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Today, 400 protests in over 50 nations will join a grassroots effort called March Against Monsanto. But who is Monsanto and why should you know about them?

You may not think you’re familiar with Monsanto, but you probably eat Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) created by them every day. Monsanto created the first GMO in 1985 but only in the past few years has their use become widespread in our food supply. (How are GMOs created?)

The most common way Monsanto uses GMOs is to artificially manipulate a crop so that it can withstand a specific type of all-purpose poison. They sells both the genetically modified seed as well as the poison. The engineering allows the farmer to blanket the crops in pesticides and while the GMO is unaffected everything else is killed. While there are GMOs for a wide variety of crops Monsanto has focused its attention on several strategic markets, for example 93% of soybeans and 86% of corn are now GMO—and these numbers continue to rise.

What are the long term effects of consuming GMOs? No one knows definitively. On the company website Monsanto directs critics to a 2009 study by the United Kingdom that found nutritional content to be roughly equal between GMO and natural foods—but that is where their defense ends. The logic is that if a GMO orange has roughly the same vitamin C content as a non-GMO orange then there is nothing to worry about. The same study that Monsanto uses to defend itself explicitly states that it does not address the impact of the blanket application of herbicides and pesticides on human health or the environment. It also states that only one third of studies cited fit quality standards.

Meanwhile, researchers have claimed that the GMO giant has thwarted attempts to pursue research that may show ill effects. Other studies have shown links between GMO food and Celiac disease and that GMO corn causes tumors, organ failure, cancer and premature death in rats. Additional research has shown the widespread adoption of Monsanto’s products has also been linked with significant nitrogen run-off which is creating dead zones in the oceans and an alarming mass die off of bees.

(Even more studies.)

There are other bio-tech companies profiting from GMOs but Monsanto has been particularly aggressive. They own patents on second generation seeds produced from their GMO crops as well as GMOs that produce infertile seeds known as “suicide seeds.” They sue farmers for patent infringement, and also pour huge amounts of money into defeating efforts to legislate any labeling of GMO foods. They have been accused of using tactics pioneered by big tobaccoto influence the public's perception about their products safety.

A revolving door exists between Monsanto and US regulatory and judicial bodies. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, a former Monsanto lawyer, wrote the majority opinion on a key Monsanto case. Michael Taylor once represented Monsanto, and is now the current FDA Deputy Commissioner for Policy.

There is a growing global resistance against Monsanto. Farmers and activists have been burning fields of GMO crops, and a growing list of nations have banned GMOs all together. But it is still an uphill battle. Monsanto has become particularly entrenched in the United States where is has its headquarters but even there progress is being made. Whole Foods and Chipotle have announced plans to phase out all GMO ingredients. In April Vermont became the first state to require GMO labelson food. And just this week, two Oregon counties voted to ban GMOs all together.

These are just the basics. There is an enormous amount of information out there and a growing number of organizations working to create change. Read the links here, share this story, do your own research and get involved.

Read the original post, with more links, on Truth In A Foreign Language.

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Comment Preferences

  •  What's the long-term effect of us (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    FG, nextstep, Roadbed Guy, aimeehs

    not innovating when it comes to agricultural production, with global population approaching 8 billion and the climate changing in a radical way? We may not understand all of the long-term consequences of a GMO world, but the consequences of a non-GMO world are beyond ugly.

    •  In order to assert this (9+ / 0-)

      you'd need to demonstrate definitively that, a) GMOs significantly increase per-acre production, and b) engaging in known-to-be unsustainable farming practices will never reach unsustainability.

      You can do neither.

      There are three kinds of men. The one that learns by reading. The few who learn by observation. The rest of them have to pee on the electric fence for themselves. - Will Rogers

      by Joieau on Sat May 24, 2014 at 08:53:42 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Nor can you point to the sustainability (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Joieau

        of farmers being forced to by patented seeds. It is the same with "fracking and jobs." You can't destroy the planet cuz you can pump some oil. And it is shown that the job growth angle is disingenuous at best and an utter lie at the worst.
        I don't trust Monsanto, and all the mega corporations that have zero public accountability, no one personally responsible for their actions, and only face fines at the very worst, for illegal behavior.

        "You can die for Freedom, you just can't exercise it"

        by shmuelman on Sat May 24, 2014 at 02:08:24 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  I do not know about the health effects of GMO (13+ / 0-)

    But. As someone in agriculture there are other problems. BT corn that has a gene to produce a natural poison to the corn root borer. This made it easier to grow corn year after year with no rotation. Rotation is an essential agriculture practice.

    BT resestence  

    Oops, now we have created supper bugs.

    The crops modified to be able to metabolize the herbicide glyphosate  ( Roundup )  to control weeds ( unwanted plants really ) Were then often grown with no or little rotation and guess what? Yes there are now super weeds that are very hard to control.

    glyphosate resestance

    And there plants with resistance to other herbicides that have been used over and over with no rotation.

    And I will not touch the health effects on humans and other critters. That is another rant.

    Or the lose of farm labor jobs.
    Or the legal department of Monsanto ( the Jack booted thugs of Monsanto )

    •  some more reasons to hate Monsanto: (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      FG, eyo, shaharazade, RMForbes, wonmug

      1. They have been making enormous efforts to buy up the elements of the entire food supply chain, to establish a vertical monopoly similar to the one Standard Oil had (before it was broken up by antitrust action). That places an entire economic sector into a strictly feudal relationship with one centralized company. I find that intolerable in a democracy.

      2. Monsanto did not "make" the genes it uses in its GMO crops---they are entirely natural genes that have already existed in nature for millions of years before humans even evolved. The only thing Monsanto has done is move that gene from one organism to another. I do not think anyone has any right to patent any naturally-occurring product for private profit. I find that intolerable in a democracy too.

      But this part of your comment is not entirely fair or accurate:

      BT corn that has a gene to produce a natural poison to the corn root borer. This made it easier to grow corn year after year with no rotation. Rotation is an essential agriculture practice.

      BT resestence  

      Oops, now we have created supper bugs.

      Bt is also sprayed heavily on non-GMO crops (and so is Roundup), where it produces the very same resistance in the very same weeds, in the very same process of selection.  Indeed, both Bt and Roundup were used on non-GMO crops for years before GMOs even appeared (Bt has been sprayed on crops since 1920; Roundup since the 1970's). Because of that, resistant weeds for both had already begun appearing before the GMO crops were ever even released. Resistance is a natural result of any pesticide, no matter what it is sprayed on--it is evolution in action, and it cannot be stopped or prevented. (The very same process happens with bacteria, which is why many antibiotics no longer work, either.)

      GMO crops do contain the Roundup-resistance gene in their pollen, and that gene can be carried by the pollen to cross-fertilize any weeds that the crop is compatible with, and can therefore spread the gene (and the resistance) that way. That appears to be a minor player--it only works for plants in which the chromosomes are compatible. But it does happen, and it speeds up the resistance process at, at least, a tiny rate.

      In the end, reality always wins.

      by Lenny Flank on Sat May 24, 2014 at 07:48:37 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Supper bugs? (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      shaharazade, OldDragon

      Was that Freudian, or on purpose? Because it's very descriptive, imo.

      After Monsanto's through extracting "enough" profit (hint: never), we'll be left eating bugs for supper.

      No more pesticide-based, patent encumbered, "innovation", please!

      Monsanto was founded in St. Louis, Missouri, in 1901, by John Francis Queeny, a 30‑year veteran of the pharmaceutical industry.
      It's the "got a problem? take a pill!" crowd infecting the food supply. Pesticide sellers.
  •  Monsanto = Soylent (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    eyo, shaharazade

    I voted Tuesday, May 6, 2014 because it is my right, my responsibility and because my parents moved from Alabama to Ohio to vote. Unfortunately, the republicons want to turn Ohio into Alabama.

    by a2nite on Sat May 24, 2014 at 07:08:18 AM PDT

  •  Monsanto is much more than GMOs (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    eyo, shaharazade, OldDragon, jan4insight

    Remember PCBs and Agent Orange?

  •  There are reasons to hate Monsanto but using (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    nextstep, Roadbed Guy, aimeehs

    discredited studies that supposedly show that GMOs are poison is no different from what the anti-vaccine 'activists' do.

  •  What a croc (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Roadbed Guy

    Let's force all crops to be certified organic. Sure some people won't be able afford it and will starve but hey, we're saving them from evil GMO corn.

    You best believe it does

    by HangsLeft on Sat May 24, 2014 at 11:32:54 AM PDT

    •  That's a croc! (0+ / 0-)

      There have been several countries that have banned GMO's and their food prices have not gone out of control at all. GM crops are not the panacea that you have been made to think they are.

      Really don't mind if you sit this one out. My words but a whisper -- your deafness a SHOUT. I may make you feel but I can't make you think..Jethro Tull

      by RMForbes on Sat May 24, 2014 at 01:47:22 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Yes, they banned GMOs but they keep using (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        aimeehs

        pesticides. In fact, they use more pesticides than other countries. But of course pesticides are completely harmless and GMOs are evil.

        •  That is not universally true (0+ / 0-)

          In many of the nations that have banned GMO's they are having no problem using traditional farming methods to produce enough food for their people, they do not need to use petrochemical centric factory farming techniques unless they are trying to produce agricultural products for export like we do. It's these large scale mono-crop production techniques and the global food market distortions they create that are the real problem.

          Really don't mind if you sit this one out. My words but a whisper -- your deafness a SHOUT. I may make you feel but I can't make you think..Jethro Tull

          by RMForbes on Sat May 24, 2014 at 03:19:02 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Which ones? Monocultures long precede GMOs (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            aimeehs

            and are used almost everywhere.

            •  Yes, monocultures have been around for centuries (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              FG

              but not based upon petrochemicals. It's a completely different scale, a maximum of tens of acres compared to hundreds or even thousands of acres. Traditional farming techniques would be called organic farming today because they didn't rely chemical fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides at all.

              I'm talking about the difference between having thousands of small family farms producing our food locally instead of massive factory farm operations producing food for export. I for one believe we all would be better off if we had many more small local farms again and that the big food production conglomerates should be broken up into much smaller farms. Centralized factory food production is a disaster waiting to happen and GMO's lock us into this coming disaster just to enrich a handful of very large corporations like Monsanto.

              Really don't mind if you sit this one out. My words but a whisper -- your deafness a SHOUT. I may make you feel but I can't make you think..Jethro Tull

              by RMForbes on Sat May 24, 2014 at 05:28:03 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  I understand that but it long precedes GMOs as (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                aimeehs

                well. And well-managed large farms tend to be more efficient than small ones which is why many small farms go out of business. Anyway, this issue has little to do with GMOs.

                •  Yes, but at what cost? (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  FG

                  It's efficiency for short term gain over the environment and our current and future health. The use of petrochemicals for fertilizers burns the organic matter out of the soil and makes it more susceptible to erosion. The use of pesticides creates larger pest control problems which only require more use of these chemicals to control and throws the balance between the pest insects and their predators completely out of equilibrium. Herbicides only create new super-weeds that cannot be controlled at all. All these petrochemicals used to increase efficiency also pollute our environment including our potable water and negatively affect our health.

                  Yes, large scale farming may be far more efficient but it's only a short term gain at the expense of the future generations. I vote for a little less efficiency and a little more harmony with the land, along with shorter transportation routes between farm to table.  

                  Really don't mind if you sit this one out. My words but a whisper -- your deafness a SHOUT. I may make you feel but I can't make you think..Jethro Tull

                  by RMForbes on Sun May 25, 2014 at 12:10:49 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  You have a point but it has nothing to do with (0+ / 0-)

                    GMOs. The problem is that damage to the environment has never been taken into account since often no one had to pay for it. We have to find a way to take it into account although I have no idea how to do it. FWIW, family farms can damage the environment as well especially if the environment is marginal to begin with. Look at Mayan civilization or Greenland.

                    •  GMO's have everything to do with the modern (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      FG

                      centralization of food production. They were created because they can be patented and legally controllable for profit. GMO's are also linked to use of the same petrochemicals produced by the same companies that develop the GMO's. It's the centralization of food production that is the most problematic and GMO's only make that problem worse.

                      You're right, GMO's didn't create the problem of increasingly centralized food production but they make the problem much worse and shift the profits out of the hands of the farmer and put it in the hands of large transnational chemical corporations forcing small family farms out of business. Again, I would rather see a far more sustainable and decentralized food production system than our current system, I believe it's the wise path to take. GMO's and corporations like Monsanto stand in the way of that vision.

                      Really don't mind if you sit this one out. My words but a whisper -- your deafness a SHOUT. I may make you feel but I can't make you think..Jethro Tull

                      by RMForbes on Sun May 25, 2014 at 01:55:10 PM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

  •  Oh my God, that sucks big time ... (0+ / 0-)
    Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, a former Monsanto lawyer, wrote the majority opinion on a key Monsanto case. Michael Taylor once represented Monsanto, and is now the current FDA Deputy Commissioner for Policy.

    We know a hell of a lot, but we understand very little.- We are simply dramatically stupid - Manfred Max-Neef - I agree with him.

    by mimi on Mon May 26, 2014 at 08:37:33 AM PDT

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