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article imageOp-Ed: Monsanto Makes its Move on the US Floor Special

By Zan Nordlund     Dec 14, 2010 in Politics
Lobbying and strong-arming prove more effective for the bottom line than manufacturing for Monsanto. Vying for control of food, water, labor, and fuel supplies -- and world governments -- Monsanto proves a powerful global lobbying organization.
The United States Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee deliberated and signed the into law on September 27, 2007 during the 110th Congress on the Food and Drug Administration Amendments Act (FDAAA). This law improved the safety and transparency of the FDA’s food and drug approval process by establishing a number of important safeguards, including an early warning and surveillance system to identify adulterated food and disease outbreaks associated with their consumption.
In the fall of 2010 the HELP Committee recaucused, approving the heavily Monsanto lobbied S. 510 bill. This bill is pending consideration by the full Senate. The House of Representatives also passed a companion measure, H.R. 2749, on July 30, 2009. Restricting sale of non-sterile seed, the bill further limits backyard gardening and redefines the term "organic" to include the use of fertilizers.
Lucy Sharratt, coordinator of the Canadian Biotechnical Action Network says Monsanto skirts as “GE” (Genetically Engineered) and “GM” (Genetically Modified) and swallows smaller companies in a single gulp. Strong-arming and DNA warping of sugar cane lend GM a threat to global food staples, says Sharratt.
“Major Lantic customers like Cadbury (Chocolate)should be really uneasy about using GM sugar,” Sharratt adds. Monsanto also attempted to switch all crop production to their sugar beet, tolerant to GM herbicide Roundup. Root vegetables, like beets, collect more toxin and pesticide than above-ground crops.
“Our data strongly suggests GM maize varieties induce a state of hepatorenal toxicity,” (liver and kidney failure) asserts the January 2010 edition of The International Journal of Biological Sciences. GM corn varietals bond and store the pesticide Roundup in their kernel’s DNA in an effort to curb fungus and insect loss. Because the pesticide can’t be purged even with cleansing, ingestion of the corn caused organ failure mice. Some heart, adrenal, fertility, spleen and blood cell differences were also noted. This corn bears no specialized label when sold for human consumption in the United States or other countries.
GM’s Enviropig – a DNA modified Yorkshire pig with the capability to efficiently digest plant phosphorus (already on supermarket shelves in Canada) may soon grace kitchen tables in the United States. Opponents of the Enviropig say DNA alteration is unnecessary and suggest changes in conditions of keeping when problems arise. Enviropig consume food resources otherwise available to the poor.
GMs AquAdvantage is fish featuring a growth hormone taken from Chinook salmon and DNA harvested from Ocean Pout -- an eel-like creature. Growing to market two times faster than other salmon, the fish consumes five times the wild anchovies and sardines of other farmed fish. These resources are usually reserved for humans. GM claims they only create sterile female fish, but admits five percent of their AquAdvantage remain fertile; several have slipped their hatcheries. US Department of Environmental Management in cooperation with US FDA officials are concerned over the impact the fish will have upon an already endangered Atlantic Salmon and a delicate marine ecosystem.
The creator of saccharine, Monsanto also invented plastics, polystyrenes and synthetic fibers. Other major products have included the herbicides 2,4,5-T, DDT, PCBs and Agent Orange (Vietnam War defoliant and carcinogenic). Also, Monsanto operated the Dayton Project, and later Mound Laboratories in Miamisburg, Ohio, for the Manhattan Project, the development of the first nuclear weapons and, after 1947, the Atomic Energy Commission. Monsanto scientists first began to genetically modify plant cells in 1982 and the company produced DNA altered crops five years later. They now control ninety percent of the world’s seed production. Monsanto first introduced caffeine and vanilla (two products upon which they’ve cornered the market) to Coca-Cola, and is the primary lobbyist behind the now controversial bill S 5.10 currently before the United States Senate. Seeking to sterilize all seed offered for commercial sale, the bill seeks to sternly regulate backyard gardening, to offer free-hand DNA modification of foodstuffs to manufacturers, and to redefine the term “organic” to include a broader sweep of the use of pesticides and fertilizers.
US President Barack Obama appointed these former high-ranking Monsanto officials, among others, into his Cabinet: Michael Taylor: Food Safety Czar (1988 FDA, representing Monsanto, returning to FDA as D C for Policy, approving Monsanto's DNA growth hormone in dairy cows. Taylor’s questionable role in these decisions led to an investigation. Eventually exonerated). Tom Vilsack: Secretary of Agriculture(Ardent supporter of corn and soy-based bio-fuel products during stint as Iowa Governor. These fuels consume much more fossil energy than they generate and drive up world food prices, literally starving the poor). Monsanto lobbyist Islam Siddigui: US AG Trade Representative (oversaw the development of the first national “organic labeling standards,” allowing sewage sludge-fertilized, genetically modified, and irradiated food to be labeled as “organic”). Elena Kagan: US Supreme Court Judge (defender of Monsanto’s right to contaminate surrounding fields with feral sterile alpha seed).
Monsanto's rarely responds to criticism, preferring to refer questioners to a preprepared webpage. Questions concerning lobbing efforts, market distribution, or environmental impact studies are not addressed unless the corporation initiates the topic.
Headquartered in Creve Coeur, Missouri in the US, Monsanto is centered in Winnipeg, Manitoba in Canada. Find them also at 325 Vassar Street, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA -- (617) 349-7000.
Reach any member of the US Senate or House by calling 202-224-3121. They now review the controversial bill S.510 -- well lobbied by Monsanto -- seeking to sterilize seed, ban backyard gardening, and include fertilizers and waste products in "organic" processing.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of DigitalJournal.com
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