Monsanto has been making headlines again. It seems Monsanto, the agri-biotech mega-corp, is a bad seed indeed.
Where to start? First off, sugar beets.
This super sweet variety beet is used in 44 percent of all U.S. sugar production. After the USDA approved planting Monsanto’s Roundup Ready sugar beet seeds genetically altered to withstand Roundup herbicide sprays in 2008, 95 percent of beet seeds planted the following year were Monsanto seeds. What?
Then earlier this fall, a federal judge ruled against the USDA’s approval citing lack of adequate studies surrounding the GM seeds. The result? A report estimates that total U.S. sugar production will be reduced by 20 percent in 2011, due to a shortage of conventional seed availability.
Once again, Monsanto’s monopolizing of seed in this country back-fires (surprise!) resulting in a genuine shortage of real and diverse seed supplies. (Aren’t you glad the corporation has been suing farmers for storing seed?)
You would think by now, the USDA and farmers alike might be suspect of any Roundup Ready seed given the latest news: Monsanto is now paying farmers to use its competitors’ herbicides in conjunction with Roundup. Why? Because, as many warned might happen, new “super weeds” have developed a resistance to Roundup due to its repeated use, making Roundup no longer effective. Good thing our farmers have Roundup Ready GM seeds – not!
Kudos to Europeans for attempting to anticipate disaster before it hits. Earlier this month, Europeans gathered over a million signatures in the hopes of putting a stop to genetically modified (GM) crop cultivation in the EU through on online charter organized by Greenpeace and Avaaz. Unfortunately, while it is required by law that the European Commission re-consider approvals with so many signatures, it won’t put a freeze on GM cultivation during deliberation.
Genetically modified anything is highly controversial. There is no doubt that GM has its place and can be beneficial but it must carefully controlled. When huge multinationals such as Monsanto monopolize the world (in this case with GM seeds), alarm bells should be ringing. Exclusive use of GM crops to the exclusion of more natural alternatives could, in an extreme scenario, lead to the collapse of civilization. GM crops may be incredibly fast-growing, productive and efficient but as genetics are manipulated, resistance to pests and other environmental factors may be diminished or lost. A global GM crop failure, with no alternative,resistant seed in storage would be disastrous. On a sinister note, it is quite possible that certain companies are intentionally build weaknesses into their GM seed so that a certain proprietary product or products must be bought in conjunction with the seed…
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