The Latest Monsanto Muck
Superweeds on the March
According to scientists at the University of Georgia and North Carolina State, the “superweed” Palmer pigweed is spreading at an alarming rate throughout the southeast U.S. It is resistant to Monsanto’s Roundup, which is used extensively on genetically engineered Roundup Ready cotton and soybeans.
A Monsanto spokesman said the superweeds were manageable. Their solution? Use additional, different herbicides, such as 2,4-D, which was a component of Agent Orange in Vietnam and has been banned in Sweden, Denmark and Norway because of its links to cancer, mental impairment and reproductive harm. In other words, the system that was supposed to reduce pesticide use has ended up increasing it.
University President Reaps Big Harvest – Of Money
It’s no secret that Monsanto has injected a pro-genetic engineering agenda into most land grant colleges by paying big bucks for research on GE crops. Now they’ve taken this to a new level: David Chicoine, the president of South Dakota State University, has just been named as one of eleven members of Monsanto’s board of directors.
For this part-time gig, Chicoine will receive nearly $400,000 per year. This is even more than the $300,000 he’s paid as president of the university. In the past year and a half, Monsanto has donated over $360,000 to SDSU and been paid an estimated $216,000 by SDSU for licenses, services and goods.
Chicoine doesn’t see any conflict of interest between his board job and the intertwined relationship between Monsanto and SDSU. I wonder how many of you would agree.
NPR Your Independent Media? Think Again
I’ve always put PBS and NPR a cut above standard commercial broadcasting, believing they were less biased toward major corporations. Now I’m getting worried about them too.
Meredith Niles posted an entry on Grist magazine that she heard a commercial for Monsanto on Marketplace, a business program aired by NPR, touting how its genetically modified seeds are going to prevent environmental catastrophe and alleviate human hunger. Monsanto is also sponsoring NPR in at least the Washington, D.C. and Portland, OR markets and maybe other cities too.
Saving us from environmental catastrophe? It’s been well-documented that pesticide use has increased in the U.S. since the introduction of genetically engineered (GE) seeds (see above). Solving world hunger? In 2008, the International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Science and Technology for Development (IAASTD), a blue ribbon worldwide group of about 400 experts, came out with their report “Agriculture at a Crossroads” that addressed problems and solutions of world hunger. They concluded that there was no conclusive evidence that GM crops could address world hunger and that there were risks, hardly a ringing endorsement. Monsanto was part of this group – until it became clear that after reviewing the science and the evidence, GE was coming up short. Not getting the statements it wanted, Monsanto quit the group. So much for world hunger.
NPR – Part 2
Last month, the Union of Concerned Scientists released a report entitled “Failure to Yield: Evaluating the Performance of Genetically Engineered Crops” authored by Doug Gurian-Sherman, PhD. It clarified that not one single crop has yet been genetically engineered to produce biologically higher (intrinsic) yields. When environmental factors under field conditions are considered (operational yield), the most that can be said is that Bt corn appears to have increased yield about 3.3% since 1996, when it was introduced. In the same period, corn yield overall increased 28%, indicating that non-GE factors were responsible for nearly all of the increased yield. GE soybeans fared even worse, with yields LOWER THAN conventional.
But did this report get an article in any of the biggest newspapers? No, and NPR specifically turned it down. Remember the response of the media the next time you hear that GE crops “increase yields.” So much for getting the facts straight.
Rick North, Project Director – Campaign For Safe Food
Oregon Physicians for Social Responsibility