On Memorial Day weekend, 2 million people marched in protests against seed giant Monsanto for the purpose of bringing awareness to hazards from genetically modified food, which it and other companies manufacture. Organizer Tami Canal said protests were held in 436 cities in 52 countries.
Genetically modified plants are grown from genetically modified, or engineered, seeds, which are created to resist insecticides and herbicides so that crops can be grown to withstand a weed-killing pesticide or integrate a bacterial toxin that can ward off pests.
The Chicago Tribune reported that because genetically modified organisms are not listed on food or ingredient labels, few Americans realize they’re eating GMO foods every day. Genetically modified crops constitute 93 percent of soy, 86 percent of corn and 93 percent of canola seeds planted in the U.S. and are used in about 70 percent of American processed food.
The Tribune reported that the Food and Drug Administration has permitted the sale and planting of genetically modified foods for 15 years and that the Obama administration has approved an “unprecedented number of genetically modified crops,” such as ethanol corn, alfalfa and sugar beets. The Alliance for Natural Health USA added that the U.S. Department of Agriculture now wants to eliminate any regulatory controls from genetically altered corn and cotton.
And Monsanto, the world’s largest seed-maker and a publicly traded American multinational agricultural biotechnology corporation, is leading the pro-GMO march and moving full steam ahead in being the No. 1 U.S. and global farm supplier.
CEO Hugh Grant said this past week, “We’re in a growth mode, and with the combination of momentum in our core businesses and new layers of growth coming online from an increasingly global portfolio, we have the strategic drivers in place to continue our growth trajectory next year and beyond.”
But business columnist Al Lewis summarized the dilemma Monsanto faces in his column for Dow Jones Newswires: “For Monsanto, it comes down to saving the nine billion people expected to populate the planet by 2050. Monsanto is the company that allows farmers to grow more food with less land, water and energy. But it is also the company that brought us products we now know were far more dangerous than advertised, including the insecticide DDT, the toxic industrial chemicals known as PCBs, and the Vietnam-Era defoliant Agent Orange, which poisoned our own soldiers with dioxins. Monsanto also brought us saccharine – sweet, yet artificial, and known to cause cancer in laboratory rats.”
The Alliance for Natural Health USA cited the late George Wald, a Nobel laureate in physiology or medicine and one of the first scientists to speak out about the dangers of genetically engineered foods:
“Recombinant DNA technology (genetic engineering) faces our society with problems unprecedented, not only in the history of science, but of life on the Earth. … Now whole new proteins will be transposed overnight into wholly new associations, with consequences no one can foretell, either for the host organism or their neighbors. … For going ahead in this direction may not only be unwise but dangerous. Potentially, it could breed new animal and plant diseases, new sources of cancer, novel epidemics.”