Open Thread - Friday, June 12, 2015
Some food for thought.
Monsanto is one of the "Big 6" Biotech Corporations, along with BASF, Bayer, Dow Chemical Company, Dupont, and Syngenta (so called because they dominate the agricultural input market -- that is, they own the world’s seed, pesticide and biotechnology industries).
In the fiscal year ending in August of 2010, the company reported sales of approximately 10.5 billion dollars and had 27,600 employees. 
Monsanto is perhaps the most controversial of the Big 6 and is considered the mother of agricultural biotechnology. The company produces biotechnology, genomics and herbicides for corn, cotton, oil seeds, and vegetables. It produces genetically altered seeds to tolerate it's flagship product, Roundup. Monsanto also produces Asgrow, DEKALB, Deltapine, and Seminis seeds. Other products have included Agent Orange, the now ubiquitous PCBs, DDT, Recombinant Bovine Growth Hormone (rBGH) and Aspartame.
Monsanto already dominates America’s food chain with its genetically modified seeds. Now it has targeted milk production. Just as frightening as the corporation’s tactics–ruthless legal battles against small farmers–is its decades-long history of toxic contamination.
Monsanto Company is the dominant player in commercial genetically engineered (GE) crops, the biggest seed company in the world, and—to hear them tell it—a leader and innovator in sustainable agriculture.
Monsanto aggressively touts its technology as vital to achieving laudable goals such as ensuring adequate food production, responding to the challenge of global warming, and reducing agriculture's negative impacts on the environment.
The reality is not so flattering. In fact, Monsanto has held back the development of sustainable agriculture, and continues to do so, in several ways:
Does genetic modification lead to more and better crops? Or will it destroy the foundations of our food systems?
In late April, world renowned Indian ‘seed activist’ Vandana Shiva travelled to the southern Mexican state of Oaxaca to join a gathering of Mexican farmers, indigenous leaders and environmentalists, fighting to protect Mexico’s native corn crops against the imposition of genetically modified alternatives.
Shrine dedicated to corn at the event in Oaxaca, Mexico
The group gathered for the ‘Pre-audiencia Nacional: Contaminación Transgénica del Maíz Nativo‘ in the shadows of the Sierra Juárez mountain range, in response to the Mexican government’s proposal to allow the seeding of twelve million hectares of genetically modified corn. The proposal followed an initial pilot project in which Monsanto was allowed to plant GMO corn in test sites in 2009. While many local communities remain adamantly opposed to the move, extensive lobbying by Monsanto, with support from the world’s richest man, Mexican Carlos Slim, and considerable efforts by the Gates Foundation, have raised real fears that local concerns may be ignored.
Seed catalogs for the upcoming growing season are arriving in mailboxes across the Northern Hemisphere with home gardeners everywhere starting to plan which seeds they will sow in their spring gardens. A positive trend in recent years is the growing number of gardening enthusiasts choosing to plant gardens using organic and/or heirloom seeds.
What most of these home gardeners don’t realize is that corporate behemoth and GMO titan Monsanto has been gobbling up the seed market faster than a caterpillar can munch a tomato plant! With one fell swoop in 2005, Monsanto grabbed approximately 40% of the US vegetable seed market with its acquisition of Seminis.
This means that a home gardener could unknowingly be supporting the development and proliferation of genetically modified crops if the seeds used are from Seminis. In addition, Monsanto now apparently owns the trademark for many of the names of the heirloom seed varieties themselves!