Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Taking On Evil Corporations - Part III

When one takes into consideration exactly how many food and pharmaceutical products that are manufactured using Monsanto's genetically modified corn and soybeans Americans consume every day, it makes the following that much more frightening. Think about that the next time you look at an ingredient label and see the words "corn syrup". Monsanto's GM corn is everywhere. Of the 6500 food items one would find in a typical grocery store, 2500 of then utilize corn in some form during the production or processing.

Read on...

Monsanto's Genetically Modified Corn Is Unsafe

In what is being described as the first ever and most comprehensive study of the effects of genetically modified foods on mammalian health, researchers have linked organ damage with consumption of Monsanto's GM maize.

All three varieties of GM corn - Mon 810, Mon 863 and NK 603 - were approved for consumption by US, European and several other national food safety authorities. Made public by European authorities in 2005, Monsanto's confidential raw data of its 2002 feeding trials on rats that these researchers analyzed is the same data, ironically, that was used to approve them in different parts of the world.

The Committee of Research and Information on Genetic Engineering (CRIIGEN) and Universities of Caen and Rouen studied Monsanto's 90-day feeding trials data of insecticide-producing Mon 810, Mon 863 and Roundup® herbicide absorbing NK 603 varieties of GM maize.

The data "clearly underlines adverse impacts on kidneys and liver, the dietary detoxifying organs, as well as different levels of damages to heart, adrenal glands, spleen and haematopoietic system," reported Gilles-Eric Séralini, a molecular biologist at the University of Caen.

Although different levels of adverse impact on vital organs were noticed between the three GMO's, the 2009 research shows specific effects associated with consumption of each GMO, differentiated by sex and dose.

Their December 2009 study appears in the International Journal of Biological Sciences (IJBS). This latest study conforms with a 2007 analysis by CRIIGEN on Mon 863, published in Environmental Contamination and Toxicology, using the same data.

Monsanto rejected the 2007 conclusions, stating:

"The analyses conducted by these authors are not consistent with what has been traditionally accepted for use by regulatory toxicologists for analysis of rat toxicology data."

Séralini explained that their study goes beyond Monsanto's analysis by exploring the sex-differentiated health effects on mammals, which Doull, et al, ignored:

"Our study contradicts Monsanto conclusions because Monsanto systematically neglects significant health effects in mammals that are different in males and females eating GMO's, or not proportional to the dose. This is a very serious mistake, dramatic for public health. This is the major conclusion revealed by our work, the only careful reanalysis of Monsanto crude statistical data."

Other Problems With Monsanto's Conclusions

When testing for drug or pesticide safety, the standard protocol is to use three mammalian species. The subject studies only used rats, yet won GMO approval in more than a dozen nations.

Chronic problems are rarely discovered in 90 days; most often such tests run for up to two years. Tests "lasting longer than three months give more chances to reveal metabolic, nervous, immune, hormonal or cancer diseases," wrote Seralini, et al, in their Doull rebuttal.

Further, Monsanto's analysis compared unrelated feeding groups, muddying the results. The June 2009 rebuttal explains, "In order to isolate the effect of the GM transformation process from other variables, it is only valid to compare the GMO … with its isogenic non-GM equivalent."

The researchers conclude that the raw data from all three GMO studies reveal novel pesticide residues will be present in food and feed and may pose grave health risks to those consuming them.

They have called for "an immediate ban on the import and cultivation of these GMO's and strongly recommend additional long-term (up to two years) and multi-generational animal feeding studies on at least three species to provide true scientifically valid data on the acute and chronic toxic effects of GM crops, feed and foods."

Human health, of course, is of primary import to us, but ecological effects are also in play. Ninety-nine percent of GMO crops either tolerate or produce insecticide. This may be the reason we see bee colony collapse disorder and massive butterfly deaths. If GMO's are wiping out Earth's pollinators, they are far more disastrous than the threat they pose to humans and other mammals.

Something Negative

Now, to counter bloggers like myself, Monsanto is beginning to rely on bloggers that are quite obviously on their side, such as Nancy Scola, who writes a blog for the "liberal intelligence" website "The American Prospect" (http://www.prospect.org), and goes so far as to suggest that perhaps we should get "past" Monsanto.

Ms. Scola writes:

"But let me take what might be a controversial suggestion: The unyielding focus on Monsanto's supposedly evil ways might serve to make us less knowledgeable about what's going on with American agriculture, not more. Monsanto makes a ripe target. You've got your unquestioning boosterism of genetically modified plants. You've got the fact that they were the folks who whipped up the first batch of Agent Orange. And yes -- science, in Monsanto's hands, tends to become a means for getting nature to break to human desires.

But were Monsanto to disappear, problems in the American agricultural system wouldn't necessarily follow. The American agricultural landscape is only a distant cousin of what it was only a few decades ago. What we're left gawking at now is a system where individual farmers and small suppliers either plug in to a larger corporate ecosystem or are left to scratch out a living from the land alone - in a world where pretty much everything is institutionalized against them. That's not all Monsanto's fault. You can make the argument that focusing on one corporation's bad behavior has provided a useful bad guy in the ag debates. But I'm beginning to wonder if we're setting our sights far too narrowly."

Hmmm... sounds to me like someone's on Monsanto's payroll.

Something Positive

France`s highest court has ruled that Monsanto lied about the safety of its weed killing herbicide Roundup. The decision came just days ago and confirms an earlier court judgment in France finding that Monsanto had falsely advertised Roundup as being "biodegradable" and that it "left the soil clean."

The original case was brought to court in 2001 by several French environmental groups alleging that Roundup's main ingredient, glyphosate, has a classification as "dangerous to the environment" by the European Union. That case drug on for years and finally ended in a ruling against Monsanto in 2007.

The GMO giant quickly appealed and that appeal was heard in 2008 in the Lyon court. Monsanto lost that case as well. They appealed again. This time it went to France's Supreme Court; it lost that hearing and now faces fines and nowhere else to go for further appeals.

The court levied a 13,800 Euro fine against the company (about $22,400USD). Monsanto is also looking at continued losses with fourth quarter losses of $233 million (US), mostly due to plummeting sales of the Roundup brand.2 So far, Monsanto has made no public statement about the court`s ruling, but it is also possible that the ruling could mean civil cases from farmers and communities harmed by the false advertising. That could mean millions of dollars more in losses.

Roundup is the world`s best-selling herbicide and is marketed as a weed-killer to both commercial farmers and home owners. Monsanto is also the world`s largest purveyor of genetically modified seeds. Often, the seeds are sold in conjunction with Roundup, the seeds being modified to be "herbicide tolerant" (HT-ready).

Some have argued that these GM crops and seeds are worse for the environment and could be a real problem. Crop failures of GMO seeds in Africa have highlighted the lack of a crop diversity issue while other studies have found that GM versus non-GM seeds have little or no bearing on higher yields, as seed companies like Monsanto have claimed.

Currently, in the United States, nearly all of our soybean plants and most of our corn crops are now GMO, and most of the seed crops for those plants are Monsanto-owned. In fact, at least 68% of corn and 90% of soy is a GMO (HT-ready) crop in the U.S. now and Monsanto is working hard to make that a fact worldwide.

Recent decisions, such as this one in France and a court finding in the U.S. earlier this month, as well as a common blockade in many European countries, are pushing back against the Monsanto takeover of our food crops. Other initiatives, such as Shelly Roche`s "Replace Roundup Challenge," are using consumer boycotts to further take it to Monsanto`s pocketbook.

Yes, obviously there are structural problems facing American agriculture that surpass Monsanto’s iniquity. For that matter, as long as the Supreme Court’s Chakrabarty decision stands, big agribusiness can patent life, which is the major tool Monsanto uses to perform its evil. Get rid of Monsanto while Chakrabarty remains in place and the next agribusiness villain just steps in.

But still. Monsanto is a despicable corporation, one that exploits the inability of farmers to prevent the wind from blowing seedlings onto their soil to steal their land. I am concerned with the safety of GM food, but also with Monsanto's inhuman business practices. Monsanto’s evil is both distinct and strong. If it’s in antitrust trouble, the right thing for people of decency to do is to cackle and then ask what we can do to help destroy it. I don’t want to get “beyond” Monsanto until its corporate greed is ended.

Then we can get beyond it.

See you tomorrow.

1 comment:

  1. It's the Bilderbergers... They have started to cull the population down to their liking...