Neil Young is reportedly about to release a new album called, ‘The Monsanto Years’. Don’t expect the lyrics to be music to the ears of the company’s executives over in St Louis, however. With falling profits and glyphosate being reclassified by the WHO as ‘probably’ causing cancer, Monsanto needs Neil Young like it needs a hole in the head.
Glyphosate is the active ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide, which was primarily responsible $5.1 billion of Monsanto’s revenues in 2014. But that’s not all. The herbicide is used to support Monsanto’s Roundup Ready crops, which comprise a significant proportion of its revenue stream.
According to the US Department of Agriculture, herbicide-tolerant biotech plants were grown on virtually all (94 percent) soybean fields in the US last year and on 89 percent of all cornfields. Food & Water Watch found the volume of glyphosate applied to those crops increased almost 1,000 percent between 1996 and 2012, from 15 million pounds to 159 million pounds.
But perhaps the WHO’s reclassification presents just another hurdle to be pushed aside by this science-denying company that has such immense influence within the US Environmental Protection Agency so as to have its fraudulent science accepted and studies showing the carcinogenic impact of glyphosate sidelined.
Dr Brian John from GM-Free Cymru says:
“The evidence shows that by 1981 both Monsanto and the EPA were aware of malignant tumours and pre-cancerous conditions in the test animals which were fed small doses of glyphosate in the secret feeding experiments. Although concerns were expressed at the time by EPA committees, these concerns were later suppressed under the weight of conflicting evidence brought forward by Monsanto, some of it involving the inappropriate use of historical control data of dubious quality. None of these studies is available for independent examination. That is a scandal in itself. There has been a protracted and cynical cover-up in this matter. Glyphosate is a “probable human carcinogen”, as now confirmed by the WHO Working Group, and no matter what protestations may now come from Monsanto and the EPA, they have been fully aware of its potential to cause cancer for at least 35 years.”
Due to its strategic position and influence within government bodies and universities, Monsanto has been able to colonize, control and censor science. Claire Robinson recently discussed this. She also highlighted how a phone call by Monsanto to the then US President Bill Clinton compelled him to get on the phone to British PM Tony Blair who in turn told a British-based science institute to quash research that was going to be detrimental to the company.
A director from the institute in question said:
“Tony Blair’s office had been pressured by the Americans, who thought our study would harm the biotechnology industry, and particularly Monsanto.”
It all involved Arpad Pusztai, a scientist at the Rowett Institute in Scotland. His research had found toxic effects in rats fed GM potatoes. Pusztai was subjected to a campaign of vilification by pro-GMO scientific organizations and individuals in an attempt to discredit him and his research. He lost his job, funding and research team, and had a gagging order slapped on him which forbade him to speak about his research. Of course, many other scientists have suffered similar fates to varying extents as Robinson indicates.
Given the power and influence that Monsanto wields over science, governments and international trade and the rules governing it (see this, thisand this), some might wonder just what threat Neil Young and his music poses to such a company.
However, public perception counts. It counts so much that Monsanto has spent tens of millions to not have its GM foods labelled. It counts so much that it knows if they were to be labelled, people would not choose them. It counts so much that the industry has a small army of online shills, front groups and mouthpieces and has influence over ‘respectable’ institutes and media bodies that work to spew out corporate propaganda and attack critics, (attempt to) rubbish their arguments or engage in character assassinations.
That much is apparent. So don’t expect Neil Young to be flavour of the month over at St. Louis.
Maybe the people in St. Louis should consider releasing their own album in response. The track listing could be:
It wasn’t me — cover of Shaggy song (due to Monsanto’s misdemeanours, this a very long track record)/Video killed the lobbying star (by Canadian star Patrick Moore)/Anti-capitalist nut jobs (punk song angrily sung by golden rice ‘social media golden boy’ Paul Evans)/Killing in the name of (RATM cover dedicated to all the anti-GMO Green Blob ‘murdering enemies of the poor’)/Murdering bastards (angry punk song by Patrick Moore)/Canadian idiot! (cover of Green Day’s American Idiot).
Colin Todhunter is an independent writer and former social policy researcher