July 23, 2006

Monsanto and the axis of evil

Saw an excellent documentary yesterday called the Future of food which provides an in depth look into genetically modified food and the nexus that big companies , specifically Monsanto in the film , have with the highest political levels.
Genetically modified food and Monsanto go hand in hand as Monsanto developed genetically modified food for the first time. Monsanto started as a chemicals industry with a number of patents to their name including saccharin and agent orange . Their foray into the food industry began with Roundup , a broad spectrum herbicide . Soon after Monsanto got into genetically engineered seeds which were engineered to withstand Roundup . So in principle if you sprayed a field of Monsanto cropp wtih Roundup , everything else but the crop would perish . In principle this sounds great , to a certain extent it works as well and then things start to get dirty . It begins with the patenting of GE (genetically engineered) seeds . Once Monsanto holds a patent on it if John Doe wants their product he has to pay for it . Traditionally farmers stored their own seed , ready for the next planting but the patent Monsanto holds makes them buy the seed everytime they plant .Replanting the seeds would lead to John Doe being sued . Then it gets dirtier . If a few seeds find their way to a field which doesn't plant Monsanto , Monsanto can come and claim that the the framer is using their seed illegally , whcih means fines , penalties etc . And's whats more , since the crop is indistinguishable from traditional strains even the seed for susequent years can be contaminated and hence it is not possible to keep your own seed .
All through this Monsanto is helped along in its goal by dubious judgements in the highest courts of law , the whole issue of testing the crop is circumvented by employing ex employees of Monsanto in the role of the wachdog . John Ashcroft , Donald Rumsfeld are a couple of names among many others that crop as being direct benefecieries of Monsano largesse , either in ways of election funds or being employees of Monsanto at a certain point in history .
Definately a must see .

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