More on Monsanto documentary - tonight! (11/3/2008)

1.New movie damns Monsanto's deadly sins

2.Monsanto's seven deadly sins

NOTE: BROADCAST - Don't forget the new must-see Monsanto documentary goes out TONIGHT (March 11) on the Franco-German TV channel Arte at 9.00 p.m. (2100 hrs) CET - Central European Time.

WEBSITE - The accompanying website for French speakers (initiated by a French network of jurists) seems to have been moved for technical reasons from world-of-monsanto.org to http://www.combat-monsanto.org

DVD: You can order a DVD of the movie (in English, French and Spanish) here

This page contains the following statement:


An easy way to order from this webstore for english speaking customers, will be on line the 18th of March.

Available in English Audio Version

BOOK: for French speakers

ARTE WEBSITE: http://www.arte.tv/monsanto (French)

(German) http://www.arte.tv/de/wissen-entdeckung/Monsanto-mitGiftundGenen/1912794.htm


1.New movie damns Monsanto's deadly sins
Greenpeace, 7 March 2008 [page includes a video clip]

International A new movie has dealt yet another severe blow to the credibility of US based Monsanto, one of the biggest chemical companies in the world and the provider of the seed technology for 90 percent of the world’s genetically engineered (GE) crops.

The French documentary, called 'The world according to Monsanto' and directed by independent filmmaker Marie-Monique Robin, paints a grim picture of a company with a long track record of environmental crimes and health scandals.

The story starts in the White House, where Monsanto often got its way by exerting disproportionate influence over policymakers via the 'revolving door'. One example is Michael Taylor, who worked for Monsanto as an attorney before being appointed as deputy commissioner of the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 1991. While at the FDA, the authority that deals with all US food approvals, Taylor made crucial decisions that led to the approval of GE foods and crops. Then he returned to Monsanto, becoming the company’s vice president for public policy.

Thanks to these intimate links between Monsanto and government agencies, the US adopted GE foods and crops without proper testing, without consumer labeling and in spite of serious questions hanging over their safety. Not coincidentally, Monsanto supplies 90 percent of the GE seeds used by the US market.

Monsanto’s long arm stretched so far that, in the early nineties, the US Food and Drugs Agency even ignored warnings of their own scientists, who were cautioning that GE crops could cause negative health effects. Other tactics the company uses to stifle concerns about their products include misleading advertising, bribery and concealing scientific evidence.

Monsanto's background

Monsanto was founded in 1901 as a chemical company. Its history is intimately linked to the production and promotion of highly toxic chemicals such as Agent Orange (used as a chemical weapon in the Vietnam war) and PCBs (widespread toxic pollutants). Robin’s movie reveals that Monsanto already knew about the 'systematic toxic effects' of PCBs for decades, but instructed its salespeople to stay silent because, 'we can't afford to lose one dollar.'

More recently Monsanto received a bad reputation for the promotion of growth hormones from GE organisms known as rBGH, which the company sells in the US under the brand name Posilac. Monsanto claims that Posilac holds, 'benefits to consumers'. The reality is that, rBGH growth hormones were banned in Europe and Canada after the authorities found out about the health risks resulting from drinking milk from cows treated with rBGH hormones. Monsanto's way of 'addressing' this problem was to sue the Oakhurst dairy company in the state of Maine (US) - attempting to force them, and other dairies, to stop labelling diary products 'rBGH-free' and 'rBST-free'.

Global reach, control

Over the last decade, Monsanto aggressively bought up over 50 seed companies around the globe. Seeds are the source of all food. Whoever owns the seeds, owns the food. The process of genetic engineering allows companies, such as Monsanto, to claim patent rights over seeds. Ninety percent of all GE seeds planted in the world are patented by Monsanto and hence controlled by them.

Patents on seeds give companies like Monsanto unprecedented power. Monsanto prohibits farmers saving patented GE seeds from one crop to replant the next season, an age-old practice. To ensure that farmers do not reuse seeds, Monsanto created its own 'gene police', and encourages farmers to turn in their neighbors.

Even farmers that do not use GE seeds are not safe. According to an investigative report by the Centre for Food Safety (CFS) farmers have even been sued for patent infringement after their field was contaminated by pollen or seed from someone else’s GE crop.

But Monsanto's influence doesn't stop at the US border. 'The world according to Monsanto', documents the devastating impact of Monsanto's malpractices around the world. Among others, it includes the real-life stories of cotton farmers in India that ended up in hopeless debts after using Monsanto genetically engineered (so called Bt) cotton, and of a family in Paraguay, South America whose dreams have turned to nightmares after their farm became surrounded by fields planted with Monsanto's GE soya.

A much needed expose

Monsanto wouldn't address these issues on camera for Robin, instead referring to the 'Monsanto Pledge' posted on their website (which we debunk [below]).

After seeing 'The world according to Monsanto', Greenpeace International campaigner Geert Ritsema said:

'Mrs. Robin should be congratulated for revealing the sinister practices of the world’s leading producer of genetically engineered seeds. Her film is alarming and should be a call to action for everybody who cares about the quality of our food and a healthy future for our planet.'

The movie will be shown for the first time on ARTE TV (in German and French) on Tuesday 11 March at 21.00. You can order a DVD of it (in English, French and Spanish) here.


2.Monsanto's seven deadly sins

Agro-chemical companies like Monsanto systematically conceal the truth about how much is understood about the risks and benefits of genetic engineering to farmers and consumers. Bellow we deconstruct Monsanto's 'pledge' to the world (copied from their website), and expose the reality.


Dialogue: We will listen carefully to diverse points of view and engage in thoughtful dialogue to broaden our understanding of issues in order to better address the needs and concerns of society and each other.


Monsanto balks at UN-led study because it doesn't produce favourable outcomes

In January 2008 Monsanto - together with two other GE companies - resigned from the International Assessment of Agricultural Science and Technology for Development (IAASTD), a UN led global multistakeholder initiative engaging over 4000 experts over three years. The IAASTD intends to map how science, technology and accumulated good-farming practice can be used to reduce hunger and improve quality of life for rural people in developing countries. But when Monsanto found out that the draft report did not uncritically promote GE crops, it decided to pull out. Apparently the company is not interested in sound science when it doesn't fit their business plans.


INDONESIA: Monsanto bribery ends in court

January 2005 Monsanto, the US agro-chemical company, had to pay 1.5 million US dollars in penalties to the US government over a bribe paid in Indonesia in a bid to bypass controls on the screening of new genetically engineered cotton crops.


Transparency: We will ensure that information is available, accessible and understandable.


US: Monsanto campaigns to undermine consumer's right to know

In the US, several large dairy producers and food companies have been getting rid of Monsanto's recombinant bovine growth hormone, also known as rBGH or rBST, from their milk supply. This is great news for consumers, since this growth hormone produced from GE bacteria is known to cause harm to cows and may pose health risks to humans. However, in an attack on consumers' right to know, Monsanto has sued the Oakhurst dairy company in the state of Maine (US) and tried to force them, and other dairies, to stop the use of labels identifying 'rBGH-free' or 'rBST-free' dairy products.


Germany: Court hearing only way to get Monsanto information

In June 2005, a German law court ordered Monsanto to disclose a suppressed report on rat feeding trials related to the company's genetically engineered maize MON863. The decision follows a request by Greenpeace to gain access to the document under European Union law. Monsanto has consistently tried to prevent the publication of the 1000 page document. After the documents were finally accessible for everybody, it soon became clear why Monsanto had tried to suppress the results. Independent scientists who studied the Monsanto feeding trials came to the conclusion that the rats that had been fed GE maize MON863 showed 'signs of toxicity' in kidney and liver.



Deserting the hungry? Nature editorial 451: 223-224, 17 January 2008.

Financial Times. Jonathan Birchall. 6 January 2005 Dohoo, I.. Leslie, K., Descôteaux, L. Shewfelt, W. 2003. A meta-analysis review of the effects of recombinant bovine somatotropin 1 and 2. Canadian Journal of Veterinary Research 67: 241-251 and 252-264 see: http://www.gene.ch/genet/2003/Jul/msg00073.html


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