Monsanto started off as a chemical company. It is the company responsible for Agent Orange, for the release of PCBs into the ecosphere. More recently they were responsible for bovine growth hormone (rBHG) in milk. It has since remodeled itself into the world biggest agri-biotech company. What are they after now? Global monopoly over the building blocks of human sustenance - the seed.
Over the last decade, Monsanto has aggressively bought over 50 seed companies world over. The rationale being, whoever owns the seeds owns the food. The process of genetic engineering allows companies, such as Monsanto, to claim patent rights over seeds. 90% of all GE seeds planted in the world are patented by Monsanto and hence controlled by them.
Patents on seeds give companies like Monsanto unprecedented power. Monsanto prohibits farmers saving patented GE seeds from one crop to replant the next season, an age-old practice. To ensure that farmers do not reuse seeds, Monsanto created its own 'gene police', and encourages farmers to turn in their neighbours.
Even farmers that do not use GE seeds are not safe. According to an investigative report by the Centre for Food Safety (CFS) farmers have even been sued for patent infringement after their field was contaminated by pollen or seed from someone else’s GE crop.
But Monsanto’s influence doesn't stop at the US border. “The world according to Monsanto”, documents the devastating impact of Monsanto's malpractices around the world. Among others, it includes the real-life stories of cotton farmers in India that ended up in hopeless debts after using Monsanto genetically engineered (so called Bt) cotton and of a family in Paraguay, South America whose dreams have turned to nightmares after their farm became surrounded by fields planted with Monsanto’s GE soya.
This expose, goes on to show how Monsanto has been manipulating government agencies to approve their GM seeds and policies. It also shows how the company has exploited many poor farmers world over. It gradually builds up case after case against Monsanto pointing to its ultimate aim of taking over global food production in some sort of macabre transgenic revolution. I found a link on youtube that shows the documentary in ten parts. You can order a DVD of it (in English, French and Spanish) here.
This issue is worth educating yourself about. Food is universal and affects everyone. Apart from the substantial health risks there are also enormous environmental implications involved through the cultivation of GM. Consumer pressure is the only thing that can keep companies like Monsanto from taking over global food supply. Currently in India Mahyco, based in Maharastra a subsidiary of Monsanto has participated in testing Bt Brinjal and there are currently 20 different vegetables, food grains etc under GM research. Releasing Bt Brinjal will be catastrophe. The most precious Indian crop - rice, will soon follow. This will threaten not only livelihoods of millions of farmers but also the 75000-odd(!) indigenous varieties of rice which will die out.
Speak out. Let agriculture remain the right of small farmers world over. Apathy is no longer an option. Choose to let your voice be heard.