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GloPro's avatar

Do you pay any attention to Monsanto?

Asked by GloPro (8243 points ) March 16th, 2014 from iPhone

Is the push to fight back against GMO giant Monsanto fading?
Have you REALLY researched the facts for yourself, or do you follow the leader?

Monsanto has been around for decades, and is voted the world’s most evil company year after year. Yet this powerhouse company has gotten in bed with the United States government despite overwhelming evidence of how this emerging monopoly is devastating farmers and local economies.

Do you care? What are your thoughts? Has GMO product changed your life or the way you shop?

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34 Answers

elbanditoroso's avatar

This again? This was discussed to death several weeks ago.

The Monsanto haters are refusing to believe that what Monsanto is doing is no different from what Adam and Eve (and millions since) have done in terms of agriculture and breeding the best and most productive crops.

The Monsanto haters are, in their own way, reactionary – as bad as the people who deny evolution and refuse to believe Darwin’s theories and natural selection.

What would make a Monsanto hater happy? If people starved?

NanoNano's avatar

Just one more example of how the EU protects consumers much better than the US does…

Genetically engineering crops is not the same thing as breeding and hybridizing crops.

I agree that its a big risk to test all these GMO products on an unsuspecting populace, but there seems to be no stopping it at this point. We have this detraction to living here, and at the same time we have positives, like air quality and water quality protections other nations don’t have…

philosopher's avatar

Most people on here do not care. When I posted the facts I received a very disrespectful response from one person. He went on and on with his nonsense. He twisted and convoluted the facts. No one who knows the facts would believe his bullshit. Obviously he is invested in Monsanto. He was beyond rude and I LOL at his bullshit.. No one but, me on here wishes to state the facts. Until you posted this. I was asked to edit my question and I believe that was totally unfair. It was like saying Fluther supports Monsanto. I do not waste my energy debating with people who ignore the facts. I am sure many intelligent here know but, do not wish to offend the liars and frauds on here. That is foolish.
The fact is that genetically modified food has not been tested. Europe, S Korea, Russia and China have banned GM food until long term studies are completed.
I have joined GMO Free USA, organiconsumers.org in our fight to demand all food be labeled GM, organic or conventional. I can provide much information to anyone who wants it. Message me.
On other Q&A ‘s some people care. On Facebook many people care.
I understand how the human body absorbs nutrition. I have enough science credits to understand that genetically modified food poses an unknown threat.
I am sure I will receive rude comments for stating the facts but, I do not care.

NanoNano's avatar

There is a labeling push by the FDA for GMO foods, so we’ll see if it ever comes to pass…

I did have genetics and microbiology in college, so not speaking entirely from a layman’s point of view.

In these matters, I have become something of a cynic in that I realize I’m not going to get out of this world alive, and I really don’t want to waste what time I have left fighting profit hungry corporations…

GloPro's avatar

Ah, the previous thread was before my time. I’ll hunt it down.
I will say, however, before going there… @elbanditoroso “breeding the best and most productive crops…”
Clearly you don’t keep up. The produce may be bigger, but it costs several times more to produce them, in many ways (water consumption and pesticide use are just two examples). So in that sense, most productive is not accurate in relation to overall cost to produce. Those are easily fortified facts.
I’ll hunt the other thread.
I doubt (hope) my OP wouldn’t need editing. One of my links is the Monsanto website. I tried to have a little neutrality. I believe economically they are widening the gap. It is a fact they are voted ‘most evil,’ not my opinion. We have yet to see what GMO may impact health-wise. We’ll see.

elbanditoroso's avatar

@GloPro – try answering the other question I posed.

GloPro's avatar

@elbanditoroso I’ll go find it, thanks!
I’m more concerned with economic repercussions for small farmers, water consumption, cost to consumer, etc… Of course I don’t expect people to starve.

NanoNano's avatar

I think the whole idea of selling seed that produces crops where you can’t save the seed for the next year’s planting (due to genetic tinkering or hybridizing, as well as due to legal rights Monsanto claims to the seed), is a suspect system that needs to be abandoned.

It threatens food security just like large monoculture plantings do…

GloPro's avatar

@NanoNano Monsanto owns patent rights on sterile seeds, but they are not currently utilizing sterile seeds. It is because of technology agreements, mostly, that harvesting seeds for future use is violating Monsanto contracts. It’s kind of like paying royalties to an inventor forever… By harvesting seeds (after willingly signing contracts with Monsanto) you are not paying Monsanto for the GM seed that you still profit on (hopefully).
My main concern with small farmers is that they can’t get out of those contracts and go back to non-GMO seeds very easily. Once they discover the GMO seeds require more water (devestating to California farmers in the current drought), and that Roundup Ready GMO seeds do not produce crops resistant to bugs after all, then the farmers are actually seeing a decline in profit. The seed costs more, the water costs more, and the pesticide cost stays the same or increases. Economically, a lot of small farmers that entered agreements with Monsanto are facing disaster. It’s very troublesome.

NanoNano's avatar

GloPro:

In regard to your first paragraph, I feel this is illegitimate. That is, I don’t believe any company has a right to “own” a living thing ie. genetically modified seed and sell rights to its use.

I’m not suggesting Monsanto’s bastardized seed be pulled from the market. I would hope instead that an alternative would be available to farmers, that is “heritage” seed crops – non-hybrids where the seed can be saved year after year.

This is not as difficult as it seems. WIth potatos as an example, we only grow a handful of varieties here in the US. Most are picked for their long nature (best type for making french fries) but this leads to the risk of monoculture diseases like the Irish potato famine…

In TIbet and Mongolia, there are literally hundreds of different strains of potatos that are grown, each adapted to combat disease, pests, climate abnormalities…in a natural way.

I believe this should be the future of agriculture. A continual process of breeding for natural traits that are sustainable and desirable, without the need for synthetic pesticides, fertilizers, excess water or to buy the seed year after year.

Coloma's avatar

I care, and agree with the vote for most evil corporation.
But WTF….I can only do what I can do as one lone individual, my codependent days of weeping for the world are gone. I agree with @NanoNano above, there are many options to hybridize stronger strains of many species without using potentially harmful GMO methods.
I also agree that it is insane to claim one holds the monopoly on a life form of any kind.

Pollen blowin’ in the wind is pollen blowin’ in the wind, talk about ego and rationalization. Pffft!

NanoNano's avatar

I could never finish Taleb’s book, it was so egoecentric and condescending. But this article has validity. Risk is risk…

One of the big complaints I’ve heard on GMOs is from neighboring farmers to GMO crops – the risk of cross-pollination to their own fields that cannot be controlled.

Once these altered organisms are out in the environment, there is no containing their side-effects down the road, good, bad or mundane. This includes how they affect pollinating insect species, microorganisms in the soil and water and other plants in the wild.

dappled_leaves's avatar

@NanoNano How does this article have “validity”? Taleb is an economist; he knows nothing about the science of GMO foods or how plant communities work. His hypothesis depends on the assumption that a “genetically modified seed produced holds a 0.1 percent chance of causing a catastrophic breakdown of the ecosystem.”

And… he assumes this why? I can’t think of a reason that a single seed could carry such a risk. It’s a preposterous assertion.

Silence04's avatar

I have done a lot personal research on this matter. I can tell you that the majority of the anti-gmo push is being funded by the corrupt $50+ billion/year organic food industry. (For a quick reference, Just look at the sources for all the articles philosopher keeps posting).

The fact is that we have been eating modified foods since the 1800s. Only now have we been able to more selectively control what gets changed in a lab. I believe working towards a world where crops can still yield plentiful harvests even under the harshest weather conditions is a good thing for our future. All of the over-the-top, wild claims that “GMOs are killing our babies…” without extensive scientific proof to back it share the same validity as celebrity tabloids.

I don’t think that Monsanto is the most benevolent company, but they aren’t much worse than a company like whole foods.

NanoNano's avatar

dappled:

Taleb is more than an economist. He worked on Wall Street, made a fortune there. He’s an expert in risk-analysis. (I’m not saying he’s not an a-hole as well. He is. Read his book, The Black Swan, and you’ll get a negative impression of him pretty quickly). But he knows what he’s talking about.

Basically, any event with a non-zero probability of occurring, that could be devastating to humanity, builds towards happening at some point in time… That’s his argument against GMO risks.

Unbroken's avatar

I do care, I don’t buy a lot of packaged products and what I do buy I try to be aware of who is the parent company and who they are bank rolling. I don’t have unlimited funds so for produce in the winter I buy organic potatoes, apples, spinach and lettuce tomatoes a few other items.

Are organic companies making bank and profiting off of those who have a stance against Monsanto? Some of them are, other have actually sold out and have lowered the quality of food while keeping the same labels.

But Monsanto is the new Phillip morris. Studies have not established the safety of the product but it will take decades to be able to prove beyond a shadow of a doubt how unhealthy they are.

Meanwhile they are creating a monopoly and are very environmentally dangerous creating superweeds and bugs and the only plan to combat this is to make stronger bt toxin pesticides.

Meanwhile while they may provide cheap food the food lacks nutrition and while it keeps people from starving if the lower class continues to consume it they will consistently lower their ability to flourish and to rise above their status widening the gap.

philosopher's avatar

@Unbroken
You are correct. It is sad that not everyone is as aware as you. I said, many times Monsanto is the 21 century Phillip Morris.

NanoNano's avatar

I read a book a few years ago promoting GMO foods in the US by a scientist. It was a bunch of hooey.

The really big issue here (that the EU sees and that the US government fails to address) is that the entire US population is one big test bed for these foods. The claim that there is no evidence anyone has ever been harmed from eating GMO foods is totally false because there is no comparison in the US population, no control group.

If everyone in the US were forced to take aspirin every day, how would we know that it increases bleeding risk in some people, increases deaths? We wouldn’t, because we’d have no control group to compare them against.

Silence04's avatar

@Unbroken Not to totally dismiss your current awareness, but I’d suggest you study up on what it takes for Organic Certification. The very premiss of the organic food industry’s marketing strategy is to profit on people that think they are receiving a superior product. Sure there are many local farmer’s with intentions for the greater good, but there is really no way to tell as Organic Certification is more of a sales pitch than a value standard. The big players in the organic foods industry fund 3rd party ‘eco-friendly’ organizations to help create this illusion that organic foods are drastically better; they lasts longer, more nutritious, don’t use pesticides, better for the environment, etc. Meanwhile, they can’t actually make any of these claims directly because they are completely false!

Did you know that organic foods can be modified foods? Did you know organic foods contain the same nutritional value as conventional crop? Did you know that organic farmers use equally as harsh of pesticides? Did you know that some of the GMOs everyone is scared of are actually just modified to contain the same proteins from the pesticides organic farmers already drown their crops in?

And to anyone that is fearful of GMOs, why is that? Do you actually understand everything that is being genetically modified and why? Do you believe a gene variance smaller than what it would take for parsley to be curly vs flat leaf have a more disastrous outcome for future agriculture than a greater gene variance that can occur in nature? Do you think bioscience is evil?

Unbroken's avatar

Yep the companies have never had to prove the safety of their product.

To say Monsanto is following natural selection or that it is similar to grafting and then say you have done your research is laughable.

The whole point is that these products can only for the first couple of generations be made in a lab. They chip and shoot in specific gene sequences to alter dna or attack the plant embryo with bacteria to make it sick and susceptible to a DNA sequence or both.

It is assumed that once cooked these genes or viruses are killed rendering them edible. It is also assumed that the glyosphates they introduce are healthy enough to consume. We are talking about bt toxins, etc here.

Then to add to the affront Monsanto privatised most of their seeds and offspring. Suing farmers for saving seeds. They also have to use Monsanto pesticides in regular schedules to keep their plants healthy.

So to say organic farmers are just capitalists surviving on fear campaigns might in some cases be justified to a certain extent but Monsanto is working on trusts and monopolies under the falsehoods and the name of pseudo socialism and environmental concerns…

NanoNano's avatar

Monsanto is really in the business of germ line engineering, which has much more profound implications for the environment than genetic engineering in adult organisms.

Germ line engineering creates genetic hybrids that have the ability to carry on their genes to offspring, which typical genetic engineering does not.

Most germ line engineering of hybrid species on earth today is confined to the laboratory. These species are never allowed out into the environment.

There are very serious risks when you essentially put an entirely new species out into an open environment where anything can happen.

A few years ago in a lab, scientists created mice that possessed a few percentage points of human cognitive DNA which as an end product, estimates say, made them 100 times smarter than your typical mouse.

Do we want mice that are 100 times smarter than normal mice free in the environment?

What about engineering other species this way? There are millions of hybrid species created in labs, everything from sheep that have spider DNA, so they can produce spider silk in their milk, to just about anything else you can imagine. There is no inherent limitation. Everything can be crossed with germ line engineering, viruses, bacteria, plants, insects, animals.

The Island of Dr. Moreau already exists. Its only the ethical restraints and current law that keeps these creatures confined to the lab.

In Monsanto’s case, hybrid plant species are somehow considered safe for the world at large. This is how lobbying and money talks in America.

Its a dangerous game.

Unbroken's avatar

@Silence04 what I buy non locally which is organic, as in they don’t use gm seeds or do they even use bt toxin or round up ready at any point in their growing process. There are companies that the term organic is loosely thrown around and applied in many of the cases the product started out in the ideal organic terminology and was bought out by a sister organization to Monsanto and its ilk.

The blueberries and plants I get wildly including non farmed fish and wild gamr are proven beyond question to be more nutritionally dense.. nature is better at these things, its had practice. Also humans tend to take short cuts. Feeding cattle blood and discarded candy to mention one single absurdity.

Also the drowning of crops in pesticides occur in regular intervals to gm plants by industrial farmers. Creating leached soil and runoff. Also developing resistance to the pesticides creating the need for stronger pesticides.

But given the choice if nailed down between the two would I like to consume a plant that actual crop contains lethal toxins that burst bugs and other pests or have it sprayed on, where at least there might be the hope with thick skins that we can wash and peel off the outer layer and cook it throughly and hopefully not ingest too much toxin…. Yes it may make no logical sense but it does make me feel better.

As to grafting and plant variety. Since we have started using gm plants our ag seed vaults have decreased or been bought out. Varieties have been standardized and less options have become available. We have seen a dramatic decrease in the divirsity of plants and while their is small uprisings of heirloom seeds and the need to save and preserve these banks its a battle we have been losing.

NanoNano's avatar

Consider how far this research is going. Have you heard of “parahumans”?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parahuman

If this ever becomes fully legal, we may one day see chimpanzees crossed with human DNA to the point where their intelligence level is increased to that of a small human child. Planet of the Apes anyone?

LOL

It seems ludicrous, but genetic tampering on this level is serious business.

Australians modified a version of a virus a few years ago to try to sterilize rabbits in the country. They published all their findings online… An unfortunate side effect of modifying one gene in this virus was that it made it 100% lethal. This was a totally unanticipated side effect of the genetic work they were doing.

Is this kind of knowledge something you want in the public domain? Yet it is typical for scientists to publish their work online…so they can openly share it with other researchers.

Silence04's avatar

@NanoNano “A few years ago in a lab, scientists created mice that possessed a few percentage points of human cognitive DNA which as an end product, estimates say, made them 100 times smarter than your typical mouse.”

But correlation is not equal to causation. The other points you are trying to make seem more like conspiracy theorist “what if” scenarios.

@Unbroken “what I buy non locally which is organic, as in they don’t use gm seeds or do they even use bt toxin or round up ready at any point in their growing process”

That’s a nice pipe dream, but how do you know this? There is no regulation for that, that’s not what the labeling of “organic” stands for. And the fact that you are throwing around typical fear mongering terms like BT Toxin and Roundup Ready makes me question the validity of your source information.

“Also the drowning of crops in pesticides occur in regular intervals to gm plants by industrial farmers. Creating leached soil and runoff. Also developing resistance to the pesticides creating the need for stronger pesticides.”

But organic farmers do the same thing and face the same issues. Certainly not always to the same extent because GMOs have a natural resistance, but you are making it seem like organic crop is free from this issue.

“But given the choice if nailed down between the two would I like to consume a plant that actual crop contains lethal toxins that burst bugs and other pests or have it sprayed on, where at least there might be the hope with thick skins that we can wash and peel off the outer layer and cook it throughly and hopefully not ingest too much toxin…. Yes it may make no logical sense but it does make me feel better.”

Regardless if it’s conventional crop or organic, be rest assured, the amount of pesticides that ends up in our food is less than 1 part per million. To put this in perspective: Gluten is very toxic to people with celiacs disease. In order for something to be labeled ‘gluten-free’ it must contain less than 1ppm. So again, making this ‘pesticide in our food scare’ a non-issue, or at least considerably lower one.

As stated originally, I think you should read up on what “organic” labeling actually means (as in the regulations to claim something is organic and the processes organic farmers use, including pesticides). I used to think the same way you did until I found out I was paying upto 4x the cost for something that was more psychologically beneficial than anything else.

NanoNano's avatar

Silence:

Its regular everyday science. If you have experience in genetics research, microbiology, you know this sort of thing happens in the lab all the time.

Nothing at all far fetched.

philosopher's avatar

@NanoNano
Europe, S Korea, Russia and even China have banned GM food like substance until long term studies are complete. The long term side effects of GM are unknown. If our FDA, USDA congress and Obama felt the health of US citizens was a priority. GM would be banned in the US.
Many states are attempting to pass labeling bills. Some assembly people right here in New York state fear supporting labeling. The international food industry is dictating US polices to both corrupt parties.
US citizens should not be used to test GM food. The attempt to allow this is a clear indication of how corrupt the US government has become.
Many ignorant people will not comprehend the danger we are being exposed to until the side effects start showing up.
Monsanto is the Phillip Morris of the 21 century. To the international food industry American’s are No more important than lab rats. Most of our so call representatives, the FDA, USDA and Obama do not care about our health. Their priority is pleasing corporations who fund campaigns and keep them in power.
Every new drug and procedure is tested for many years. People dye waiting for approval. Insurance companies label things experimental to avoid paying. An our government is granting Monsanto and the international food industry permission to test on US citizens. This is truly disgusting. No sentient being should be tested on.
All food must be clearly labeled GM, organic or conventional.

NanoNano's avatar

philosopher:

Essentially, I agree with you.

Unbroken's avatar

@Silence04 what I meant to say is I prefer to buy locally all of which is organic. How do I know this? Csa’s. We are very transparent about our locally.grown foods. We meet at the co op we can call and talk to owners we can visit the farms… Here is a website conglomerate of many of our more established csa’s. http://acaa.drupalgardens.com/content/member-farms Many of our csa go beyond the scope of NOP http://www.ams.usda.gov/AMSv1.0/nosb which does have looser regs then I’d like but the term is not meaningless. Truthfully. I prefer a Non GMO project label to organic but if I do buy organic out of state I have been known to email call google company info but pressed for time I will look for a NOSB or a state certified organic sign.

As a celiac I am well aware of how many ppm is allowed in food certified gluten free by celiac spruce association. I would like to know where you got your info about the amount of pesticides in our food. Esp since the FDA and the EPA don’t regulate these products at all. At most the fda asks that the company self report any potential health hazards. If that data about pesticides does exist it can only exist per farm per product and then the company would have to be the one collecting that data which seems a conflict of interest… Does it not?

As to whether or not beyond pesticide level there is a difference between heirloom organic or wild plants and the geneticqlly modified equivalent… Well again its all subjective. But many independent studies stay otherwise. The biggest example that comes to my mind is Franken fish v farmed fish v wild caught fish… there is a difference. Then add the buying green being eco friendly and responsible as well as not supporting companies that want to corner the market on food get rid of the small farmer and privatise seeds .. who wants to support that?

Paradox25's avatar

This isn’t a topic I follow a lot, and there are other issues of more concern to me. Monsanto started off as a chemical company more than one hundred years ago, and developed some of the nastiest chemicals known to mankind, such as Dioxin. They are now a company specializing in bioengineered crops.

Monsanto appears to have more competition than most people are probably aware of. Syrgenta is one of their biggest competitors, and there are others too. Personally I don’t feel that Monsanto is doing anything any more differently than what most other corporate giants attempt to do, stamp out their competition. In all fairness there are other companies that by all rights could easily be on that list of ‘most evil corporations’ too.

I am of the opinion though that corporations need to stay out of our government, and lobbyists should not serve on any level of our federal government in my opinion. Obama has made the mistake of appointing lobbyists (including from Monsanto) to key positions, just like his predecessor did by appointing anti-environmental lobbyists into posts responsible for protecting our environment (some of them were involved in the Brooks Brothers Riots ironically, how lovely how they were rewarded).

I’m more concerned about the corporatism devastating a government that was supposed to be for the people, by the people. I’m also concerned about whether or not the practices of companies such as Monsanto actually cause more harm than good by depleting more environmental resources with their bioengineering of crops. I’m not knowledgable enough to understand whether genetically modified food is dangerous to our health or not, so I won’t comment about that issue.

Unbroken's avatar

Very nice @Paradox25 just as a clarification we say Monsanto many of us are just using.that name to lump the rest under. They started biotech foods and while con Agra syngenta etc may be competiton in the politicizing and war on gmos aka transgenic organisms esp, Cali prop 47 or whatever it was, everyone of them fell in line behind Monsanto’s lead. The enemy of my enemy is my friend. Right now they are banded together to protect what they consider a threat. I have to admit I am glad we are being taken seriously enough to be a threat.

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