Armed with lawyers and private investigators, the company has embarked on a campaign of spying and intimidation to stop any farmer from replanting his seeds.

Farmers call them the "seed police," using words such as "Gestapo" and "Mafia" to describe the company's tactics. Monsanto's agents fan out into small towns, where they secretly videotape and photograph farmers, store owners, and co-ops; infiltrate community meetings; and gather information from informants. Some Monsanto agents pretend to be surveyors; others confront farmers on their land and try to pressure them into signing papers that give Monsanto access to their private records.

Leading the charge, Carstensen says, is the private police force that once terrorized union organizers from another generation. "You know who does their policing?" he chuckles ruefully. "The Pinkertons. These are the strikebreakers, the railroad goons. It's déjà vu all over again."

Kansas farmer Bryce Stephens had to stop growing organic corn and soybeans for fear of contamination and has 30-foot buffer crops to protect his organic wheat.
Kansas farmer Bryce Stephens had to stop growing organic corn and soybeans for fear of contamination and has 30-foot buffer crops to protect his organic wheat.
Dr. Charles Benbrook, a research professor at Washington State University, found that rapidly increasing seed and pesticide costs were tamping farmers' income, cutting them off from any benefits of the new technology.
Dr. Charles Benbrook, a research professor at Washington State University, found that rapidly increasing seed and pesticide costs were tamping farmers' income, cutting them off from any benefits of the new technology.

In one case, Monsanto accused Indiana farmer David Runyon of illegally using its soybean seeds. Runyon claims the company threatened to sue for patent infringement, despite documentation proving that he'd bought non-patented seed from local universities for years. Monsanto's lawyer claimed the company had an agreement with the Indiana Department of Agriculture to search his land.

One problem: Indiana didn't have a Department of Agriculture at the time.

But most cases never go to trial. In 2006, the Center for Food Safety estimated that Monsanto had pressured as many as 4,500 farmers into paying settlements worth as much as $160 million.

Yet Monsanto wanted even more leverage. So naturally it turned to Congress.

Earlier this year, a little-noticed provision was slipped into a budget resolution. The anonymous measure, pushed by U.S. Senator Roy Blunt (R-Missouri), granted the company an unheard-of get-out-of-jail-free card, widely known as the Monsanto Protection Act.

Despite indications that GM foods could have adverse health effects, the feds never have bothered to extensively study them. Instead, they've basically taken Monsanto's word that all is kosher. So organic farmers and their allies sued the company in 2009, claiming that Monsanto's GM sugar beets had not been studied enough. A year later, a judge agreed, ordering all recently planted GM sugar-beet crops destroyed until their environmental impact was studied.

The Monsanto Protection Act was designed to end such rulings. It essentially bars judges from intervening in the midst of lawsuits — a notion that seems unconstitutional.

Not that Congress noticed. Monsanto has spent more than $10 million on campaign contributions in the past decade — and another $70 million on lobbying since 1998. The money speaks so loudly that Congress has become tone-deaf.

In fact, the U.S. government has become Monsanto's de facto lobbyist in countries distrustful of GM safety. Two years ago, WikiLeaks released diplomatic cables showing how the feds had lobbied foreign governments to weaken laws and encourage the planting of genetically modified crops in Third World countries.

The leaks also showed State Department diplomats asking for money to fly in corporate flacks to lean on government officials. Even Mr. Environment, former vice president Al Gore, was key in getting France to briefly approve Monsanto's GM corn.

These days, the company has infiltrated the highest levels of government. It has ties to the Supreme Court (former Monsanto lawyer Clarence Thomas), with former and current employees in high-level posts at the USDA and the FDA.

But the real coup came when President Barack Obama appointed former Monsanto vice president Michael Taylor as the FDA's new Deputy Commissioner for Foods. It was akin to making George Zimmerman the czar of gun safety.


At the same time that Monsanto was cornering the food supply, its principal products — GM crops — were receiving less scrutiny than an NSA contractor.

Monsanto understood early on that the best way to stave off bad publicity was to limit research. Prior to a recently negotiated agreement with major universities, the company had severely restricted access to its seeds. Filmmaker Bertram Verhaag's 2010 award-winning documentary, Scientists Under Attack: Genetic Engineering in the Magnetic Field of Money, noted that nearly 95 percent of genetic-engineering research is paid for and controlled by corporations like Monsanto.

Meanwhile, former employees embedded in government make sure the feds never get too nosy.

Michael Taylor has turned that into an art form. He's gone back and forth from government to Monsanto enough times that it's no longer just a revolving door; it's a Batpole. During an early-'90s stint with the FDA, he helped usher Bovine Growth Hormone milk into the food supply and authored the decision that kept the government out of Monsanto's GM crop business.

Known as "substantial equivalence," it declared that genetically modified products are essentially the same as their non-GM counterparts — and, therefore, require no additional labeling or testing for food safety or toxicity.

Never mind that no accepted science backed his theory.

"It's simply a political calculation invented by Michael Taylor and Monsanto and adopted by U.S. federal policy-makers to resist labeling," says Jim Gerritsen, a farmer in Maine. "You have this collusion between corporations and the government, and the essence is that the people's interest isn't being served."

The FDA is a prime example. It approves GM crops by doing no testing of its own; it simply takes Monsanto's word for their safety. Amusingly enough, Monsanto spokesman Phil Angell says the company agrees that it should have nothing to do with verifying safety: "Our interest is in selling as much of it as possible," he told the New York Times. "Assuring its safety is the FDA's job."

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51 comments
ExpertShot
ExpertShot topcommenter

No one is trying to ban genetically engineered crops - they ARE trying to have foods labeled to inform the consumer if they contain them.  Capitalism works best when the consumer is FULLY informed.  We weren't informed about the hazards of PCBs, yet Monsanto sold them and our lives suffered because of that decision to hide the hazards.

Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) Until it stopped production in 1977, Monsanto was the source of 99% of the polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) used by U.S. industry.[33] The PCBs were sold under trade names such as Aroclor and Santotherm; the name Santotherm is still used for non-cholorinated products.[99]:396 PCBs are a persistent organic pollutant, and cause cancer in animals and likely in humans as well, among other health effects;[100] PCBs were initially widely welcomed due to the electrical industry's need for durable, safer (than flammable mineral oil) cooling and insulating fluid for industrial transformers and capacitors. PCBs were also commonly used as stabilizing additives in the manufacture of flexible PVC coatings for electrical wiring, and in electronic components to enhance the heat and fire resistance of the PVC.[101] They were known to be highly toxic from the beginning, but it was assumed that they would be contained in the products in which they were used. However, as leaks of transformers occurred, and toxicity problems arose near factories, their durability and toxicity became widely recognized as serious problems. PCB production was banned by the U.S. Congress in 1979 and by the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants in 2001


Marco Cruz
Marco Cruz

and alex jones is considered a nut/extremist/conspiracy theorist for reporting this same information years ago.

msweetwyne
msweetwyne

Question. Do you want a corporation to have control over the genome of your food?

Question. Do you want corporations to have unlimited influence over your government?

Question. Do you want a corporation to have control over the prices of the food you eat?

My answer. No!

ajkmsteph2
ajkmsteph2

why does EU ban the cultivation but allow import in food?

RSweeney
RSweeney

Monsanto's patents run for 20 years, then ALL of their seeds are free to all. The first Roundup-ready seed, soybean, goes off patent in 2014, with others following. These seeds will then be free for ALL to use without payment to Monsanto.

Farmers buy the seeds because they save them incredible amounts of money, increasing harvests while minimizing topsoil loss through tilling.

Try the 2 minute hate someplace else.


ExpertShot
ExpertShot topcommenter

We all learned in High School that life started with stromatolites (microbial life forms) creating our oxygen rich atmosphere over 2.5 billion years ago.  These are the life forms which we are evolved from.  These stomatolites are our "god" if there ever is one - our genesis.  Monsanto is at war with these life forms. We humans have over 10 times more microbial DNA material in and on our bodies than we have human DNA material - TEN TIMES MORE.  These microbes affect our minds and bodies - metabolism, mood, disease, etc. etc.  What these merchants of death are really doing is attacking our entire system of life on this planet.  Organic farming processes have proven that better food can be produced when working with all the life systems on our planet rather than against them.  These genetically modified crops are not tested against what they can do to negatively affect our environment, especially the microbial life on our planet which has stood the test of time as a good thing for us.  I encourage Monsanto, Dupont, etc. to research this area of their business better and make sure that they are working within the life systems of our planet and not interfering with it.  There is great promise in sequencing DNA and manipulating it, but a better understanding of how GAIA works in a holistic fashion is certainly called for.


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Archean

bernie.mooney
bernie.mooney

"Most of the innovative hybrids and cross-breeding was done the old-fashioned way, at public universities, and the results were shared publicly?" Plant patents have been around since the 1930s. With conventional hybrids have to buy new seeds each year because you can't replant them due to the fact they don't "breed true."

You want to stop Monsanto's control? Make it easier to get seeds approved. It can take up to $10 million to get a gmo approved. Small companies and universities can't afford that, so their seeds languish on the shelf. 

bernie.mooney
bernie.mooney

"Most of the innovative hybrids and cross-breeding was done the old-fashioned way, at public universities, and the results were shared publicly?" Plant patents have been around since the 1930s. With conventional hybrids have to buy new seeds each year because you can't replant them due to the fact they don't "breed true."

You want to stop Monsanto's control? Make it easier to get seeds approved. It can take up to $10 million to get a gmo approved. Small companies and universities can't afford that, so their seeds languish on the shelf. 

bernie.mooney
bernie.mooney

"Most of the innovative hybrids and cross-breeding was done the old-fashioned way, at public universities, and the results were shared publicly?" Plant patents have been around since the 1930s. With conventional hybrids have to buy new seeds each year because you can't replant them due to the fact they don't "breed true."

You want to stop Monsanto's control? Make it easier to get seeds approved. It can take up to $10 million to get a gmo approved. Small companies and universities can't afford that, so their seeds languish on the shelf. 

bernie.mooney
bernie.mooney

"Most of the innovative hybrids and cross-breeding was done the old-fashioned way, at public universities, and the results were shared publicly?" Plant patents have been around since the 1930s. With conventional hybrids have to buy new seeds each year because you can't replant them due to the fact they don't "breed true."

You want to stop Monsanto's control? Make it easier to get seeds approved. It can take up to $10 million to get a gmo approved. Small companies and universities can't afford that, so their seeds languish on the shelf. 

mshelton1001
mshelton1001

I have heard about Monsanto, but didn't understand the hubbub.  This article made it clear.  I wish they would have told us who to contact to voice are concerns.  Should we contact our senators and representatives?  Also, the seed we buy at Ace Hardware for our yard garden,  are those Monsanto?  I do support the labeling of Genetically Modified seeds on packaging.  

dkessler4
dkessler4

If you are as angry at Monsanto as I am and if you want to avoid genetically modified foods you might want to use your smartphone to buy wisely.  The only thing that these evil people understand is the money that they make.  There's an APP for that...  I use one called Buycott that allows me to avoid products that have anything to do with Monsanto.  I have nothing to do with the company that produces this APP.  I just do not want to continue to support companies that work consistently to undermine my or anyone else's best interest.  When their bottom line suffers they will listen and respect those that they do business with.  A Google search takes you to their site.

loosecannonsbluesban
loosecannonsbluesban

Please help fight the evil that is Monsanto - corporate greed at its worst - These are the "monied corporations" which Jefferson warned us about and which were the subject of the Boston Tea Party and the beginning of our country's constitution and bill of rights - we have a government which is intended to defend us against our enemies, including corporations which mean us NO GOOD!

http://www.organicconsumers.org/bytes/ob258.htm


royalphoenix
royalphoenix

Good article. When I go into a home improvement store to buy synthetic fertilizer, I never buy Monsanto. Home Depot sold out to them years ago. If I were the CEO of Monsanto, I would not push the farmers to much more, lest they will push back. I believed everything Anita Hill said about C. Thomas. He's a pig. peace

ajkmsteph2
ajkmsteph2

nonsense. They don't want to control the seed supply they just want to be a successful company making products customers want - they have achieved that for the US.  Farmers have a choice which is why the US fed cancelled their investigation into ant-trust (instigated by Monsanto's rival Dupont owner of an equal amount of market share. You hear about Dupont - why not ?  Because they start the stories at least before Now they have made a deal with Monsanto less from them. The next people who have smoked  too much weed are the organic millionaires who own a chunk of the organic industry in the US.  They have to get people worried about GM food in order to justify their higher prices for organic food. But it is organic food that is killing people (WholeFood cheese and sprouts in Germany) and sickening (Costco organic blueberries carrying hep A disease), Yet 16 years of GM crops zero hospitalizations let alone no deaths. 3 billions planted and harvested and eaten ! You are the one that has a twisted sense of reality

kkemmerer
kkemmerer

@Marco Cruz Let's play "name that logical fallacy!"

ExpertShot
ExpertShot topcommenter

@RSweeney After 20 years, Monsanto buys congress again and gets them to extend the date for patents to expire - we know the drill Mr. corporate spokesperson.  Farmers buy the seeds because the government (bought and paid for by Monsanto) provides them subsidies to do so.  Because the crops are not rotated, the soil suffers greatly and doesn't support any other crop after a while without a large amount of fertilizer.  Hell, if they just grew hemp between crops, that would automatically till the soil and regenerate it because it fixes nitrogen.

ExpertShot
ExpertShot topcommenter

It's highly likely that these microbial mats which existed on this planet for millions of years developed (or possessed) some ancient type of neuron formations with which they "thought" and allowed them to act in concert across the globe.  If you want to make up stories about some all-powerful god in the sky - I can say that these stomatolites actually created this planet's ecosphere and allowed life to develop resulting in our evolution over 2.5 billion years.  Should not these and other microbial life forms responsible for our being here be the actual "god" we worship and protect?  I think so.  When there is another cataclysmic event which destroyed most of the life on earth in the future (which there WILL BE), it will be these same microbial life forms which will carry on our planets' "history" in the formation of a ecosphere on a new planet or again on this one.  We need to study these forms of life and learn how to protect and nurture them for our own benefit.  Killing these microbes indiscrimenently like Monsanto does is just stupid.


ExpertShot
ExpertShot topcommenter

@bernie.mooney Why not just use the GMO process to determine what normal plant breeding to do in order to achieve the same effect?

RSweeney
RSweeney

@mshelton1001  

Learning about Monsanto from this article is like learning Jewish history from David Duke.

RSweeney
RSweeney

@deancook  

Right, back to cultivation, soil loss and the dust bowl.

dkessler4
dkessler4

@royalphoenix Check out an APP called Buycott that allows you to avoid Monsanto and other companies that they may own.  I agree with you that the only thing that will stop Monsanto is for them to lose money.  Hurt them in the wallet by making wise purchases.  That's what it's about.  

Brent_Lipman
Brent_Lipman

@ajkmsteph2  

Google: "70 sprayed by cropduster in eastern Illinois". There are 70 people to add to your list of people who have been hospitalized for working in a Monsanto corn-field.

dkessler4
dkessler4

@ajkmsteph2 Good.  Then you eat it.  I'll believe its safe when I see them serve it FDA and Dept of Agriculture potlucks...

RSweeney
RSweeney

@ExpertShot @RSweeney  

Sorry, no. You are wrong. 

Patent lengths have NOT been extended in the past two decades, when they went from 17 years to 20.  You are mistaking them for copyright, now set at a ridiculously long Mickey Mouse + 5 years.

I am retired R&D Director who once worked in the field of phytochemistry but with NO connection to Monsanto. Merely someone not willing to join the unthinking, unknowing mob.

GMO for herbicide resistance has NOTHING to do with crop rotation, which is instead driven by the cost of fertilizer vs the selling price/yield of crops.

bernie.mooney
bernie.mooney

@ExpertShot @bernie.mooney First, GM is not the solution. It's just one tool. Sometimes it's warranted, sometimes not and sometimes it's the only way. As to your question, quite often, but not always,  conventional can be used but it takes a long time. GM is quicker and more precise. Look at the case of the Hawaiian papaya in the 90s. The industry almost collapsed when a virus decimated 50% of the crops. A scientist, Dennis Gonsalves came up with a GM solution. That saved the industry and today the industry is thriving. In fact this year the Gov of Hawaii lauded Gonsalves for saving it. If they had waited for a conventional  solution which can take up to ten years to perfect there may be no more Hawaiian papayas.

deancook
deancook

@RSweeney @deancook 

You should look at what I am talking about. Using robots to weed field will in the long cost less then the herbicides to now.

ExpertShot
ExpertShot topcommenter

@RSweeney @ExpertShotBasic misunderstanding becuase patent law is designed that way - BY THE CORPORATIONS!  Corporations pay for lobbyists and politicians to do their bidding in opposition to the interests of the US taxpayers. 

Monsanto is NOT part of the capitalist system in the US. It is a global monopoly and has no country to which it owes allegience to. 

Monsanto is not a person and doesn't care a twit about feeding people. 

In fact Monsanto would rather people starve and then it can maximise it's profits by selling them more stuff that impoverishes them further. 
 

Here's a little essay on what happens when corporations run the government.


http://www.aliciabaylaurel.com/robertfkennedyjr2



RSweeney
RSweeney

@ExpertShot @RSweeney

New patents based on old patents (derivative works as they are called) do not extend the life of the claims of the expired patents, merely improve upon them. So this year Roundup Ready soy goes off-patent, free for anyone to grow and sell without sending a dime to Monsanto.  Now, multi-stack Roundup Ready II, that's the new patent. You have to settle for that old Roundup Ready  soy.  Basic misunderstanding by those outside the R&D world.  As for Vermont, I say stop selling GMO there. Period. It's what they really want.  Hey, know any diabetics? Tell them to stop taking insulin, GMO, you know.

ExpertShot
ExpertShot topcommenter

@RSweeney @ExpertShotYou know better than that - they modify their patents slightly every 20 years to extend them and keep their monopoly. 

You know what SWEENEY - we got you.  Vermont became the first state to require GMO Labeling.  It's over for your corporate masters - they no longer can hide behind legislation that they bought and paid for. 

Here's the REAL story


http://www.organicconsumers.org/bytes/ob425.html


RSweeney
RSweeney

@ExpertShot @RSweeney  

Hmmm, once a shill for industry, now a commie.

An educated consumer KNOWS that GMO is not a health issue. Thus labeling is NOT required.

appetoni
appetoni

@ExpertShot @RSweeney  Don't forget about the ever increasing, morbid obesity inspired,  death rate of Americans over the past 20-25 years as a result of the consumption of high fructose corn syrup which is everywhere. How about the cancers and the hormonal imbalances connected to roundup covered foods and GMO soy. Safe? Really? I think I'll stick with organic until consumers are given the right to know what they are eating.

ExpertShot
ExpertShot topcommenter

@RSweeney What a stupid question.  What is dangerous about sugar at all that it must be labeled?  NOTHING, in moderation.  However, it is labeled on foods we eat.  It is for consumer education, part of a good system of capitalism.  The informed consumer and the choices they make are at the HEART of the capitalist economic system.  By withholding vital information that 75% of the people want and need in making their purchasing decisions, the government and Monsanto are actually acting in an anti-capitalist manner.  I want to know whether or not GMOs, which have not been adequately tested for their long term effects on the environment and the human body, are in the food I'm about to eat. I purchase items based on a number of factors, not just whether it might be harmful to me.  I'm not that selfish.  I want to know that it was grown in a manner which is consistent with a sustainable future for our farmers and our planet as well.  An educated consumer is at the HEART of our economic system.  You're obviously a commie!


RSweeney
RSweeney

@ExpertShot @RSweeney  

Sounds like you don't NEED GMO labeling to eat the organic foods you desire. 

So what is it about sugar from GMO beets that you find so dangerous it must be labeled?

ExpertShot
ExpertShot topcommenter

@RSweeney@ExpertShotLiar!  The purpose of labeling products as containing GMOs is to provide consumers more information - much in keeping with the principles of capitalism (you know, a knowledgable consumer).  You however are on the side of ANTI-CAPITALISM with your government laws which prevent citizens from being able to think for themselves.  

Thank you for educating people about how to avoid GMOs.  I don't eat commercial sugar - in fact I don't eat sugar at all, I eat Stevia - much sweeter, no calories, and actually nutritious in that if provides fiber.  I eat organic, GMO free corn products.  I eat meat and eggs which also have been certified organic (I eat few of these animal produced products).  It is not hard to avoid these products now, however, it is more expensive.  I want to be able to look at a product I'm buying and KNOW that because it contains GMOs, I'll be putting it down on the shelf and picking up the other brand of the same product NEXT TO IT.

Guess you didn't bother to read the articles accompanying my last post - or you did and you're continuing to LIE!
http://www.organicconsumers.org/articles/article_27995.cfm

RSweeney
RSweeney

@ExpertShot @RSweeney  

I did answer the question. I OPPOSE labeling because it's purpose is to isolate and demonize a product unreasonably and that TRUE labeling is incredibly invasive and expensive, requiring DNA testing on a MASSIVE scale. Look at what the US wheat industry is going through at present. And this was a handful of plants in ONE location. Imagine every truckload of wheat being tested PRIOR to be used for flour. Insanity.

Do you really 100.00% TRUST that GMO free certification? REAL certification requires significant DNA sampling to detect markers, not just a certificate from a farmer stating "I don't (knowingly) use them."

 Do you eat products that contain commercial sugar? soy? Corn? Eat meat or eggs which are anything BUT range fed? If so, you are eating GMO.

Everything is toxic in some concentration. Glyphosate is very non-toxic and APPROVED as such worldwide, with significant testing. It doesn't bioaccumulate. It breaks down easily and rapidly into non-toxic products. Not an issue.

ExpertShot
ExpertShot topcommenter

@RSweeney@ExpertShotLiar - it is not too expensive to certify.  Everything I eat is certified GMO free - not hard.

http://www.safe-food.org/-industry/certification.html

You won't answer the question - Do you think that foods containing GMO organisms should be labeled as such?

Here's a group which would argue your point that it serves no health purpose whatsoever.   Roundup is toxic to humans and should be studied more to determine how many cancers can be expected because of its use - people are dying every day from these pesticides and you're saying their safe?

http://www.organicconsumers.org/articles/article_27995.cfm




RSweeney
RSweeney

@ExpertShot @RSweeney  

Given that >90% of the sugar beets (>40% of the US sugar), soy (including soy based ingredients like lecithin and proteins), and corn (including corn for corn syrup and oil) grown in the USA is GMO to one degree or another.  I go on the assumption that EVERYTHING made from ANY of these ingredients is GMO.


GMO labeling, incredibly expensive to certify as really GMO-free, only facilitates demonization and isolation and serves NO health purpose whatsoever.

ExpertShot
ExpertShot topcommenter

@RSweeney @ExpertShot Oh, thanks for the info.  Might I ask your opinion on this subject?  Should foods containing GMO organisms be labeled as such?

kkemmerer
kkemmerer

@dkessler4 @sellickaz Whole Foods is no better than Monsanto! Hello!? Wake up. Oh, and GMOs themselves? They're just fine. Eat up.

deancook
deancook

@RSweeney @deancook 

Exactly, I am glad we agree. That is why I am try to build them. I plan on saving the planet one robot at a time.

RSweeney
RSweeney

@deancook @RSweeney  

And when that day of robotic precision weeding appears, which is cheaper and better, herbicide based no-til will disappear. And robot insect killers? Pesticides as well. But that day is not here.

Farmers will do it without laws. Without regulations. The are quite sensible that way.


 
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