what happens in California will affect the remainder of the U.S., so please support this important state initiative, even if you do not live there!