evil: thy name is monsanto

In between hours of watching embarrassingly bad TV – you know, the show where someone’s torch gets snuffed out and the one where some douchebag hands out roses to a bevy of fame-seeking whores lovely ladies – I also manage to squeeze in some quality programing [including pretty much everything HBO] and, on occasion, an insightful and/or important documentary.

This week I watched The World According to Monsanto.

I hate to be the bearer of bad news y’all, but… holy shit.

We are fucked.

From the opening minutes it’s clear that this company, with the former tagline of, “Monsanto: Where creative chemistry works wonders for you.” is more than just the purveyor of nasty genetically modified organisms (GMOs).

It is a special kind of evil. The kind whose black heart is only surpassed by its inexplicable and formidable power.

If Freddy Krueger and Jason Voorhies got together and created a love-child, it would be Monsanto.

Founded in 1901 as a chemical company, this organization has faced trial after trial and controversy after controversy due to the toxicity of its products. And yet, against all logic, thrives today.

Notable products Monsanto has delivered to the world:

Thanks Monsanto.

Today the company has reinvented itself as a “life sciences” company; one focused on “sustainable development”.

Sustainable development?

More like sustainable profit, not to mention world dominance, based on what I saw in this documentary. And no, I’m not exaggerating.

In March 2008, French journalist Marie-Monique Robin released the results of three years of her research into Monsanto, and soon after a video documentary, Le Monde selon Monsanto (The World According to Monsanto), was released on DVD.

You can find the full length video on YouTube, but because I know you guys aren’t big on clicking links, and because I really want you to shit your pants the way I did, all you have to do is click the play button below.

Don’t forget to grab your GMO’d popcorn and butter-flavoured topping.

The film reports many controversies surrounding the use and promotion of genetically modified seeds and PCBs. At one point internal company documents reveal that Monsanto not only knew about the “systematic toxic effects” of PCBs for decades, but they instructed their salespeople to stay silent because, “we can’t afford to lose one dollar of business.”

Chills, chills, chills.

As if that weren’t enough, the documentary explores claims that Monsanto has colluded with governments, used bribes and bullying pressure tactics, and has suppressed and manipulated scientific data to further its cause.

Want more more chills? How about this quote, from Jeremy Rifkin, in which he describes the power Monsanto wields as it relates to the US government (among others):

“I have never seen a situation where one company could have so much overwhelming influence at the highest levels of regulatory decision-making as Monsanto with its GM food policy in the government.”

In addition to the nasty business of creating products that are very, very bad for us and our environment, this film exposes Monsanto’s move to global dominance as the owner of patented GMO seeds, and the only purveyor of the herbacides that allow those seeds to grow.

Here’s what Greenpeace had to say about Monsanto:

Over the last decade, Monsanto aggressively bought up over 50 seed companies around the globe. Seeds are the source of all food. Whoever owns the seeds, owns the food. The process of genetic engineering allows companies, such as Monsanto, to claim patent rights over seeds.  Ninety percent of all GE seeds planted in the world are patented by Monsanto and hence controlled by them.  

Patents on seeds give companies like Monsanto unprecedented power. Monsanto prohibits farmers saving patented GE seeds from one crop to replant the next season, an age-old practice. To ensure that farmers do not reuse seeds, Monsanto created its own ‘gene police’, and encourages farmers to turn in their neighbors.

Even farmers that do not use GE seeds are not safe. According to an investigative  report by the Centre for Food Safety (CFS) farmers have even been sued for patent infringement after their field was contaminated by pollen or seed from someone else’s GE crop. 

There were several quotes that raised goosebumps, but perhaps none more than this one by quantum physicist and environmental activist, Vandana Shiva:

“Once they have established the norm: that seed can be owned as property, royalties can be collected. We will depend on them for every seed we grow of every crop we grow. If they control seed, they control food, they know it — it’s strategic. It’s more powerful than bombs. It’s more powerful than guns. This is the best way to control the populations of the world.”

Are you scared? Good, you should be.

How are our governments allowing this to happen? How are we allowing this to happen?

Keep moving,

xoxo nancy

 

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103 thoughts on “evil: thy name is monsanto

  1. Monsanto gets a lot of press coverage, but Cargill is even scarier. Because it’s a privately-held company, you never hear anything about them, unlike you do with Monsanto, as they’ve got shareholders to please and are forced to publicise at least some of their activities. Cargill are far, far more powerful. They ‘own’ the world’s farmers 😦

    • Cargill was actually a customer of mine in a previous life. I knew they were very big (Billions) and private, but didn’t realize they are on the scale of a Monsanto. Have you watched the documentary? I believe there’s a line in there about them owning 70%+ of the worlds seed – including patents on any of the GM food and cotton seeds they create.

      • I think they are far worse than Monsanto… at least we (sort of) know what Monsanto is up to, but Cargill is a silently creeping evil that will end up owning virtually all of the world’s farmers, and that worries me.

      • I don’t know, based on what I saw in that film, Monsanto will own the seed and herbicide market. Their seeds contaminate all pure, unadulterated seeds, at which point the farmers need Monsanto not only for the seed but also for the herbicide. Their GM seed will not grow without Round Up – their herbicide. So farmers are beholden to them for seed and for the chemical that allows the seed to grow.

        I remember Cargill Canada being more on the meat/beef side. Is that the same in Germany or are they big in seed too?

      • Cargill are involved in all facets of agriculture, not just meat production (though they are a strong player in that area). If you’re interested, you can read Brewster Kneen’s book ‘Invisible Giant’. (He’s Canadian, incidentally)

  2. eeek!

    I have never had a problem with GM foods as such, I have always seen it as an advanced form of the genetic manipulation through cross / selective breeding etc that has always happened. I do however think there is a place we should draw the line, I am just slightly hazy on where it is…

    What I do have a problem with it large scale corporations controlling what we eat, and how we eat and how we do many other things. The manipulation of the world in pursuit of profit and power is not something we should stand for (although I am again hazy on what I can do to stop it…although I intend to do some research)

    I have to say I had no idea that the world’s seeds were under control of the same person who thought Agent Orange would benefit the world!

    I am at work so can’t watch the vid, but I will attempt to remember to watch it later!

    • Sam, pick an evening to curl up and watch the documentary. I know it’s nearly 2 hours long but it is so much more than GM food stuffs.

      Wait til you get to the bits filmed in India, Mexico and Paraguay… I’m still having nightmares. What’s being allowed to happen (and fully acknowledged by some government officials) is wrong on so many levels.

      Like you though, I’m not sure what I can do as an individual to stop it. Very overwhelming and very disturbing indeed.

      • I think the problem is that a lot of the population (me included probably) do not have any idea of the full extent of what is going on in these corporations!

        I try my best to believe that governments are doing the best for us on one hand, but the other part of me writes of nearly everything as a cynical attempt to gain votes / make money / stay in power 😦

        I will definitely watch it… I will make my phone remind me otherwise I will forget!

      • Oh wait til you see the bits on how governments have kowtowed to Monsanto. And wait til you see the bits on the revolving door between executives that have worked for the FDA or USDA (government) and then held huge exec roles at Monsanto. Then back and forth. So they set policy and then go work for the company who benefits from the policy and so on and so forth. It’s sick.

  3. It is so scary. I haven’t seen that documentary but others sharing the evils of Monsanto. The question though is, “what can we do???”, they are such a big evil power!!

  4. Yup, Monsanto is evil. If you want to put a few more turds in your trousers, watch the documentary “Food, Inc.” Not only will you get to see Monshitto literally crush the little guy, but you’ll get to meet Joel Salatin, who is a full-of-beans face of hope for world. Peace (anyway), John

    • Ugh. I’ve been avoiding Food, Inc. for just that reason. I’d heard how disturbing it was – and also that I’d “never eat meat again”. I like meat, so I haven’t been keen on watching something that would put me off it. 🙂

      I’ll have to look up Joel Salatin – and (eventually) watch Food, Inc., too.

      • Ha! My wife won’t watch Food Inc. for the same reason. She’s a serious carnivore. I’ve met Joel Salatin, and he’s not a veg. In fact, you can watch him slit some chicken throats in the documentary.

      • Another really good documentary available on YouTube is ‘Earthlings’. It completely changed the way I look at what I eat. I’m glad you are taking time to learn about where your food comes from, not nearly enough people even give it a second thought, super markets have destroyed small time farmers and farmer to customer relations, so most issues regarding food is not thought about or discussed. A child does not know when they eat a burger that an animal had to die to become that burger, thus the disconnect with modern people and there food. I’ve been studying and living food conscious for over a year now, if you have any questions please feel free to ask. The most people that become aware of what’s actually is going on with their food, the more of a difference can be made.

      • Hi there! Thanks for taking the time to read and comment. I really appreciate it.

        I will definitely look at that video you recommended. One can never be too educated, even when the knowledge gained is this scary.

        To your point on a child being unaware of where their burger came from and that this causes the disconnect, I suppose I disagree. I’m well aware how that burger came to be on my plate: a cow had to die.

        While I’m not a giant carnivore by any stretch of the imagination, I do (and will likely continue) to eat meat, poultry and fish. I guess the way I think of it is: a lion on the Serengeti doesn’t struggle with the ethics of chasing down, killing and devouring the antelope. He just does it because that’s his nourishment.

        I’m not okay with animal cruelty, and I’m appalled at how most commercial beef and chicken is raised. I realize going organic does not address this 100%, but it’s one small thing I can do as a protest against mass-animal-food production.

        Thanks again for the suggested video. I’ll check it out.

      • As I mentioned, I’m an ethical eater, some would classify me as a vegetarian but it’s not that I don’t eat meat, I grew up on a farm, I fully understand how it works birth of the animal to what you get on your plate for dinner. I completely agree with you about the lion. What most people think when they think of the process in which an animal is grown, fed, and slaughtered is completely wrong. Even the documentaries that get into that specifically are just scratching the surface of how it really works. When I said child I did mean specifically children though, not you personally at all, as we age we do gain a some sense of origin to food source. My thoughts are that children deserve to know exactly how everything works, so when they are adults they can make informed choices.

      • I think there’s a time and a place for everything, and I’m not sure that making a small child aware of how the burger came to be is necessarily healthy. To your point, when they’re of an age of reason, they can certainly decide for themselves what they are and aren’t okay with.

    • I hear you on the not sleeping part.

      But the thing with just starting a garden / moving to Arizona / getting off the grid… watch the documentary, Kate. Pay special attention to when they get to Mexico and Paraguay.

      In Mexico, where the local farmers in Oaxaca (the birthplace of corn) are holding strong against Monsanto and insisting they don’t want to modify their pure corn varieties, there is evidence of cross contamination. Surrounding farmlands that are using the Monsanto seeds (and Round Up – the herbicide) are contaminating the “pure” corn because the wind is taking the seed from Monsanto crops to the non-Monsanto fields.

      Then Monsanto takes samples (trespassing), sees that the non-participating farmer has Monsanto seed on his land and sues them for breach of patent.

      So. Scary.

  5. I realize there are more important issues here, but it must know. What are your current feelings about butter-flavored popcorn? It gets a lot of mentions, but I’m thinking this is a love/hate relationship. 🙂

    • Bahahaha…going to a theatre and NOT accepting the offer to squirt that warm, golden shower of non-food onto your popcorn is pure sacriledge.

      I know it’s likely taking many minutes off my life each time I indulge but… a life without butter-flavoured topping on my popcorn is not one I deem worth living.

      • Uh-oh. I never get it anymore. I used to, but now I’m apparently old and it hurts my stomach. *cue violins*

        Still friends? 🙂

      • Oh I never said it didn’t hurt my stomach. I’m usually spray-painting the inside of the toilet bowl within minutes of getting back home. But, fuck, it’s tasty. 🙂

        Of course we’re still friends! Now, if you tell me you don’t like rich, bold, complex red wines…. then we’d have to fight.

      • GAH! The prices for May are super steep. Not sure what’s up with that. I was supposed to be back for the beginning of the month but the rates are 2x more than I usually pay. Bastards.

  6. It’s sad and it’s terrifying and it’s anger-inducing, and it’s all well known.
    And yet, generally the reaction of people is “that really sucks”, and then we go on buying their products.

  7. Hi Nancy! Thank you for spreading the word on this subject….it’s another one like climate change that is far to easy for us all to ignore and pretend isn’t happening.

    And yeah, Cargill is another big multi-billion dollar company doing what they can to control and homogenize food all around the world.

    Two things we CAN DO: #1 Work to control and require GMO foods to be labeled so we can make conscious choices…this is government activism and VERY important. As long as they stay hidden they can pretty much do what they want.

    #2 Start your own garden. Growing your own food is one of the most revolutionary things we can do in this crazy world.

    Not sure what Canada is doing about the GMO issue but the US continues to be controlled by anyone with lots of money.

    ~Kathy

    • They actually profiled 3 former members of the Canadian Ministry of Agriculture – doctors – who were fired for whistle-blowing. The documentary exposes story after story of how corrupt the entire operation is – including the collusion with governments. When the government official from Paraguay gets interviewed, you don’t know whether to laugh or cry. He basically says Monsanto brought black market seeds into their country (after Paraguay had banned GMOs) and contaminated their fields, thereby forcing Paraguay to okay the GMOs and become a Monsanto customer (of seed and Round Up). Crazy.

      And re: starting our own gardens, yes – fully agree – but, if the film is to be believed, it’s only a matter of time before none of our own seeds/gardens will grow without using the GMO seeds and their herbicide… Very depressing.

  8. It’s been long known that Monsanto is a morally corrupt bully with a penchant for litigation for the prime purpose of intimidation. I wish they were the exception. Unfortunately they are just the poster child for the new breed massively expanding corporations with global dominance as their vision disguised as a socially responsible do-gooder.

    I liked spacurious’ response best – mommy I’m scared!

  9. This gave me the chills. I’ve read about GMOs (and how difficult it is to avoid them) before and I’m truly worried…second grand kid on her way in a few weeks time. There are a few (European) countries that keep a little bit better eye on what’s allowed in foods and what not….we’re lagging behind and still consume many things that are no longer allowed in some other countries.

  10. Monsanto makes me want to cry. Their influence and control is truly horrifying and if they keep on going will surely be instrumental in the end of the world . I believe their pesticide is a major player in the massive deaths of honeybees and without honeybees in the world there won’t be too much food left for humans to eat. That said, Hungary recently burned its GMO crops. Now we need North Anerica to follow suit. Monsanto is true evil and greed.

  11. Well said, Nancy. I’m well aware of Monsanto’s practices but will watch the film. Or will I? Do I need to be any angrier about corporate/government collusion than I already am? I don’t know how widespread the evil is but believe European countries have much more control over the use of GM crops. But what would I know?
    On a lighter note:
    I have nominated you for a Sisterhood Award. I always enjoy, relate to and/or commiserate with your posts and appreciate all your likes and comments on my posts. Sista! http://whichwaynow101.wordpress.com/2014/04/17/sisterhood-of-the-world-bloggers-award/
    Kind regards,
    Carol

  12. Ugh, thanks so much for helping spread the word Nancy. Monsanto is evil and what is quietly happening to our food supply is terrifying. 😦 I must admit I can’t do the buttery topping anymore but red wine, oh yeah!

  13. Our particular government allows this to happen because our politicians are bought-and-paid-for stooges of these corporations. They do whatever they must to get their campaign contributions. If you want to call anyone a whore, just look up any United States Politician. Because, they all are. To the likes of these Corporations-Who-Are-NOT-People. (And, somewhere, the NSA is giving me a Very Bad Mark for typing that.)

    But it’s really even worse than that.

    I have a former friend who’s in advertising. This friend was very proud of his/her latest ‘promotion’ to the ranks of promoting all things chip-tac-u-lar. Even though he/she would not let his/her children eat such fake food dooky. He/she justified hocking tee-total-crap to the masses by saying ‘People will eat it anyway.’

    These corporations spend BILLIONS every single solitary year lobbying for the status quo, because of that ‘people will eat it anyway’ mentality. And our politicians pocket the money. And they maintain that status quo. Because people like me feel like we can’t do anything.

    • Andra, it is disgraceful how top ranking execs at Monsanto then move into high ranking positions at the government, including the FDA and USDA, among others. And then they go back to million-dollar positions at Monsanto. It’s a beautiful system, get into government, set the policy, then move into the corporation that benefitted from the policy )and collect a handsome payday), lather, rinse, repeat.

      Have you seen who’s on Monsanto’s board? It’s like the who’s who of past administrations. Shameful.

    • Maria, I hear you. I thought I knew how bad Monsanto was until I watched the film. It blew me away. Makes me glad I am into the latter half if my life, because I’m very worried for this planet. Makes me sad for my kids (and their future kids) though. 😦

  14. So so so scary. There was one semester in college where I took three different “Perspectives on the Environment” courses and read about a dozen books on this very topic and it was beyond terrifying. I still have the books sitting downstairs and every time I think about them it feels kind of paralyzing. It’s frightening that the few things we really need to live– food, water, oxygen– are so openly toyed with and altered from their natural state. Eesh.

  15. So glad you wrote this post. And I’m so happy to see so many voices responding to the subject. It’s frightening, it’s awful and most wretched of all, it’s allowed.
    Cheers to you for being vocal about it. I hope our resounding cries for attention will not continue to fall on deaf ears.

    • So I actually brought this up over one of our family Easter dinner get-togethers yesterday. I was shocked at the response. My brother-in-law, a chemical engineer basically told me that all this concern about GMOs is ridiculous: that there is nothing wrong with genetically modifying our food to make it ‘super’, ‘better’, ‘stronger’. He described it as basically accelerated Darwinism. I then tried to highlight the other horrific practices, like the seed patents, the way they are intentionally cross-contaminating pure varieties, and the fact that once you are using GMO’d seeds, you are beholden to Monsanto for their herbicide. All of it fell on deaf ears, with the dismissal that every industry is turning to a behemoth player creating a monopoly. I replied, but there is a difference between a monopoly on air travel or cell phone service and OUR FOOD. If this kind of dismissal and denial can be found at my extended family table, it’s no wonder there is such apathy at a global level.

      And it makes me so freaking angry.

      • Oh, how frustrating for you. I hope you were able to refrain from launching yourself across the table with hands intending to throttle said brother-in-law. I doubt I would find the quiet calm to hold back.
        Easter would be the, “Hey, Mom, you remember that one holiday when the cops had to come because you nearly decapitated Uncle Bob? Yeah, that was cool. How come we don’t see him anymore?”
        Hang in there.

  16. Nancy, this kind of thing frustrates me beyond description. You know it’s wrong and you desperately want to do something to make it better, then you realize it is so huge and pervasive that is quite literally can’t be stopped. Argh…

  17. I try to use heirloom seeds whenever I can. I avoid any f1 seeds whenever possible, as their progeny will be all over the place (mendel’s peas). Patenting seeds seems unnatural and illegal. But, money talks in our brave new world.

      • The downer is that I can’t grow in the winter months and have to rely on a supplier for my fruits and veggies. I suppose I can start vacuum sealing produce, but it generally gets consumed pretty quickly.

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