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Video: Pro GMO Journalist Julie Kelly Debates Richie On Monsanto, Food Safety, Labeling &...

Please Support The Show – http://paypal.me/richieallen https://www.facebook.com/therichieallenshow http://www.youtube.com/RichieAllenShowMedia Tune in ... Via Youtube

No correlation between popular Monsanto pesticide and cancer ‒ study — RT US News

Published time: 9 Nov, 2017 20:56 A pesticide used by agribusiness giant Monsanto does not cause...

The Global Food and Health Crisis: Monsanto’s Science is Bogus

By Rosemary Mason and Colin Todhunter Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus is the new director general of the World Health Organization (WHO). With a $4 billion annual...
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Video: Monsanto banned from lobbying EU lawmakers after boycotting hearing

Weed killer giant Monsanto has been kicked out of the European Parliament. Its lobbyists were banned, after refusing to attend a hearing that was...
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Video: W.H.O. is right? World Health Organisation argues Monsanto uses cancerogenics

The GM foods giant Monsanto is calling for an investigation into an agency of the World Health Organisation. That's after the body published a...

The Stomach-churning Violence of Monsanto, Bayer and the Agrochemical Oligopoly

As humans, we have evolved with the natural environment over millennia. We have learned what to eat and what not to eat, what to...

Soil, Monsanto and the Agribusiness Giants: Conning the World with Snake Oil and Doughnuts

In their rush to readily promote neoliberal dogma and corporate-inspired PR, many government officials, scientists and journalists take as given that profit-driven transnational corporations...
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Video: Weeding Out Critics: Monsanto tries to influence media over weedkiller

Secret documents show that the American agricultural chemical giant Monsanto tried to influence media and science reports over its popular weed-killer ... Via Youtube

Monsanto leaks suggest it tried to ‘kill’ cancer research about notorious weed killer

Controversial agricultural giant Monsanto attempted to ‘kill’ research on Roundup weed killer, which is suspected of...

Codex Alimentarius and Monsanto’s Toxic Relations

“Our soils are sick from greed-based, irresponsible agricultural practices, pesticides, chemical fertilizers, erosion and mineral depletion, all of which stop or reduce adequate microbial...

When Will Co-opted Figures and Board Members of Companies like Monsanto and Bayer Be...

The public is being poisoned, disease rates are spiralling, waterways are contaminated, soil is being degraded, insects, birds, invertebrates and plant diversity are in...

Soy seeds sales surge, giving Monsanto better-than-expected 3rd quarter

Monsanto has reported better-than-expected quarterly profits after record soybean sales lifted the company above analysts’ estimates....

Monsanto battle: California to add glyphosate to its cancer-causing chemicals list

The state of California has moved ahead in its ongoing legal battle with agribusiness giant Monsanto,...

Of Mice, Monsanto and a Mysterious Tumor

Call it the case of the mysterious mouse tumor. It's been 34 years since Monsanto Co. presented US regulators with a seemingly routine study analyzing...

Toxic Relations: Stop Colluding with Monsanto and the Agrochemical Industry!   

By Rosemary Mason and Colin Todhunter Environmental campaigner Dr Rosemary Mason has just written to the UK’s Policy Advisor Nigel Chadwick at the Chemicals Regulation...
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Video: ‘Let nothing go’: Monsanto accused of hiring Internet trolls to stop online...

Biotech giant Monsanto is being accused of hiring, through third parties, an army of Internet trolls to counter negative comments, while citing positive ... Via...

Monsanto accused of hiring army of trolls to silence online dissent – court papers

Biotech giant Monsanto is being accused of hiring, through third parties, an army of Internet trolls...

From Earth Day to the Monsanto Tribunal, Capitalism on Trial

World Environment Day (WED) occurs on 5 June every year. Promoted by the United Nations, its aim is to encourage global awareness and action for...

From Syria to Monsanto: A Moribund System of Deceit and Destruction

Today, as the dominant global power, the US rolls out its brand of unfettered capitalism across the world. US citizens constitute just five percent...

Monsanto’s Violence in India: The Sacred and the Profane

From Hinduism and Paganism to Thor, Woden and Monsanto, humans have lost their ancient beliefs, practices and connection with nature. The old practices, so...

Behind a Corporate Monster: How Monsanto Pushes Agricultural Domination

A farmhand loads genetically modified corn seed into a planter on Bo Stone's farm in Rowland, North Carolina, April 20, 2016. (Photo: Jeremy M....

Monsanto attempt to block glyphosate from California cancer list tossed by judge

Published time: 13 Mar, 2017 22:07 A California state court has dismissed a legal challenge by multinational...

Monsanto and GMO Propagandists Softening-up UK Public for GM After Brexit

On the back of Brexit, the UK government is planning what could be a disastrous trade deal with the Trump administration. It would likely...

Monsanto’s Communications Guru to Visit the UK: Instead of Promoting GM, Take Responsibility for...

Monsanto is preparing a fresh effort to promote genetically modified (GM) crops to the UK public, according to a piece in The Scottish Farmer. The...

The British Government Has Colluded with Monsanto and Should Be Held Accountable in the...

“The British Government has colluded with Monsanto and should be held accountable in the International Criminal Court in The Hague for crimes against humanity...

Washington state sues Monsanto over ‘omnipresent and terrifically toxic material’

PCB pollution is in “every waterway in the state,” Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson said as...

Monsanto’s ‘less-volatile’ dicamba herbicide receives quiet EPA approval

The EPA has quietly approved the usage of Monsanto’s brand new herbicide, which the company says is less “volatile” than all alternative dicamba-based compounds...
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Video: Dangers of the Proposed Bayer-Monsanto Merger

The resulting merger will push a model of agriculture that forgoes advantageous local ecological practices and jeopardizes the livelihoods of small-scale farmers ... Via Youtube

Monsanto and Bayer: Why Food and Agriculture Just Took a Turn For The Worse

defotoberg | Shutterstock.com News broke this week that Monsanto accepted a $66 billion takeover bid from Bayer. The new company would control more than 25 per cent of...
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Video: ‘Entirely new name’ for ‘Monsanto’: Bayer buys leading GMO maker for $66bn

The deal is the largest corporate takeover in almost two decades for a German company. German pharmaceuticals giant Bayer has agreed to buy American...

Monsanto and Bayer: Why Food And Agriculture Just Took A Turn For The Worse

Colin Todhunter News broke this week that Monsanto accepted a $66 billion takeover bid from Bayer. The new company would control more than 25 per cent...
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Video: Jon Rappoport “Obama Has Been A Superlobbyist For Monsanto In His 8 Year...

Please Support The Show – http://richieallen.co.uk/ https://www.facebook.com/therichieallenshow http://www.youtube.com/RichieAllenShowMedia Tune in at ... Via Youtube

Monsanto whistleblower receives $22mn award under US federal govt program

An unnamed whistleblower responsible for exposing Monsanto’s shady deals involving Roundup products to the federal government...

Monsanto to face court for intentionally mislabelling toxic chemicals

Monsanto misled the public into thinking its pesticides are safe and do not cause cancer when it knew that it does, Sharon Lerner from...

Widespread crop damage – brought to you by Monsanto

Farmers in Missouri, Arkansas, and Tennessee are confronting widespread crop damage and bracing for lower yields as a result of agrichemical giant Monsanto’s botched...

Monsanto in India: Meet the New Boss – Same as the Old Boss?

In capitalism, the state’s primary role is to secure the interests of private capital. The institutions of globalised capitalism - from the World Bank,...

In the Shadow of Monsanto: GMO Regulation and the Right to Know

Colin Todhunter The GMO agritech sector and food companies have spent tens of millions of dollars in the US to prevent the labelling of foods containing genetically...

Monsanto, Bayer and the Push for Corporate Cannabis

(Photo: Adria Vidal) California's "Adult Use of Marijuana Act" (AUMA) is a voter initiative characterized as legalizing marijuana use. But critics warn that...

Monsanto, Bayer, and the Push for Corporate Cannabis

California’s “Adult Use of Marijuana Act” (AUMA) is a voter initiative characterized as legalizing marijuana use. But critics warn that it will actually make...

Clinton Backs Monsanto’s Case

That to Be Anti Monsanto Is to Be Pro Global-Warming Eric Zuesse On June 27th, I reported Hillary Clinton’s having privately told GMO industry lobbyists, on...

The War on Weed is Winding Down, But Will Monsanto Emerge the Winner?

360b | Shutterstock.com   In April, Pennsylvania became the 24th state to legalize medical cannabis, a form of the plant popularly known as marijuana. That makes nearly half...

Monsanto, the USA’s Monster

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wcLtZJVmoNw Few corporations in the world are as loathed -- and as sinister -- as Monsanto. But the threat it poses to people and planet...

The War on Weed Is Winding Down But Will Monsanto Be the Winner?

The war on cannabis that began in the 1930s seems to be coming to an end. Research shows that this natural plant, rather than...

Modi, Monsanto, Bayer and Cargill: Doing Business or Corporate Imperialism?  

Colin Todhunter Describing itself as a major ‘global communications, stakeholder engagement and business strategy’ company, APCO Worldwide is a lobby/PR agency with firm links to the Wall...

Nine Out of 10 Americans Tested Positive for Monsanto’s Cancer-Linked Weedkiller Glyphosate

If you participated in the glyphosate test project launched last year by the Detox Project (formerly Feed The World) and Organic Consumers Association, you probably failed. A staggering...

From Albrecht to Monsanto: A System Not Run for the Public Good Can Never...

The following extract is from the 2011 lecture ‘Healthy Soils, Healthy People’ by Professor John Ikerd. The lecture discussed the legacy of renowned agronomist...

Ross Eisenbrey on Overtime Pay, Patty Lovera on Monsanto Protests

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Monsanto and the Poisoning of Europe

This week, a Standing Committee of plant scientists from 28 member states in Europe is likely to endorse the European Food Safety Authority’s (EFSA)...

Conflict of interest? Members of UN panel on glyphosate have Monsanto ties

Two people on the UN panel that just ruled the herbicide glyphosate “unlikely” to cause cancer...

Monsanto and the Poisoning of Europe: An Open letter to the EFSA Chief Attorney...

This week, a Standing Committee of plant scientists from 28 member states in Europe is likely to endorse the European Food Safety Authority’s (EFSA)...

Monsanto weedkiller relabeled by activists to expose alleged cancer-causing properties

Activists relabeled bottles of Monsanto weedkiller in hardware stores across Britain on Wednesday in a bid to raise concerns over the product’s health implications....

Pesticides, GMOs and Corporate Control: The Poster Child is Monsanto but Neil Young is...

Neil Young has a long history of activism. He is a co-founder of Farm Aid, which works to support small and family farmers in North...

The EPA’s Ties to Monsanto Could Be Disastrous for the US

It's time to end the revolving door between the private sector and government agencies like the EPA, because the American people deserve government regulators...

Future Options: From Militarism and Monsanto to Gandhi and Bhaskar Save  

US Presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders recently tweeted: “It is no mystery why Monsanto fights against our right to know about GMOs in food –...

Monsanto CEO Hugh Grant insists Roundup is safe, adamantly denies cancer link

Despite mounting evidence that the world's most widely used weedkiller is linked to a host of chronic illnesses, including cancer, Monsanto has no intention...

Monsanto Takes Another Hit with UK Supermarket Pulling Their Herbicide

Strength in numbers proved to be a winning mantra for activists against Monsanto: a petition 90,000 signatures strong recently forced UK supermarket Waitrose to...

Capitalism And Global Agribusiness: From Ford To Monsanto, It’s For Your Own Good

“We must… build our own local food systems that create new rural-urban links, based on truly agroecological food production... We cannot allow Agroecology to...

A Bad Day for Monsanto and a Good Day for Public Health in Europe

Monsanto needs to be stopped, the health of the world literally depends on it. Aisha Dodwell A battle of corporate profit vs people’s needs has been...

Monsanto’s War on Mother Nature

Joseph Sanders (RINF) - A perfect example of how insane the system actually is.. Monsanto Company is ranked number 52 among over 30 million US...

Video: MIT Professor Stephanie Seneff: “I Have Evidence That Monsanto’s Roundup Causing Cancer!”

Please Support The Show – http://richieallen.co.uk/ https://www.facebook.com/therichieallenshow http://www.youtube.com/RichieAllenShowMedia Tune in at ... Via Youtube

Or your money back: Monsanto execs return $4mn in bonuses after SEC settlement

Two Monsanto executives returned their lavish bonuses, amounting to nearly $4 million, after the agribusiness giant agreed to pay federal regulators $80 million as...
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Video: Kelly Slater Vote Nobody 2016, Investigate 9/11 and Screw Monsanto!!!

In this video Luke Rudkowski interviews professional surfing legend Kelly Slater in Oahu Hawaii. The two discuss the 2016 presidential elections, the truth ... source

Washington Post’s Food Columnist Goes to Bat for Monsanto–Again

Washington Post food columnist Tamar Haspel on organic food: “It’s easy to make it look like people care a whole lot more than they...

West Coast US cities sue Monsanto over toxic chemicals

Genevieve Leigh Last week, Seattle, Washington became the latest addition to the list of cities filing lawsuits against multinational corporation Monsanto, joining San Diego, San...

New Documents Uncover Monsanto’s Secret Role in Illinois Professor Bruce Chassy’s Academics Review Website

The consumer group U.S. Right to Know today called for improved transparency and public disclosure of industry funding for and coordination with public university professors. Email...

Monsanto sues California agency over plans to list Roundup as cancer-causing chemical

Agrochemical giant Monsanto has taken a fight for its leading weed killer to court in California, seeking to prevent glyphosate, the main ingredient in...

Monsanto to face tribunal at The Hague for ‘ecocide’ against humanity and the planet

An international tribunal made up of some of the world's leading environmental and human rights groups, is set to hold the world's most evil...

Taiwan bans GMOs from school lunches… mandates GMO labeling nationwide… throws down gauntlet on...

Even as the fascist, corrupt U.S. government and its regulators (FDA and USDA) actively conspire with the biotech industry to poison Americans with genetically...

Monsanto announces 1,000 job cuts after first-quarter losses

Agrotech giant Monsanto said that it will eliminate 1,000 jobs as part of a bid to cut costs in the wake of lower profits....

The Toxic Agriculture of Monsanto and Big Agribusiness vs Agroecology Rooted in Communities and...

  "We are being far too kind to industrialised agriculture. The private sector has endorsed it, but it has failed to feed the world, it...

Monsanto in the Dock! Rolling Back the Destructive Influence of the Global Agribusiness Cartel

And now for the good news. As the rest of the world eats denutrified, poisoned 'food' and capitulates to the criminal cartel of US agribusiness,...
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Video: Prove GMOs have safety standards will pay $10mn – Scientist to Monsanto

One of the world's largest GMO producers has been challenged by an MIT graduate who claims there are absolutely no GMO safety assessment standards. Via...

Who Needs Gates And Monsanto? Confronting Hunger, Poverty and Climate Change: “Tremendous Success” of...

It is essential that we get off the chemical treadmill that the modern industrial urban-centric food and agriculture system is based on. It is...

After selling out to Monsanto, National Geographic now purchased by Rupert Murdoch and hit...

The photographers and reporters for National Geographic are in a unique and very influential position to document and record the failures of...

$10mn dare: MIT grad challenges Monsanto over ‘nonexistent GMO safety standards’

One of the world’s largest GMO producers has been challenged by an MIT graduate who claims there are absolutely no GMO safety assessment standards....

European Agency Says Monsanto’s Flagship Product Is Not ‘Likely’ Carcinogenic Based on Flawed Science

With the European Union’s approval of glyphosate set to expire at the end of the year, the European Food Safety Agency (EFSA) today announced...

Monsanto cuts 12% of its workforce to save money amid profit drop

Falling commodity prices have sowed the seeds of destruction for 2,600 employees of agricultural giant Monsanto. The world’s top seed supplier is cutting 12...

Why is the University of Illinois Receiving $1 Million from Monsanto? 

Monsanto likes to say that those of us against GMOs don’t use ‘real’ science to support claims that genetically modified crops are unsafe, but...

SLEAZE: Monsanto shill PR firm Ketchum also ran Bush Administration propaganda for the Honduran...

A New York-based public relations firm that has been engaged in a number of controversies including conducting covert propaganda for the George W. Bush...

Modi and Monsanto: A Wake Up Call For India

Immediately prior to Narendra Modi being elected India’s PM last year, there were calls from some quarters for him to usher in a Thatcherite-style...

Monsanto’s ‘Hand of God’: Planned Obsolescence of the Indian Farmer 

The mantra of global agribusiness companies is that they care about farmers. They also really care about humanity and want to help to feed...

New Monsanto Spray Kills Bugs by Messing With Their Genes

In a fascinating long piece in MIT Technology Review, Antonio Regalado examines the genetically modified seed industry's latest blockbuster app in development–one that has...

Watch Neil Young’s ‘Seeding Fear’ documentary exposing Monsanto’s attacks on family farmers who refuse...

Following the release of his latest album The Monsanto Years, Neil Young has released a short film documentary entitled Seeding Fear that tells one...

NYT calls out Coca-Cola’s harmful junk food science while ignoring Monsanto’s fraudulent GMO science

The New York Times recently published an in-depth article on one of its blogs exposing the Coca-Cola Company's efforts to promote flawed science downplaying...

Monsanto secretly gave legal defense money to GMO farmer who contaminated neighbor’s organic farm

Global biotech and agricultural giant Monsanto lent financial support to a West Australian farmer who was being sued by a neighbor over alleged cross-contamination...

Altered Genes, Twisted Truth: Monsanto’s Silence is Deafening 

In his book ‘Altered Genes,Twisted Truths’, US public interest attorney Steven Druker exposed the fraudulent practices and deceptions that led to the commercialisation of GM food...

Hypnotic Trance in Delhi: Monsanto, GMOs and the Looting of India’s Agriculture

We are about to enter August. And that's a special month in India. Each year, on the 15th, the country commemorates the anniversary of independence...

You Don’t Matter. House Votes for Monsanto’s Right to Deceive Consumers

Ronnie Cummins On Thursday, 275 members of the U.S. House of Representatives voted in favor of H.R. 1599, the DARK (Deny Americans the Right to...

Neil Young invites Reverend Billy and the Stop Shopping Choir to Open for ‘The...

Sharing their opposition to Monsanto and Starbucks and Walmart, Reverend Billy and the 40 singing-activists join forces with the radicalized rocker on Tuesday, July...

Mega-merger: Monsanto still seeks takeover of Syngenta, world’s largest crop chemical company

Transnational agrochemical and seed giant Monsanto has reiterated its desire to merge with fellow chemical-producing behemoth Syngenta, a company that has already rebuffed three...

Monsanto’s Covert War on European Food Security

Working quietly on the back of political turmoil driven by Western special interests (including itself) Monsanto has begun literally planting the seeds of genetically...

The "Monsanto Protection Act" Is Back

In today's On the News segment: If approved, House Resolution 1599 would make it nearly impossible to regulate GMOs in any way, even if...

Neil Young vs Starbucks, Monsanto

Abby Zimet (Common Dreams) - The indefatigable rocker and activist Neil Young has released a new video featuring an anti-Starbucks anthem, part of Young's fierce fight...

Monsanto Bids to Take Over European Agrichemical Giant Syngenta

Monsanto recently made a bid to take over European agrichemical giant Syngenta, the world’s largest pesticide producer. The $45 billion bid was rejected, but...

Monsanto’s Chemical War in Colombia

Monsanto Corporation’s glyphosate, sold as “Roundup,” is the world’s most widely used herbicide. For the globalized capitalist economy it’s a tool for wealth accumulation...

Marching on Monsanto and its Government Protectors

Controlling and knowing what we eat should be a fundamental human right beyond questioning. That it is not sent hundreds of thousands into the...

The New Challenge to Monsanto

In a challenge delivered to Monsanto’s headquarters on May 20, 2015, US public interest attorney Steven Druker calls on that corporation to find any inaccurate statements of fact...

Monsanto helps fund all-expense-paid ‘reporter boot camp’ for food writers

Biotech company Monsanto is helping fund a “reporter boot camp” that will be hosted by the National Press Foundation, featuring an all-expense-paid journalism conference...

‘No More Poison’: World Unites for Annual #MarchAgainstMonsanto

(Common Dreams) - For the third year in a row, activists around the world are taking up the mantle against Monsanto. The March Against Monsanto is...

‘Altered Genes, Twisted Truths’ Author Challenges Monsanto’s Robb Fraley to respond to his Book

In a challenge delivered to Monsanto’s headquarters on May 20, 2015, US public interest attorney Steven Druker calls on that corporation to find any inaccurate statements...

Monsanto Wants to Move to Switzerland. Why Is Obama Doing It Favors?

(Common Dreams) - The longstanding principal goal of U.S. trade policy is to advance U.S. economic interests. So, why is the Obama administration fighting so hard...

Are Monsanto’s Worst Fears Coming True?

The decision of the Chipotle restaurant chain to make its product lines GMO-free is not most people’s idea of a world-historic event. Especially since Chipotle, by...

Monsanto knew of glyphosate / cancer link 35 years ago

According to evidence unearthed from the archives of the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) in the United States, it has been established that Monsanto was...

Monsanto’s Glyphosate Blankets GMO Crops Near Schools

Genetically engineered crops, or GMOs, have led to an explosion in growers’ use of herbicides, with the result that children at hundreds of elementary...

Credit Rating Company Moody’s Changes Monsanto’s Investor Rating to “Negative”

Approximately $8 billion in debt securities are affecting a popular investor’s service decision about one of biotech’s biggest. Investing credit rating company Moody’s has...

Monsanto intimidate and bully academics who expose truth

Agrochemical and biotech giant Monsanto claims it is just a global company seeking to help mankind engineer a better life. However, the company is...

Suppressing Science For Monsanto? Groups Demand Investigation of USDA

'It is imperative that the USDA maintains scientific integrity and does not allow for harassment, censorship or suppression of findings that counter the interests...

Shocker: court document asserts Hawaii inspectors clueless about what Monsanto is spraying

Shocker: court document asserts Hawaii inspectors clueless about what Monsanto is spraying by Jon Rappoport May 2, 2015 NoMoreFakeNews.com “So we found stuff… but we don’t know what it means.” On Thursday, April 30th, the Shaka Movement filed a brief with the US Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. (Appeal No. 15-15641, IN THE UNITED STATES […]
FBI

Monsanto has the FBI in its pocket

Monsanto corporate executives probably thought they had a decent amount of influence with the federal government, but they may never have thought that their...
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How Monsanto’s Glyphosate is Generating Deadly Antibiotic Resistance

More and more individuals are becoming aware of Monsanto’s evils, especially concerning it’s best-selling herbicide Round Up and its carcinogenic ingredient glyphosate. But we’re...

Who Needs Neil Young When We’ve Got Monsanto?

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...

Monsanto and Others Caught Paying Internet ‘Trolls’ to Attack Activists

Have you ever seen a post, comment, or reply that absolutely reeked of behind-the-scenes compensation by corporations like Monsanto? In the growing age of...
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Brazil Confirms Monsanto’s Roundup Causes Cancer

Brazilian authorities recently approved new types of GM corn and soy meant to be used with 2,4-D chemicals, as well as a genetically modified eucalyptus trees. But...

Monsanto Employee Admits an Entire Department Exists to “Discredit” Scientists

Dare to publish a scientific study against Big Biotech, and Monsanto will defame and discredit you. For the first time, a Monsanto employee admits that there is...

5 Reasons Monsanto Will Continue Losing Money in 2015

The biotech giant known as Monsanto is facing major financial downturn amid the backlash from consumers over their concerning GMO creations and the international...

Damage Limitation Time For Monsanto: Time To Wheel Out Patrick Moore Again… Or Maybe...

Global Research, Countercurrents, RINF, The Nation (Sri Lanka)

It’s been a bad couple of weeks for Monsanto. The company agreed to pay $600,000 in fines for not reporting hundreds of uncontrolled releases of toxic chemicals at its eastern Idaho phosphate plant. It also paid out a string of lawsuit settlements totaling $350,000 as a result of its GMOs tainting wheat in seven US states. Such amounts represent little more than a tap on the wrist for a company that rakes in sales of almost $16 billion dollars annually.

However, on 20 March the World Health Organisation reached a decision that strikes at the heart of the company. The WHO’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) said that glyphosate was "classified as probably carcinogenic to humans." This is just one step below the risk designation of "known carcinogen." 

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 the vast bulk of the balance of its revenue stream.

According to the US Department of Agriculture, herbicide-tolerant biotech plants were grown on virtually all (94%) soybean fields in the US last year and on 89% of all cornfields. Food & Water Watch found the volume of glyphosate applied to those crops increased almost 1,000% between 1996 and 2012, from 15 million pounds to 159 million pounds. The increase in usage has been accelerating in recent years.

Glyphosate has been detected in human bodies, food, water and in the air. Its use is strongly associated with various diseases (see this and this). 

Aaron Blair, a scientist emeritus at the National Cancer Institute who chaired the 17-member working group of the IARC that classified glyphosate as "probably" cancer-causing, says that the classification is appropriate based on current science. Blair also states that there have been hundreds of studies on glyphosate with concerns about the chemical growing over time and added that the IARC group gave particular consideration to two major studies out of Sweden, one out of Canada and at least three in the US.

He stressed that the group did not classify glyphosate as definitely causing cancer:

"We looked at, 'Is there evidence that glyphosate causes cancer?' and the answer is 'probably.' That is different than yes… It is different than smoking and lung cancer. We don't say smoking probably causes cancer. We say it does cause cancer. At one point we weren't sure, but now we are."

By the end of last week, Monsanto's shares had fallen by 2.9% on the back of the IARC’s decision.  

Unsurprisingly, Monsanto has wasted no time in trying to rubbish the WHO findings. The work of cancer specialists from 11 countries was speedily dismissed by Monsanto. In a press release, the company argued the findings are based on ‘junk’ science and cherry picking and are agenda driven. 

Philip Miller, Monsanto's vice-president of global regulatory affairs, said:

"We don't know how IARC could reach a conclusion that is such a dramatic departure from the conclusion reached by all regulatory agencies around the globe."

Miller implies that regulatory agencies used objective reason supported by credible science when sanctioning glyphosate. Nothing could be further from the truth. The sanctioning and testing of glyphosate for commercial was seriously corrupted (for example, see this,thisthis and this). Moreover, if Monsanto is going to accuse others of ‘junk’ science and ‘bias’, it has a serious credibility issue given that is has been a long-time leading exponent of  junk science and biased agendas

For instance, Sustainable Pulse has discovered documents from 1991 that show how the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was fully aware of glyphosate’s carcinogenic potential. In 1985, the carcinogenic potential of glyphosate was first considered by an EPA panel. This committee went on to classify glyphosate as a Class C Carcinogen with “suggestive evidence of carcinogenic potential.

This Class C classification was changed by the EPA six years later to a Class E category which suggests “evidence of non-carcinogenicity for humans.” Sustainable Pulse concludes that the US government is to blame for allowing glyphosate onto the commercial market because it wanted to push it as part of as global campaign to support the US biotech industry in its attempt to dominate global agriculture. In other words, the health of the public was put before the need to protect company profits and foreign policy aims.

We can now expect to see a massive propaganda campaign by Monsanto to deny the science of the IARC and a huge amount of pressure placed on the WHO to retract the study. We can expect to see the usual cheerleaders proclaiming the faith and mouthing the tired cliches about glyphosate's safety, regardless of mounting evidence that demonstrates its harmful health and environmental impacts. 

But who needs science when the cherry-picked type mixed with a good old dose pro-biotech ideology will suffice? Time to wheel out Patrick Moore again... or maybe not!

According to Dave Schubert, head of the cellular neurobiology laboratory at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in La Jolla, California:

“There are a number of independent, published manuscripts that clearly indicate that glyphosate … can promote cancer and tumor growth. It should be banned.”

Monsanto has for many decades been covering up its toxic practices and poisonous chemicals and has shown no regard at all for human life (read The Complete History of Monsanto). Banning the commercial use of glyphosate (and GMOs) would be a first but significant step on curbing the corrosive impact of a company that has over the decades caused so much misery and suffering. 

However, as we cannot rely on governments or regulatory agencies to act in the public interest, ordinary people should act for themselves. See this by John Rappoport for advice on a practical strategy for activism directed at Monsanto. 



Damage Limitation Time For Monsanto: Time To Wheel Out Patrick Moore Again… Or Maybe...

It’s been a bad couple of weeks for Monsanto. The company agreed to pay $600,000 in fines for not reporting hundreds of uncontrolled releases...

Monsanto fined a mere $600k for releasing toxic chemicals

Monsanto has agreed to pay the US government $600,000 for not reporting hundreds of uncontrolled toxic chemical releases from its Idaho phosphate plant. The...

Watch This Monsanto Lobbyist Refuse To Drink Glass Of Roundup That He Claims Is...

A controversial lobbyist who claimed that the chemical in Monsanto’s Roundup weed killer was safe for humans refused to drink his own words when...

Here’s What Monsanto Hopes You NEVER Learn

In the absence of a federal requirement to label GMOs, food activists have taken matters into their own hands, passing labeling laws in Vermont,...

Scientists Agree – Monsanto’s Roundup is carcinogenic

Are the full body protective suits not enough of a tip off that pesticides are toxic? If not, consider this: Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide — the...

Monsanto Wants to Know Why People Doubt Science

On Twitter recently, someone asked the question “Why do people doubt science?” Accompanying the tweet was a link to an article in National Geographic that...

Paid By Monsanto: Universities Taking Money From The Biotech Bully

I want food that Grandma ate. How hard is that to understand? I don’t want it chemically lobotomized and coated with poison. I don’t...

Why Do People Doubt Science? Monsanto Wants To Know


RINF, The 4th Media, Countercurrents 12/2/2015, Global Research 13/2/2015, Counterpunch 27/2/2015

On Twitter this week, someone asked the question “Why do people doubt science?” Accompanying the tweet was a link to an article in National Geographic that implied people who are suspicious of vaccines, genetically modified organisms (GMOs), climate change, fluoridated water and various other phenomena are confused, adhere to conspiracy theories, are motivated by ideology or are misinformed as a result of access to the ‘University of Google.’ The remedy, according what is said in the article, is for us all to rely on scientific evidence pertaining to these issues and adopt a ‘scientific method’ of thought and analysis and put irrational thought processes to one side.

Who tweeted the question and posted the link? None other than Robert T Fraley, Monsanto’s Vice President and Chief Technology Officer.

Before addressing that question, it is worth mentioning that science is not the giver of ‘absolute truth’. That in itself should allow us to develop a healthy sceptism towards the discipline. The ‘truth' is a tricky thing to pin down. Scientific knowledge is built on shaky stilts that rest on shifting foundations. Science historian Thomas Kuhn wrote about the revolutionary paradigm shifts in scientific thought, whereby established theoretical perspectives can play the role of secular theology and serve as a barrier to the advancement of knowledge, until the weight of evidence and pressure from proponents of a new theoretical paradigm is overwhelming. Then, at least according to Kuhn, the old faith gives way and a new 'truth' changes.

Philosopher Paul Feyerabend argued that science is not an 'exact science'. The manufacture of scientific knowledge involves a process driven by various sociological, methodological and epistemological conflicts and compromises, both inside the laboratory and beyond. Writers in the field of the sociology of science have written much on this.


But the answer to the question “Why do people doubt science” is not because they have read Kuhn, Feyerabend or some sociology journal. Neither is it because a bunch of ‘irrational’ activists have scared them witless about GM crops or some other issue. It is because they can see how science is used, corrupted and manipulated by powerful corporations to serve their own ends. It is because they regard these large corporations as largely unaccountable and their activities and products not properly regulated by governments.

That’s why so many doubt science - or more precisely the science corporations fund and promote to support their interests.

US sociologist Robert Merton highlighted the underlying norms of science as involving research that is not warped by vested interests, adheres to the common ownership of scientific discoveries (intellectual property) to promote collective collaboration and subjects findings to organised, rigorous critical scrutiny within the scientific community. The concept of originality was added by later writers in order to fully encapsulate the ethos of science: scientific claims must contribute something new to existing discourse. Based on this brief analysis, secrecy, dogma and vested interest have no place.

This is of course a highly idealised version of what science is or should be because in reality careers, reputations, commercial interests and funding issues all serve to undermine these norms.

But if we really want to look at the role of secrecy, dogma and vested interest in full flow, we could take a look at in the sector to which Robert T Fraley belongs.

Last year, US Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack called for “sound science” to underpin food trade between the US and the EU. However, he seems very selective in applying “sound science” to certain issues. Consumer rights groups in the US are pushing for the labelling of GMO foods, but Vilsack said that putting a label on a foodstuff containing a GM product “risks sending a wrong impression that this was a safety issue.”

Despite what Vilsack would have us believe, many scientific studies show that GMOs are indeed a big safety issue and what’s more are also having grave environmental, social and economic consequences (for example, see this and this).

By not wanting to respond to widespread consumer demands to know what they are eating and risk “sending a wrong impression,” Vislack is trying to prevent proper debate about issues that his corporate backers would find unpalatable: profits would collapse if consumers had the choice to reject the GMOs being fed to them. And ‘corporate backers’ must not be taken as a throwaway term here. Big agritech concerns have captured or at the very least seriously compromised key policy and regulatory bodies in the US (see this), Europe (see this), India (see this) and in fact on a global level (see here regarding control of the WTO).

If Robert T Fraley wants to understand why people doubt science, he should consider what Andy Stirling, Professor of Science and Technology Policy at Sussex University, says:

“The main reason some multinationals prefer GM technologies over the many alternatives is that GM offers more lucrative ways to control intellectual property and global supply chains. To sideline open discussion of these issues, related interests are now trying to deny the many uncertainties and suppress scientific diversity. This undermines democratic debate – and science itself.” (see here)

Coming from the GMO biotech industry, or its political mouthpieces, the term “sound science” rings extremely hollow. The industry carries out inadequate, short-term studies and conceals the data produced by its research under the guise of ‘commercial confidentiality’ (see this), while independent research highlights the very serious dangers of its products [see this and this). It has in the past also engaged in fakery in India (see this), bribery in Indonesia (see this ) and smears and intimidation against those who challenge its interests [see this), as well as the distortion and the censorship of science (see this  and this).

With its aim to modify organisms to create patents that will secure ever greater control over seeds, markets and the food supply, the widely held suspicion is that the GMO agritech sector is only concerned with a certain type of science: that which supports these aims. Because if science is held in such high regard by these corporations, why isn't Monsanto proud of its products? Why in the US doesn't it label foods containing GMOs and throw open its science to public scrutiny, instead of veiling it with secrecy, restricting independent research on its products or resorting to unsavoury tactics?

If science is held in such high regard by the GMO agritech sector, why in the US did policy makers release GM food onto the commercial market without proper long-term tests? The argument used to justify this is GM food is ‘substantially equivalent’ to ordinary food. But this is not based on scientific reason. Foreign genes are being inserted into organisms that studies show make them substantially non-equivalent (see this). Substantial equivalence is a trade strategy on behalf of the GM sector that neatly serves to remove its GMOs from the type of scrutiny usually applied to potentially toxic or harmful substances. The attempt to replace processed-based regulation of GMOs in Europe with product-based regulation would result in serving a similar purpose (see this).

The reason why no labelling or testing has taken place in the US is not due to ‘sound science’ having been applied but comes down to the power and political influence of the GMO biotech sector and because a sound scientific approach has not been applied.

The sector cannot win the scientific debate (although its PR likes to tell the world it has) so it resorts to co-opting key public bodies or individuals to propagate various falsehoods and deceptions (see this). Part of the deception is based on emotional blackmail: the world needs GMOs to feed the hungry, both now and in the future. This myth has been blown apart (see thisthis and this). In fact, in the second of those three links, the organisation GRAIN highlights that GM crops that have been planted thus far have actually contributed to food insecurity.

This is a harsh truth that the industry does not like to face.

People’s faith in science is being shaken on many levels, not least because big corporations have secured access to policy makers and governments and are increasingly funding research and setting research agendas.

“As Andrew Neighbour, former administrator at Washington University in St. Louis, who managed the university’s multiyear and multimillion dollar relationship with Monsanto, admits, "There’s no question that industry money comes with strings. It limits what you can do, when you can do it, who it has to be approved by”…  This raises the question: if Agribusiness giant Monsanto [in India] is funding the research, will Indian agricultural researchers pursue such lines of scientific inquiry as “How will this new rice or wheat variety impact the Indian farmer, or health of Indian public?” The reality is, Monsanto is funding the research not for the benefit of either Indian farmer or public, but for its profit. It is paying researchers to ask questions that it is most interested in having answered.” - 'Monsanto, a Contemporary East India Company, and Corporate Knowledge in India'.  

Ultimately, it is not science itself that people have doubts about but science that is pressed into the service of immensely powerful private corporations and regulatory bodies that are effectively co-opted and adopt a ‘don’t look, don’t find approach’ to studies and products (see thisthis  and this).

Or in the case of releasing GMOs onto the commercial market in the US, bypassing proper scientific procedures and engaging in doublespeak about ‘substantial equivalence’ then hypocritically calling for 'sound science' to inform debates.

The same corporate interests are moreover undermining the peer-review process itself and the ability of certain scientists to get published in journals - the benchmark of scientific credibility. In effect, powerful interests increasingly hold sway over funding, career progression as a scientist, journals and peer review (see this and this, which question the reliability of peer review in the area of GMOs).

Going back to the start of the piece, the question that should have been tweeted is: “Why do people doubt corporate-controlled or influenced science?” After that question, it would have been more revealing to have posted a link to this article here about the unscrupulous history of a certain company from St Louis. That history provides very good reason why so many doubt and challenge powerful corporations and the type of science they fund and promote (or attempt to suppress) and the type of world they seek to create (see this).

“Corporations as the dominant institution shaped by capitalist patriarchy thrive on eco-apartheid. They thrive on the Cartesian legacy of dualism which puts nature against humans. It defines nature as female and passively subjugated. Corporatocentrism is thus also androcentric – a patriarchal construction. The false universalism of man as conqueror and owner of the Earth has led to the technological hubris of geo-engineering, genetic engineering, and nuclear energy. It has led to the ethical outrage of owning life forms through patents, water through privatization, the air through carbon trading. It is leading to appropriation of the biodiversity that serves the poor.” Vandana Shiva


Monsanto on the Menu: Science, Power and GMOs 

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It was a case of Modi mania when Narendra Modi and his BJP ‘swept’ to power in last year’s Indian general election. It was...

Monsanto’s Shares Surge As Its Drive To Force GM Crops Into India Gathers Pace

RINF and Countercurrents 4/2/2015, The 4th Media and Global Research 5/2/2015, Morning Star 10/2/2015, Counterpunch 27/3/2015

It was a case of Modi mania when Narendra Modi and his BJP ‘swept’ to power in last year’s Indian general election. It was however hardly the sweeping endorsement from the voters that much of the corporate media liked to portray it as. The BJP might have took 282 of the 543 seats in the Lok Sabha, but it ‘swept’ to power on only 31 percent of the vote.

Parts of corporate India and the well-off middle classes nevertheless celebrated Modi’s rise to Prime Minister in the belief that they would materially benefit from a ‘Thatcherite-style’ revolution (see here). And many ordinary folk also swallowed the PR about Modi's ‘vibrant Gujarat’ PR campaign, which has been shown to be anything but ‘vibrant’.

Writing on the Countercurrents website, Rohini Hensman shows that GDP growth in Gujarat under Chief Minister Modi was nothing special compared with many other states in India and was supported by wholesale privatisation of public assets, which has in effect meant the state government abdicating responsibility for decision-making processes that impact millions of people's lives by handing them to elite interests (see here). In terms of poverty, rural population displacement, hunger, farmer suicides, corruption, disease and debt, Hensman demonstrates that under Modi the extreme economic neoliberalism practised was anything but a resounding success.

Now at the political helm nationally, Modi and his administration are helping to accelerate a process that could eventually result in the selling of the economic and social bedrock of the country - agriculture - to foreign GMO agribusiness, not least by pushing for open field trials of various GM food crops. (The BJP does not stand alone here, though, as the process was gathering pace under the previous Congress-led administration and Veerappa Moily near the end.)

Some might find it perplexing that a nationalist outfit like BJP would appear willing to hand over food sovereignty and security to foreign agribusiness, such as US giant Monsanto, which seeks to secure control over the supply and growing of seeds and thus the global food chain (for example, see this). (The GMO issue is ultimately about geopolitics, seed freedom and food democracy, see here.)

Investigative journalist and geopolitical analyst Shelley Kasli has outlined the makeover that Modi received from the US-Israeli led APCO Worldwide, a major 'global communications, stakeholder engagement and business strategy' company. Kalsi shows that APCO is well connected to the US/Israeli establishment, helping to promote militaristic policies, economic neoliberalism and the overall strategies of and engagements between governments and powerful corporate interests across the globe (see Kasli’s piece on APCO here).

This is who Modi has previously partnered with to promote Gujarat as ‘vibrant’ and thus himself as potential PM material. There was the suspicion that once in power, Modi would become the go-to man for foreign corporate interests, especially those which are part of the extensive APCO network (and that includes Monsanto).

Facilitating powerful Western corporations' entry into India is not unique to the current administration. The Knowledge Initiative on Agriculture helped the likes of Monsanto, Archer Daniel Midland, Cargill and Wal-Mart’s push into India’s seed, trade and retail sectors in return for concessions in the nuclear field (see here).

Under the Modi-led administration, however, there is a stated commitment to clear away ‘blockages’ that the previous administration was unwilling or unable to do and would no doubt hinder the type of economic neoliberalism Modi presided over in Gujarat. And it is increasingly apparent those ‘blockages’ include smoothing the way for the entry of GM crops.

Ignoring all the evidence and warnings

Writing in The Hindu last year, Aruna Rodrigues noted that the Technical Expert Committee (TEC) Final Report (FR) is the fourth official report exposing the lack of integrity, independence and scientific expertise in assessing GMO risk (see here). The four reports are: The ‘Jairam Ramesh Report’ of February 2010, imposing an indefinite moratorium on Bt Brinjal, overturning the apex Regulator’s approval to commercialise it; the Sopory Committee Report (August 2012); the Parliamentary Standing Committee (PSC) Report on GM crops (August 2012) and the TEC Final Report (June-July 2013). There is a remarkable consensus here.

The TEC recommended an indefinite moratorium on the field trials of GM crops until the government devised a proper regulatory and safety mechanism. No such mechanism exists, but open field trials are being given the go ahead, regardless of a history of blatant violations of biosafety norms, hasty approvals, a lack of monitoring abilities, general apathy towards the hazards of contamination and a lack of institutional oversight mechanisms (see this).

The BJP-ruled Maharashtra government has just granted ‘no-objectiion certificates’ for GM open-field trials of rice, chickpeas maize, brinjal and cotton. Some regard this as a game changer in the push to get GM crops into India. (Punjab, Haryana, Delhi and Andhra Pradesh have given NOCs for field trials of some biotech crops, while states like Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan have banned such research activities.)

On the 2nd February, the Coalition for GM Free India posted the following on its website:

In the wake of media reports about the Maharashtra Govt granting No Objection Certificates (NOCs) for the open air field trials of GM crops in the state, the Coalition for a GM Free India along with the Coalition for a GM Free Maharashtra has sent a letter… to the Chief Minister of Maharashtra urging him not to overlook the growing scientific evidence on the adverse impacts of GM crops as well as the public opposition to it. The fact that the announcement regarding approvals of field trials was made on the sidelines of an event arranged by the International biotechnology industry lobby group, ISAAA, shows in a way the influence International biotech giants like Monsanto as well as their Indian promoters have in every government. Besides this there seems to be no basis on which these open trials could be permitted at a time every other credible agency be it the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Agriculture or the Supreme Court appointed Technical Expert Committee or the TSR Subraminiam committee appointed by the Union Minister of Environment, Forests and Climate Change to look into environmental laws in the country have cautioned against any open release of GMOs at this juncture…” (see here)  

The negative health, environmental and potential dangers of GM crops (not least the surrendering of food sovereignty and security to Western agribusiness and the US) have been well documented (see herehere  and here), while those who legitimately oppose and campaign against GMOs are smeared and portrayed by India's internal intelligence agency as working against the ‘national interest’ (see here).

Monsanto and the GM biotech sector forward the myth that GM food is necessary to feed the world’s burgeoning population. It is not (in India's case, see this and this). Aside from a report from GRAIN (here) that concluded small farms family/peasant farms are more productively efficient than large industrial-scale farms and that the former can (and virtually does) feed the world, the World Bank-funded International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge and Science for Development Report also stated that smallholder, traditional farming can deliver food security in low-income countries through sustainable agri-ecological systems

By attempting to sideline opposition and ignoring expert advice and credible evidence pointing to potential catastrophic consequences if India were to adopt GM crops that it doesn't even need, no one can be in any doubt that there is an agenda at the highest level to push GMOs into India at any cost. It is clear the 'national interest' and (foreign) 'corporate interest' are being conflated (see here).

Agribusiness setting the agenda

If politicians fail to sanction GMO trials, there is a habit that they will be replaced until one of them does (see here). Backed by the US State Department (see here) and parts of the Indian political(-intelligence) elite (as alluded to above), the GMO agribusiness sector has gained a strategic and influential foothold in India and many of its national public bodies. Along with US food processing giants Cargill and Archer Daniels Midland, it threatens to destroy the rural economy by recasting it (and thus Indian society, given that hundreds of millions depend on it for a living) according to its own needs. This would mean moving over 600 million who depend on agriculture and local food processing activities into urban areas (as foreign interests move in). These sectors currently employ tens of millions. Livelihoods will be decimated. What will these people do?

Consider that the number of jobs created in India between 2005 and 2010 was 2.7 million (the years of high GDP growth). According to International Business Times, 15 million enter the workforce every year (see here).  

In APCO’s India Brochure, there is the claim that India’s resilience in weathering the global downturn and financial crisis has made governments, policy-makers, economists, corporate houses and fund managers believe that India can play a significant role in the recovery of the global economy in the months and years ahead. APCO describes India as a trillion dollar market. The emphasis is not on redistributing the country’s wealth among its citizens or the empowerment of farmers, but on positioning international funds and facilitating corporations’ ability to exploit markets and extract profit the best way they can.

In the mainstream media and among many politicians and economists, this constitutes growth and development, but it is neither. It is financial-corporate plunder under the guise of ‘globalisation’. The evidence doesn’t lie. In the West, decades of such policies have culminated in austerity, disempowerment and increasing hardship for the masses and the concentration of ever more wealth and power in the hands of the few.

The evidence doesn’t lie where global agriculture is concerned either. Last year, the Oakland Institute stated that the first years of the 21st century will be remembered for a global land rush headed by institutional investors (the kind of entities that 'global communications and business strategy companies' deal with to 'facilitate 'stakeholder engagement' and 'position funds' to 'exploit markets') of nearly unprecedented scale, often at the expense of local food security and land rights (see here). 

Small farmers are currently squeezed onto less than a quarter of the world’s farmland and the world is fast losing farms and farmers through the concentration of land into the hands big agribusiness and the rich and powerful. According to the report GRAIN (referred to earlier), the concentration of fertile agricultural land in fewer and fewer hands is directly related to the increasing number of people going hungry every day. 

US agribusiness via the World Bank/IMF/WTO has for some time been eyeing Indian agriculture as a cash cow for themselves (see here), and the Modi-led administration is promoting GMO biotechnology as business investment opportunity for foreign companies under the trendy-sounding 'Make in India' campaign. The political subjugation of India by the US partly rests on Monsanto’s overriding control of the nation’s agriculture (see here). Monsanto already dominates the cotton industry in the country and is increasingly shaping agri-policy and the knowledge paradigm by funding agricultural research in public universities and institutes (see here). Moreover, public regulatory bodies are now severely compromised and riddled with conflicts of interest where decision-making over GMOs are concerned, as outlined by Aruna Rodrigues in her article in The Hindu (referred to earlier).

Responding to the decision to sanction the field trials in Maharashtra, Monsanto India shares jumped 18 percent on Monday 2 February and the company was headed towards its biggest daily gain since September 2014. 

Mark Halton, head of Global Marketing and Communications for Monsanto has praised APCO for helping the GMO giant to:

“… understand how Monsanto could better engage with societal stakeholders surrounding our business and how best to communicate the social value our company brings to the table.” (see here

As far as powerful corporations are concerned, not least big agribusiness, it is increasingly clear that Modi is the go-to man. But that's what some in India feared all along. 

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Global Research and Countercurrents 20/6/2014, The 4th Media 22/6/2014

Before being voted out of office this year, the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance administration sanctioned open-field trials of 200 GM food crops in India. Monsanto’s shares rocketed as a result (1). This decision prompted Rajesh Krishnan of the Coalition for a GM Free India to state that government was against the interest of citizens, farmers and the welfare of the nation. Instead, it has decided to work hand in glove with the multinational GM seed industry that stands to gain immensely from the numerous open field trails of GM crops.

Filmmaker Mahesh Batt called Minister Moily, who sanctioned the decision, a “corporate mole” and the Coalition for a GM Free India and Greenpeace condemned Moily's action as "unscientific, anti-people and reeking of vested interests."


Moily’s decision was set against the backdrop of the Supreme Court appointed Technical Expert Committee (TEC) recommending a ten-year moratorium on GM organism approvals till scientifically robust protocols, independent and competent institutions to assess risks and a strong regulatory system were developed. It recommended an indefinite stoppage of all open field trials of GM crops. The Committee insisted that the government bring in independence, scientific expertise, transparency, rigour and participative democracy into GMO regulation and policy.


Environmentalist Aruna Rodrigues points out the risks and drawbacks of GMOs by stating that there is increasing evidence of the health and environment risks from these crops; GM yields are significantly lower than yields from non-GM crops; and pesticide use, the great ‘industry’ claim on these GM crops, instead of coming down, has gone up exponentially. Rodrigues argues that in India, notwithstanding the hype of the industry, the regulators and the Ministry of Agriculture (MoA), Bt cotton yield is levelling off to levels barely higher than they were before the introduction of Bt (2).


Rodrigues wants to know where is the advantage and why are we experimenting given all the attendant risks. We have hard evidence from every UN study and particularly the World Bank-funded International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge and Science for Development Report, which India signed in 2008. 

She adds:

“The IAASTD was the work of over 400 scientists and took four years to complete. It was twice peer reviewed. The report states we must look to small-holder, traditional farming (not GMOs) to deliver food security in third world countries through agri-ecological systems which are sustainable. Governments must invest in these systems. This is the clear evidence.”

The MoA strongly opposed the TEC Committee’s report. This, according to Rodrigues, was to be expected given the conflict of interests:

“The Indian Council of Agriculture Research (ICAR) promotes public-private-partnerships with the biotechnology industry. It does this with the active backing of the Ministry of Science and Technology. The MoA has handed Monsanto and the industry access to our agri-research public institutions placing them in a position to seriously influence agri-policy in India. You cannot have a conflict of interest larger or more alarming than this one. Today, Monsanto decides which Bt cotton hybrids are planted and where. Monsanto owns over 90 per cent of planted cotton seed, all of it Bt cotton.”


All the other staggering scams rocking the nation do have the possibility of recovery and reversal, but, as Rodrigues argues, the GM scam will be of a scale hitherto unknown:

“We have had the National Academies of Science give a clean chit of biosafety to GM crops - doing that by using paragraphs lifted wholesale from the industry’s own literature! Likewise, ministers who know nothing about the risks of GMOs have similarly sung the virtues of Bt Brinjal and its safety to an erstwhile Minister of Health. They have used, literally, “cut & paste” evidence from the biotech lobby’s “puff” material. Are these officials then, “un-caged corporate parrots?”

Arun Shrivastava notes that as early as 2003, when the first ever Bt cotton crop was harvested in Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra, Gene Campaign evaluated the performance of Bt Cotton (3). These studies proved that GE seeds don’t increase yield. He goes on to note that the impleadment to ban GMOs was backed by 6.5 million farmers through their respective associations. It was admitted by the Supreme Court in April 2007 and contains a long list of hard scientific evidences.


Shrivastava states that the Standing Committee on Agriculture in Parliament unanimously and unequivocally concluded that GE seeds and foods are dangerous to human, animal and environmental health and directed the Government of Manmohan Singh to ban GMOs. The 400-page report was submitted to Parliament in October 2012 (4).


As is the case in the UK (5), officialdom in India is working closely with global biotech companies to force GMOs into fields and onto the public, despite evidence pertaining to the deleterious impacts of GMOs on various levels (6,7,8). These companies are in fact playing a key role in determining the overall development agenda for India (9,10,11).


New report attacks anti-GMO activists and organisations


Given the evidence pertaining to the risks and efficacy of GMOs, organisations and activists opposing such crops are being singled out for putting a break on development and growth and for being in the pocket of foreign interests.

A recent Intelligence Bureau (IB) leaked report, ‘Impact of NGOs on Development’, has a special section on GMOs and is clearly supportive of the introduction of GM crops into Indian agriculture. The IB said foreign NGOs and their Indian arms were serving as tools to advance Western foreign policy interests in various areas, of which GMOs comprise one aspect.

In response to the report, Aruna Rodrigues, Vandana Shiva and Kavitha Kuruganti, who were all mentioned in the report, released a statement that turned the tables on the IB by saying that it is conspiring with global corporate interests to haemorrhage India's agricultural economy (12). The report quotes Dr Ronald Herring of Cornell University, who is a known promoter of genetically-modified organisms and Monsanto’s monopoly. Speaking to The Statesman newspaper in India, Aruna Rodrigues said:

"Here is a real foreign hand that informs the IB report. Cornell University, where Dr Herring works, was one of the main forces, along with USAID and Monsanto, behind the making of Bt brinjal in India." (13)
 


Their joint statement goes on to say:

“… the biggest foreign hand by ‘STEALTH’ and official ‘COVER-UP’ will be in GMOs/GM crops if introduced into Indian agriculture. All that stands between a corporate takeover of our seeds and agriculture is the committed and exemplary work by the not-for-profit sector… In conspiring with deeply conflicted institutions of regulation, governance and agriculture… to introduce GM crops into India, the IB will in fact aid the hand-over of the ownership of our seeds and foods to multi-national corporations. This will represent the largest take-over of any nation’s agriculture and future development by foreign-hands… (and)… will plunge India into the biggest breach of internal security; of a biosecurity threat and food security crisis from which we will never recover…. GM crops have already demonstrated no yield gain, no ability to engineer for traits of drought, saline resistance etc and have some serious bio-safety issues which no regulator wishes to examine.”
 


The statement says that India’s Bt cotton is an outstanding example of the above scenario:

“This ‘VALUE CAPTURE’ for Monsanto which was contrived and approved by our own government mortgaging the public interest has ensured that in a short 10 years, 95% of cotton seeds in the form of Bt cotton are owned by Monsanto… It is Monsanto now that decides where cotton should be planted and when by our farmers… The Royalties accruing to Monsanto that have been expatriated are approximately Rs 4800 Crores in 12 years, (excluding other profit mark-ups)… The IB is thus conspiring with global corporate interests to hemorrhage India’s agricultural economy… We call for an investigation on the foreign influence in writing the GMO section in the IB report.”
 


The statement concludes:

“If India’s intelligence agencies become instruments of global corporations working against the public interest and national interest of India, our national security is under threat. This IB report is deeply anti-national and subversive of constitutional rights of citizens in our country. It does India no credit.” 
Criminalising dissent

The leaked IB report has been sent to the Prime Minister's Office, the Home Minister, the National Security Adviser, the Finance Minister and others. Apart from attacking those campaigning against GMOs, the report accuses Greenpeace and other groups of receiving foreign funds to damage economic progress by campaigning against power projects and mining.

The IB is India’s domestic spy service and garners intelligence from within India and also executes counter-intelligence and counter-terrorism tasks. Its report attempts to portray certain NGOs and activists as working against the ‘national interest’ and being in the pay of foreigners. Discrediting certain sections of civil society as being ‘unpatriotic’, by working to undermine some bogus notion of the ‘national interest’, always sits well with ruling elites that are all too ready to play the nationalist card to garner support. Yet, in this case the report itself sides with powerful foreign corporations and, as far as GMOs are concerned, their agenda to secure control over Indian agriculture. Whose interest does that serve?

Those who are exercising their democratic right to challenge and protest corporate-driven policies that are all too often based on staggering levels of corruption and rampant cronyism (14) - and are thus non-transparent and secretive - are being discredited and smeared in the report. However, this should come as no surprise. Various nation states have used their intelligence agencies to monitor, subvert and undermine grass-root activists and civil organizations that have (by acting legitimately and within the law) attempted to hold power holders to account (15). Governments the world over have a tendency to dislike genuine democracy and transparency.  

Greenpeace India was singled out for particular criticism in the report and has responded by saying:

"We believe that this report is designed to muzzle and silence civil society who raise their voices against injustices to people and the environment by asking uncomfortable questions about the current model of growth." (16)
 


Massive human rights abuses, violent oppression and the trampling of democracy in order to push through various industrial projects have been a feature of various administrations in recent decades (17). The clamping down on funding for NGOs and attempts to dampen dissent is nothing new. But the leaking of the IB report is timely. The new Modi administration seeks to speed up projects and the opening of India’s economy to private interests and to more fully embrace the tenets of neo-liberal economic doctrine (18). The report signals that even tougher times lie ahead for civil society and ordinary people who seek to hold officialdom to account as it continues to acquiesce to powerful corporate interests.


Notes

4)      “Cultivation of Genetically Modified Food Crops,” Committee on Agriculture, 37th Report, August 2012. Summary of the report: http://www.gmwatch.eu/index.php/report-on-gm-crops-and-food-security-from-india-s-parliamentary-standing-committee-on-agriculture



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Countercurrents and Global Research 24/3/2014

Indian Oil and Environment Minister Veerappa Moily has added fuel to the debate about genetically modified organisms (GMOs) by approving field trials of 200 GM food crops on behalf of companies like Monsanto, Mahyco, Bayer and BASF. This is despite Supreme Court appointed Technical Expert Committee (TEC) recommending a ten-year moratorium on GM organism approvals until scientifically robust protocols, independent and competent institutions to assess risks and a strong regulatory system are developed.
This will involve a deliberate release of GM organisms in the open environment and a potential contamination of non-GM crops, as has been the case in the US, with GM open field trials having contaminated parts of the wheat supply (1). Despite mounting evidence appearing in peer-reviewed journals that GM and glyphosate are adversely impacting human health, the nutritional value of food crops, plant immunity, soil fertility, biodiversity, the environment and yields (2 - 15), politicians seem hell-bent on facilitating the aims of the GM biotech sector.

It was a similar story with the ‘Green Revolution’. The Rockefeller and Ford Foundations backed this chemical-laden revolution in agriculture and managed to co-opt strategically placed scientists, institutions and politicians in various areas of the globe (16). With their compliance, the result has been that over the past 50 to 60 years, thanks to chemical fertilizers and pesticides, agriculture has changed more than it did during the previous 12,000 years.

We need look no further than Punjab to see the impact of the Green Revolution. Reports of water scarcities and contamination, increasing levels of cancer, farmer indebtedness and decreasing yields highlight the unsustainable and deleterious impacts of chemical-industrial agriculture (17). It all begs the question, what was wrong with agriculture in the first place that warranted this disastrous shift towards chemical agriculture and now GMOs? The answer to that is, by comparison, probably not a lot.  

In 2013, researchers at the University of Canterbury in New Zealand concluded that the GM strategy used in North American staple crop production is limiting yields and increasing pesticide use compared to non-GM farming in Western Europe (18). Led by Professor Jack Heinemann, the study’s findings were published in the International Journal of Agricultural Sustainability. The study found that Europe is decreasing chemical herbicide use and achieving even larger declines in insecticide use without sacrificing yield gains, while chemical herbicide use in the US has increased with GM seed. In effect, Europe has learned to grow more food per hectare and use fewer chemicals in the process.


Moreover, a September 2013 report by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) states that farming in rich and poor nations alike should shift from monoculture towards greater varieties of crops, reduce the use of fertilisers and other inputs, provide greater support for small-scale farmers and move towards more locally focused production and consumption of food. More than 60 international experts contributed to the report (19).


The report states that monoculture and industrial farming methods are not providing sufficient affordable food where it is needed, while causing mounting and unsustainable environmental damage. The system actually causes food poverty, not addresses it.


As for India, Arun Shrivastava notes that the world doesn’t need modern technology of poisonous pesticides, destructive fertilizers and patented GE seeds that can’t match 1890 or even 1760 AD yields in India (12). But even if we discard the debate over yields, Shrivastava (and others) asserts that modern technology has actually destroyed the nutrition in common foods and that, failing to set any yield or nutrition standard in any food crop, it is part of an insane industry that has muddled through.

So, how did we arrive at this stage, whereby 12,000 years of conventional farming were swept aside in favour of chemical/oil-based agriculture? 

As William F Engdahl argues, the Green Revolution was a Rockefeller family plan to monopolize global agriculture as it had done with oil. It was aimed at removing traditional agriculture from farmers and placing it in the hands of corporate agribusiness. As a result, large multinational seed companies were able to control seed supplies. Moreover, the introduction of modern USagricultural technology, chemical fertilizers and commercial seeds made local farmers in developing countries dependent on USagribusiness.

Developing nations could not pay for the huge amounts of chemical fertilizers and pesticides. This new form of agriculture was also water intensive and required large irrigation projects. Nations would therefore get credit courtesy of the World Bank and special loans made large US banks to construct huge dams and flood previously fertile farmland. The loans went mostly to the large landowners. For the smaller peasants the situation worked differently. Small peasant farmers could not afford the chemical and other modern inputs and had to borrow money at higher rates of interest from elsewhere.

Engdahl notes that super-wheat produced greater yields only by saturating the soil with huge amounts of fertilizer per acre, the fertilizer being the product of nitrates and petroleum, commodities controlled by the Rockefeller-dominated major oil companies.

After two generations of the green revolution, is it any surprise that agriculture in Indiais in the grip of a combined social, financial and environmental crisis (20)?

Ordinary people, if they are not to be what Vandana Shiva calls ‘ignorant links' in a malicious corporate-controlled food chain, therefore need to question why governments have kowtowed to a US-driven agenda of chemical and now GMO agriculture. Africais now targeted for more of the same as the Gates Foundation spearheads the GMO onslaught in that continent (21).

12,000 years of traditional agriculture and biodiversity are being swept aside along with ordinary farmers by vested interests in the US whose geopolitical aim has to been to monopolize markets and ultimately use food as a weapon to control nations and people by destroying national food sovereignty and potentially using food as a means to depopulate (22,23).

“If you control the oil you control the country; if you control food, you control the population.” - Former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger (12)

This is in addition to the fact that wider ‘corporate America’ is already setting the broad political, ‘development’ and economic agenda in India:

“And something Americans don’t know much about, the nuclear deal with India has a twin agreement, and that twin agreement is on agriculture. It’s called the Knowledge Initiative on Agriculture, and on the board of this agreement are Monsanto, ADM and Wal-Mart. So a grab of the seed sector by Monsanto, of the trade sector by the giant agribusiness, and the retail sector, which is 400 million people in India, by Wal-Mart. These are issues that are preoccupying us for about democracy in India right now.” Vandana Shiva (24).

It’s not just ‘Americans’ that don’t know about this, but most ordinary Indians too!

But even with the upcoming national elections, no one should expect self-proclaimed Hindu-nationalist party BJP to protect the country from the foreign jackals if it gains power. BJP candidate for PM Narendra Modi is fully backed by Wall Street (25).

What future Indian agriculture?
What future India?
600 million booted off the land and the further hollowing out of Indian society at the behest of Wall Street (26)?   


Notes


























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Global food control has nearly been achieved, by reducing seed diversity with GMO (genetically modified) seeds that are distributed by only a few transnational corporations. But this agenda has been implemented at grave cost to our health; and if the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) passes, control over not just our food but our health, our environment and our financial system will be in the hands of transnational corporations.

Profits Before Populations

Genetic engineering has made proprietary control possible over the seeds on which the world’s food supply depends. “Terminator” genes enable the production of sterile seeds, using a synthetic chemical catalyst appropriately called “Traitor” to induce seed sterility. Farmers must therefore buy seeds from their patent owners year after year. To cover these costs, food prices are raised; but the harm is far greater than to our pocketbooks.

According to an Acres USA interview of plant pathologist Don Huber, Professor Emeritus at Purdue University, two modified traits account for practically all of the genetically modified crops grown in the world today. One involves insect resistance. The other, more disturbing modification involves insensitivity to glyphosate-based herbicides (plant-killing chemicals). Often known as Roundup after the best-selling Monsanto product of that name, glyphosate poisons everything in its path except plants genetically modified to resist it.

Glyphosate-based herbicides are now the most commonly used herbicides in the world. Glyphosate is an essential partner to the GMOs that are the principal business of the burgeoning biotech industry. Glyphosate is a “broad-spectrum” herbicide that destroys indiscriminately, not by killing unwanted plants directly but by tying up access to critical nutrients.

Because of the insidious way in which it works, it has been sold as a relatively benign replacement for the devastating earlier dioxin-based herbicides. But a barrage of experimental data has now shown glyphosate and the GMO foods incorporating it to pose serious dangers to health. Compounding the risk is the toxicity of “inert” ingredients used to make glyphosate more potent. Researchers have found, for example, that the surfactant POEA can kill human cells, particularly embryonic, placental and umbilical cord cells. But these risks have been conveniently ignored.

The widespread use of GMO foods and glyphosate herbicides helps explain the anomaly that the US spends over twice as much per capita on healthcare as the average developed country, yet it is rated far down the scale of the world’s healthiest populations. The World Health Organization has ranked the US LAST out of 17 developed nations for overall health.

Sixty to seventy percent of the foods in US supermarkets are now genetically modified. By contrast, in at least 26 other countries—including Switzerland, Australia, Austria, China, India, France, Germany, Hungary, Luxembourg, Greece, Bulgaria, Poland, Italy, Mexico and Russia—GMOs are totally or partially banned; and significant restrictions on GMOs exist in about sixty other countries.

A ban on GMO and glyphosate use might go far toward improving the health of Americans. But the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a global trade agreement for which the Obama Administration has sought Fast Track status, would block that sort of cause-focused approach to the healthcare crisis.

Roundup’s Insidious Effects

Roundup-resistant crops escape being killed by glyphosate, but they do not avoid absorbing it into their tissues. Herbicide-tolerant crops have substantially higher levels of herbicide residues than other crops. In fact, many countries have had to increase their legally allowable levels—by up to 50 times—in order to accommodate the introduction of GM crops. In the European Union, residues in food are set to rise 100-150 times if a new proposal by Monsanto is approved. Meanwhile, herbicide-tolerant “super-weeds” have adapted to the chemical, requiring even more toxic doses and new toxic chemicals to kill the plant.

Human enzymes are affected by glyphosate just as plant enzymes are: the chemical blocks the uptake of manganese and other essential minerals. Without those minerals, we cannot properly metabolize our food. That helps explain the rampant epidemic of obesity in the United States. People eat and eat in an attempt to acquire the nutrients that are simply not available in their food.

According to researchers Samsell and Seneff in Biosemiotic Entropy: Disorder, Disease, and Mortality (April 2013):

Glyphosate’s inhibition of cytochrome P450 (CYP) enzymes is an overlooked component of its toxicity to mammals. CYP enzymes play crucial roles in biology . . . . Negative impact on the body is insidious and manifests slowly over time as inflammation damages cellular systems throughout the body. Consequences are most of the diseases and conditions associated with a Western diet, which include gastrointestinal disorders, obesity, diabetes, heart disease, depression, autism, infertility, cancer and Alzheimer’s disease.

More than 40 diseases have been linked to glyphosate use, and more keep appearing. In September 2013, the National University of Rio Cuarto, Argentina, published research finding that glyphosate enhances the growth of fungi that produce aflatoxin B1, one of the most carcinogenic of substances. A doctor from Chaco, Argentina, told Associated Press, “We’ve gone from a pretty healthy population to one with a high rate of cancer, birth defects and illnesses seldom seen before.” Fungi growths have increased significantly in US corn crops.

Glyphosate has also done serious damage to the environment. According to an October 2012 report by the Institute of Science in Society:

Agribusiness claims that glyphosate and glyphosate-tolerant crops will improve crop yields, increase farmers’ profits and benefit the environment by reducing pesticide use. Exactly the opposite is the case. . . . [T]he evidence indicates that glyphosate herbicides and glyphosate-tolerant crops have had wide-ranging detrimental effects, including glyphosate resistant super weeds, virulent plant (and new livestock) pathogens, reduced crop health and yield, harm to off-target species from insects to amphibians and livestock, as well as reduced soil fertility.

Politics Trumps Science

In light of these adverse findings, why have Washington and the European Commission continued to endorse glyphosate as safe? Critics point to lax regulations, heavy influence from corporate lobbyists, and a political agenda that has more to do with power and control than protecting the health of the people.

In the ground-breaking 2007 book Seeds of Destruction: The Hidden Agenda of Genetic Manipulation, William Engdahl states that global food control and depopulation became US strategic policy under Rockefeller protégé Henry Kissinger. Along with oil geopolitics, they were to be the new “solution” to the threats to US global power and continued US access to cheap raw materials from the developing world. In line with that agenda, the government has shown extreme partisanship in favor of the biotech agribusiness industry, opting for a system in which the industry “voluntarily” polices itself. Bio-engineered foods are treated as “natural food additives,” not needing any special testing.

Jeffrey M. Smith, Executive Director of the Institute for Responsible Technology, confirms that US Food and Drug Administration policy allows biotech companies to determine if their own foods are safe. Submission of data is completely voluntary. He concludes:

In the critical arena of food safety research, the biotech industry is without accountability, standards, or peer-review. They’ve got bad science down to a science.

Whether or not depopulation is an intentional part of the agenda, widespread use of GMO and glyphosate is having that result. The endocrine-disrupting properties of glyphosate have been linked to infertility, miscarriage, birth defects and arrested sexual development. In Russian experiments, animals fed GM soy were sterile by the third generation. Vast amounts of farmland soil are also being systematically ruined by the killing of beneficial microorganisms that allow plant roots to uptake soil nutrients.

In Gary Null’s eye-opening documentary Seeds of Death: Unveiling the Lies of GMOs, Dr. Bruce Lipton warns, “We are leading the world into the sixth mass extinction of life on this planet. . . . Human behavior is undermining the web of life.”

The TPP and International Corporate Control

As the devastating conclusions of these and other researchers awaken people globally to the dangers of Roundup and GMO foods, transnational corporations are working feverishly with the Obama administration to fast-track the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a trade agreement that would strip governments of the power to regulate transnational corporate activities. Negotiations have been kept secret from Congress but not from corporate advisors, 600 of whom have been consulted and know the details. According to Barbara Chicherio in Nation of Change:

The Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) has the potential to become the biggest regional Free Trade Agreement in history. . . .

The chief agricultural negotiator for the US is the former Monsanto lobbyist, Islam Siddique.  If ratified the TPP would impose punishing regulations that give multinational corporations unprecedented right to demand taxpayer compensation for policies that corporations deem a barrier to their profits.

. . . They are carefully crafting the TPP to insure that citizens of the involved countries have no control over food safety, what they will be eating, where it is grown, the conditions under which food is grown and the use of herbicides and pesticides.

Food safety is only one of many rights and protections liable to fall to this super-weapon of international corporate control. In an April 2013 interview on The Real News Network, Kevin Zeese called the TPP “NAFTA on steroids” and “a global corporate coup.” He warned:

No matter what issue you care about—whether its wages, jobs, protecting the environment . . . this issue is going to adversely affect it . . . .

If a country takes a step to try to regulate the financial industry or set up a public bank to represent the public interest, it can be sued . . . .

Return to Nature: Not Too Late

There is a safer, saner, more earth-friendly way to feed nations. While Monsanto and US regulators are forcing GM crops on American families, Russian families are showing what can be done with permaculture methods on simple garden plots. In 2011, 40% of Russia’s food was grown on dachas (cottage gardens or allotments). Dacha gardens produced over 80% of the country’s fruit and berries, over 66% of the vegetables, almost 80% of the potatoes and nearly 50% of the nation’s milk, much of it consumed raw. According to Vladimir Megre, author of the best-selling Ringing Cedars Series:

Essentially, what Russian gardeners do is demonstrate that gardeners can feed the world – and you do not need any GMOs, industrial farms, or any other technological gimmicks to guarantee everybody’s got enough food to eat. Bear in mind that Russia only has 110 days of growing season per year – so in the US, for example, gardeners’ output could be substantially greater. Today, however, the area taken up by lawns in the US is two times greater than that of Russia’s gardens – and it produces nothing but a multi-billion-dollar lawn care industry.

In the US, only about 0.6 percent of the total agricultural area is devoted to organic farming. This area needs to be vastly expanded if we are to avoid “the sixth mass extinction.” But first, we need to urge our representatives to stop Fast Track, vote no on the TPP, and pursue a global phase-out of glyphosate-based herbicides and GMO foods. Our health, our finances and our environment are at stake.

____________________________

Ellen Brown is an attorney, president of the Public Banking Institute, and author of twelve books, including the best-selling Web of Debt. In The Public Bank Solution, her latest book, she explores successful public banking models historically and globally. Her blog articles are at EllenBrown.com.

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Monsanto and the Seeds of Suicide

Vijaya, 22, and her husband Avalu, 28, cultivated cotton Bt on their 5 acres of land. Due to unbearable debts and recent bad harvests, Avalu committed suicide by swallowing pesticide in 2005. Vijaya remains alone with her two daughters, Venalla, 5, and Navyer, 2. In order to provide for her family, she works in the fields where she earns 100 rupees a day in paddy fields (rice) or 25 rupees in cotton fields. She owes the bank 1 lackh rupees. She wants to keep her land for her daughters’ dowries. In the countryside, a widow with two children cannot remarry because the men refuse to support the children from a previous marriage. (Photo: Viviane Dalles*)

“Monsanto is an agricultural company. We apply innovation and technology to help farmers around the world produce more while conserving more.”

“Producing more, Conserving more, Improving farmers lives.”

These are the promises Monsanto India’s website makes, alongside pictures of smiling, prosperous farmers from the state of Maharashtra. This is a desperate attempt by Monsanto and its PR machinery to delink the epidemic of farmers’ suicides in India from the company’s growing control over cotton seed supply — 95 per cent of India’s cotton seed is now controlled by Monsanto.

Control over seed is the first link in the food chain because seed is the source of life. When a corporation controls seed, it controls life, especially the life of farmers.

Monsanto’s concentrated control over the seed sector in India as well as across the world is very worrying. This is what connects farmers’ suicides in India to Monsanto vs Percy Schmeiser in Canada, to Monsanto vs Bowman in the US, and to farmers in Brazil suing Monsanto for $2.2 billion for unfair collection of royalty.

Through patents on seed, Monsanto has become the “Life Lord” of our planet, collecting rents for life’s renewal from farmers, the original breeders.

Monsanto’s seed monopolies, the destruction of alternatives, the collection of superprofits in the form of royalties, and the increasing vulnerability of monocultures has created a context for debt, suicides and agrarian distress which is driving the farmers’ suicide epidemic in India.

Patents on seed are illegitimate because putting a toxic gene into a plant cell is not “creating” or “inventing” a plant. These are seeds of deception — the deception that Monsanto is the creator of seeds and life; the deception that while Monsanto sues farmers and traps them in debt, it pretends to be working for farmers’ welfare, and the deception that GMOs feed the world. GMOs are failing to control pests and weeds, and have instead led to the emergence of superpests and superweeds.

The entry of Monsanto in the Indian seed sector was made possible with a 1988 Seed Policy imposed by the World Bank, requiring the Government of India to deregulate the seed sector. Five things changed with Monsanto’s entry: First, Indian companies were locked into joint-ventures and licensing arrangements, and concentration over the seed sector increased. Second, seed which had been the farmers’ common resource became the “intellectual property” of Monsanto, for which it started collecting royalties, thus raising the costs of seed. Third, open pollinated cotton seeds were displaced by hybrids, including GMO hybrids. A renewable resource became a non-renewable, patented commodity. Fourth, cotton which had earlier been grown as a mixture with food crops now had to be grown as a monoculture, with higher vulnerability to pests, disease, drought and crop failure. Fifth, Monsanto started to subvert India’s regulatory processes and, in fact, started to use public resources to push its non-renewable hybrids and GMOs through so-called public-private partnerships (PPP).

In 1995, Monsanto introduced its Bt technology in India through a joint-venture with the Indian company Mahyco. In 1997-98, Monsanto started open field trials of its GMO Bt cotton illegally and announced that it would be selling the seeds commercially the following year. India has rules for regulating GMOs since 1989, under the Environment Protection Act. It is mandatory to get approval from the Genetic Engineering Approval Committee under the ministry of environment for GMO trials. The Research Foundation for Science, Technology and Ecology sued Monsanto in the Supreme Court of India and Monsanto could not start the commercial sales of its Bt cotton seeds until 2002.

And, after the damning report of India’s parliamentary committee on Bt crops in August 2012, the panel of technical experts appointed by the Supreme Court recommended a 10-year moratorium on field trials of all GM food and termination of all ongoing trials of transgenic crops.

But it had changed Indian agriculture already.

Monsanto’s seed monopolies, the destruction of alternatives, the collection of superprofits in the form of royalties, and the increasing vulnerability of monocultures has created a context for debt, suicides and agrarian distress which is driving the farmers’ suicide epidemic in India. This systemic control has been intensified with Bt cotton. That is why most suicides are in the cotton belt.

An internal advisory by the agricultural ministry of India in January 2012 had this to say to the cotton-growing states in India — “Cotton farmers are in a deep crisis since shifting to Bt cotton. The spate of farmer suicides in 2011-12 has been particularly severe among Bt cotton farmers.”

The highest acreage of Bt cotton is in Maharashtra and this is also where the highest farmer suicides are. Suicides increased after Bt cotton was introduced — Monsanto’s royalty extraction, and the high costs of seed and chemicals have created a debt trap. According to Government of India data, nearly 75 per cent rural debt is due to purchase inputs. As Monsanto’s profits grow, farmers’ debt grows. It is in this systemic sense that Monsanto’s seeds are seeds of suicide. The ultimate seeds of suicide is Monsanto’s patented technology to create sterile seeds. (Called “Terminator technology” by the media, sterile seed technology is a type of Gene Use Restriction Technology, GRUT, in which seed produced by a crop will not grow — crops will not produce viable offspring seeds or will produce viable seeds with specific genes switched off.) The Convention on Biological Diversity has banned its use, otherwise Monsanto would be collecting even higher profits from seed.

Monsanto’s talk of “technology” tries to hide its real objectives of ownership and control over seed where genetic engineering is just a means to control seed and the food system through patents and intellectual property rights.

A Monsanto representative admitted that they were “the patient’s diagnostician, and physician all in one” in writing the patents on life-forms, from micro-organisms to plants, in the TRIPS’ agreement of WTO. Stopping farmers from saving seeds and exercising their seed sovereignty was the main objective. Monsanto is now extending its patents to conventionally bred seed, as in the case of broccoli and capsicum, or the low gluten wheat it had pirated from India which we challenged as a biopiracy case in the European Patent office.

That is why we have started Fibres of Freedom in the heart of Monsanto’s Bt cotton/suicide belt in Vidharba. We have created community seed banks with indigenous seeds and helped farmers go organic. No GMO seeds, no debt, no suicides.

*In 2006, photographer Vivian Dalles created this photo essay of Indian cotton farmers who had begun planting Monsanta's genetically modified hybrid seeds.

© 2013 Asian Age

Vandana Shiva

Dr. Vandana Shiva is a philosopher, environmental activist and eco feminist. She is the founder/director of Navdanya Research Foundation for Science, Technology, and Ecology. She is author of numerous books including, Soil Not Oil: Environmental Justice in an Age of Climate Crisis; Stolen Harvest: The Hijacking of the Global Food Supply; Earth Democracy: Justice, Sustainability, and Peace; and Staying Alive: Women, Ecology, and Development. Shiva has also served as an adviser to governments in India and abroad as well as NGOs, including the International Forum on Globalization, the Women’s Environment and Development Organization and the Third World Network. She has received numerous awards, including 1993 Right Livelihood Award (Alternative Nobel Prize) and the 2010 Sydney Peace Prize.

What it Means that Monsanto Holds the Patents on Life

How long are we going to let Monsanto bully farmers and politicians into controlling the very source of life on earth?

Photo Credit: © igor.stevanovic/ Shutterstock.com

March 1, 2013  |  

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Last week, the U.S. Supreme Court began hearing arguments in a seed patent infringement case that pits a small farmer from Indiana, 75-year old Vernon Hugh Bowman, against biotech goliath Monsanto. Reporters from the New York Times to the Sacramento Bee dissected the legal arguments. They speculated on the odds. They opined on the impact a Monsanto loss might have, not only on genetically modified crops, but on medical research and software.

What most of them didn’t report on is the absurdity – and the danger – of allowing companies to patent living organisms in the first place, and then use those patents to attempt to monopolize world seed and food production.

The case boils down to this. Monsanto sells its patented genetically engineered (GE) “Roundup Ready” soybean seeds to farmers under a contract that prohibits the farmers from saving the next-generation seeds and replanting them. Farmers like Mr. Bowman who buy Monsanto’s GE seeds are required to buy new seeds every year. For years, Mr. Bowman played by Monsanto’s rules. Then in 2007, he bought an unmarked mix of soybeans from a grain elevator and planted them. Some of the soybeans turned out to have been grown from Monsanto’s patented Roundup Ready soybean seeds. Monsanto sued Mr. Bowman, won, and the court ordered the farmer to pay the company $84,000. Mr. Bowman appealed, arguing that he unknowingly bought soybeans grown from Monsanto’s seeds, not the seeds themselves, and that therefore the law of “patent exhaustion” applies.

The press and public have fixated on the sticky legal details of the case, and the classic David vs. Goliath nature of the fight. But win or lose, Mr. Bowman’s predicament is part of a much bigger problem.

The real issue is this: Why have we surrendered control over something so basic to human survival as seeds? Why have we bought into the biotech industry’s program, which pushes a few monoculture commodity crops, when history and science have proven that seed biodiversity is essential for growing crops capable of surviving severe climate conditions, such as drought and floods?

As physicist and environmentalist Vandana Shiva explains, we have turned seed, which is the heart of a traditional diversity-rich farming system across the world, into a powerful commodity, used to monopolize the food system. According to a recent report by the Center for Food Safety and Save our Seeds, three companies – Monsanto, DuPont and Syngenta – control 53 percent of the global commercial seed market. They have pressured farmers to replace diverse, nutritional seeds, seeds that are resilient because they’ve been bred by small-scale farmers to adapt to local climates and soil conditions, with monocultures of genetically engineered seeds. In the U.S. these crops are predominately corn and soybeans. According to the report, entitled “Seed Giants vs. U.S. Farmers,” 93 percent of soybeans and 86 percent of corn crops in the U.S. come from patented, genetically engineered seeds.

Monsanto profits handsomely from selling its patented seeds. But the real profits are in selling farmers its proprietary pesticides, like Roundup. Farmers can spray huge amounts of Roundup on Monsanto’s Roundup Ready soybeans, killing everything except the soybean plants. It’s a win-win for Monsanto. And it’s sold as a win to farmers, who have been told that by following the Monsanto method, they’ll increase their yields and make more money. Monsanto even claims that its GE crops are the answer to world hunger.

But little of what Monsanto has promised, to farmers and the world, has proven true.

Since farmers first began buying into Monsanto’s scheme in 1995, the average cost to plant one acre of soybeans has risen 325 percent, according to the Center for Food Safety’s report. Corn seed prices are up by 259 percent. Those increases don’t include the cost of the lawsuits Monsanto has aggressively filed against farmers the company claims have violated patent agreements. By the end of 2012, Center for Food Safety calculates that Monsanto had received over $23.5 million from patent infringement lawsuits against farmers and farm businesses.

‘Future of Food at Stake’ as Indiana Farmer Takes Monsanto to Top Court

75 year old Indiana soybean farmer, Vernon Hugh Bowman, is taking agriculture giant Monsanto to the supreme court over one of the most "systemic crisis" in modern farming: who controls the rights to the seeds planted in the ground.

Farmer Hugh Bowman on his Sandborn, Ind. farm. (Photo: AJ MastWashington Post) "I really don't consider it as David and Goliath. I don't think of it in those terms. I think of it in terms of right and wrong," said the farmer in a recent interview. 

Filed on Bowman's behalf by sustainable food and farming organizations, the Center for Food Safety (CFS) and Save Our Seeds (SOS), the appeal challenges the multi-billion dollar corporation over their restrictive seed saving policies and the "agressive protection" of their soybean, known as Roundup Ready, which has been genetically engineered to resist certain herbicides.

“Mr. Bowman’s case represents a systemic crisis in U.S. agriculture,” said CFS Executive Director, Andrew Kimbrell.  “Through a patenting system that favors the rights of corporations over the rights of farmers and citizens, our food and farming system is being held hostage by a handful of companies.  Nothing less than the future of food is at stake.”

Farmers using Monsanto products are legally obligated to harvest only the resulting crop and not take-part in the prudent and age-old tradition of seed-saving, forcing them to purchase new Monsanto seeds each year.

The Guardian reports:

Bowman, who has farmed the same stretch of land for most of the past four decades and grew up on a farm, ended up on Monsanto's radar for using [excess soybeans purchased from local grain elevators, some of which happened to contain Roundup Ready genes, rather than purchasing from Monsanto directly]– for year after year and replanting part of each crop. He did not do so for his main crop of soybeans, but rather for a smaller 'second late season planting' usually planted on a field that had just been harvested for wheat. 'We have always had the right to go to an elevator, buy some 'junk grain' and use it for seed if you desire,' Bowman said.

Monsanto consequently sued Bowman for "infringing the firm's patent rights" eventually winning a legal settlement of some $84,456.

Bowman, already bankrupt from a previous land deal, said he had little to lose in the case. "I made up my mind to fight it until I could not fight it anymore. I thought: I am not going to play dead."

“Monsanto should not be able, just because they’ve got millions and millions of dollars to spend on legal fees, to try to terrify farmers into making them obey their agreements by massive force and threats,” he adds.

The brief, filed by CFS and SOS, asks the court to end the practice of allowing corporations to place conditions on the sale of its seed and to reject an “end-run around patent exhaustion” for regeneration. It continues:  

The current intellectual property environment of transgenic crops has spurred the privatization and concentration of the world’s seed supply. Market concentration has resulted in 10 multinational corporations holding approximately two-thirds (65%) of commercial seed for major crops, reducing choice and innovation, and increasing prices for the American farmer. 

The Supreme court is scheduled to hear oral arguments later this month.

‘Future of Food at Stake’ as Indiana Farmer Takes Monsanto to Top Court

75 year-old Indiana soybean farmer, Vernon Hugh Bowman, is taking agriculture giant Monsanto to the US Supreme Court over one of the most "systemic crisis" in modern farming: who controls the rights to the seeds planted in the ground.

Farmer Hugh Bowman on his Sandborn, Ind. farm. (Photo: AJ MastWashington Post) "I really don't consider it as David and Goliath. I don't think of it in those terms. I think of it in terms of right and wrong," said the farmer in a recent interview. 

Filed on Bowman's behalf by sustainable food and farming organizations, the Center for Food Safety (CFS) and Save Our Seeds (SOS), the appeal challenges the multi-billion dollar corporation over their restrictive seed saving policies and the "agressive protection" of their soybean, known as Roundup Ready, which has been genetically engineered to resist certain herbicides.

“Mr. Bowman’s case represents a systemic crisis in U.S. agriculture,” said CFS Executive Director, Andrew Kimbrell.  “Through a patenting system that favors the rights of corporations over the rights of farmers and citizens, our food and farming system is being held hostage by a handful of companies.  Nothing less than the future of food is at stake.”

Farmers using Monsanto products are legally obligated to harvest only the resulting crop and not take-part in the prudent and age-old tradition of seed-saving, forcing them to purchase new Monsanto seeds each year.

The Guardian reports:

Bowman, who has farmed the same stretch of land for most of the past four decades and grew up on a farm, ended up on Monsanto's radar for using [excess soybeans purchased from local grain elevators, some of which happened to contain Roundup Ready genes, rather than purchasing from Monsanto directly]– for year after year and replanting part of each crop. He did not do so for his main crop of soybeans, but rather for a smaller 'second late season planting' usually planted on a field that had just been harvested for wheat. 'We have always had the right to go to an elevator, buy some 'junk grain' and use it for seed if you desire,' Bowman said.

Monsanto consequently sued Bowman for "infringing the firm's patent rights" eventually winning a legal settlement of some $84,456.

Bowman, already bankrupt from a previous land deal, said he had little to lose in the case. "I made up my mind to fight it until I could not fight it anymore. I thought: I am not going to play dead."

“Monsanto should not be able, just because they’ve got millions and millions of dollars to spend on legal fees, to try to terrify farmers into making them obey their agreements by massive force and threats,” he adds.

The brief, filed by CFS and SOS, asks the court to end the practice of allowing corporations to place conditions on the sale of its seed and to reject an “end-run around patent exhaustion” for regeneration. It continues:

The current intellectual property environment of transgenic crops has spurred the privatization and concentration of the world’s seed supply. Market concentration has resulted in 10 multinational corporations holding approximately two-thirds (65%) of commercial seed for major crops, reducing choice and innovation, and increasing prices for the American farmer.

The Supreme Court is scheduled to hear oral arguments later this month.

Soybean Farmer Takes Monsanto to Supreme Court

Soybean Farmer Takes Monsanto to Supreme Court

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Posted on Feb 9, 2013
jster91 (CC BY 2.0)

Soybean crops.

A single 75-year-old Indiana soybean farmer in rural southwestern Indiana is taking on the multibillion dollar agricultural giant Monsanto over the issue of who controls the rights to seeds planted in the ground.

When confronted with the David vs. Goliath nature of his battle, Vernon Hugh Bowman told The Guardian: “I really don’t consider it as David and Goliath. I don’t think of it in those terms. I think of it in terms of right and wrong.”

In the next few weeks, legal teams representing Bowman and Monsanto will face off in front of the U.S. supreme court. The dispute pertains to Monsanto’s “aggressive protection” of a proprietary soybean it calls Roundup Ready. The bean has been genetically engineered to resist its Roundup herbicide and the product’s generic equivalents.

The company maintains that when farmers like Bowman plant Monsanto’s seeds, they are obligated to harvest only the resulting crop and not use any of it for planting the following year. The arrangement means that farmers have to buy new Monsanto seeds each year.

“[D]espite the vast sums of money involved in modern farming, it is ironically Bowman’s own lack of cash that has seen the case end up at the supreme court,” Paul Harris reports at The Guardian. “Monsanto has a long record of reaching settlements with commercially pressured farmers it targets for patent infringements. But when the firm sued Bowman, he was already bankrupt after an unrelated land deal went wrong. Thus, he had little to lose. ‘I made up my mind to fight it until I could not fight it anymore,’ he said. ‘I thought: I am not going to play dead.’”

—Posted by Alexander Reed Kelly.

The Guardian:

[F]armers are able to buy excess soybeans from local grain elevators, many of which are likely to be Roundup Ready due to the huge dominance Monsanto has in the market. Indeed in Indiana it is believed more than 90% of soybeans for sale as “commodity seeds” could be such beans, each containing the genes Monsanto developed.

Bowman, who has farmed the same stretch of land for most of the past four decades and grew up on a farm, ended up on Monsanto’s radar for using such seeds – bought from a local grain elevator, rather than Monsanto – for year after year and replanting part of each crop. He did not do so for his main crop of soybeans, but rather for a smaller “second late season planting” usually planted on a field that had just been harvested for wheat. “We have always had the right to go to an elevator, buy some ‘junk grain’ and use it for seed if you desire,” Bowman said.

To put it mildly, Monsanto disagrees. The firm insists that it maintains patent rights on its genetically modified seeds even if sold by a third party with no restrictions put on its use – even if the seeds are actually only descendants of the original Monsanto seeds. To that end it sued Bowman, eventually winning a legal settlement of some $84,456 (£53,500) against him for infringing the firm’s patent rights. Monsanto says that if it allowed Bowman to keep replanting his seeds it would undermine its business model, endangering the expensive research that it uses to produce advanced agricultural products.

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Behind the scenes: Undercover shareholder pushes for transparency at Monsanto

Safe food activists protested a shareholder meeting at Monsanto’s HQ, calling for more transparency in the company’s actions. Adam Eidinger, who bought shares only to have a say, revealed what they discussed behind the scenes.

­About a dozen protesters calling themselves Occupy Monsanto spent several hours near Monsanto’s headquarters in Creve Coeur as shareholders voted on members for the company’s Board of Directors.

The protesters called for more transparency in the multinational company’s operations especially in labeling, research and business practices.

Adam Eidinger who owns 75 Monsanto shares read his speech to the protesters before heading to the meeting to address shareholders with a statement on behalf of Pesticide Action Network, the company, which submitted the study on potential risks of using GMOs.

RT: You are a Monsanto shareholder, so you're obviously interested in the company making a profit. But you are planning to speak on behalf of the company which submitted the study on the potential risks of Monsanto products. Why are you doing this?

AE: Well the resolution we had would have required a report to be written that could be shared with researchers and scientists across the globe about the risks that they know – the company knows already – about their genetically modified crops. Which many safe food activists believe make us more reliant on herbicides and chemicals that the company also sells. And these chemicals may be what’s causing higher rates of cancer in industrialized nations across the globe.

We know how it caused tumors in rats that were fed in long term studies last year. Dr. Seralini’s study was a topic during this shareholder meeting, I brought it up. I was able to speak during the meeting.

And this meeting was closed to the public, as you said. And one of the things we are asking for is in the future this to be live-streamed.  People around the world care about what’s going into the food. They may not want to own Monsanto stock.

I only bought the stock so I could speak at this shareholder meeting.

RT: A Chinese economist has criticized Monsanto for controlling the country's soybean market and trying to do the same with corn and cotton in the country. How is this impacting local farmers?

AE: It devastates local farmers time and time again. We’ve seen countries where Monsanto has introduced ‘patented’ technologies, I like to call it. And they only provide hybrid seeds to farmers who then loose bio-diversity, loose varieties that have actually adapted to that area.

What we need on this planet is better distribution of food and we need better organic methods to be shared with farmers, not more reliance on chemicals and pesticides.

And now, it was quite alarming at this shareholder meeting, there are these new technologies where they are going to be modifying insects and viruses and introducing these novel viruses into the environment to handle pests, to kill pests.

We wonder why bee populations around the world are plummeting – it’s because of these chemicals and possibly because of this new technology.

RT: In 2009, Monsanto was accused by the US Justice Department of breaking anti-trust rules. But in 2012 the inquiry was closed without taking any enforcement action. Why?

AE: I think Monsanto is a perfect example of regulatory capture where an industry captures the levers of government, levers of our democracy that are supposed to protect us from companies that would profit over our health being impacted in a really negative way. I mean people may be allergic to these crops, to the chemicals that are used on them, and they are trying to avoid them. And in America they have no right to know if the food has been genetically modified or not. And that is something I brought up at the meeting, if you want to be transparent you ought to label the food. 

So yes, you have people at the FDA like Michael Taylor who is the head of food safety who also was the vice-president of Monsanto for a decade and prior to that worked at the FDA as well. So it’s a revolving door, he was at the FDA, went to work for Monsanto and now he’s back at the FDA. It’s clear that secretary of state Clinton, she emphasized giving these hybrid seeds to Africa, yet there’s no proof this is going to help African farmers. I think quite the contrary – they are going to become dependent on buying seeds from the United States when they should be able to save their seeds and develop their own varieties in Africa.

Monsanto vs. The People

Last week Monsanto announced staggering profits from 2012 to celebratory shareholders while American farmers filed into Washington, DC to challenge the Biotech giant’s right to sue farmers whose fields have become contaminated with Monsanto’s seeds. On January 10 oral arguments began before the U.S. Court of Appeals to decide whether to reverse the cases' dismissal last February.Monsanto has established a conveniently intimidating reputation as "a ruthless prosecutor of non-GMO farmers" whose fields have been "contaminated by their neighbours' genetically engineered crops". (Photo: Reuters)

Monsanto's earnings nearly doubled analysts' projections and its total revenue reached $2.94bn at the end of 2012. The increased price of Roundup herbicide, continued market domination in the United States and, perhaps most significant, expanded markets in Latin America are all contributing factors to Monsanto's booming business. 

Exploiting their patent on transgenic corn, soybean and cotton, Monsanto asserts an insidious control of those agricultural industries in the US, effectively squeezing out conventional farmers (those using non-transgenic seeds) and eliminating their capacity to viably participate and compete on the market. (Until the end of 2012, Monsanto was under investigation by the Department of Justice for violating anti-trust laws by practicing anticompetitive activities towards other biotech companies, but that investigation was quietly closed before the year's end.) 

The seemingly modest objective of the current lawsuit, OSGATA et al v Monsanto, originally filed in March 2011, is to acquire legal protection for organic and conventional farmers from Monsanto's aggressive prosecution of inadvertent patent infringements. But the implications of the suit are momentous. If the DC Court of Appeal reverses the dismissal, a process of discovery will be instigated that could unveil a reservoir of information, access to which Monsanto has withheld from public knowledge - both by not disclosing it and preventing independent research. 

Monsanto's abuse of patents 

Between 1997 and 2010, Monsanto filed 144 lawsuits against family farmers and settled 700 cases out of court. Furthermore, food groups estimate that Monsanto investigates hundreds of farmers each year as potential culprits of patent infringement. 

Victims of Monsanto's predatory lawsuits include farmers who used Monsanto seed but violated the licensing agreement, as well as those farmers who never had any intention of growing GE plants. OSGATA et al v Monsanto deals with the latter group and represents 31 farms and farmers, 13 seed-selling businesses, and 31 agricultural organisations that represent more than 300,000 individuals and 4,500 farms or farmers. 

Plaintiffs requested a declaratory judgment that would ensure Monsanto was not entitled to sue the plaintiffs for patent infringement. 

Jim Gerritson, president of OSGATA (Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association) and lead plaintiff in the case, explained to me that organic and non-GMO farmers are a "Classic example of why Congress passed the Declaratory Judgment Act: if you have a group that fears being bullied by a large company, they can petition for protection from claims of patent infringement." 

But the federal courts have always protected Monsanto's rights to profit via a patenting system that increasingly impinges on individual and market freedom, allowing Monsanto to abuse its patent rights. In a natural alliance, OSGATA is represented by attorney Dan Ravicher and Public Patent Foundation, an organisation dedicated to creating a just patent system that balances individual freedom and the ethical issuing of patents. 

Monsanto has established a conveniently intimidating reputation as a ruthless prosecutor of non-GMO farmers whose fields have been contaminated by their neighbours' genetically engineered corn - either through cross-pollination or accidental seed mixing during harvest. 

With these terrifying exemplars in mind, farmers have taken on the burden of preventing contamination by setting up buffer zones, conducting genetic testing and in some cases, giving up on planting the crop altogether. 

Monopolising effect 

By detailing how many conventional farmers have given up trying to grow certain crops, OSGATA's motion to appeal emphasises the monopolisation that has resulted from Monsanto's aggressive pursuit of patent infringement cases. It is estimated that 88 percent of corn and 93 percent of soybeans are genetically modified, most of them by Monsanto. Bryce Stephens, an organic farmer in the northwest of Kansas, is one of those farmers who have decided to forego growing corn and soybeans due to the inevitable contamination that will result. 

"My fear of contamination by transgenic corn and soybeans and the resulting risk of being accused of patent infringement prevent me from growing corn and soybeans on my farm. There is no other reason why I do not grow those crops, and I would very much like to do so." 

As Gerritson described to me, "Farmers have suffered economic loss because they've abandoned growing corn and soybeans because they are certain they will be contaminated. They cannot put their farms and families at risk of being sued for patent infringement." 

Monsanto knows that consumers won't voluntarily buy their products - a lesson they learned in Europe when GE foods there were required to be labelled as such. In America, the company and its allies have spent millions to defeat local labelling initiatives, most recently in California. But if the company successfully crowds out conventional farmers, Americans won't have a choice - with or without a label. 

In spite of the creation of this dangerous monopoly, in February 2012, Judge Naomi Reice Buchwald granted Monsanto's request and dismissed the initial suit, casting the farmers' concerns as "overstated"; urging the plaintiffs to trust Monsanto's (non-legally binding) promises to not exercise their patent rights over inadvertent acquisition of traces of GE plants; and insisting that farmers have created "a controversy where none exists". 

If the farmers' case is allowed to go forward, the very least that will happen is of supreme importance: that is, through the process of discovery the public will gain access to a trove of information that Monsanto has successfully stashed away. Ravicher believes that it can then be established that the products Monsanto peddles are not healthy and, hence, are not for the good of society. Quoting a 150-year-old case, Ravicher reminds us that "an invention to poison the people is not patentable".  

It's clear that the movement to defeat Monsanto is growing. Win or lose this round, the people are not giving up on taking down this monster.

© 2012 Al-Jazeera

Charlotte Silver

Charlotte Silver is a journalist based in San Francisco and the West Bank, Palestine. She is a graduate of Stanford University.

Farmers demand an appeal in Monsanto GMO case

AFP Photo / Philippe Huguen

AFP Photo / Philippe Huguen

A group of farmers are in Washington, DC this week to demand that the federal court reconsiders a case against biotech giants Monsanto.

Last February, District Court Judge Naomi Buchwald dismissed a lawsuit filed by the Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association in which the plaintiffs sought legal protection from Monsanto, a billion-dollar corporation that has grown exponentially in recent years to become a dominating figure in the American agricultural market. Small time farmers say there is a reason for that, though, and they want the courts to do something about it.

Before Judge Buchwald rejected their plea, the plaintiffs wanted the government to step in to make sure small time farmers would no longer be sued by Monsanto, a company that has introduced a number of lawsuits in recent years against independent growers.

In addition to being a titan in the agricultural field, Monsanto is also known for patenting genetically modified seed types that can spawn crops that rival the ones made by Mother Nature. While those products are a hot commodity among some farmers, others aren’t fortunate enough to add them to their fields. That isn’t to say the occasional wind gust or other method doesn’t move those GMO seeds onto unlicensed farms, though, and Monsanto has spent millions to sue farmers that infringe, even accidently, on their costly patent.

When the plaintiffs hoped for federal protection last year, Judge Buchwald told them it wouldn’t be possible. This week, however, the Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association is back in the nation’s capital to file an appeal.

“The District Court erred when it denied the organic seed plaintiffs the right to seek protection from Monsanto’s patents,” Dan Ravicher, an attorney representing plaintiffs with the Public Patent Foundation, says in a statement. “At the oral argument on January 10, we will explain to the Court of Appeals the District Court’s errors and why the case should be reinstated.”

Carol Koury, a farmer that operates Sow True Seeds in Asheville, North Carolina, made the trek to Washington this week to show support. Before any news emerged from federal court, though, she was outside the White House to rally for justice.

"We want and demand the right of clean seed not contaminated by a massive biotech company that's in it for the profit," Koury told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. She was joined by around 200 others outside of the president's residence Thursday morning.

In Judge Buchwald’s original ruling, the justice stated, "there is no evidence to suggest that plaintiffs are infringing defendants' patents, nor have plaintiffs suggested when, if ever, such infringement will occur.” In Washington this week, though, the Public Patent Foundation’s Ravicher directly challenged that decision.

"If our clients don't have standing today to seek protection, when will they have standing? Do they have to wait to be contaminated?" he asked.

Commenting on the case in an official statement, Monsanto says attempts to drag them back into court are without merit.

“The district court ruling dismissing this case noted it was simply a transparent effort by plaintiffs to create a controversy where none exists,” says Tom Helscher, Monsanto’s director of corporate affairs. “Farmers who have no interest in using Monsanto’s patented seed products have no rational basis to fear a lawsuit from Monsanto, and claims to the contrary, to quote from the district Court, are ‘groundless’ and ‘baseless.’ As was stated in the court, it has been, and remains, Monsanto’s policy not to exercise its patent rights where trace amounts of our patents are present in a farmer’s fields as a result of inadvertent means.”

When Ravicher was in court last year to take on Monsanto, he said something quite the opposite.

“It seems quite perverse that an organic farmer contaminated by transgenic seed could be accused of patent infringement, but Monsanto has made such accusations before and is notorious for having sued hundreds of farmers for patent infringement, so we had to act to protect the interests of our clients,” the attorney insisted.

Monsanto announced earlier this month that profits during the first quarter of fiscal year 2013 had more than doubled. Pierre Courduroux, the company’s chief financial officer, tells Bloomberg he expects a gross profit in 2013 of $7.65 billion for the company.

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