I don’t know if I’d go that far but an article written by Steve Green gives some food for thought on the possible future of American agriculture.
Green cites a quote from Dr. Shiv Chopra warning us of the consequences of the proposed bill. Chopra, author of “Corrupt to the Core” and a whistleblower on health care in Canada, said the bill would “preclude the public’s right to grow, own, trade, transport, share, feed and eat each and every food that nature makes.” Those are strong words coming from a scientist. Chopra refers to Monsanto Chemical as a “thug.”
Monsanto Chemical is denying it has anything to do with the bill and would not benefit from its passage. Green points out that Michael Taylor, a Monsanto employee who invented genetically modified organisms (GMO), is waiting to be appointed as food czar, which would give Monsanto unlimited power over food, farming, food supplements and seed production in the United States.
Another political connection is Hillary Clinton. As a presidential candidate, Clinton wanted a centralized food safety agency. Her advisor, Mark Penn, was CEO for a public relations firm representing Monsanto Chemical. Monsanto would have the most to gain from a new agency.
So how would the passage of S.510 affect the small farmer, family gardener, the local farmer’s market and the world’s food chain?
In 2005, Monsanto purchased Seminis Corp. Never heard of it? Well, Seminis controls 40 percent of the U.S. vegetable seed market and 20 percent of seeds on the world market. Seventy-five percent of tomato seeds and 85 percent of all pepper plants are provided by Seminis.
At the time of Monsanto’s purchase there was little concern or publicity. However, the agriculture industry was suspicious and leery of the seed monopoly held by Monsanto. Groups of farmers, seed trade professionals and activists warned there would be a potential for biotech applications of GMO that could decrease the variety, narrow the selection and alter the nutritional value of our crops. Currently, 91 percent of all soy beans are grown from GMO seed.
Monsanto has been more active in GMO, or so-called hybrid seed, production since 2005. After the earthquakes in Haiti, Monsanto donated 60,000 sacks of seeds (475 tons) of hybrid corn and vegetable seeds to Haitian farmers. The farmers, as poor and needy as they are, burned the seed, claiming they are toxic.
They’re right. The seeds were treated with Monsanto’s fungicide Maxim XO and thiram. Thiram is so toxic, the Food and Drug Administration requires special protective clothing to be worn by farmers when handling the seed. Monsanto never informed the Haitian government of the toxicity and didn’t provide any protective clothing for farm workers. This same toxic seed is being forced on American farmers. Too bad we’re not as concerned as the Haitians.
Monsanto Chemical has a history of risking human life using deadly chemicals. The company produced Agent Orange during the Vietnam war, causing death and permanent mental illness to our own veterans. The Vietnamese claim Agent Orange killed 400,000 of their civilians and is responsible for 500,000 children born with birth defects.
Today, large corporate commercial growers gradually are surrounding small family farms. They plant toxic GMO seeds while the family farms use their own seeds from previous crops or non-treated seed if they can find them. The conglomerates sue the small farmer, accusing them of cross-pollination that reduces their harvest. The courts usually agree, fine the small farmer for the loss and the small-time grower either uses GMO seeds or sells his land to big business.
S.510 would force the United States to comply with an international codex system used for all agricultural products grown around the world using toxic GMO seeds. Access to natural food supplements would be eliminated. The production of organic food would be a thing of the past because legally, only toxic seeds can be used to plant our new genetically modified food of the future.
S.510 would limit our right to own or use seed obtained from any food-producing plants grown in our own garden or farm. Farmers could not sell produce at a local market unless they used toxic seed supplied by Monsanto and approved by the FDA. Also, Monsanto Chemical will have the toxic GMO seed monopoly that could poison farmers and the food chain around the world. Now that’s something we should all be concerned about.
David Farside is a Sparks resident and political activist. The polemics of his articles can be discussed at firstname.lastname@example.org. His Web site is www.thefarsidechronicles.com.