We have written and shared about issues regarding Monsanto numerous times over the years, and this week they have continued to make the news in less than flattering ways. First, I came across a piece on Democracy Now, which reported on the newly released WikiLeaks cables documenting how the US government has been involved in pushing the genetically engineered seeds created by Monsanto on governments in Europe, Africa and Latin America. From Democracy Now:
Dozens of newly released cables detail how the United States has instituted so-called "bio-technology outreach programs" throughout Africa, Asia and South America in order to establish a foothold for the biotech agriculture industry. U.S. efforts have been particularly robust in Europe, where there is a strong anti-GE food movement.Looking for a little more information, I found that journalist Mike Ludwig had written on the story a few days before on Truthout. Ludwig describes how the US has put pressure on countries where resistance to GMOs is greatest (Spain and France in particular) to speed up their biotech approval process to more quickly allow corporate seeds on the market. US tax dollars are involved too, as the documents reveal that US diplomats have requested government funds to fly industry representatives around the globe to promote biotech agriculture. Further cementing the reality that the US government is working hand in hand with biotech giants such as Monsanto and DuPont, Ludwig reveals:
Front groups supported by the US government, philanthropic foundations and companies like Monsanto that are working to introduce pro-biotechnology policy initiatives and GE crops in developing African countries, and several cables released this week confirm that American diplomats have promoted biotech agriculture to countries like Tunisia, South Africa and Mozambique.This all becomes problematic when we read later in the week that Monsanto has made the news yet again. This time it is the Wall Street Journal reporting on the development of "superbugs" that are attacking (and killing) widely grown genetically engineered corn crops in the American midwest. Western corn rootworms, the very pest the GE corn was developed to resist, have evolved to resist the pesticide present in the Monsanto corn. The article explains rather well why this is a problem:
These insect-proof and herbicide-resistant crops make farming so much easier that many growers rely heavily on the technology, violating a basic tenet of pest management, which warns that using one method year after year gives more opportunity for pests to adapt.
Monsanto is already at the center of this issue because of its success since the 1990s marketing seeds that grow into crops that can survive exposure to its Roundup herbicide, a glyphosate-based chemical known for its ability to kill almost anything green.
These seeds made it so convenient for farmers to spray Roundup that many farmers stopped using other weedkillers. As a result, say many scientists, superweeds immune to Roundup have spread to millions of acres in more than 20 states in the South and Midwest.
The picture that emerges then, is one in which the US government is using resources and money to throw its weight around in countries across the globe to support and promote a corporate technology that may backfire before it has any real chance to do anything good. It must be asked why the US is in the business of deepening the coffers of corporations that time and again show their true interest is in profit over people.
Email us to read the WSJ article in full.
Image courtesy of the mother nature network