Monsanto and their biotech buddies would have you believe that they are super-heroes, set on saving hungry children from starvation wearing a dazzling fake-green cape. In fact, in a recent attack on activists, Monsanto’s CEO Hugh Grant said that because critics “can afford” organic food, we don’t care about the plight of those who can’t afford it. “There is this strange kind of reverse elitism: If I’m going to do this, then everything else shouldn’t exist,” said Grant. “There is space in the supermarket shelf for all of us.”
Even Monsanto’s website is on the defense, with page after page attempting to justify what the biotech industry is doing to our food supply. It must be true if even leading “philanthropists” (and I use this term loosely) like Bill and Melinda Gates are behind the distribution of Monsanto crops across the globe. Right?
Actually, it’s all about the public’s perception. The push for acceptance of GMO foods has, thus far, been all about which team has the most money. Monsanto and their ilk can afford more television ads and more PR than anti-GMO activists can. Because the biotech companies, Big Food, and Big Agri can pay to spread their message, many people are convinced by their pure propaganda that GMOs are a necessary evil if the Third World is to avoid millions of slow, agonizing deaths by starvation. Because biotech is able to afford to blanket the media with their perspective, their view point is accepted as the correct one because that is the only perspective that many people ever hear.
But just because they shout the loudest, that doesn’t make it true.
How we address these misconceptions can mean the difference between swaying people to examine these claims more closely or causing them to stick their fingers in their ears and sing, “lalalalala…” to block us out. Here are some of the most common myths that Monsanto and friends would like you to believe about the wonderful world of GMOs.
TOP 10 GMO MYTHS
Myth #1: No one has ever proven that GMOs are harmful to people.
Monsanto mouthpieces have been quoted time, time, and time again stating the untruth that genetically modified organisms have never been proven to harm people. It seems that they believe, like Joseph Goebbels, the uncontested King of Propaganda, that if you repeat a lie often enough, and with enough conviction, that it becomes the accepted truth.
The reality: Just a few of the results of a GMO diet (based on peer-reviewed studies) are: grotesque tumors, premature death, organ failure, gastric lesions, liver damage, kidney damage, severe allergic reactions, a viral gene that disrupts human functions…you can read more HERE.
Myth #2: GMO crops are the only way to solve world hunger.
The most common pro-GMO argument that you will hear these days is that genetically modified crops are the only way to feed the worlds burgeoning population. Without them, proponents claim that hunger will claim the lives of millions over the next decade. In the gospel of biotech, GMOs are the answer to world hunger. If you protest against GMO technology, you are cast as a cold-hearted elitist and the deaths of all of those suffering children in ***** (pick-a-3rd-world-country) rest firmly on your doorstep.
The reality: Sustainable agricultural practices are the answer to world hunger. GMO farming practices are not sustainable. Farmers who plant GMOs are not able to save their seeds from year to year due to patent infringement and poor fertility in the seeds. Therefore, after getting the first year of good harvests, the following year they must continue buying seeds, leading to perpetual debt and enough financial despair in India (the Bt Cotton scandal) that an Indian farmer took his own life every 30 minutes, after becoming the indentured servant of Monsanto and drowning in insurmountable debt. Well over a quarter of a million farmers died by suicide before the country banned the sale of Bt cotton seeds.
Real Change News agrees that biotech farming methods are not the answer to world hunger. They recommend “agroecology”:
Numerous reports from nonprofit, governmental and international organizations have concluded that food can be produced sustainably by bringing ecological principles to agriculture through a practice known as agroecology. The practice supports small-scale, traditional methods of farming and promotes crop diversity over a single-food crop, often referred to as a monoculture. Practicing agroecology also enables farmers to become independent and self-sufficient producers of natural, healthy foods.
Myth #3: GMOs need less pesticide spraying.
Monsanto claims that their Bt products require less spraying. It’s right HERE on their website (emphasis mine):
Crops with a Bt trait have been modified to produce a protein that is toxic to various forms of insect larvae. Bt proteins have long been used as topical sprays in conventional and organic agriculture because they are effective and can be used safely. Crops that are genetically engineered to carry the Bt trait allow farmers to protect their crops while eliminating or significantly decreasing the amount of pesticides sprayed.
The reality: Unfortunately, the best laid schemes of mice, men, and Monsanto often go awry. The Cornucopia Institute reports that was true for the first couple of years, but then use of pesticides and herbicides increased dramatically. (This, of course, resulted in a hefty profit for the producers of those chemicals who are…yep, you guessed it, Monsanto and the other biotech companies who produce the seeds.)
But a new study released by Food & Water Watch yesterday finds the goal of reduced chemical use has not panned out as planned. In fact, according to the USDA and EPA data used in the report, the quick adoption of genetically engineered crops by farmers has increased herbicide use over the past 9 years in the U.S. The report follows on the heels of another such study by Washington State Universityresearch professor Charles Benbrook just last year.
Both reports focus on “superweeds.” It turns out that spraying a pesticide repeatedly selects for weeds which also resist the chemical. Ever more resistant weeds are then bred, able to withstand increasing amounts – and often different forms – of herbicide.
At the center of debate is the pesticide glyphosate, the active ingredient in MonsantoMON +2.23%‘s Round Up. Food & Water Watch found that the “total volume of glyphosate applied to the three biggest GE crops — corn, cotton and soybeans — increased 10-fold from 15 million pounds in 1996 to 159 million pounds in 2012.” Overall pesticide use decreased only in the first few years GE crops were used (42 percent between 1998 and 2001) and has since then risen by 26 percent from 2001 to 2010.
Other organizations concur and even the mainstream media has been forced to report that pesticide and herbicide usage is on the rise. Check out these recent articles from Huffington Post and Reuters for more information.
Myth #4: GMO technology is comparable to the cross-breeding that our ancestors did to create hardier versions of heritage crops.
Check out this condescending blurb, straight from the horse’s …ummm….mouth (the Monsanto website):
Want to hear something extraordinary? Chances are, almost everything you’ve eaten in your entire life was genetically modified. The same was true for your parents…and your grandparents.
For more than 10,000 years, mankind has selectively bred plants and animals. The cows you see in farmer’s fields bear little resemblance to the ancient Aurochs from which they descended. And the corn you eat is the domesticated version of a wild grass called teosinte.
The reality: What our ancestors did, and what responsible farmers do, is cross-pollination of different varieties of the same plant. It is a low tech method that can occur naturally – but they just gave it a little bit of help in order to bring forth the desirable characteristics, like the drought-hardiness of one type of wheat combined with the shorter growing season required for another type of wheat. This is selective breeding. Genetically modifying seeds is a whole different ballgame, however. Here’s a great explanation from the Food Renegade website:
Unlike hybrid seeds, GMO seeds are not created using natural, low-tech methods. GMO seed varieties are created in a lab using high-tech and sophisticated techniques like gene-splicing.
Furthermore, GMO seeds seldom cross different, but related plants. Often the cross goes far beyond the bounds of nature so that instead of crossing two different, but related varieties of plant, they arecrossing different biological kingdoms — like, say, a bacteria with a plant.
For example, Monsanto has crossed genetic material from a bacteria known as Bt (Bacillus thuringiensis) with corn. The goal was to create a pest-resistant plant. This means that any pests attempting to eat the corn plant will die since the pesticide is part of every cell of the plant.
The resultant GMO plant, known as Bt Corn, is itself registered as a pesticide with the EPA, along with other GMO Bt crops. In other words, if you feed this corn to your cattle, your chickens, or yourself, you’ll be feeding them an actual pesticide — not just a smidgeon of pesticide residue.
What’s even worse is that biotech has the ability to produce their seeds with a built in “terminator technology.” This means that the seeds cannot be saved from one year to the next (unlike the cross-pollinated seeds with which they try to claim kinship). Monsanto has patented the technology (called gene use restriction technology) but claims not to use it. This would produce sterile, lifeless seeds that could not be reused, leaving the farmers utterly dependent on the biotech companies for future crops while providing an ongoing stream of income for those companies. At this point they maintain their monopoly through a series of contracts and patents that require the repurchase of seeds annually.
Myth #5: If the FDA and the USDA allow GMO’s, they must be safe to consume.
Organizations like the FDA, the EPA, and the USDA all wear a shiny halo. They receive their power and influence from the mere fact that the public believes that their number one priority is the health and safety of the citizens they are supposed to be serving. All of the agencies vow that they are there to protect the public on their websites:
FDA is responsible for protecting the public health by assuring that foods (except for meat from livestock, poultry and some egg products which are regulated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture) are safe, wholesome, sanitary and properly labeled; ensuring that human and veterinary drugs, and vaccines and other biological products and medical devices intended for human use are safe and effective.
To expand economic opportunity through innovation, helping rural America to thrive; to promote agriculture production sustainability that better nourishes Americans while also helping feed others throughout the world; and to preserve and conserve our Nation’s natural resources through restored forests, improved watersheds, and healthy private working lands.
The mission of EPA is to protect human health and the environment. EPA’s purpose is to ensure that all Americans are protected from significant risks to human health and the environment where they live, learn and work…
The reality: All of the above is just feel-good, warm and fuzzy rhetoric. Perhaps there are employees that truly believe in what they’re doing, but the leadership is as sickeningly tainted as Bt Corn.
Part of the reason Monsanto has been so successful in the courtroom has been the company’s incestuous ties to the US de facto government. Despite the blatant conflicts of interest, Monsanto executives have held Cabinet, judicial and policy-making positions in the Bush, Clinton and Obama administrations. When you’re sleeping with the enemy, the enemy tends to get away with all manner of crimes.
- Michael Taylor: VP of Monsanto > Deputy Commissioner of the FDA
- Roger Beachy: Director of the Danforth Plant Science Center (paid for by Monsanto) >director of the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture
- Elena Kagan: Obama Solicitor General (when she famously took Monsanto’s side against organic farmers in the Roundup Ready Alfalfa case) > US Supreme Court justice.
- Clarence Thomas: General Counsel for Monsanto > US Supreme Court justice.
- Margaret Miller: Monsanto supervisor > Deputy Director of Human Food Safety
- Donald Rumsfield: Board of Directors for Monsanto’s Searle Pharmaceuticals > US Secretary of Defense
- Ann Veneman: Monsanto Board of Directors > US Secretary of Agriculture
- Linda Fisher: Assistant Administrator at the EPA >VP of Monsanto > Deputy Administrator of the EPA
- Dr. Michael A.Friedman: Deputy Commissioner of the FDA > Senior VP of Monsanto
Make no mistake, the commissioners, directors, and secretaries of these agencies are put in place for a reason. That reason is to grease the wheels for the wealthy biotech firms (and drug companies and Big Food companies and…well, you get the idea). Through an abuse of trust placed in them by the American people, they abuse their power and practice deception on the grandest scale imaginable.
If the FDA, USDA, or the EPA approve something, you might want to view it with more suspicion than acceptance. If they can say that radiation and pesticides are acceptable in your food, but that raw milk isn’t acceptable for consumption…well, there’s something incredibly wrong here.
Myth #6: There is no nutritional difference between GMO’s and non-GMO’s.
Biotech will tell you that there is absolutely no nutritional difference between genetically modified food and its organic counterpart. They will cite the calories, the fiber, and all of the macronutrients, pointing out that they are identical. They will scoff and roll their collective eyes at the “ignorance” of people who pay double to triple the price to avoid GMOs in their kitchens. Even television’s Dr. Oz came out on his show in support of the nutritional equality of GMO foods, saying that organic food was “undemocratic”.
The reality: A shocking report released on the blog Moms Across America last March revealed that the nutritional differences in GMO vs non-GMO corn were astounding. The report was from the non-GMO corn company De Dell, in Canada. Not only are the nutritional values different, but the levels of poison in the corn are toxic:
GMO Corn has 14 ppm of Calcium and NON GMO corn has 6130 ppm. 437 X more.
GMO corn has 2 ppm of Magnesium and NON GMO corn has 113ppm. 56 X more.
GMO corn has 2 ppm of Manganese and NON GMO corn has 14ppm. 7X more.
Look at the levels of Formaldehyde and Glyphosate IN the corn! The EPA standards for Glyphosate in water in America is .7ppm. European Tests showed organ damage to animals at .1ppb (.0001ppm) of Glyphosate in water. Our water levels allow glyphosate 7,000X higher than what has been shown to be toxic in animals. This corn has 13 ppm! 130,000 times higher than what is toxic in water!*
In a study that Dr. Huber reported, on Elizabeth Dougherty’s Talk Radio, .97 ppm of formeldehyde showed to be toxic in ingestion to animals. This corn has 200X that! That is why the animals , given a choice will not eat it at all, they can smell the formeldehyde!
There is more evidence of higher nutrient levels in non-GMO, organic foods:
- A study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry confirmed that tomatoes grown by organically contain more phenolic compounds. (source)
- A German study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry found that organically grown apples had a 15 per cent higher antioxidant capacity than their conventional counterparts. (source)
- A review by the AFSSA (France’s version of the FDA) concluded that “organic plant products contain more dry matter and minerals — such as iron and magnesium — and more antioxidant polyphenols like phenols and salicylic acid.” (source)
Myth #7: GMOs are impossible to avoid.
It’s true that GMOs lurk in over 70% of the processed foods that line the grocery store shelves. Even the mainstream media has reported on the omnipresence of genetically modified ingredients. This makes it very difficult to avoid them. The biotech companies have spent millions and millions of dollars in the fight against GMO labeling in an attempt to convince the public that the grocery costs will go up without their seeds.
The reality: It’s difficult but not impossible! Here are some tips to banish GMOs from your kitchen once and for all:
- Avoid all processed food. Every single bit of it. You don’t know what all of those scientific sounding ingredients are – and many of them are derived from things like GMO corn, soy, and canola.
- Spend one week cooking from scratch to help identify the places that processed foods are sneaking in. Use only single ingredients for one week: flour, rice, oats, organic milk and yogurt, grass-fed meat, organic fruits and vegetables, and basic pantry supplies (yeast, baking soda, etc.).
- Buy organic dry items like wheat, rice, and oats, in bulk.
- Grow your own. No matter where you live, make an effort to grow as much of your own food as possible. Even a salad garden in a sunny windowsill is a start. This is the only way that you can truly know what you are eating.
- Search out sources of real food near you. The next best option to your own garden is making friends with a local farmer at the market (find one HERE) – you can purchase many things in bushels at a much better price than the 1 pint baskets.
- Learn to preserve food. By canning, freezing, dehydrating, and root-cellaring, you can preserve your healthy harvests so that you are not hostage to the grocery stores in the non-growing months.
- Know what ingredients are most likely to be GMO. Over 85% of soy and corn in North America is GMO. That means that if an item is not labeled “organic” and contains one of those ingredients (in its many different disguises) that you are consuming somebody’s science experiment.
Myth #8: Monsanto has our best interests in mind.
All you need to do is read Monsanto’s website and it becomes clear. These people are the benevolent saviors of all mankind and their genetically modified seeds are the vehicle with which all of the world will be fed. Monsanto’s CEO Hugh Grant writes:
The sustainability of agriculture is also central to our three-point vision—produce more, conserve more and improve lives. But it isn’t just a vision. It’s the heart of our business. Whether that is through our work in the field with farmers, or in the communities where we operate around the world, it is core to our global operations and is a priority for how we steward our business every day.
Five years ago, Monsanto laid out an ambitious set of goals in sustainable agriculture focused on these key areas where our business could help to make a positive impact for farmers and broader society. We committed to support agriculture’s ability to produce more on the same footprint of land while conserving other natural resources. At that time, we also committed to help improve lives by supporting new tools and approaches to help lift smallholder farmers out of poverty and improve their overall prosperity. Today, the more than 21,000 men and women of Monsanto around the world continue this important work.
At the risk of your breakfast, click HERE to learn more about Monsanto’s commitment to integrity, dialogue, transparency, sharing, benefits, respect, acting as owners to achieve results, and creating a great place to work.
The reality: A German magazine, Sustainable Pulse, views it a little differently. Last week they came out with an article that outlined the mysterious mishaps that have been befalling activists and researchers across Europe. Here’s a link to the enlightening article (English version). Last month, just days before researchers were to present a damaging study, their computers were attacked by sophisticated hackers. The scheduled press conference had to be cancelled.
However, there are studies which show that the product may damage plants and animals and the latest study shows that many large city inhabitants now have the field poison in their bodies, without knowing it. Exactly what the spray can trigger in an organism is, as with so many things in this field, disputed.
Two days before the study across 18 countries was set to be published, a virus disabled the computer of the main organiser, Adrian Bepp. There was a threat that press conferences in Vienna, Brussels and Berlin would be cancelled. “We panicked”, remembers Heike Moldenhauer from BUND. The environmental activists were under extreme time pressure.
Moldenhauer and her colleagues have widely speculated about the motives and identity of the mysterious attacker. The genetic engineering expert at BUND believes the unknown virus suppliers wanted in particular to “generate confusion”. Nothing is worse for a study than a cancelled press conference: “we did ask ourselves at the time if we were seeing ghosts”, said Moldenhauer.
The article above also speculates that the US government itself is on board with spying on anti-Monsanto activists…it’s a must-read.
There’s more. This do-good company has hired the notorious mercenaries from the former Blackwater to help deal with activists. An article by Jeremy Scahill of the Nation explains that Monsanto has already given them over half a million dollars to help deal with activists:
According to internal Total Intelligence communications, biotech giant Monsanto—the world’s largest supplier of genetically modified seeds—hired the firm in 2008–09. The relationship between the two companies appears to have been solidified in January 2008 when Total Intelligence chair Cofer Black traveled to Zurich to meet with Kevin Wilson, Monsanto’s security manager for global issues.
After the meeting in Zurich, Black sent an e-mail to other Blackwater executives, including to Prince and Prado at their Blackwater e-mail addresses. Black wrote that Wilson “understands that we can span collection from internet, to reach out, to boots on the ground on legit basis protecting the Monsanto [brand] name…. Ahead of the curve info and insight/heads up is what he is looking for.” Black added that Total Intelligence “would develop into acting as intel arm of Monsanto.” Black also noted that Monsanto was concerned about animal rights activists and that they discussed how Blackwater “could have our person(s) actually join [activist] group(s) legally.” Black wrote that initial payments to Total Intelligence would be paid out of Monsanto’s “generous protection budget” but would eventually become a line item in the company’s annual budget. He estimated the potential payments to Total Intelligence at between $100,000 and $500,000. According to documents, Monsanto paid Total Intelligence $127,000 in 2008 and $105,000 in 2009.
Monsanto is taking surreptitious action against the movement, whether on their own or through the use of “contractors”. They have engaged in a social media war against activists. Mysterious things have been occurring on the social networks: posts have disappeared, some posts are hidden from the timelines of readers, and trolls abound on pages like March Against Monsanto and Occupy Monsanto. Readers often have difficulty sharing pertinent anti-GMO articles on social media. The internet war is ON.
Myth #9: GMOs are not harmful to the environment.
Biotech would have you believe that the farming of GMOs is as green an industry as organic farming, bringing prosperity and abundance to all.
The reality: We need look no further than the island of Molokai in Hawaii to see the horrible environmental damage wrought by Monsanto. Air quality and water quality are deadly because of Monsanto’s almost-2000 acre test facility. The story of the island is heartbreaking: people are dying horrible deaths, infertility is rampant, and other farms are being tainted by cross pollination from the frankencorn growing there. Workers wear head to toe protective gear during spraying, including respirators. Nearby residents, however, are not provided with such equipment and have no option but to breathe in the toxic dust that comes from the fields. This is not merely anecdotal to the small island – worldwide, many areas around GMO farms report horrific bloody skin rashes, an uptick in asthma, and toxic pesticides that leach into the groundwater.
Myth #10: Get used to it. GMOs are here to stay.
Biotech wants you to believe that there is no sense in fighting them. They want you to just accept what they have to say and eat their tainted products. They hope that people feel like they are too powerful to fight and like the battle has already been won.
The reality: There is a war against GMOs and we, the resistance, are gaining ground. By sharing information like this and informing the public of the poisons that are being grown in our own back yard, we can fight back against biotech. By using the power of social media, by organizing and demonstrating like millions of people did during the March Against Monsanto, we can say no.
By refusing to purchase any products that contain GMOs , by refusing to consume GMOs at restaraunts, and by spreading the word about the dangers, we can make a difference. By educating the public and letting them know that we have been deceived by the biotech industry, by Big Agri, and by Big Food, and that we have been betrayed by the elected officials and the agencies of our own government, we can stand united against these monolithic companies. We can remind them that the only way they will stay in business is if we, the consumers, purchase their products, and that we, the consumers, will not allow them to poison our families and our environment anymore.
Become a grocery store revolutionary.
This is war. If something could mean the difference between life and death for your children, between health and disease, between fertility or barrenness, wouldn’t you do anything to keep them safe? That’s why we can’t just sit there and watch this go on from the sidelines, shaking our heads.
It really is as simple as just saying no to GMOs but we all have to do it. We have to refuse to eat these so-called foods and we have to let people know why. We have to publicly expose these myths for the fiction that they are. We have to use social media, talk to our friends, demonstrate, write letters to the editor…we have to shine the light on the lies. Education and information are the weapons for this fight.
Make no mistake – the encroaching takeover of our food supply is an extinction level event. Will you just watch it happen?
Credit: Thank you to the wonderful social media community that generously contributed to this article! Your activism makes the fight possible!
Excellent resource: Earth Open Source offers a deeply scientific analysis in their own report, GMO MYTHS AND TRUTHS REPORT