Tag Archive: Agent Orange


Monsanto Wins Worst Company of 2011 Award

Natural Society has awarded Monsanto the Worst Company of 2011 award for its ongoing work to threaten human health and the environment.  Currently responsible for 90 percent of all genetically-modified (GM) seed in the US, the biotechnology giant is also the leader in developing genetically-modified (GM) seeds and the resulting crops worldwide.   But Monsanto is perhaps best known for its herbicide Roundup, which many experts link to soil damage and herbicide-resistant superweeds, not to mention potential health problems.

Contrast “Worst Company of 2011” to Forbes Magazine’s listing of Monsanto as one of the “World’s Top 10 Most Innovative Companies.” Monsanto may be innovative if you consider its genetic modification of the world’s food supply without concern for the environmental and health impacts “innovation.” (As an aside: you may recall that Nazis were called “innovative” too yet look at the atrocities they committed!) More and more scientists would disagree with Forbes.

In a recent study of genetically-modified corn, scientists found that the genetically-modified food may be linked to organ damage, namely liver and kidney damage, in rats.  Published in the International Journal of Biological Sciences, this study is calling into question the safety of “Frankenfoods” as they are also known.

John Fagan, PhD, molecular biologist and genetically-modified organisms (GMOs) expert commented on the study and Monsanto’s neglectful reporting methods on nongmoproject.org:

“The paper was a landmark study. Monsanto was forced by court to release raw data and Gilles-Eric Seralini and his team applied careful statistical methods that revealed the Monsanto had glossed over many important effects of the GMOs. In particular, Monsanto had used inappropriate criteria for judging whether results were biologically significant or not. A common case was that they rejected as biologically unimportant any effect that showed up in male animals or in female animals but was not observed in both. The fact is that sex related differences are common in physiological responses particularly in liver and kidney responses. Also, Monsanto rejected as biologically unimportant effects that were not proportional to dose. That is, if the effect was strong at low doses but weaker at high doses, they would reject the effect as biologically insignificant. Yet it is well known that many effects, especially endocrine effects, are stronger at low doses than at high.”

But Monsanto continues to disregard the warning signs about GMOs and instead, ships them in droves around the world.  Monsanto has also been blamed for the many suicides of farmers in India who used Monsanto’s GM-seed but failed to yield crops to support their families.

Now, American farmers are taking a stand against Monsanto by launching a lawsuit against the billion-dollar corporation for widespread genetic contamination. The farmers, like many others, are concerned that Monsanto is threatening the integrity of organic farms worldwide.  Many organic farms have been devastated by genetically-modified crops.  Currently, most of the world’s wheat, soy, canola, and corn are now genetically-modified.

Percy Schmeiser—a humble farmer in the Canadian prairies endured a decade-long lawsuit initiated by Monsanto—and is now declaring victory. His farm was contaminated by GM-seed so Monsanto slapped a lawsuit on HIM, as they have done with other farmers, charging him with patent infringement.  But in this modern day David-and-Goliath story, Percy fought back.  Over 320 hectares of his land were found to be contaminated with the company’s patented “Roundup Ready Canola.”  Schmeiser slapped a lawsuit back on Monsanto, charging the company with libel, trespassing, improperly obtaining seed samples from his farm, callous disregard for the environment for its introduction of genetically-modified (GM) crops without proper controls and containment, and contamination of his crops with unwanted GM plants. Monsanto finally settled out of court to clean up Schmeiser’s land.  Percy Schmeiser’s victory over Monsanto is a victory for all farmers, all Canadians, and everyone who eats…that’s everyone.

Is it any surprise that Monsanto was selected as the Worst Company of 2011? Perhaps that it didn’t receive Worst Company of the Century award…but such an award doesn’t exist.

For more information about the Worst Company of 2011 Award, visit Natural Society.  For more information about Percy Schmeiser’s victory over Monsanto or to help him with his giant legal bills visit his website:  percyschmeiser.com.

Read more: http://www.care2.com/greenliving/monsanto-wins-worst-company-of-2011-award.html#ixzz1lKuwPn24

Read more:http://www.care2.com/greenliving/monsanto-wins-worst-company-of-2011-award.html#ixzz1lKuGVcLq

By RP Siegel | February 3rd, 2012

Those of you who can remember the Vietnam War will be familiar with the term “escalation.” That was when the powers in charge of our “limited military operation” were compelled to increase the size and scope of our involvement, as the enemy increased theirs.

If you remember that, then you will also remember Agent Orange, the powerful chemical defoliant, whose heavy usage resulted in close to 40,000 disability claims from US military personnel who suffered numerous maladies ranging from skin conditions to various cancers as the result of limited exposure to it. As bad as that was, it was minor compared with the 400,000 Vietnamese citizens who were either killed or maimed by the more prolonged exposure they suffered.

Both of those terms will apply to today’s story.

Bio-tech giant Monsanto has now applied for USDA approval on a new variety of genetically-modified corn that is not only resistant to its well-known glyphosate-based herbicide Roundup, but is also resistant to the far more potent and dangerous 2,4-D produced by its competitor, Dow Agro-Science. Not surprisingly, with all thefriends Monsanto has in the government, the USDA appears likely to approve it.

Why, you might ask, would they develop a new variety of corn that is compatible with its competitor’s product?

Because, as many critics have long maintained, the proliferation of genetically modified crops would eventually lead to the proliferation of herbicide-resistant superweeds, such as pigweed, which is exactly what has happened. Hence, we now have a dangerous escalation of chemical warfare in the fields from which our food is being harvested.

This completely undermines the basic (and patently false) original premise behind Monsanto’s Roundup Ready™ crops. The company claimed that since Roundup was one of the least toxic herbicides on the market, and since it could be sprayed directly on the crops themselves, the proliferation of these crops was actually beneficial to the environment, because less herbicide would be required. At one time they might have actually believed that. However, their claims that Roundup is biodegradable were shown to be false. In fact, Roundup is among the top three causes of pesticide-related illness among farm and landscape workers in California, and the NY Attorney General has required them to remove the words “environmentally friendly” from the label.

So what does any of this have to do with Agent Orange? The “new” herbicide 2,4-D that Monsanto’s latest corn will be resistant to, is actually one of the two active ingredients in Agent Orange. (The other is 2,4,5-T in a 50/50 mix).

Monsanto’s genetically-modified seed program for herbicide resistance appears to be spinning out of control. This was a predictable and inevitable outcome of a cash and hubris-rich chemical company wandering into the field of biology, of which they blithely overlooked the basic principles that guaranteed that it was only a matter of time before resistant varieties would begin to evolve continuously. Now, with everything to lose, they are locked in a desperate battle to save the billions they have invested, literally throwing all caution to the wind, while we, as consumers, unless we scrupulously buy organic, have no choice but to eat the fruit of their desperate experiments.

Keep in mind that when a food crop has been developed to be resistant to an herbicide, that means farmers can spray liberal amounts of the poison directly on the food itself without killing it.

Despite the company’s  initial assurances that this would not happen, proliferation of these crops has led to an increase of 318 million more pounds of herbicides and pesticides used in the past 14 years as a result of planting GM crop seeds like Roundup Ready corn and soy, much of which ends up in our bodies.

California currently has a ballot initiative, Proposition 65, that would require all GM foods to be labeled. Biotech executives have admitted that the impact of this would be devastating, considering that 70% of all foods now on grocery shelves now contain GM ingredients. Several countries including the European Union, Japan, China, Korea, Australia, New Zealand now have GMO labeling laws on their books.

Generally speaking, GMO crops offer little in the way of advantages to consumers, though they are more convenient for farmers to grow. But the biggest beneficiaries by far have been the companies that produce them.

One potentially effective alternative to this biochemical arms race that has been proposed is Integrated Weed Management (IWM), similar to Integrated Pest Management (IPM), which combines biological controls with a modest amount of chemical controls.  Read more

[Image credit: Zoe Spumoni: Flickr Creative Commons]

RP Siegel, PE, is the President of Rain Mountain LLC. He is also the co-author of the eco-thriller Vapor Trails, the first in a series covering the human side of various sustainability issues including energy, food, and water.Now available on Kindle.

Follow RP Siegel on Twitter.