Thank you Monsanto, for inspiring me on a regular basis to become an organic farmer.
Bonus: a wonderful rebuttal to pro-Monsanto comment via Reddit:
“How can one contaminate the global food chain with GMOs, when they actually help millions of people from starvation?”
Because you’re incorrect about that.
Before I get into details, just start from first principles and follow the chain of logical reasoning.
Corporations want to patent crops and pesticides, so they can:
A) Make more money by raising the price of food and controlling who can grow it;
B) Give it away for free, to feed millions of starving people with no money
Which one would you guess?
Now for the details.
- The more nutrients in the crop, the more is taken out of the soil. Many GM crops require expensive fertilizers and simply won’t grow in the marginal soil in regions where they are most needed. E.g. Golden Rice, which is not only impractical as a crop but only produces provitamin-A (beta carotene) which isn’t sufficiently bioavailable for the malnourished people it is intended for, since it is fat soluble. Multivitamin pills are much cheaper and more effective.
- The more drought-resistant the crop, the more nutrients are taken out of the soil for non-edible parts, e.g. the root system. A greater percentage of the plant is scaffolding, to support smaller fruits. This increases the price.
- Pest resistance as it currently stands is almost exclusively focused on incorporating Bt-expressing genes into plants. Bt is a naturally-occurring soil bacterium which creates a toxin that is effective against certain categories of pests. Traditional organic farming practice is to apply Bt at certain strategic times. However, GM crops engineered with Bt express the toxin throughout the plant year-round. This rapidly leads to pest resistance, in the same way as overuse of antibiotics in livestock. Monsanto’s Bt Corn is failing, and so is its cotton. The main benefit to Monsanto is that it has effectively destroyed one of the few options available to organic farmers, and can simply start selling a synthetic pesticide now that targets the same pests.
- PATENTS MAKE COSTS SKYROCKET. If any company were sincere about “feeding the poor” they would not be trying to patent the world’s food supply. GM food companies are envious of Big Pharma’s profits with patented drugs, and they want to import that IP regime straight into the food system and own it. Just imagine SOPA applying to your food. The legislation required to enforce a patent regime on food will make SOPA look reasonable by comparison.
- THERE IS NOT A FOOD PRODUCTION SHORTAGE in any country with a working government. All the places with famine problems are precisely the same regions that are hard to get aid into. Wars and political upheaval mean that food aid gets seized by warlords and political factions. It is a distribution problem, not a crop problem. Case in point: Zimbabwe was known as the “Breadbasket of Africa”. You have probably heard about them more recently as the place with 100 trillion dollar bills that can’t buy a loaf of bread. Mugabe moved in and threw all the white farmers off their land, handing it to his cronies. Except they didn’t know how to farm, and now the country is needlessly starving. In a less extreme but related situation, there are homeless, hungry, and starving people in the USA which is a huge exporter of food. It’s a political problem, not a lack of production.
The success of Borlaug’s selectively-bred (not genetically engineered) crops depended hugely on the abundance of rich, untapped topsoils. Topsoil depletion is a huge issue in first-world agronomies. In the USA, petrochemical fertilizers are used on a massive scale, especially to grow corn.
“Since when are pesticides ‘evil’”
It is a certainty that Bt crops create resistant pests, in the same way as overuse of antibiotics creates drug-resistant tuberculosis:http://www.reddit.com/r/worldnews/comments/o6i39/totally_drugresistant_a_deadlier_form_of_tb_hits/
It is a certainty that the type of IP laws that will be passed to enforce food patents will be draconian, like SOPA for food.
If you think not being able to order medication from less-expensive pharmacies in Canada is bad, wait until people are trying to order food because Big Agriculture is trying to turn itself into Big Pharma.
Unfortunately, transgenic food allergies mean you will have to worry about anaphylactic shock in places it never existed before. Flounder genes have already been spliced into tomatoes; how long until an apple or banana sets off your allergy to shellfish?
And in the U.S., transgenic food is not even labeled as such.
In addition to that, foods engineered to produce their own pesticides have the potential to make people ill. Starlink corn is only approved for animal feed because of this, but that was a one-off decision; there is no comprehensive regulatory system in the U.S.