Monsanto Wins  Nobel Prize of agriculture

In an obscene development, a Monsanto executive is winning this year’s “Nobel Prize of agriculture” – the prestigious World Food Prize – for creating GMOs. Receiving it legitimizes the sort of rampant genetic modification Monsanto pioneered, and helps validate a ruthless business model that impoverishes farmers and monopolizes our food. [1]

If that wasn’t baffling enough, the founder of Syngenta, the same biotech giant joining Bayer in suing Europe to keep selling bee-killing pesticides, will also win the prize, and with it, a share of the $250,000 prize money. This prize legitimizes their frankenfoods and bee killers.

Winning this prize will encourage the wider use of genetically engineered crops and be a huge obstacle to those fighting to investigate the long-term effects of its frankenseeds, which is exactly what Monsanto wants. In 2008, Monsanto made a $5 million pledge to the World Food Prize Foundation, part of its plan to buy the credibility it can’t legitimately earn. By handing its benefactor this award, the Foundation risks undermining the credibility of the most respected prize in agriculture.

Monsanto has been by far the most prominent and controversial corporation promoting the introduction of biotechnology in agriculture. The company has a long and messy history of manufacturing hazardous chemicals. Their products have included chemical warfare agents (Agent Orange), industrial materials (PCBs), food additives (NutraSweet), agrochemicals and pharmaceuticals.

The Crimes of Monsanto
As the market leaders in GM crops it is Monsanto who have been largely responsible for contaminating the global food chain with GM crops. The long term health effects of eating GM crops are as yet unknown. [2]

BST,  marketed by Monsanto as Posilac, is a genetically engineered hormone designed to make cows produce more milk. Studies have shown that BST has serious implications for the health and welfare of dairy cattle and may cause breast cancer, colon cancer and prostate cancer in humans. It is banned in Europe but Monsanto is trying to overturn the ban in the courts.

One of the most worrying and pernicious of Monsanto’s crimes has been to obtain patents for ‘terminator’ technology. Terminator technology involves the genetically engineering of plants to produce sterile seeds, thus forcing farmers to buy new seed every year, rather than saving their own seed from year to year. Monsanto has said it will not use this technology, but still holds the patents and may use it in future. [3]

Several scientific studies have suggested that the Bt technology used by Monsanto in their insect resistant crops may kill ‘non-pest’ insects such as the Monarch butterfly, yet Monsanto attempted to rush their Bt insect resistant cotton through the Indian government’s regulatory process anyway. The dicission on allowing commercial growing of Bt cotton has been postponed in the face of massive opposition from Indian farmers and NGOs all over the world.

Monsanto have also been behind a long list of litigations against activists, designed to intimidate anyone who may question Monsanto’s story. In 1997 two TV journalists Steve Wilson and Jane Akre, who were making a documentary on the dangers of  Monsanto’s BST were fired by their employers Fox, when they refused to change the content of the documentary. In 1998 Monsanto took out a wide ranging SLAPP (Stategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation) against activists from Genetix Snowball who were campaigning agains Monsanto’s GM food trials in the UK.

Protest
In protest, 81 Councilors of the World Future Council have penned a statement blasting the World Food Prize Foundation for betraying its purpose. In the words of the esteemed authors: “GMO seeds reinforce a model of farming that undermines the sustainability of cash-poor farmers, who make up most of the world’s hungry. The most dramatic impact of such dependency is in India, where 270,000 farmers, many trapped in debt for buying seeds and chemicals, committed suicide between 1995 and 2012.” Despite the criticism, Monsanto and Syngenta executives are set to receive their prize on World Food Day, October 16, a slap in the face to everyone harmed by their products. [4]

[1] http://action.sumofus.org/a/world-food-prize-monsanto-syngenta/5/4/?akid=2390.1701622.QwfZ4y&rd=1&sub=fwd&t=3

[2] http://www.corporatewatch.org.uk/?lid=210

[3] ibid

[4] ibid

For further reading: Focus On GMOs – WANTED: Monsanto for crimes against the planet

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