Monsanto’s Dark History


MONSANTO CHEMICAL COMPANY AT NITRO ON THE KANA...

 

By EcoWatch

06 April 13

rom its beginnings as a small chemical company in 1901, Monsanto has grown into the largest biotechnology seed company in the world with net sales of $11.8 billion, 404 facilities in 66 countries across six continents and products grown on more than 282 million acres worldwide. Today, the consumer advocacy nonprofit Food & Water Watch released its report, Monsanto: A Corporate Profile.

“There is a growing movement of people around the country who want to take on Monsanto’s undue influence over lawmakers, regulators and the food supply,” said Wenonah Hauter, executive director of Food & Water Watch and author of the book Foodopoly. “People need to know about Monsanto’s history as a heavy industrial chemical manufacturer; a reality at odds with the environmentally friendly, feed-the-world image that the company spends millions trying to convey.”

“At the end of March, the American public saw first hand the unjustifiable power that Monsanto holds over our elected officials when an unprecedented rider, dubbed the ‘Monsanto Protection Act,’ was tacked onto the spending bill to fund the federal government,” said Dave Murphy, founder and executive director of Food Democracy Now! “This is an outrageous interference with our courts and separation of powers and we cannot sit back and allow our elected officials to continue to take orders from Monsanto at the expense of family farmers and consumers.”

The report offers a timeline of milestones in the company’s history including chemical disasters, mergers and acquisitions, and the first genetically modified plant cell.

“Despite its various marketing incarnations over the years, Monsanto is a chemical company that got its start selling saccharin to Coca-Cola, then Agent Orange to the U.S. military, and, in recent years, seeds genetically engineered to contain and withstand massive amounts of Monsanto herbicides and pesticides,” said Ronnie Cummins, executive director of Organic Consumers Association. “Monsanto has become synonymous with the corporatization and industrialization of our food supply.”

The report concludes with recommended actions for the federal government to take to temper Monsanto’s anti-competitive practices and control over agricultural research and government policies. It also suggests steps that regulators should take to better protect consumers and the environment from the potentially harmful effects of genetically engineered (GE) crops.

“Even though you won’t find the Monsanto brand on a food or beverage container at your local grocery store, the company holds vast power over our food supply,” said Rebecca Spector, west coast director of Center for Food Safety. “This power is largely responsible for something else we cannot find on our grocery store shelves-labels on genetically engineered food. Not only has Monsanto’s and other agribusinesses’ efforts prevented the labeling of GE foods, but they spend millions to block grassroots efforts like California’s Prop 37 in order to keep consumers in the dark.”

“The chemical pesticide industry, with Monsanto leading the way, took over U.S. seed industry and engineered bacterial genes into food crops with the primary purpose of selling more weed killer that contaminates our food, water and bodies,” said David Bronner, the CEO of Dr. Bronner‘s Magic Soaps and leader in GE food labeling campaigns across the country.” Just like the citizens of Europe, Japan and China, Americans deserve the right to opt out of the genetically engineered food science experiment.”

 

 

Chemical Disasters, Agent Orange, and GMOs: Monsanto’s Legacy Traced in Exposé


Published on Wednesday, April 3, 2013 by Common Dreams

Food & Water Watch highlights toxic ‘corporatization and industrialization of our food supply’

Jacob Chamberlain, staff writer

Chemical disasters, Agent Orange, and the first genetically modified plant cell are among just some of the dark milestones belonging to the history of the biotech giant Monsanto highlighted in a new report released Wednesday by consumer advocacy group Food & Water Watch.

 The in-depth historical analysis Monsanto: A Corporate Profile presents a corporation “steeped in heavy industrial chemical production,” who only recently began marketing itself through an “environmentally friendly, feed-the-world image”—an image that is contradictory to a century of toxic chemical production and a food supply saturated with un-labeled GE crops, herbicides, and artificial growth hormones.

Monsanto, as FWW shows, now holds vast “undue influence over lawmakers, regulators, and our food supply,” and has caused great devastation to farmers around the world through its global seed monopoly.

“Despite its various marketing incarnations over the years, Monsanto is a chemical company that got its start selling saccharin to Coca-Cola, then Agent Orange to the U.S. military, and, in recent years, seeds genetically engineered to contain and withstand massive amounts of Monsanto herbicides and pesticides,” said Ronnie Cummins, executive director of Organic Consumers Association in response to the report. “Monsanto has become synonymous with the corporatization and industrialization of our food supply.”

“Even though you won’t find the Monsanto brand on a food or beverage container at your local grocery store, the company holds vast power over our food supply,” said Rebecca Spector, West Coast Director for the Center for Food Safety. “This power is largely responsible for something else we cannot find on our grocery store shelves — labels on genetically engineered food. Not only has Monsanto’s and other agribusinesses’ efforts prevented the labeling of GE foods, but they spend millions to block grassroots efforts like California’s Prop 37 in order to keep consumers in the dark.”

The report arrives after President Obama signed last week what has been dubbed the “Monsanto Protection Act”—legislation critics say amounts to “corporate welfare” for biotechnology corporations like Monsanto that puts both farmers and the environment in jeopardy.

The law will essentially “bar US federal courts from being able to halt the sale or planting of genetically engineered (GE) crops even if they failed to be approved by the government’s own weak approval process and no matter what the health or environmental consequences might be,” Greenpeace wrote last week.

“At the end of March, the American public saw first hand the unjustifiable power that Monsanto holds over our elected officials when an unprecedented budget rider, dubbed the ‘Monsanto Protection Act,’ was tacked onto the spending bill to fund the federal government,” Dave Murphy, founder and executive director of Food Democracy Nowstated following the release of Food & Water Watches new report. “This is an outrageous interference with our courts and separation of powers and we cannot sit back and allow our elected officials to continue to take orders from Monsanto at the expense of family farmers and consumers.”

Monsanto’s legacy continues… Read more here.

 

Change.org: We’ve Seen This Before


Wenonah Hauter

Executive Director, Food & Water Watch

Posted: 10/30/2012 6:16 pm

Recently, the Huffington Post reported thatChange.org has abandoned its progressive roots and apparently planned on doing it without telling anyone, according to documents leaked from a Change.org employee to Jeff Bryant with Campaign for America’s Future. (According to this petition on rival petition site Signon.org, that employee has nowbeen fired.)

So why is Change.org changing?

“[W]e as an organization have transitioned from an American cause-based organizing network with a largely progressive agenda into a global platform open to a wider diversity of participants and perspectives,” wrote Change.org founder and CEO Ben Rattray to his staff, in an email also leaked to The Huffington Post.

For the past three years, Food & Water Watch has run campaigns with Change.org, so we were outraged when we heard that they would now potentially be working with the likes of Monsanto, the American Petroleum Institute, and anyone else that wants to run a campaign with them.

We spoke with several leaders inside Change.org last week, including Ben Rattray himself. He tried to reassure us that their change in policy did not mean a change in values, and they would not start working with Monsanto tomorrow.

Our conversations did not reassure us.

Rattray characterizes this new “open” policy as a way to indicate that they are non-partisan and focused on empowerment as a tool of change. I pointed out to him that in many cases the issues we work on, from fracking and genetically modified organisms to privatization of our common resources and the destruction or weakening of unions, has been embraced by both major parties.

In fact, wouldn’t we hope that a platform like Change.org would hold Democratic Party officials accountable to their base, rather than the corporations that are buying votes and ultimately creating a situation where public policy is for sale?

And let’s talk about empowerment. We don’t want to see climate change deniers empowered. We have worked with Change.org to empower people with a vision of a better world that is economically and socially equitable and where the environment is protected.

We’ve experienced time and time again being outspent on campaigns by industry front groups that have slick messaging and PR campaigns that are meant to confuse and paralyze voters and the democratic process. We’re seeing this right now in California where we’re trying to pass Prop 37 to give citizens the right to know if their food contains genetically modified ingredients. The biotech and processed food industries are pouring more than $35 million dollars into campaigns designed to mislead voters, while the side fighting for Prop 37 has pennies to their dollars to educate voters about the truth.

Even after talking with Ben, I get the impression that their decision comes down to increasing their size and reach. This will mean more advertisers and higher revenues. We’re disappointed that Change.org has apparently decided that profit trumps progressive values. I think Change.org has become confused about what kind of change we want and what democracy really looks like.

This is just one more example of why it is so important to have a strong and vibrant public interest community that does not accept money from corporations and that keeps an appropriate distance because in a for-profit company, the pressure is always to increase earnings for shareholders and investors. As long as this is all above board and everyone understands the relationship, so be it. But it’s unseemly when an organization that claims to be progressive, and has built its organization on working with the progressive community, sells out like this.

Thankfully, there are other progressive groups that aren’t embarrassed about being progressive. Organizations like Care2, Credo Mobile, and Moveon.org who are working in this sphere are committed to the kind of change we want, and won’t compromise in the interest of increasing profits.

Recently there has been a lot of chatter about how our political system is so broken that we should just let business take the lead in creating social change. This is a dangerous sentiment. No matter how well-meaning companies may be, the pressure will always be on increasing market share and making a profit. This doesn’t mean that there won’t be some good companies that maintain their principles and make a fair profit. But, there will always be people who are willing to put aside their principles and original vision to attract investors and to increase profits. We will be watching to see what happens at Change.org and keeping our fingers crossed that they don’t weaken the very movement that they were formed to strengthen.

This post originally appeared on Food & Water Watch’s blog.

Related articles

How Monsanto Is Sabotaging Efforts to Label Genetically Modified Food


Inter Press Service / By Charlotte Silver

Lobbyists from the biotech industry are ardently opposing GMO labeling.
June 26, 2012  |

Photo Credit: illuminating9_11

As the 2012 Farm Bill continues to take shape in the halls of the United States Congress, the immense influence of corporate interests is on display.

On June 21 the United States Senate voted overwhelmingly against the Sanders Amendment that would have allowed states to pass legislation that required food and beverage products to label whether or not they contain genetically engineered ingredients.

The amendment, proposed by Independent Senator from Vermont, Bernie Sanders, is particularly relevant as many states prepare to vote on a ballot initiatives that would require such labelling of genetically modified (GM) foods.

Lobbyists from the biotech industry have ardently opposed GMO labelling. These opponents argue that because food labelling has historically been handled by the Food and Drug Association (FDA), it is a federal issue and, therefore, individual states do not have the right to implement such legislation. Indeed, in the case of Vermont, Sanders’ home state, Monsanto successfully intimidated the state legislature from voting on a bill that would have required GMO labelling.

Patty Lovera, the assistant director of Food and Water Watch, explained that states planning to vote on GM labelling in November could face a legal fight to defend their right to enact such laws.

“However, this amendment would have taken this threat away,” Lovera told IPS.

In a move heralded by food advocates, Sanders introduced amendment 2310 on June 14 this year, after his own state legislature backed out of voting on the popular bill, H.722, also known as the Vermont Right to Know Genetically Engineered Food Act.

Vermont lawmakers allowed the bill to stall – and ultimately die – in the Vermont House Agriculture Committee in April, after a representative from biotech giant, Monsanto, threatened to sue the state if the bill passed.
Significantly, the Senate vote, 73-26, did not fall along partisan lines, with 28 Democrats voting against the Sanders Amendment.

Lovera emphasised that the powerful biotech lobby informs how politicians vote. “This doesn’t happen overnight, this is a result of years and years of lobbying and pressure from the biotech industry,” she said.

In a report published in November 2010, Food and Water Watch revealed that the largest food and agricultural biotechnology firms and trade associations spent a total of 572 million dollars on campaign contributions and lobbying over the course of ten years.

Importance of Labelling

The Senate vote comes amidst near global agreement that there is a need for GMO labelling.

Codex Alimentarius, the food safety arm of the United Nations, concluded last year after nearly 18 years of debate, that countries were free to label goods as containing genetically engineered ingredients and that labelling of genetically-modified organisms would indeed help inform consumers’ choices.

“GMO labels are a risk management measure to deal with any scientific uncertainty,” said Dr. Michael Hansen, a senior scientist with the Consumers Union, who has been a long-time advocate for mandatory testing and labelling of genetically engineered (GE) foods.

“Labelling is the only way to track unintended effects,” Hansen said. “How can you know what you are allergic to if you do not know you are eating GMO’s?”

In fact, the U.S. Food and Drug Association’s hands-off approach to regulating genetically engineered foodstuffs runs contrary to international standards. Currently the U.S. is the only developed country that does not require safety testing for GE plants. However, the Codex Alimentarius instructs countries to conduct safety assessments of all GE plants.
According to testimony written by Dr. Hansen, “This means the U.S. cannot meet the global standards for safety assessment of GE foods. Consequently, countries that require food safety assessments for GE foods could block shipment of such GE foods from the U.S.”

Recent polls conducted by MSNBC and Thompson Reuters found that between 93 and 96 percent of the American public believe genetically engineered foods should be labeled as such.

California’s GMO labelling initiative collected close to one million signatures, doubling over the requisite 500,000 signatures to secure a place on the November ballot, and the FDA received over 850,000 letters in support of labelling GE food.

Voting as they did, the U.S. Senate did not in any way reflect the desires of their constituents or reflect the guidance of food experts.

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