Monsanto is a Ticking Time Bomb for U.S. Agriculture: Japan halts Imports of U.S. Wheat after USDA’s Finding of Genetic Pollution from GMOs
It has already begun: Japan has just cancelled a large contract to purchase U.S. wheat. “We will refrain from buying western white and feed wheat effective today,” Toru Hisadome, a Japanese farm ministry official in charge of wheat trading, told Reuters.
As many readers well know, I predicted precisely this scenario just yesterday in a Natural News article warning about the consequences of genetic pollution. There, I wrote, “All wheat produced in the United States will now be heavily scrutinized — and possibly even rejected — by other nations that traditionally import U.S. wheat. This obviously has enormous economic implications for U.S. farmers and agriculture.”
Now we’re already seeing the result: the ditching of U.S. wheat by world nations that want nothing to do with GMOs.
Monsanto is a ticking time bomb for U.S. agriculture
This proves, without any question, that Monsanto’s genetic experiments which “escaped” into commercial wheat fields are now going to devastate U.S. wheat farmers. Expect the floor to drop out on wheat prices, and watch for a huge backlash against the USDA by U.S. farmers who stand to lose hundreds of millions of dollars on this.
As the USDA has now admitted, Monsanto’s GMO experiments from 1998 – 2005 were held in open wheat fields. The genetically engineered wheat escaped and found its way into commercial wheat fields in Oregon (and possibly 15 other states), causing self-replicating genetic pollution that now taints the entire U.S. wheat industry.
“Asian consumers are keenly sensitive to gene-altered food, with few countries allowing imports of such cereals for human consumption,” writes Reuters. It continues:
Asia imports more than 40 million tonnes of wheat annually, almost a third of the global trade of 140-150 million tonnes. The bulk of the region’s supplies come from the United States, the world’s biggest exporter, and Australia, the No. 2 supplier. Another incredible Monsanto achievement: the genetic contamination of the U.S. wheat supply
Nice job, Monsanto. You’ve managed to spew your genetic pollution across the fields of innocent U.S. farmers who are now going to lose huge sums of money due to the reject of U.S. wheat by all the other world nations that refuse to feed their populations GMO.
And a big thumbs up to the USDA, too, for screwing U.S. farmers by green-lighting open-field GMO experiments that we all warned were going to result in runaway genetic pollution. The USDA, of course, is the official cheerleading squad for Monsanto’s criminal “science” that we all know is a total fraud. How do these scientists now suggest this self-replicating genetic pollution be put back into the black box from which it emerged?
It can’t be done, of course. So now the entire future of the U.S. wheat supply is at risk thanks to Monsanto and the USDA. Nice one, folks. Score another victory for the scumbag destroyers in Washington D.C. and the greed-driven executives at our favorite corporation, Monsanto.
And remember: Genetically modified wheat is only the beginning. Monsanto has no doubt unleashed genetic pollution across many other crops as well. We’re now living in an age where Monsanto is essentially ejaculating its patented seed across all the farms of America, then claiming to “own” the contaminated crops. What a wonderful image of corporate responsibility and service to humankind. I can’t wait to see what other U.S. crops will be rejected by world nations due to Monsanto’s genetic pollution.
Sources for this story include:
The U.S. Department of Agriculture has been taken over by an outside organization. RootsAction has launched a campaign demanding a Congressional investigation.
The organization is called Monsanto.
Monsanto is, of course, the world’s largest biotech corporation. These are the people who brought us Roundup weed killer and the resulting superweeds and superbugs, along with growth hormones for cows, genetically engineered and patented seeds, PCBs, and Agent Orange — which Monsanto now wants us to use as herbicide on genetically engineered corn and soybeans.
This chemical company — responsible for environmental disasters that have destroyed entire towns, and a driving force behind the international waves of suicides among farmers whose lives it has helped ruin — has monopolized our food system largely by taking over regulatory agencies like the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
A recent study links Roundup to autism, Parkinson’s, and Alzheimer’s.
While Hungary has just destroyed all Monsanto genetically engineered corn fields, the USDA takes a slightly different approach toward the chemical giant. The USDA has, in fact, never denied a single application from Monsanto for new genetically engineered crops. Not one. Not ever.
The takeover has been thorough. Monsanto’s growth hormones for cows have been approved by Michael Taylor, a former Monsanto lobbyist turned USDA administrator and FDA deputy commissioner. This was after Margaret Miller, a former Monsanto employee, oversaw a report on the hormones’ safety and then took a job at the FDA where she approved her own report.
Islam Siddiqui, a former Monsanto lobbyist, wrote the USDA’s food standards, allowing corporations to label irradiated and genetically engineered foods as “organic.”
The recently passed and signed law nicknamed the Monsanto Protection Act strips federal courts of the power to halt the sale and planting of genetically engineered crops during a legal appeals process. The origin of this act can be found in the USDA’s deregulation of Roundup Ready sugar beets in violation of a court order. The USDA argued that any delay would have caused a sugar shortage, since Monsanto holds 95% of the market.
The revolving door keeps revolving. Monsanto’s board members have worked for the EPA, advised the USDA, and served on President Obama’s Advisory Committee for Trade Policy and Negotiations.
Clearly, an investigation of large-scale government corruption by this singularly destructive corporation is long overdue. RootsAction is asking everyone concerned, wherever you are in the world, to join in demanding the opening of that investigation right now.
And then get ready to join Nation of Change and organizations and individuals around the world in a March Against Monsanto on May 25.
By Dr. Mae-Wan Ho
We have repeatedly warned against using food crops to produce gene drugs and industrial chemicals since 1998. The inevitable contamination of our food supply has now come to light. But the more insidious pollution of our soil, water and air has yet to be assessed. Poisons can seep through the plant roots and dissolve in ground water. Pollen carrying the offending drugs and chemicals could be inhaled. Wild and domestic animals of all kinds are likely to feed on the crops.
On November 11, the US government ordered the biotech company, ProdiGene, to destroy 500,000 bushels of soybeans contaminated with GM maize, engineered to produce a drug not approved for human consumption. The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) refused to give details on the protein involved because it is deemed ‘confidentual business information’.
It could be one of the following: the HIV glycoprotein gp120, a blood-clotting agent (aprotinin), a digestive enzyme (trypsin), an industrial adhesive (a fungal enzyme, laccase), vaccines for hepatitis B, vaccine for a pig disease, transmissible gastroenteritis.
USDA records show that ProdiGene has received 85 test permits for experimental open-air trials of pharm crops and chemical crops in at least 96 locations.
The ‘edible’ AIDS vaccine with the HIV glycoprotein gp120 gene has been condemned as dangerous by a number of AIDS virologists because the gp120 gene and gene product can undermine our immune system and generate new viruses and bacteria that cause diseases.
A day later, the US government disclosed that ProdiGene did the same thing in Iowa back in September. The USDA ordered 155 acres of nearby corn to be incinerated for fear of contamination.
This is just the tip of the iceberg. The true extent of the contamination remains unknown owing to the secrecy surrounding more than 300 field trials of such crops across the country since 1991. Still others sites are in Canada. The chemicals these plants produce include vaccines, growth hormones, clotting agents, industrial enzymes, human antibodies, contraceptives, immune suppressive cytokines and abortion-inducing drugs.
The majority of engineered biopharmaceuticals are being incorporated into maize. ProdiGene, the company at the centre of the current scandal has the greatest number of pharm crops and projects that 10 percent of the US maize will be devoted to biopharm products by 2010.
Far from supporting even weak containment strategies such as buffer zones, ProdiGene has told its shareholders it is hoping to “gain regulatory approval to lessen or abandon these requirements altogether”.
Trials in other countries have also come to light. According to a recent report by Genetically Engineered Food Alert, a US-based coalition of environmental and consumer advocacy groups, Puerto Rico is one of four main centres in the US for these tests. The other three are the states of Nebraska, Wisconsin and Hawaii.
Another report by the same group reveals that these plants are by no means the only experimental GM crops grown in Puerto Rico. This Caribbean island has been host to 2,296 USDA-approved GM open-air field tests as of January 2001, making Puerto Rico host to more GM food experiments per square mile than any US state, except Hawaii.
Puerto Rico is not a state. Its residents are US citizens but have no voice or vote in the US Congress or in the UN.
Puerto Rico Farmers Association president Ramon Gonzalez revealed that he plants GM crops in his farm in the town of Salinas. He said that genetically modified crops in Puerto Rico are commercial and include a herbicide-resistant soya made by Monsanto (Roundup-ready) and a variety of corn that produces its own bio-pesticide, or Bt corn.
According to Gonzalez, the harvested GM crops planted there are sold as seed to be planted elsewhere. “Puerto Rico is the preferred place to make seed because our weather permits us to have up to four harvests a year.”
Local regulatory agencies seem to be unaware of the issue. A spokeswoman for the Puerto Rico Environmental Quality Board said that as Puerto Rico has no laws or regulations for GM crops, it has no mandate to intervene or investigate.
USDA spokesman Jim Rogers is reported to have said, “Nobody’s going to know all the possible risks”, and “We mitigate these risks to what we feel is appropriate”.
On the contrary, we do know enough of the risks for such crops to be banned immediately. The USDA and other government regulators have been warned, and they should be held liable for all damages along with the companies involved.
Large biotech agribusinesses like Monsanto control much of the global seed market with genetically modified (GM) crops. This centralization of GM seeds threatens food safety, food security, biodiversity, and democratic ideals.
Question: Would you want a small handful of government officials controlling America’s entire food supply, all its seeds and harvests?I suspect most would scream, “No way!”
Yet, while America seems allergic to public servants – with no profit motive in mind – controlling anything these days, a knee-jerk faith in the “free market” has led to overwhelming centralized control of nearly all our food stuffs, from farm to fork.
The Obama administration’s recent decision to radically expand genetically modified (GM) food – approving unrestricted production of agribusiness biotech company Monsanto’s “Roundup Ready” alfalfa and sugar beets – marks a profound deepening of this centralization of food production in the hands of just a few corporations, with little but the profit motive to guide them.
Even as United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) officials enable a tighter corporate grip on the food chain, there is compelling evidence of GM foods’ ecological and human health risks, suggesting we should at very least learn more before allowing their spread.
Numerous peer-reviewed studies suggest these crops – the result of reformulating plant and animal genes, with minimal oversight and no food labeling disclosures – increase allergens in the food supply. And according to the World Health Organization, “The movement of genes from GM plants into conventional crops…may have an indirect effect on food safety and food security. This risk is real, as was shown when traces of a maize type which was only approved for feed use appeared in maize products for human consumption in the United States of America.”
Corporate-controlled seeds are undemocratic
But these corporate-controlled seeds pose an even graver threat: Both the technology and economy of GM crops are intrinsically anti-democratic.
What’s wrong with having a few corporations control virtually every aspect of our sustenance? Far from abstract, the genetic and proprietary control of our diets by a handful of companies (Monsanto, DuPont, and Syngenta combined own an astounding 47 percent of the global seed market) directly robs consumers and farmers of the most basic right to choose what they will eat and grow.
The entire concept of creating and selling patented GM seeds is based on proprietary corporate control: The seeds are non-replenishing and must be purchased anew each season, eliminating the time-honored farmer tradition of saving and re-using seeds.
Anyone doubting Monsanto’s obsession with control can just ask just ask the thousands of farmers who have been sued and spied upon for alleged “seed piracy” – at least 2,391 farmers in 19 states through 2006, according to Monsanto website documents obtained by the Washington, DC-based Center for Food Safety (CFS). A report by CFS, using company records, found that “Monsanto has an annual budget of $10 million dollars and a staff of 75 devoted solely to investigating and prosecuting farmers.”
Or ask Monsanto. Under the headline, “Why Does Monsanto Sue Farmers Who Save Seeds?” on its website, the firm states: “When farmers purchase a patented seed variety, they sign an agreement that they will not save and replant seeds produced from the seed they buy from us. More than 275,000 farmers a year buy seed under these agreements in the United States.”
Threats to food safety, biodiversity
The USDA, and even some leaders of the organics business such as Whole Foods and Stonyfield Farms, endorse the notion of “coexistence” between GM and organic crops – a comforting yet flawed claim. Numerous organic farmers have reported the unwanted arrival of GM seeds contaminating their fields, rendering organic crops unmarketable.
Even more troubling, “Roundup Ready” and other herbicide-resistant seeds by their nature promote the use of toxic herbicides – the use of which, contrary to industry claims, has risen as GM crops have proliferated, according to USDA data.
Even with buffer zones to segregate GM and organic fields, “Some degree of cross-pollination will occur regardless of what mechanism is going to be put in place,” agronomist Jeff Wolt, of Iowa State University’s Seed Science Center, told the Associated Press.
The GM threats to biodiversity and democracy are closely related. When you pair proprietary technology that’s designed to retain company control of seeds (the very lifeblood of our food supply) along with highly concentrated market control, you get a hazardous blend of ecological, economic, and political centralization.
According to research of industry statistics by the non-profit ETC (Action Group on Erosion, Technology and Concentration), “the top 3 seed companies control 65% of the proprietary maize seed market worldwide, and over half of the proprietary soybean seed market…Monsanto’s biotech seeds and traits (including those licensed to other companies) accounted for 87% of the total world area devoted to genetically engineered seeds in 2007.”
Of course, few of us think about market control when we’re hustling through supermarket aisles getting our shopping done. But when our elected leaders (from both parties) approve the expansion of risky seeds that endanger biodiversity as well as farmer and consumer choice, there should be more than a little outcry.
Food Safety Act: five food recalls that rattled the industry
Genetically centralized control over seeds and the future of our food supply isn’t inevitable. Over 80 towns across the state of Vermont, and numerous counties across the country have approved moratoria on GM crops. Monsanto has encountered mass farmer and political resistance in India and throughout much of Africa and Europe.
The Obama administration’s effective rubber stamp on Monsanto’s latest GM products is out of step with international thinking about food democracy and biodiversity, and an affront to that very American notion of consumer and producer choice – and voice – in the marketplace.
Christopher D. Cook is the author of “Diet for a Dead Planet: Big Business and the Coming Food Crisis.” He has written for The Economist, the Los Angeles Times, Harper’s, and elsewhere. He can be reached at http://www.christopherdcook.com.