The Monsanto Monster Monopoly

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If you believe you are what you eat, then it pays to know what exactly you’re eating.

Last week we told you about Monsanto, the multinational agricultural biotechnology corporation that is the undisputed world champ of genetically-engineered seeds and herbicides. Millions of people hit the streets towards the end of May as part of the March Against Monsanto, believing that the corporation has been deceptive and manipulative in what exactly we’re becoming by eating their products.

Monsanto remains in the news now, this time after an unapproved type of wheat that was genetically engineered by the company was found growing in Oregon. The discovery has caused Japan to block wheat imports from America as the investigation continues.

So why should you care? College students across the country are concerned for their health, saying that Monsanto’s products are everything from market manipulative to straight up cancerous.

Jennifer Tucker, a senior advertising major from Marshall University, attended one of the over 400 March Against Monsanto demonstrations across the globe. Tucker gathered with others in Charleston, W.Va., marching from the Kanawha River to the State Capitol building downtown.

“You want to show your representatives that you care about the issue,” Tucker said. “Along the way, we wanted onlookers to wonder about what GMO’s are and to look it up. Doing that means next time the March might be twice the size.”

Monsanto has come into criticism mostly due to its “monopoly” on food grown industrially in the United States, manufacturing everything from herbicides to animals hormones to genes themselves. The genetically-modified organism (GMO) is the company’s calling card and was officially created to help farmers produce more food with less. Monsanto’s alleged lack of transparency in what exactly GMOs do to the unmodified bodies eating them has been called into question, and protesters were out to demand information.

“In some cases, animal DNA, bacteria, or even human DNA is put into the gene of the food,” Tucker said. “We don’t know the side effects of this. It’s blamed for food allergies, obesity, and cancer.”

Monsanto has most recently caused an uproar not simply from what they’re serving America for dinner, but by how Congress is accused of serving to the powerful corporation. On March 23, President Obama signed the Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act, which included the Farmer Assurance Provision. While proposed as legislation targeting lawsuits against agricultural companies in cases that would cause “significant delays in approval of new, innovative products,” public oversight groups claim this just makes Monsanto impervious to court rulings against them.

“It gives Monsanto immunity if anything happens as a result of their GMOs,” Tucker said.

Tucker referred to the section disparagingly as the “Monsanto Protection Act”, claiming that the “Farmers Assurance Act” sounds good to the average farmer when in reality giants like Monsanto devour grassroots agriculture. “Monsanto owns well over the majority of the world’s crops. They have virtually unlimited money and a complete monopoly,” Tucker said. “Employees have been in the FDA and USDA for 30 years.”

“This amount of power would be scary for anything, let alone for the ones who control our food,” Tucker added. “Now that they’re protected, they can do what they want.”

Despite appearing like Goliath to the opposition, Monsanto seems to be taking no chances. In addition to receiving relative court immunity, the company has also apparently hired the infamous mercenaries formerly known as Blackwater Worldwide to collect detailed information on protest groups and the opposition.

For individuals like Tucker, Goliaths like Monsanto need to be brought down to Earth.

“If we keep informing people to care and buy organic, things will change,” Tucker said. “I’ve never met someone who learns about GMOs and thinks it’s okay.”

Photos from vanityfair.com and rt.com

Senior > Print Journalism > Marshall University

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