With sweet corn containing a genetically engineered toxin is headed toward Wal-Mart produce sections as you read this, it’s time to talk about Monsanto’s evil little kid’s book.
The corn is from Monsanto seeds, which produce a plant that exudes bt toxin, a pesticide that will kill insects that feed on the plant. It’s coming to Wal-Mart from farms in the Midwest, Northwest, Southeast and Texas. It will be the first genetically modified food to go directly from the farm to consumers – unlabled as GMO. Besides the toxin people who eat the corn will consume, there are other serious farming issues with genetically modified crops outside the scope of this article. But it should be noted that Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s and General Mills have vowed to not sell or use the genetically engineered.
Apparently, enough adults are informed and concerned enough to raise a stink, so Monsanto is aiming at the next generation, eyes always on the profit prize. How else to explain the absurd disinformation of the Biotechnology Basic Activity Book it sponsors?.
No book should be banned. That’s an axiom of this column.
Choices, however, are legitimate. As parents and librarians, gift-giving grandparents, whatever, we eschew children’s books that are too scary for our little ones, we don’t choose books that seem stupid or unfunny, and, most importantly, we don’t want books that are a pack of lies.
It’s proper, too, to shield tender young minds from harsh realities – but when they’re ready and we intend to inform them, our job is to get real.
Monsanto thinks otherwise.
If you think a food additive that kills human kidney cells improves our health, don’t read any further, the GMO propaganda machine has already fried your brains. The U.S. allows this stuff. Corporations own our government. But the European Union, Japan, Australia, Brazil, Russia and China, require labeling for GE foods. (It’s staggering to think that Russia and China are more concerned about their citizens’ health than the majority of our elected representatives.)
One constantly wonders if any of these corporate people or bought politicians have grandchildren, or even think about the consequences of poisoning the food supply or the land in ways that will harm them, their great-grandchildren, and generations beyond. Forget it, they aren’t that human.
Monsanto is likely the most evil multi-national corporation ever. They make Phillip Morris and R.J. Reynolds getting kids hooked on tobacco look absolutely benign; BP’s malfeasance in the Gulf oil spew minor, Ciby Geigy pushing Ritalin on kids and useless, dangerous drugs to third world countries – fogeddaboutit. Maybe Dow … but Monsanto must take the prize.
These are the people that brought us polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), now banned worldwide; DDT, banned for most uses, and Agent Orange, the defoliant than caused birth defects among generations of Vietnamese and children of U.S. soldiers exposed to it..
These are the people who put bovine growth hormone in our milk supply. Neither you nor I may say that makes our milk any different or they will sue us. (Only why have other countries banned its use?) And the cows, who suffer terribly, can’t speak up for themselves.
These are the people who invented terminator seeds, so farmers can’t collect seeds from their plants, and replant with them, They have to buy more seeds from Monsanto. What monster could think up a terminator seed? (One envisions Arnold Swartzenegger with a machine gun spewing seeds at recalcitrant planters.)
And when they aren’t terminator seeds, Monsanto still doesn’t want plants produced from its seeds used to propagate a next generation.
Health writer Anthony Gucciardi says Monsanto is to blame for one farmer suicide every 30 minutes across a swath of India. It happens like this:
Farmers pay exorbitantly higher prices to plant genetically modified seeds that Monsanto promises will yield more. Often they do not, and tremendously more water is needed to grow them anyway. The crops do poorly, then Monsanto swoops in and charges a royalty on the next batch, often to the farmers’ financial ruin.
The practice of using renewal seeds dates back to ancient times, but Monsanto seeks to collect royalties on what it says is its patented “intellectual property” —the original seeds. Something the Indian government calls an attempt to patent life.
If you don’t want them at all, you still aren’t safe. When Monsanto’s genetically modified seeds accidentally blow over and contaminate a non-GMO farm, often an organic one, the corporation sues the farmer for “using” the patented seeds they didn’t want in the first place! In a just world, Monsanto would owe reparations to the organic farmer.
They’re clever people, to be sure. Monsanto was the first to genetically modified a plant.cell (in 1982).
So here we are in 2012 facing Monsanto’s unprecedented messing with Mother Nature – the genetically modified plant.
Based purely on anecdotal evidence, admittedly, I believe most people think “genetically modified” simply means designing a hardier tomato, lettuce or bean. A shinier apple, maybe. Would it were just that! Nope, genetically modified means they are inserting a pesticide in the genome of the plant. A killer we will all eat.
There is no way to wash it off. The pesticide is systemic – within the plant. Part of the plant. It IS the plant.
It may not affect human health, but it may. We don’t know. And Monsanto doesn’t want anyone to have a choice in whether or not they take the gamble. They are fighting GMO labeling requirements.
The main battleground right now is in California, where labeling is on the November ballot. California is a big state, so as California goes, so goes the nation, some say.
CALLING ALL CALIFORNIANS: Please vote for labeling!
In the meantime, worry about the bees, too. Beekeepers and researchers say these systemic pesticides are apparently killing off bee colonies at an alarming rate. Bees are needed to pollinate a vast number of fruit and vegetable crops.
It is said that Albert Einstein once predicted that mankind could survive the demise of the honeybee for only perhaps four years.
Here’s why more water is needed for bt toxin plants. Portland State University researchers reported in April that the corn aimed at insects also damages beneficial soil life. The roots of bt corn, they found a decrease in mycorrhizal fungi, which are important for nutrient and water uptake.
Imagine more water being needed to grow plants in a land like India, or drought ravaged world.
Is Monsanto a company you want speaking to your children or grandchildren?
The Biotechnology Basic Activity Book, produced by an organization laughably called the Council for Biotechnology Information. Its members are Monsanto and BASF, BAYER CropScience, Dow AgroSciences, DuPont, and Syngenta.
The book can be examined on the council’s website. Judge for yourself which of these claims for genetically modified food are true:
It help us grow more food.
It helps the environment.
It grows more nutritious food that improves our health.
Kids are given puzzles to “learn more about biotechnology and all of the wonderful ways it can help people live better lives in a healthier world.l”
Science writer Anthony Gucciardi writes:
“According to 900 scientists, GMO crops actually do not grow more food than traditional farming practices. In fact, they are simply not an effective tool to fight starvation in any capacity, thanks to their excessive costs and immense failure to yield crops. …(and) genetically modified seeds were outperformed by traditional “agro-ecological” farming practices.
Do GMO’s improve our health? “… Nothing could be farther from the truth.” Gucciardi writes. “A prominent review of 19 studies examining the safety of GMO crops found that consumption of GMO corn or soybeans can lead to significant organ disruptions in rats and mice – particularly in the liver and kidneys. . Monsanto’s modified biopesticide, known as Bt, has been found to be killing human kidney cells in conjunction with Monsanto’s best-selling herbicide Roundup.
“Roundup ready crops have also been linked to mental illness, obesity, infertility, and DNA damage.”
Helping the environment? Gucciardi calls this the most ludicrous claim of all. (Remember, this is what kids are reading in this book and teachers are supposed to take as a guide in instructing their pupils.)
“Research has shown that Monsanto’s modified Bt pesticide is actually mutating the very genetic coding of insect life on the planet, creating super resistant ‘mutant’ bugs that are wreaking havoc on farms using Monsanto’s harmful concoctions across the globe. At least eight populations of insects have developed some form of resistance, with two populations resistant to Bt sprays and at least 6 species resistant to Bt crops as a whole.
“Perhaps most concerning is the mounting rootworm resistance as a result of Monsanto’s GMO corn usage. A group of 22 academic corn experts recently petitioned the EPA over the extreme danger presented by the crops… agricultural stability is threatened…(due to) the mass amount of ‘superweeds’ currently springing up around the globe as a result of Monsanto’s Roundup. These resistant weeds currently cover over 4.5 million hectares in the United States alone, though experts estimate the world-wide land coverage to have reached at least 120 million hectares by 2010. The onset of superweeds is being increasingly documented in Australia, Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Europe and South Africa.”
This biotech book represents a war for the minds of the next generation, Gucciardi says..
Surely it’s not the only propaganda ever aimed at children. But it does highlight the need for parents and librarians and teachers to be super vigilant when corporations write books.
The answer is not to ban the book. Just don’t buy it, literally and figuratively.
And counter it with better books.