When Forbes magazine declared Monsanto as the Company of the Year for 2009, millions of surprised people were forced to reevaluate their opinions about a major corporation. Now they no longer trust Forbes.
Monsanto is one of the most despised corporations on earth. This is the sixth in a series of articles that expose their not-so-hidden dark side and how, if unrestrained, Monsanto could unleash a cataclysm. Indeed, it has already started…
Part 6 of 10
Monsanto Attacks Labeling, Local Democracy, and News Coverage
- On July 3, 2003, Monsanto sued Oakhurst dairy because their labels stated, “Our Farmers’ Pledge: No Artificial Growth Hormones”. Oakhurst eventually settled with Monsanto, agreeing to include a sentence on their cartons saying that according to the FDA no significant difference has been shown between milk derived from rbGH-treated and non-rbGH-treated cows. The statement is not true. FDA scientists had acknowledged the increase of IGF-1, bovine growth hormone, antibiotics, and pus in milk from treated cows. Nonetheless, the misleading sentence had been written years earlier by the FDA’s deputy commissioner of policy, Michael Taylor—the one who was formerly Monsanto’s outside attorney and later their vice president.
- Monsanto’s public relations firm created a group called the Dairy Coalition, which pressured editors of the USA Today, Boston Globe, New York Times and others, to limit negative coverage of rbGH.
- A Monsanto attorney wrote a letter to Fox TV, promising dire consequences if the station aired a 4-part exposé on rbGH. The show was ultimately canceled.
- A book critical of Monsanto’s GM foods was three days away from being published. A threatening letter from Monsanto’s attorney forced the small publisher to cancel publication.
- 14,000 copies of Ecologist magazine dedicated to exposing Monsanto were shredded by the printer due to fears of a lawsuit.
- After a ballot initiatives in California established Mendocino County a GM-free zone—where planting GMOs is illegal, Monsanto and others organized to push through laws in 14 states that make it illegal for cities and counties to declare similar zones.
Monsanto’s Promises of Riches Come Up Short
Biotech advocates have wooed politicians, claiming that their new technology is the path to riches for their city, state, or nation. “This notion that you lure biotech to your community to save its economy is laughable,” said Joseph Cortright, an Oregon economist who co-wrote a report on the subject. “This is a bad-idea virus that has swept through governors, mayors and economic development officials.” Indeed, The Wall Street Journal observed, “Not only has the biotech industry yielded negative financial returns for decades, it generally digs its hole deeper every year.” The Associated Press says it “remains a money-losing, niche industry.”
Nowhere in the biotech world is the bad-idea virus more toxic than in its application to GM plants. Not only does the technology under-deliver, it consistently burdens governments and entire sectors with losses and problems.
Under the first Bush administration, for example, the White House’s elite Council on Competitiveness chose to fast track GM food in hopes that it would strengthen the economy and make American products more competitive overseas. The opposite ensued. US corn exports to Europe were virtually eliminated, down by 99.4%. The American Corn Growers Association (ACGA) calculated that the introduction of GM corn caused a drop in corn prices by 13 to 20%. (PDF) Their CEO said, “The ACGA believes an explanation is owed to the thousands of American farmers who were told to trust this technology, yet now see their prices fall to historically low levels while other countries exploit US vulnerability and pick off our export customers one by one.” US soy sales also plummeted due to GM content.
According to Charles Benbrook, PhD, former executive director of the National Academy of Sciences’ Board on Agriculture, the closed markets and slashed prices forced the federal government to pay an additional $3 to $5 billion every year. (PDF) He says growers have only been kept afloat by the huge jump in subsidies. (PDF)
Instead of withdrawing support for failed GM crops, the US government has been convinced by Monsanto and others that the key to success is to force open foreign markets to GMOs. But many nations are also reeling under the false promise of GMOs.
Canola Crashes on GM
When Canada became the only major producer to adopt GM canola in 1996, it led to a disaster. The premium-paying EU market, which took about one-third of Canada’s canola exports in 1994 and one-fourth in ’95, stopped all imports from Canada by 1998. The GM canola was diverted to the low-priced Chinese market. Not only did Canadian canola prices fall to a record low, Canada even lost their EU honey exports due to the GM pollen contamination. (PDF)
Australia benefited significantly from Canada’s folly. By 2006, the EU was buying 38% of Australia’s canola exports. Nonetheless, Monsanto’s people in Australia claimed that GM canola was the way to get more competitive. They told farmers that Roundup Ready canola would yield up to 30% more. But when an investigator looked at the best trial yields on Monsanto’s website, it was 17% below the national average canola yield. When that was publicized, the figures quickly disappeared from the Monsanto’s site. Two Aussie states did allow GM canola and sure enough, they are suffering from loss of foreign markets.
In Australia and elsewhere, the non-GMO farmers also suffer. Market prices drop, and farmers spend more to set up segregation systems, GMO testing, buffer zones, and separate storage and shipping channels to try to hold onto non-GMO markets. Even then, they risk contamination and lost premiums.