Monsanto; Unethical and Fallacious

Monsanto; Unethical and Fallacious

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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

Op-Ed

Sources:

Al Jazeera America

Al Jazeera America

Truth-out.org

Photo courtesy of Dag Terje Filip Endresen

Flickr License

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James Turnage is currently a writer and editor for The Public Slate, a subsidiary of the Guardian Liberty Voice. He is also a novelist who is in the process of publishing his fourth effort. His responsibilities include Editing, reporting , managing.

7 COMMENTS

  1. I work at Monsanto. The current day Monsanto started in early 2000 is not the same as the chemical company Monsanto of the 1960 etc. It is literally not the same company. The chemical part of old Monsanto is Solute. The Pharmaceutical part is Pfizer and today’s Monsanto was formed as a spin off of Agriculture part of old Monsanto.

    None attacks Solutia or Pfizer it is as if the fox in the hunt rubbed up against a rabbit and the hounds have been chasing the rabbit for the last 15 years.

    That fact aside. I wouldn’t work for a chemical company. I work for a biology company and I would not and none I work with at Monsanto would work there if they thought any of the stories we read on the internet were true. I can assure you that every day we are thinking about safety. We have launched and have worked on products that improve the sustainability of farming and we come across farmers all the time that obtain great benefit from the products – this is why are sales grow over 10% each year and the new Monsanto is now worth 10 times that what it was worth 15 years ago. The Bt cGM rops have massively reduced the use of insecticide sprays. The herbicide tolerant crops reduce the use of more toxic herbicides.

    We hear that we control the world’s food. Our sales people launch at this since they know all too well that our customers – the farmers have choses and selling is not a slam dunk. Every year they have to fight for the right to compete for a sale. I read spurious reports of the hazards from GM products and wonder whether I am on the same planet as the writers. Usually a professor of non-biology writes or a writer with zero science education writes a report of a correlation of GM crops and autism or something. They view is stated as fact and people believe them. They just link the rise in reports of autism with the increased use of GM crops and make a totally unscientific connection ignoring common sense or the scientific method. Their method would also link the autism increase to organic food, the number of republican representatives in Congress and twitter also to autism.

    As for data collected by the companies themselves. I can assure you that the scientific standards and quality standards for submission of data to safety agencies like the FDA, EPA and USDA as substantially higher than academic scientific data. Why? Three fold – the data is collected, analyzed under GLP which is a very high standard of checking and ensuring good scientific unbiased practices the second is these results are submitted under penalty of perjury – i.e. if you hide. lie or deceive with this data you can and will be held criminally liable. This makes it any data this way much more likely to be trusted. Third – if the product is harmful the company is liable for incredible damages – this would destroy the company so they have to make sure there is no question that it is safe.

    Here is the real proof. For 20 years GM crops have been grown – over that time on billions of acres and eaten in trillions of meals and there has never been one example of anyone being hospitalized due to ingestion of GM food caused by the GM food component. So should Gm food be THE focus of this hatred? Real threats include bacteria from using manure on any crop including especially organic food. Lethal bacteria on meat. Processing errors that add toxic chemicals. even though I would be happy if we could remove all chemical pesticides from agriculture it is not even residual of these chemicals that is the problem since there the actual threat comes form natural sources.

    Old world crops are not safer than new world crops. In fact over thousand of years we have bred bad chemicals out of our foods to make them safer for us. For example you still can’t eat raw potatoes since they have natural but highly toxic to people ant-feedants in them. We have to heat inactivate them first. We don’t put a warning label on potatoes or accuse potato farmers of trying to kill us. GM food is not any different than non-GM in its nutritional content – if it was it would be required to be labeled. Campaigns to label GM food are a product of a decade of false advertising by those against GM food.

    I used to be a member of Friends of the Earth. I studied ecology in high school and college, but i realized that many activist group are usually just complaining and don’t have solutions to environmental problems. By working with GM crops I have contributed not to harming but helping the planet. 25 million acres of corn just in the US are no longer automatically spread with insecticide to kill beetle and moth larvae. They use Bt genes that only kill the specific insects that eat the plant. That is a far better effect than just complaining. If I had been campaigning to get all of US corn to go insecticide- free I would have failed to help. My story is repeated for many employees of Monsanto.

    The science of plants and food is complicated – there are 20,000+ genes in a corn plants and 1,00’spf chemicals naturally produced by a corn plant. when we introduce a GM gene into corn we check to see if we have changed the plant in a way that could make it a problem and we know through $M’s of research and others in academia also know that there are more changes in the metabolism of plants just by what field it was grown in or the weather it experienced that any changes from Gm genes. We still check and validate the safety.

    If I thought for a minute that Monsanto was hiding or deceiving the public I would not only likely quit but I would use the Monsanto internal auditing system to alert their Board of Directors of that…..and so would most, if not all, Monsanto employees in fact we are asked every year to report such issues confidentially. We get rewarded for reporting safety issues !

    All that a company is, is a group of people working on common objectives. There is no evil dictator in charge of Monsanto. The philosophy of Monsanto is to continue to question whether what we are doing is right for our customers and society…….if a Monsanto employee suggested something against these ideals he /she would first be questioned by those around them as to whether they had thought the issue through and if he or she persistent he/she would not likely be employed for much longer.

    This is why the company continues to get outstanding company awards from employees. customers, trade organizations etc.

    Of course you will say – I am biased. That is correct I am biased because I am fully informed with my own observations. As a scientist I also am keenly aware of how data can decide you and part of my quality control on my views is to assume the worse and that the data is deceiving me. But which ever way I view it and whatever data I see myself I see a reality which is the opposite of what the above article suggests.

    It is a sad fact that the socialization of new and facts has not improved its accuracy – far from it now it is a writhing mass of information that is very difficult to entangle. I hop this personal view from within contributes more to your understanding of reality

    • I don’t know if you really work for Monsanto or not, but I don’t believe for a minute that you are a scientist. All you have is the same old Monsanto talking points, just misleading information or downright lies. So Bt crops have “massively reduced the use of insecticide sprays”, that is because the Bt is produced within the plant. Bt corn is registered with the EPA as a pesticide so don’t pretend we get less pesticides with GMO plants, we get more. You also don’t seem to know what roundup ready means, they were created so that more toxic herbicide (roundup) can be applied without the plant dying. Now there is resistance so we will have enlist duo to worry about. GMO crops are all about more pesticides and herbicides, and yes Monsanto is not just a biology company, it is a chemical company! Not just a chemical company but a harmful chemical company. There is too much evidence that GMO crops are harmful so I don’t believe for a minute that Monsanto puts safety over profit. The proof is in the fact that they fight the proposed GMO labeling laws and are willing to spend millions!

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