Monsanto and Big Pharma

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Story at-a-glance

  • The World According to Monsanto explains how the biotech giant threatens to destroy the agricultural biodiversity that has served mankind for thousands of years
  • Glyphosate, the active ingredient in Monsanto's broad-spectrum herbicide Roundup, has been deemed a major health hazard to the environment, and to animal- and human health. A French research team that has studied Roundup extensively has concluded it is toxic to human cells, and likely carcinogenic to humans
  • A recent safety review, which determined that u201Cthe available literature shows no solid evidence linking glyphosate exposure to adverse developmental or reproductive effects,u201D was in fact funded by Monsanto itself

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The World According to Monsanto is an absolutely brilliant documentary that should be on the required viewing list of virtually everyone on the planet.  While it’s already a few years old, the information it contains will remain current until we stop allowing genetically engineered crops to be planted altogether.

The film explains how the biotech giant Monsanto threatens to destroy the agricultural biodiversity that has served mankind for thousands of years.  I must warn you though; it may bring tears to your eyes as you learn how they have decimated so many lives and part of the environment through their morally bankrupt behavior.

A Hostile Takeover of Our Food Supply

For millennia, farmers have saved seeds from season to season. Genetically engineered seeds have completely altered the agricultural landscape, as these seeds are patented, which means farmers must purchase new seed for each planting season and are not allowed to share or save any of the seed.

Doing so equates to patent infringement, and Monsanto has become notorious for tracking down and prosecuting farmers who end up with patented crops in their fields without having paid the prerequisite fees – even when their conventional or organic crops are contaminated by unwanted genetically engineered (GE) seed spread by wind or pollinating insects from neighboring farms that grow GE crops.

To do this, Monsanto relies on a shadowy army of private investigators and agents who secretly videotape and photograph farmers, store owners, and co-ops. They infiltrate community meetings, and gather information from informants about farming activities. Some Monsanto agents pretend to be surveyors. Others confront farmers on their land and try to pressure them to sign papers giving Monsanto access to their private records. Farmers call them the “seed police” and use words such as “Gestapo” and “Mafia” to describe their tactics.

For nearly all of its history the United States Patent and Trademark Office refused to grant patents on seeds, viewing them as life-forms with too many variables to be patented.

But in 1980 the U.S. Supreme Court allowed for seed patents in a five-to-four decision, laying the groundwork for a handful of corporations to begin taking control of the world’s food supply. Since the 1980s, Monsanto has become the world leader in genetic engineering and modification of seeds; many, if not most of which are “Roundup Ready,” meaning they can withstand otherwise lethal doses of the herbicide Roundup, also created and sold by Monsanto.

Most Commonly Used Herbicide Found to be Carcinogenic

As if the health hazards of genetically altered food crops weren’t bad enough, glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup, has also been deemed a major health hazard both to the environment, and to animal- and human health. It is toxic to human cells, and according to a French research team, it is also carcinogenic. The team has studied the herbicide extensively, and published at least five articles on glysphosate’s potential for wide-ranging environmental and human harmi. Their research shows that glyphosate:

  • Causes cell cycle dysregulation, which is a hallmark of tumor cells and human cancers
  • Inhibits DNA synthesis in certain parts of the cell cycle – the process by which cells reproduce that underlies the growth and development of all living organisms
  • Impedes the hatchings of sea urchins. (Sea urchins were used because they constitute an appropriate model for the identification of undesirable cellular and molecular targets of pollutants.) The delay was found to be dose dependent on the concentration of Roundup. The surfactant polyoxyethylene amine (POEA), another major component of Roundup, was also found to be highly toxic to the embryos when tested alone, and could therefore be a contributing factor

Monsanto-Funded Research Finds “No Evidence” of Harm from Roundup

It doesn’t matter that the Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health recently published “research” to the contraryii, the French team says – the world needs to know the truth about who did that “safety-finding” research.  It was funded by none other than Monsanto itself! Is it any wonder they came to the conclusion that:

“[T]he available literature shows no solid evidence linking glyphosate exposure to adverse developmental or reproductive effects at environmentally realistic exposure concentrations.” 

The new Monsanto-funded safety research actually used the French team’s original research to debunk the evidence that Roundup could have human or environmental safety issues. And that didn’t sit well with the French team, which was so angered they wrote a detailed response to Monsanto’s article, accusing the researchers of minimalizing the French group’s work and publishing misleading information.

One of the Monsanto-backed team’s major flaws was their total disregard for the scientific context within which their glysphosate research was performed – namely, the DNA-damaging and carcinogenic potential of the chemical.


“The second flaw was the claim that their results were “not environmentally relevant” (repeated 5 times in the article), despite the fact that the French researchers were able to demonstrate toxicity in 100% of the individual cells at short exposure time below the usage concentration (20 mM) of the herbicide in present agricultural applications. They elaborated on this point further:

“Therefore, regarding the considerable amount of glyphosate-based product sprayed worldwide, the concentration of Roundup in every single micro droplet is far above the threshold concentration that would activate the cell cycle checkpoint. (2) The effects we demonstrate were obtained by a short exposure time (minutes) of the cells to glyphosate-based products, and nothing excludes that prolonged exposure to lower doses may also have effects.

Since glyphosate is commonly found present in drinking water in many countries, low doses with long exposure by ingestion are a fact. The consequences of this permanent long term exposure remain to be further investigated but cannot just be ignored,” reportsiii:

Monsanto Guilty of Falsely Advertising Roundup as Safe

If you recall, in 2009, Monsanto was found guilty of false advertising by France’s highest court, for claims that Roundup is biodegradable and leaves “the soil clean.”

The French court noted that Roundup’s main ingredient, glyphosate, is in fact dangerous for the environment and toxic for aquatic organisms. But that’s just one example of the lies Monsanto tells to keep on selling its products; this company has a long history of fraudulent statements about the safety of Roundup. They long used the slogans, “It’s Safer than Mowing,” “Biodegradable,” and “Environmentally Friendly” to describe their product – until the real effects of this toxic herbicide were revealed and they were forced to discontinue their deceptive advertising.

That still doesn’t stop them from doing their best to continue misleading you by funding their own “safety studies.” This is definitely a case where you’ll want to make sure the research is truly independent…

You also cannot rely on government agencies to keep you safe from harmful genetically engineered foods. No, over the years, Monsanto has successfully infiltrated an ever increasing number of high-level federal regulatory positions in the U.S. government; many of which are positions meant to protectyour food safety.

Monsanto and Big Pharma – Another Unholy Alliance

Making matters even more complicated, not to mention more dire in terms of human health, Monsanto is also deeply entrenched with the pharmaceutical industry. Few people ever make the connection between genetically engineered crops and the sale of drugs, but there are strong financial ties between these two industries.

In 1995, The Upjohn Company – a pharmaceutical company founded in Michigan – merged with the Swedish pharmaceutical and biotech company Pharmacia AB, to form Pharmacia & Upjohn. In 2000, Pharmacia & Upjohn merged with Monsanto Company, at which time the name was changed to Pharmacia. The drug divisions, including Monsanto’s old Searle drug division, were retained in Pharmacia, while the agricultural divisions became a wholly owned subsidiary of Pharmacia.

A short while later, Pharmacia spun off this agricultural/biotech subsidiary into a “new Monsanto” company. Pfizer then bought Pharmacia 2002, and today also owns the remainder of Upjohn. Bayer has also acquired certain assets.

As you can see, the past and present connections between all of these mega-corporations are dizzying in their complexity. When you consider the health hazards of genetically engineered foods, it’s easy to recognize why you’d want to have a stake in the pharmaceutical industry as well, since drugs are the primary form of healthcare offered by conventional medicine today!

I believe genetically engineered food is one of the most significant challenges to your future health. And, the drug industry is one of the primary driving forces for the traditional paradigm, which focuses on the treating symptoms with expensive band-aids, so you get sicker and sicker and require more of their self-serving expensive drug solutions to relieve your symptoms. Put these two health disasters together — where one is feeding the profits of the other – and the picture becomes bleak indeed.

Why We Must Insist on Labeling of Genetically Engineered Foods

Labeling genetically engineered foods is likely the best shot we have at stopping the unchecked proliferation of genetically engineered foods in the US. We strongly support state initiatives, such as California’s 2012 ballot initiative to require genetically engineered foods sold in the state to be labeled.

Many still don’t fully appreciate this strategy. What you need to consider is that large food companies would likely refuse to have dual labeling; one for California and another for the rest of the country. It would be very expensive, not to mention a logistical- and PR nightmare. To avoid the dual labeling, many would likely opt to not use genetically engineered ingredients in their product, especially if the new label would be the equivalent of a skull and crossbones label.

This is why we are so committed to this initiative, as victory here will likely eliminate most genetically engineered foods from the rest of the US as well.

Powerful confirmation of this belief occurred earlier this year, when both Coca-Cola Company and PepsiCo Inc. chose to alter one of their soda ingredients as a result of California’s labeling requirements for carcinogensiv. This is a PERFECT example of the national impact a California GE labeling requirement can, and no doubt WILL, have. While California is the only state requiring the label to state that the product contains the offending ingredient, these companies are switching their formula for the entire US market, rather than have two different labels:

“Coca-Cola Co. and PepsiCo Inc. are changing the way they make the caramel coloring used in their sodas as a result of a California law that mandates drinks containing a certain level of carcinogens bear a cancer warning label. The companies said the changes will be expanded nationally to streamline their manufacturing processes. They’ve already been made for drinks sold in California.”

Learn More about Genetically Engineered Foods

Due to lack of labeling, many Americans are still unfamiliar with what genetically engineered foods are. We have a plan to change that, and I urge you to participate and to continue learning more about genetically engineered foods and helping your friends and family do the same.

To start, please print out and use the Non-GMO Shopping Guide, created by the Institute for Responsible Technology (IRT). Share it with your friends and family, and post it to your social networks. You can also download a free iPhone application, available in the iTunes store. You can find it by searching for ShopNoGMO in the applications.

Your BEST strategy, however, is to simply buy USDA 100% Organic products whenever possible, (as these do not permit genetically engineered ingredients) or buy whole fresh produce and meat from local farmers. The majority of the genetically engineered organisms (GMOs) you’re exposed to are via processed foods, so by cooking from scratch with whole foods, you can be sure you’re not inadvertently consuming something laced with altered ingredients.

When you do purchase processed food, avoid products containing anything related to corn or soy that are not 100 percent organic, as any foods containing these two non-organic ingredients are virtually guaranteed to contain genetically engineered ingredients, as well as toxic herbicide residues.

To learn more about genetically engineered foods, I highly recommend perusing the many videos and lectures available on the IRT site.

Please Continue Supporting California’s Ballot Initiative to Label GMO’s!

The California Right to Know Genetically Engineered Food Actv has already been submitted to the State Attorney General. The next step is the campaigning. Remember, if California can get the law passed in November, it’s going to have the same impact as national law, for the reasons I just mentioned.

It’s going to be an enormous battle, as the biotech industry will outspend us by 100 to 1, if not more, for their propaganda. So needless to say, the campaign needs funds. If you have the ability, I strongly encourage you to make a donation.