by Leanne M Sansonetti
What is a GMO (aka GEO)?
GMO means Genetically Modified Organism, and GEO means Genetically Engineered Organism. For the most part, the two terms are largely interchangeable, referring to the alteration of the genetic makeup of a living thing (organism); Wikipedia has a great article. This post deals with a well-known company called Monsanto and their role in the GMO/GEO field.
Brief History of Monsanto
- Founded in St. Louis , Missouri in 1901 as a chemical company.
- Currently publicly-traded American Multinational Agro-Chemical and Agricultural Biotechnology Corporation.
- Notorious for being the leading producer of Genetically Modified
Organisms and Genetically Engineered seeds, as well as Roundup weed-killer whose main ingredient is a known carcinogen.
- Formerly known for manufacturing Agent Orange and recombinant
Link to Agent Orange
Agent Orange, Also known as Herbicide Orange (HO), it was originally developed as an efficient weed-killer. Agent Orange was manufactured for the U.S Department of Defense by Monsanto and Dow Chemical. The British were the first to use it, along with other defoliants to destroy the crops, trees and bushes of Communist-Insurgents in Malaysia in the 1940s and 1950s. In mid-1961, South Vietnamese President Ngo Dinh Diem asked the United States to conduct aerial herbicide spraying of his country, which was authorized by President John F. Kennedy under the name Operation Ranch Hand and ran for nearly 10 years until 1971. To this day, there are thousands of victims still suffering from the effects of exposure, many of which are US Military Veterans. Below are some of the diseases associated with exposure.
- Soft Tissue Sarcoma
- Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma
- Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia
- Hair Cell Leukemia
- Hodgkin Disease
- Multiple Myeloma
- Cancer of the Liver, Lungs, Prostate, etc.
Monsanto is now involved heavily in the Agricultural Industry, but they are staying true to their chemical roots. Their strategy is two-fold: create special ‘Roundup ready’ plants that are resistant to their weed-killer, and on the other side continue to sell Roundup for use by the general population on existing crops. Through various lobbying-efforts, they have been successful in persuading the FDA to consider their modified plants as safe for human consumption.
Monsanto & Honey Bees
In November of 2014, over 37 million Honey Bees were found dead in Ontario, Canada. The culprit is believed to have been GMO corn from Monsanto which was planted recently prior. Researchers have found a link between Neonicotinoids, the class of pesticides used in GE corn crops, and as a result, most countries of the European Union have outright banned them due to their ill-effects on nature.
Naturally, one would wonder what is gained by killing off the Honey Bee. Monsanto has been working on a patented-process of the elimination of the Honey Bee, and now studies are showing an increase in levels of Imidacloprid and Clothianidin both of which seep into pollen and nectar, ultimately ingested by insects such as the Honey Bee. But keeping in line with their business strategy, Monsanto is ready at the helm: they’ve created a new Flying Ant as a profitable replacement. The EPA has given Monsanto a $3 million dollar grant to help try and save the Honey Bee from extinction.
Monsanto is becoming more successful every day in patenting nature. They have patented almost all commonly-used seeds, and have even developed ones called ‘Terminator Seeds’ whose plants do not contain viable seeds themselves, so the farmer is forced to purchase new each season. Adding even more insult, should a farmer somehow end up with contaminated seeds, they have to surrender their entire crop and/or profit, even if contamination is minimal. There was a time where this type of business practice was understood to be unethical, immoral, and possibly fitting into the definition of RICO.
Effects On The Human Body
There are a number of potential negative effects of GMO’s on our all life, including allergic-reactions, increased toxicity, decreased nutrition, antibiotic resistance, and the perhaps most concerning: the alteration of human DNA itself.