People all over the world know the company name ‘Monsanto;’ and it’s not for good reasons. It would be great if Monsanto made products improved the quality of life. They could be involved in Alzheimer’s research to find a cure for a horrible disease. It could be a lot of things; it could enrich the lives of humans. Unfortunately it is none of those. Monsanto is a chemical company and it produces products which are harmful and even deadly. Claims by Monsanto that their chemicals are safe and improve lives are fallacious, and their business practices are unethical.
Monsanto and Dow Chemical developed an herbicide called ‘Agent Orange’ during the Vietnam War. Its purpose was to defoliate areas of the jungle, and expose North Vietnam positions. It was used during ‘Operation Ranch Hand’ from 1962 to 1971. Monsanto claimed the chemical components were safe and would not cause harm to human beings.
After soldiers began returning from the war, health problems such as several types of cancer, Parkinson’s disease, and birth defects were attributed to the Dioxin in Agent Orange.
The C-123 aircraft which were used to deliver Agent Orange were decommissioned in 1972. They were used in the United States for medical evacuations and cargo missions. About 1500 Air Force reservists flew the aircraft between 1972 and 1982. The planes had never been decontaminated or examined for residual Agent Orange and dioxin. Many of those pilots began experiencing symptoms similar to those of returning combat forces.
In 1991 the Agent Orange Act was passed by Congress. This act paved the way for those who served in Vietnam to seek medical attention directly related to Agent Orange. The Air Force reservists who flew those aircraft inside the United States from 1972 to 1982 are not eligible under the act. It only applies to those who served in Vietnam from January 9, 1962, to May 7, 1975.
Subsequent tests on the aircraft showed traces of the dioxin, but because the strength of the chemical erodes over time, the residue is not potent enough to be harmful. All but one of the planes was infected. It is questionable that the Air Force reservists will be compensated.
Monsanto’s latest questionable product is Genetically Modified Organisms. GMO’s and food developed using GMO material have been banned in the European Union, Australia, and Japan.
GMO’s were developed to endure the pesticide Roundup, also produced by Monsanto. Crops grown with the use of GMO’s are labeled ‘Roundup Ready.’ These seeds comprise 70 to 90 percent of all corn and soy bean crops.
Because Roundup is easy and inexpensive to use, farmers saturated their fields with the pesticide to kill weeds which inhibited the growth of their crops. The weeds became immune to the product and grew stronger and more resistant. What developed was bad news for consumers. Vastly larger amounts of herbicide are needed to kill the weeds; large amounts of residue remain on the crops sent to market.
GMO’s have been linked to illness, both life-threatening and chronic; they are harmful to animals; they are environmentally dangerous, especially to sources of drinking water. They are easily spread by wind and rain. They cannot be washed off of food located in the market place.
As with all food substances, the FDA required testing of GMO products. The testing was done by the Agro-giant itself. It was determined that the process was safe.
Twenty nine states are considering labels informing consumers that what they are eating was made from GMO produced crops. Corporate farms denounce the possibility of such a law, claiming that the FDA deemed GMO produced products were safe. Advocates for the labels state that it is not a safety issue; consumers simply have the right to know what is contained in the food they eat.
By James Turnage