Yes, they’re greedy, and their business tactics are abhorrent. They’ll stop at nothing to keep their billion-dollar products on shelves despite knowing they cause cancer, and they won’t hesitate to threaten scientists, discredit writers and suppress studies along the way. But their influence goes much further than that.
By having control over seeds, they are controlling the sources of life – not just the lives of farmers but every living thing on our planet. By patenting living organisms and using their patents to try to monopolize the global production of food, there really is no other way to see the situation than as an attempt to play god.
In India, where 95 percent of the cottonseed is controlled by the firm, visitors to Monsanto India’s website are greeted with the image of smiling farmers and the disingenuous slogan: “Producing more, conserving more, improving farmers’ lives.” How exactly is trapping farmers in debt to the point where they are killing themselves by the hundreds of thousands “improving” their lives?
An estimated 300,000 farmers in India committed suicide between 1995 and 2011, many of them out of distress over being indirectly forced to plant Bt cotton from Monsanto. The Ministry of Agriculture there declared the situation a humanitarian crisis as farmers were killing themselves at a rate of 1,000 per month – many of them doing it by swallowing the pricey insecticides that Monsanto had promised them they wouldn’t need once they planted GM crops.
The seeds ended up being attacked by other parasites, and they needed twice as much water to grow – which meant they didn’t grow at all when there wasn’t enough rain. Farmers were unable to save their seeds for future replanting because of Monsanto’s “terminator technology” -- they’ve been modified to be sterile and therefore don’t produce viable seeds. Once farmers have destroyed their soil with Roundup, it becomes nearly impossible for them to go back to traditional farming, making them economically dependent on a greedy company.
Thanks to Monsanto’s pressure – supported by regulators and politicians who are under their well-funded influence – farmers have replaced nutritional, diverse seeds that have built resilience over the years by being bred to adapt to their local soil and climate with monocultural crops using genetically engineered seeds. It’s a great business plan for Monsanto, with 93 percent of the U.S.’s soybeans and 86 percent of its corn crops coming from patented GE seeds, but it’s the people who ultimately lose out.
After selling you their seeds, you’ll also need to buy their pesticides, like the much-maligned Roundup at the center of class-action lawsuits filed on behalf of cancer patients. Farmers douse their crops in this chemical hoping for the greater profits they were promised, but they’re coming up disappointingly short. The average cost of planting an acre of soybeans has grown 325 percent since farmers started participating in their seed programs.
What about their promises that GMOs will feed the world? If there’s one thing they are feeding, it’s the rise of cancer and other health ailments. They’re feeding bees and birds toxic poisons that are killing them. Meanwhile, the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization has warned that the resultant loss of biodiversity will seriously impede the ability of humans to feed themselves in the future.
What about their promises that GE crops will reduce pesticide use? The USDA reports that farmers use as much as 26 percent more chemicals on a per-acre basis on herbicide-resistant crops than they do on their non-GE counterparts. At the same time, aggressive superweeds that resist glyphosate have been taking over.
Monsanto bullies politicians and farmers into letting them control our source of life. Their chemicals are poisoning our food, our air, and our water. Their practices are ruining people’s livelihoods as well as the arable land on our planet and its environment. By allowing biotech firms to patent seeds, we are putting the fate of mankind into their destructive hands.
Sources for this article include: