By Barbara H. Peterson

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say-no-to-gmos

I remember when buying seed was simply buying seed. You went to the feed store and purchased as many bags of seed as you needed, paid for it, loaded it in your truck, and went home to plant: simple, effective, and economical. Seed was saved for the next year’s planting, and that was normal. Not so anymore. Now a simple farmer must sign a grower’s contract with agribusiness giants in order to gain permission to plant GM (Genetically Modified) crops, which gives the seed company the right to monitor his farming operation, go onto his property to take samples anytime and anywhere it wants to, and to literally shut his operation down for non-compliance with the contract.

The Agreement

Why do farmers get tangled up in this mess? Probably because they have swallowed the lie that GM crops are beneficial, are thinking about higher profits, less work, and don’t take the time to read the fine print in the documents they sign. Now they are stuck. It’s either comply or go broke, and so the cycle continues.

Which brings me to the following question: when did we stop reading what we sign? Let me ask you a personal question. Do you read everything that you agree to whether it is in writing or via electronic medium? If you do, you are in the minority. Let’s take those agreements that we have to agree to every time we download a program. Do you read them? Do you go through all of the fine print and understand all of the terms and conditions? I didn’t think so. You’re not alone, neither does Congress. Not one Congressman read the entire Stimulus Package before it was signed. Reading the entire thing in as short a period as they were given was impossible. And so it is with farmers. Oh, they have the time to read the fine print, but do they?

I cannot imagine agreeing with the following statement that comes directly from the Monsanto Technology Use Agreement Terms and Conditions (TUA) for Roundup Ready Canola:

Item #4 The Grower grants Monsanto the right to inspect, take samples and test all of the Grower’s owned and/or leased fields planted with canola, or any other land farmed by the Grower, and to monitor the Grower’s canola fields and storage bins for the following three years for compliance with the terms of this Agreement…

Okay, so let me get this straight. Let’s say that I am a farmer, and I go into a store and buy Roundup Ready Canola seeds and sign the agreement. I plant the seeds, and after realizing that I would rather not use the seed again next year, I must make sure that I completely clean the fields, storage bins, seed cleaning equipment, and any place that a seed might get lodged and actually grow, because Monsanto can come in and inspect my fields and equipment for three years after my purchase to make sure that I am in compliance. If the company finds a Roundup Ready Canola plant anywhere on my property, then I am in violation of the agreement and the following paragraph of the Agreement comes into play:

Item #5 If the Grower violates any of the Terms and Conditions of the Agreement, the Grower shall forfeit any right to obtain any Agreement in the future and this Agreement may, at Monsanto’s option be terminated immediately. In the event of any use of the Roundup Ready canola seed, which is not specifically authorized in this Agreement, the Grower agrees that Monsanto will incur a substantial risk of losing control of Roundup Ready Canola seed and that it may not be possible to accurately determine the amount of Monsanto’s damages. The Grower therefore agrees:

a) to pay Monsanto $15.00 per acre for every acre planted with Roundup Ready Canola seed not covered by this Agreement; and
b) to deliver to Monsanto or its designated agent, at the Grower’s expense, all seed containing the Roundup Ready gene that results from the unauthorized use of Roundup Ready Canola; or at Monsanto’s option, the Grower shall destroy all crop containing the Roundup Ready gene resulting from the unauthorized use of Roundup Ready Canola;…

But wait, it gets even better. Not only have I bound myself to this Agreement, I have also bound my heirs:

Item #6 The Terms and Conditions of this Agreement are personal to the Grower and shall be binding and have full force and effect on the heirs, personal representatives, successors, and permitted assigns of the Grower…

In other words, I have bound my sons and daughters to an agreement that they had no knowledge of, and did not consent to.

So how does one go about getting out of the iron grip of the GMO giants? Well, the sad truth is, most farmers can’t. It is a vicious cycle. If you have 1000 acres planted with GM Canola, and decide to get rid of the GMOs on your farm, you are in for a gigantic undertaking, and not one that most can accomplish because of the cost. If you don’t get your fields completely clean of the GM gene, you owe Monsanto $15,000 unless you go through every single plant on every square inch of your land and pay to get it tested by Monsanto because they have the patent on the progeny and all methods of testing.

So, you pay the $15,000. But it is not over yet, because at Monsanto’s option, the company can order you to “destroy all crop containing the Roundup Ready gene,” and to “deliver to Monsanto or its designated agent, at the Grower’s expense, all seed containing the Roundup Ready gene..” And just how do you tell the difference between a Roundup Ready seed and a normal one? And if you could somehow tell the difference, what does it take to go through the thousands upon thousands of seeds to sort them? Then there are the plants. I am told that one cannot tell the difference between a GM plant and a normal plant with the naked eye. So, only Monsanto knows how, and the company isn’t telling. That’s patented information. So the farmer is in a position to either just go along with the program and continue to plant GM seeds, or risk losing everything if he cannot come up with the funds to wipe his farm clean of GM, if that is even possible. And this goes on for three years following your purchase of the GM seeds, with Monsanto monitoring every move.

Enter horizontal gene transfer. You’ve got it folks; this is the nightmare that plagues us all, but especially the farmer wanting to get rid of GMOs.

Horizontal gene transfer (HGT), also Lateral gene transfer (LGT), is any process in which an organism incorporates genetic material from another organism without being the offspring of that organism.

According to Dr. Mae-Wan Ho, of the Institute of Science in Society,

Horizontal gene transfer is one of the most serious, if not the most serious hazard of transgenic technology. I have been drawing our regulators’ attention to it at least since 1996 [1], when there was already sufficient evidence to suggest that transgenic DNA in GM crops and products can spread by being taken up directly by viruses and bacteria as well as plant and animals cells.

Now I don’t know, even if you have undergone the strictest of cleaning methods for your 1000-acre farm, if you can even use the soil due to horizontal gene transfer. What do you do? Remove 1000 acres of topsoil? And to what depth? Then do you truck more topsoil in, hoping that it hasn’t seen any GMOs?

This is the stranglehold that Monsanto and the other giant GMO pushers have on farmers. Once the farmer gets hooked, just like a Heroin junkie, he must go to the dealer to get his fix every year, or risk losing everything. And we are just getting started.

HR 875, 814, and 759

Here come HR 875, 814, and 759. Now we are talking about the animal kingdom and the genetic modification of our cows, sheep, goats, chickens, you name it. Genetically modified salmon are already in the marketplace. But how do I make the leap from animal tracking to GM chickens? These bills don’t mention anything about GM animals.

Think about it. Monsanto purchased Seminis Seeds, the largest seed supplier in the world, after reinventing itself from a chemical company to an agribusiness. It also is responsible for flooding the world with GM seeds and plants, without regard for the human or ecological cost, much like it did with Agent Orange and DDT. Monsanto also has a draconian method of dealing with farmers who do not comply with the Agreement they sign in order to plant its GM abominations.

The regulations in these bills are much like the onerous Agreement that farmers must comply with in order to cultivate Monsanto crops, only much, much worse. And with GMO backers Taylor and Vilsack in key government positions, what could be better for the agribusiness giant? A “made for Monsanto” situation. These bills are draconian in their regulation of smaller farmers and ranchers, which is right up Monsanto’s alley, and are nothing more than the precursor for a GM takeover of the meat market.

So, when Monsanto starts patenting animal genes, and it will, do you think the company will guard these patented genes any less rigorously than the seeds? How much easier will it be for Monsanto to track its patented genes if each and every animal on each and every small farm is traced? Easier yet to purchase the largest animal producers that do not even have to get each animal tagged, just one tag for a whole group of animals.

Enter wholesale tag and bag GMO meat producers. The smaller rancher simply goes away because of the cost. Now Monsanto not only has a stranglehold on plants, but meat as well. And us? Well, we just go to the store and buy whatever frankenfood they allow us to have without knowing what genes it contains, or what effects it will have on us in the future.

Stopping the Takeover

So, am I crazy to think like I do? I don’t think so. Look at the evidence and the track record of Monsanto et. al. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out the connection, and to understand the consequences of the behind the scenes manipulations of our government corporation and the agribusiness giants. With Monsanto in control, we will all be like junkies going to the dealer for our next fix of GMO, whether it is grain, veggies, fruit, or meat – unless we simply do not comply. This is not as easy as it sounds. It requires boycotting GMOs. It also requires knowing what is GM and what is not. More time is needed in our day for research into the food we eat, and more time is needed to grow what we can.

We can stop this takeover, but it must start on a personal level. We need to get rid of the GMOs in our own lives, and by so doing, the market for such products will dry up. We also need to get the word out to as many people as possible so that they can start eliminating GMOs from their diets. It starts with one person. And yes, it is like withdrawing from drugs. Some will be able to go cold turkey, and others will need to taper off a little at a time. It doesn’t matter how you do it, just do it.

© 2009 Barbara H. Peterson

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6 Responses to “GMO Pushers and the Junkies They Create”

  1. Why don’t you introduce yourself to my readers, Brad? Bradley Mitchell works for Monsanto. In fact, he is the company’s Director of Public Affairs. Now why would Monsanto’s Director of Public Affairs be interested in commenting on my small contribution to the blogosphere? Could it be that Monsanto will leave no stone unturned in its quest for food dominance?

    Ah well, let’s get straight to the meat of the matter with the following. Here are some statistics:

    GM Crops Linked to Rise in Pesticide Use
    by John Vidal

    http://www.commondreams.org/he.....108-05.htm

    Excerpt:

    The most comprehensive study yet made of chemical use on genetically modified crops draws on US government data collected since commercialization of the crops began.

    It appears to undermine one of the central selling points of GM farming – that the crops benefit the environment because they need fewer manmade agrochemicals.

    Charles Benbrook, the author of the report, who is also head of the Northwest Science and Environment Policy Center, at Sandpoint, Idaho, found that when first introduced most of the crops needed up to 25% fewer chemicals for the first three years, but afterwards significantly more.

    In 2001, the report states, 5% more herbicides and insecticides were sprayed compared with crops only of non-GM varieties; in 2002 7.9% more was sprayed; and in 2003 the estimated rise was 11.5%. In total, £73m more agrochemicals were sprayed in the US during 2001-2003 because of GM crops, says the report, which was commissioned by Iowa State University, the Consumers’ Union and others.

    During 2002-2003, an average of 29% more herbicide was applied per acre on GM maize. But this trend was not sustained over the eight years. Overall, modest reductions in insecticide usage with maize and cotton were recorded, with no sign that the pests were starting to build up resistance.

    UK farm trials found that two of the three GM crops grown experimentally in Britain, oil seed rape and sugar beet, were more harmful to the environment than conventional crops but that GM maize allowed the survival of more weeds and insects. The key to insects’ and weeds’ survival was the quantity of chemicals used on either conventional or GM crops.

    Dr Benbrook said: “The proponents of biotechnology claim GM varieties substantially reduce pesticide use. While true in the first few years of widespread planting … it is not the case now. There’s now clear evidence that the average pounds of herbicides applied per acre planted to herbicide-tolerant varieties have increased compared to the first few years.”

  2. GMO pushers? So, are you suggesting that farmers have no more impulse-control than a drug addict? You need to speak to some farmers. Most are extremely rational and astute business people, which accounts for the huge popularity of GM crops where they are available to farmers.

    Increased insecticide use? You need to do your fact checking on that one. Look at Bt cotton. Drastic decreases in insecticide use. In India, these reductions were seen largely in organophosphates – I suggest you google parathion before you make such rash statements about Bt crops being “dangerous”.

    Patents are not new to GM. They have existed for decades. Google “patents” and “raspberry” to get an understanding of how prevalent plant patents are. Note that raspberries are not GM.

    Similarly, not being able to save seed is nothing new. Aside from patent protection, hybrid seeds have long been available (and popular) and are not typically saved as there is no genetic consistency from offspring of hybrids. Barbs pastoral portrayal of moseying into the seed store and buying what you need, and saving it for the next year, has not been accurate for many farmers for almost 70 years when hybrids first became available.

    As for patenting animals, this is yet another poorly researched internet myth – go to http://www.monsanto.com/monsan.....patent.asp There are details regarding patent law that you should become at least familiar with before you write on this topic.

    Readers do not need to go to Barb to get user agreements for Monsanto products. They are available, along with a lot of other information Barb does not cover at http://www.monsanto.com/seedpatentprotection

    Mae Wan Ho is pretty far outside of scientific consensus on GM crops. I do agree however that gm is quite different from natural evolution though.

  3. Robert,

    GM crops are most certainly dangerous, in more ways than one. Increased insecticide use is one of them. Resistance builds up, and more as well as stronger pesticides need to be used to counter this. The soil is also depleted with constant pesticide use and becomes dead, unable to grow anything.

    To attempt to discredit someone because his/her scientific views differ from company policy is a typical tactic of those in favor of GMOs and the agribusiness giants that inflict them on the public.

    Also, another tact that seems to be common among GMO pushers is to equate artificial genetic modification with natural breeding. Not the same thing by a long shot.

    Mae Ho Wan
    http://www.biotech-info.net/MWH_response.html

    Natural versus artificial genetic engineering Sir – Trewavas and Leaver (1) claim that genetic engineering is no different from the natural processes that have been occurring throughout evolution. Moreover, they argue that this is supported by what I wrote in my book (2). Perhaps they have not read the whole book, for I explain, especially in the second edition, that while artificial genetic engineering is uncontrollable, random and unpredictable, natural genetic engineering is quite precise and repeatable because it is regulated by the organism as a whole (3). This regulatory system has evolved over hundreds of millions of years. Under steady state conditions, proof-reading, DNA-repair and other mechanisms ensure that the DNA remains constant and stable. But predictable rearrangements, amplifications, deletions and mutations may also take place during normal development and in response to certain environmental conditions.

    In contrast, DNA polymerase reactions in the test-tube are prone to error. Artificial transformation gives unpredictable, unrepeatable results and the transgenic lines obtained are often unstable. Trewavas and Leaver assume that lethal insertions [for the plant] are selected out, while potentially innocuous insertions [for consumers] are detected by ‘substantial equivalence’. But current risk assessment hardly addresses the unpredictability of the process or the stability of transgenic lines (4). There are two main reasons for the unpredictability and instability of artificial genetic engineering. First, foreign DNA is broken down and inactivated by restriction mechanisms in the host cells. Second, the transgenic constructs -made up of DNA originating from many different sources – are structurally unstable (5).

  4. Robert says:

    Barbara

    Farmers are smart people, they choose to buy GM seeds because they allow the farmer to grow the crop with less inputs of insecticides(I would have thought everyone would be in favour of this) of reduce the amount of soil loss toerosion from tillage.

    Seed saving went out with hybrid seeds decades before GM crops came to market. Hybrid seeds produce more crops but do not breed true and therefore must be purchased each and every year.

    GM crops and not a pancea nor are they dangerous. They are a refinement of previously crude breeding methods. They are not the right answer everywhere but certainly can be very useful in some situations. I encourage you to go to my website to learn more about the real science (all sides points of view can be read there). Quoting Mae Ho Wan will not do your argument any favours as she has been discreditied so many times.

    Cheers

    Robert Wager
    Vancouver Island Univeristy
    Nanaimo BC
    Canada

  5. Of course. Spread the word just as far and wide as you can. I have the agreements for Syngenta and Dow also, and they are similar in wording.

    Barb

  6. laurel says:

    Barbara, may i send this item to my local newspaper to hopefully add a link to? The paper itself is NOT available online, the editor is though. At the moment i am fighting the possible approval of Gm Canola on a much wider scale, and a 2x modified GM soy, supposedly only as imported product, not grown here…yet!
    Your summation of the catches to the licences may just deter some farmers who may be considering using it.(the GM Canola just now)