In March 2013 the US-Senate and Congress passed the so called “Monsanto Protection Act” which was supposed to ensure food security. We already reported on that topic a few months ago.1
Shortly afterwards critical voices arose. The act apparently violated the rule of law whereas this fact didn’t prevent President Barack Obama from signing. It was valid for six months but now the Senate prevented any further extension. The “Monsanto Protection Act” was finally withdrawn from the bill on the 24th of September.2
It prohibited distribution and legal action against the consumption of genetically manipulated organisms, even if there will be evidence in the future, that they are endangering people’s health.
Due to the growing public pressure the Senate now was forced to react and refused to accept the act, contrary to Congress. The organisation Food Democracy Now for instance had collected a staggering amount of 100 000 signatures for its petition within only one hour. And this is just one of countless petitions and protests against the controversial seed company.2
The campaign that probably attracted most attention was the so called “March Against Monsanto” which took place in May and again was conducted recently on the 12th of October in more than 400 cities around the world. An estimated 2 million demonstrators participated.3
Critics of the Monsanto Protection Act fear the contamination of agricultural land because of genetically manipulated organisms (GMOs), monocultures, usage of chemical fertilisers and pesticides as well as serious health risks for the people consuming GMOs, such as cancer.
Curiously enough three employees of Monsanto and Syngenta (one of the biggest companies involved in biotechnology and pesticides) won the World Food Price on the16th of October, in celebration of the World Food Day. The scientists were awarded for their contribution to the improvement of quality, quantity and availability of food by helping to discover how to implant genes that are foreign to the species into plant cells with the aid of bacteria. This discovery enables the development of genetically manipulated organisms.4
Monsanto prides itself on contributing to a sustainable agriculture and therefore enabling the supply of the whole population of the world with food.5
However, hunger is not a problem of low productivity. By using a truly sustainable, ecological agriculture it would be possible to feed everybody on this planet even if the population is continuing to grow. It is only a problem of distribution and accessibility. And this is exactly what Monsanto is making even worse. The farmers are becoming dependent on Monsanto and other big seed companies. They have to pay high fees for using the genetically modified seeds, hoping to make a lot of money. Some do.6 And some don’t. They are caught in a vicious cycle of paying huge amounts of money for more and more pesticides in order to kill the weed and pests that are becoming increasingly resistant – even to the alleged super weapon Roundup Ready.7 Something even more concerning is the fact, that farmers are no longer using and passing on the knowledge of cultivating plants and using the soil in a sustainable way.8 Simply buying Monsanto’s seeds and Roundup Ready and putting it onto the ground is way easier than studying the complexity of traditional agricultural practices in harmony with nature. It promises quick money.
The farmer’s dependence, unequal distribution and ecological damage are the consequences of genetic engineering and excessive patenting on plants. Just a few months ago the story of the “Beheaded Broccoli”9 made headlines, when Monsanto patented a conventional breeding of broccoli that was especially easy to harvest because of its high grown heads.
It is indisputable that Monsanto has huge influence on politics all over the world. Well established lobbying is the reason why something like the Monsanto Protection Act was possible to be passed. But in Germany Monsanto is facing a lot of opposition. After the prohibition of the genetically modified maize MON810 by Farming Minister Ilse Aigner in 2009 the Office of the United States Trade Representative invited the German ambassador in order to tell him that the US government was not pleased by that action. Even diplomats of the United States are working for Monsanto and are speaking up for a less restrictive policy towards genetic engineering.10
But the current developments are encouraging. They show that people are starting to reclaim their freedom.
The former minister of foreign affairs of the United States, Henry Kissinger, once said that “if you control the food supply, you control the people”.11
- Facing Finance: Immunität für Monsanto dank US-Gesetz [↩]
- Radio Utopie: Monsanto Protection Act: U.S.-Senat beerdigt Selbstermächtigungsgesetz für Agrarchemie-Giganten [↩] [↩]
- Wikipedia: March Against Monsanto [↩]
- Naturschutz.ch: Monsanto gewinnt Welternährungspreis [↩]
- Monsanto: Sustainable Agriculture [↩]
- FAZ: Genveränderte Pflanzen: Und dann schuf Gott Monsanto [↩]
- Wikipedia: Glyphosate [↩]
- Wikipedia: Monsanto [↩]
- Greenpeace: Geköpfter Brokkoli: Patent für Monsanto [↩]
- Wikipedia: Monsanto [↩]
- Berliner Zeitung: Gentechnik: Monsantos Helfer [↩]