[Editor’s note: This article is an excellent rundown of what Monsanto is in regards to food rights, safety, monopoly, patents, cronyism, and why millions are marching in peaceful protest. Please read and especially share with friends and family who are hearing about it and may not be aware of Monsanto and genetically modified foods. -HC ]
Fight for your right to eat food
Tired of not being able to trust your food? Tired of all the food deserts in this country, where there’s no choice other than which nasty fast-food place to drive-thru? Tired of federal regulators banning nutrient-dense foods, like raw milk from pasture-raised cows? Tired of not knowing what’s genetically modified and what’s not? Tired of things being labeled “natural” when they’re not? Tired of being sick and tired?
If you answered yes to any of the above, then it’s time to rise up off of your couch, grab a pitchfork, and join the worldwide March Against Monsanto, May 25.
Who is Monsanto?
For those of you who don’t know, Monsanto is the largest producer of pesticides, herbicides and genetically engineered crop seeds in the world.
The agribusiness giant has been playing God with our food supply over the last several decades by changing the DNA of staple crops in the United States like corn, soy, sugar beets, canola and cottonseed. These crops are found in one form or another in almost every processed, pre-packaged food in the grocery store, even though safety of their manmade genetic mutations is hotly disputed.
The company responsible for DDT, PCBs and Agent Orange wants us to take its word for it that its modern insecticides, like BT, and herbicides, like Roundup, are safe. And it also wants us to swallow the seeds it genetically engineered to withstand those chemicals, like Roundup-Ready corn, soy, canola, sugar beets, cottonseed and now wheat, and Bt cotton, corn and soy.
But these products have been linked to cancer, birth defects and infertility. They’ve also been blamed for dangerously depleting the world’s bee population, destroying biodiversity and producing food that is nutritionally deficient… and it can be argued that nutritional deficiency is at the root of all kinds of disease.
Monsanto’s rise to power did not come easy. Without the help of government – in the form of intellectual property rights or patents, cash subsidies, regulation of its competitors, and a “justice” system stacked in its favor – Monsanto wouldn’t be the powerhouse it is today.
Intellectual property rights
One of the key tools Monsanto and a handful of other biotech giants – including DuPont, Syngenta, Bayer and Land O’ Lakes – have used to cartelize the world’s seed supply is U.S. patent law. 82 percent of all seeds for sale in the world are genetically modified and patented by about a dozen companies.
Intellectual property laws allow people to own intangible property like works of music, literature or art, words, phrases, symbols, designs, discoveries, inventions, or, in Monsanto’s case, genetic codes.
Monsanto owns all of the seeds – and by extension the crops they produce – in the world that contain their genetic codes.
Should a company own the genes of plants, such as corn, soy, or canola? Well, Monsanto does. They own the rights to how a seed is made and used, preventing farmers from saving seeds from their harvest or storing them for future planting seasons. By not being able to store seeds or use their offspring, farmers are handcuffed to Monsanto as returning customers, each and every year. If Monsanto finds any part of their GM gene in another crop, even if it’s one splice, they’ll come after you.
Monsanto argues it needs patents to recover its investment into this “planet-saving” technology.
“Monsanto patents many of the seed varieties we develop. Patents are necessary to ensure that we are paid for our products and for all the investments we put into developing these products,” it says on the company’s website.
The question isn’t whether Monsanto should get paid for its product – it should, once – but rather how long it should be allowed to extort money from farmers and consumers for its intangible invention. It just seems so unnatural, for there even to be a seed “industry,” when seeds themselves are oh so abundant in nature.
Monsanto has no natural right to own “nature,” even though U.S. patent law has granted them such a right.
If a farmer buys a seed, he should be able to do whatever he wants with it – grow it, reproduce it, sell it, or whatever. If I create a delicious meal and share it with someone, and they figure out how to recreate it, I don’t have the “right” to prevent them from making that same dish, or to sue them for stealing my “intellectual property.” Or, if I grow a tomato and sell it to someone, they should have the right to keep its seeds, plant them, or throw it at a politician if they want to, without the threat of prosecution for stealing my mystical invention.
But Monsanto’s doesn’t want you to have that type of freedom. Their henchmen snoop around farm fields searching for some plant that may have cross pollinated with one of their seeds that fell off some guy’s truck, which the farmer doesn’t even know about in most cases, and sue the pants off of him. The courts side with the GM giant every time.
Monsanto has created quite a cozy (to say it mildly) relationship with government officials. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, for instance, was a former attorney for Monsanto. Shockingly enough, he just sided with Monsanto in a case involving a 75-year old farmer who saved his GM seeds, from one season to the next, a practice that has been done regularly in farming for hundreds, if not thousands of years.
If being in bed with Clarence wasn’t bad enough, here comes Michael Taylor, the FDA’s food czar. He also worked as an attorney representing Monsanto. One of the many things this regulatory agency is in charge of is… labeling. That’s why there are no GM food labels out there. Monsanto doesn’t want you to look up what “genetically modified” means.
And if you thought buying off food czars and judges was enough to solidify their foodopoly, you better think again.
Monsanto, along with other GM food producers, spent millions to stop Proposition 37, a bill in California that would have required food companies to label GM ingredients. That bill was enough to scare the GM poop right out of them. So they did what any monopolistic company would do, ask the government for more help. And, like any good money-grubbing politicians would do, they obeyed, attaching the “Monsanto Rider” to a budget bill.
As many of you have heard, Obama – who, in his first presidential election campaign, called for the labeling of GMOs – recently inked into law the “Monsanto Protection Act,” which protects Monsanto from “frivolous” lawsuits.
To the Streets
The Monsanto Protection Act is the final straw for some folks. Hippies, farmers, food lovers and liberty lovers, prepare to unite. Let’s pack the streets, even if it is a holiday weekend, and March Against Monsanto, May 25, 2 p.m. Eastern.
Join the revolution
If you’re still not with me, fine. You can sit home on the couch and watch Dancing with the Stars, drinking a Big Gulp and eating a bag of GM corn Doritos. I’ll head to the streets and peacefully protest against these real-food assassins.
While we march, let us not forget, it takes two to tango. It was government who granted Monsanto all this power in the first place, through patent laws, backdoor deals, and bribes. While I’m mad at Monsanto, I’m equally irate at our “benevolent” government.
Politicians don’t have to take the money, don’t have to make laws that protect precious “intellectual property,” but they do. So, I’ll be waving two signs at the March – one protesting Monsanto and one protesting the government. I don’t need poster board or paper though… just two hands and two fingers.
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Brad Jordan hosts a podcast called Food Riot Radio. He and his co-host Sara Burrows work to expose how a collusion between government, big agriculture, big pharma and big food has determined what ends up on our plates and offer ideas for how to fight back.