Originally published April 3 2009
South African GMO Crop Failure Highlights Dangers of Food Supply Domination
by Barbara L. Minton
(NaturalNews) Worry is building over the effects of the Food Safety and Modernization Act of 2009, otherwise known as HR 875. This is the bill currently working its way through Congress that would effectively hand over control of America's food supply to such a nefarious giant as Monsanto and its lesser counterparts such as Tyson and Cargill. We have a right to worry, because broad interpretation of this bill reveals its potential to put an end to healthy food in America. Family farms, local growers, organic producers, and even backyard gardeners can all be put out of business by its heavy hand. Yet an even greater threat may be looming at the front end of the controversy over the food supply as harvests of genetically modified foods begin to fail.
GMO corn plants fail to produce kernels
Farmers in South Africa have suffered millions of dollars in lost income due to the failure of their genetically modified (GMO) corn to produce kernels. The three varieties of plants look lush and healthy from the outside, but when the husks were pulled back there are no kernels. Monsanto's GMO corn was planted on 82,000 hectares of farmland, an amount that equals over 202,000 acres. The loss is spread over three South African provinces, and 280 of the 1,000 farmers who planted the corn have reported the lack of kernel development.
Monsanto has blamed the failure on under fertilization processes in the laboratory and attempted to make light of the situation by claiming that only 25% of the Monsanto seeded farms are involved in the loss. But Marian Mayet, environmental activist and director of the Africa Centre for Biosecurity in Johannesburg is not buying it. According to her information, some farms have suffered up to an 80% crop failure. She has demanded an urgent government investigation and an immediate ban on all GMO food. She points out that it is biotechnology that is the failure, and a careless mistake would not affect three different varieties of corn at the same time. The varieties failing to produce kernels were designed with a built-in resistance to Monsanto's weed killers, and were manipulated to increase yields.
Mayet is justifiably upset. Corn is the primary staple food for South Africa's 48 million people.
Apparently Monsanto is upset too. It has offered immediate compensation to all the farmers experiencing crop loss. Damage estimates are being collected buy local farmer cooperatives, and Monsanto is standing by with its checkbook. Locals are saying they are satisfied that Monsanto is doing a good job to protect them. This kind of largesse is uncharacteristic of Monsanto, a company more widely known for its use of strong arm and bullying tactics, and total disregard for people's rights. It implies that Mayet's concerns over the failure of bioengineering may be justified.
Monsanto uses insidious plan to gain control of world food supply
Monsanto has pushed around farmers to the point where they cannot simply refuse to buy Monsanto's GMO seeds. In its insidious efforts to feed its bottom line at the expense of feeding people, Monsanto has established itself in countries often with the help of their governments who approve the planting of their GMO Roundup Ready seeds. Initially farmers save, multiply and sell seeds to other farmers as they always have, and the area planted with GM seed multiplies exponentially. Monsanto sits by and watches this happen without a complaint. Then when the spreading of seeds is nearly complete, Monsanto begins to threaten these farmers and call their use of the GMO seed illegal. It gets the government behind them to enforce patent laws.
Soon farmers who are paying patent royalties complain about those who are not. Monsanto answers by enforcing their patents on everyone. By this time the spread of GMO seed is so pervasive that any farmer who has refused is bound to have a few stray GMO plants in his fields. Monsanto seeks them out and then sues the farmers for patent infringement. Farmers who buy Monsanto's GMO seeds are then required to sign an agreement promising not to save seeds or sell them to other farmers. The result is that farmers must buy new seeds every year, and they must buy them from Monsanto.
Meanwhile in the U.S., Monsanto is taking steps to block access to non GMO seeds. They have bought up seed companies across the Midwest, and have gotten legislators to put through laws that make cleaning, collecting and storing seeds so onerous in terms of fees and paperwork that using normal seeds becomes almost impossible. Laws are proposed that ensure farmers cannot block the planting of GMO seeds even if they contaminate other crops. Ownership of seed cleaning equipment is made illegal by considering it a source of seed contamination. More than 1,500 farmers whose fields have been contaminated by GM seeds have been sued for royalty payments.
Monsanto controls over 90% of the patented seed market
Today there is intense concentration and lack of competition in the patented seed crop industry. Monsanto clearly dominates the playing field, controlling over 90% of the market. There is strong evidence that Monsanto uses various devices to squelch emerging technology that might compete with its patented products. As a result of Monsanto's power grab, small and medium sized farmers have been denied the ability to be competitive and profitable, having to over pay for their patented seeds. Monsanto's near monopoly of the GMO market has given it the power to overcharge farmers and keep new and better technologies from entering the field.
Monsanto is positioned to control legislation in the U.S.
To ensure the perpetuation of its near monopoly, Monsanto is helping to install the right people in the right places. To that end, Michael Taylor, the ex FDA head who approved the use of bovine growth hormone (rBGH), has just become ensconced in the Obama transition team where he may soon be overseeing food safety. He will join already well placed Tom Vilsack, the pro GMO Secretary of Agriculture. As a pair, Taylor and Vilsack, will be in a position to continue the phasing out of small and medium sized farms to make fertile farmland available for the intensive capital accumulation of factory farms, and the phasing in of Monsanto's take over of the entire U.S. food supply.
Passage of the food safety bill will allow Monsanto to continue taking control of farms without any obstacles. Similar laws in the EU have already wiped out 60% of Polish farmers so far. The Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP), a production control system for the food industry, is helping to smooth the way for Monsanto by creating international harmonization of laws. According to an article by Linn Cohen-Cole, "in Kansas alone HACCP wiped out 72 small local meat processors who hadn't had any problems, and vastly lowered the number of inspections to the point where we have over 70 million food borne illnesses a year now."
Cohen-Cole is shocked at the lack of awareness of what is going on by people who support local and sustainable farming. She sees them as excited about an organic White House garden while a food safety bill is being put into law that would literally destroy everything they have been working for. She is hoping groups that support the going green agenda will wake up and join farmers in an effort to block the legislation. She suggests contacting Rosa DeLauro, the woman who sponsored HR 875. DeLauro can be reached at:
Washington Office: Phone 202-225-3661 Fax 202-225-4890
Connecticut Office: Phone 203-562-3718 Fax 203-772-2260
HR 875 is long and tedious reading, and in the style being set by the Obama administration, has probably not been read by the people slated to vote on it. In the face of public outrage, these legislators may not follow through with support for a bill making them targets for their constituents. But legislators are not the only ones who have been conned by the food safety bill.
Just like the Clean Water Act that ensured more contamination of waterways, and the Clean Air Act that ensured rising levels of air pollution, the Food Safety Act bears a name that makes it difficult to resist if you don't know the finer points. After all, who could be against food safety? Anyone standing up for family and healthy living is an easy mark for such deception. This well planned attack on the food supply counts on the ability of liberal and progressive communities to cut their own throats.
It may be that the South African crop failure is the first clue that nature will triumph over the scientists and GMO products will end up self destructing. It is certainly a wake up call to the dangers involved in the domination of the food supply by one company and its varieties of patented GMO seeds. It is something to hope for until one thinks about the widespread starvation that would follow in the wake of such an event. The threat of facing that makes contacting DeLauro a much more appealing way to at least temporarily derail Monsanto's plans.
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About the authorBarbara is a school psychologist, a published author in the area of personal finance, a breast cancer survivor using "alternative" treatments, a born existentialist, and a student of nature and all things natural.
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