Friday, March 26, 2010

A novel idea

Here is a novel idea for all foodies out there. There is veganism, vegetarianism, fruiterianism, low carb, paleo, Atkins, Ornish, South Beach, Zone,  LEARN, Mediterranean and God knows what. Despite having different ideas on what to eat and how to eat it, we all have one thing in common:

We all care about what we put in our body.

We all want to eat fresh, natural, high quality food.

When a nation is attacked by a common foe, the people of that nation join ranks to survive. Survival of the whole becomes more important than the individual beliefs.

Food lovers, also known as humans, are under attack. You might not know it, but we are. The common foe is Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO).

The effects of GMO are devastating.

  1. Brazil are deforesting Earth's lungs; the rain forest, to plant GMO soy.
  2. Monsanto, the worlds biggest biotech company, owns around 90% of all the soybean seeds in the USA, their goal being monopoly. All of that seed is Roundup resistant, a toxic pesticide, which kills everything living when applied. Roundup is a Monsanto product.
  3. They also own the larger part of the US corn production.
  4. In India Monsanto's products and business methods have led to thousands of Indian farmers committing suicide.
  5. There are studies showing kidney and liver failure in rat populations fed Monsanto's GMO corn. In experiments animals are fed large quantities of the corn. So the effects are visible much faster than among humans. Does the Monsanto corn have the same effect on humans? We don't know. Yet the same governments put in office by the people, approve these products for human consumption. Despite not knowing the effects.
  6. Monsanto has offices in the following countries: Argentina, Australia, Austria, Bangladesh, Belgium, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, China, Colombia, Croatia, Czech , Denmark, Ecuador, France, Germany, Greece, Guatemala, Honduras, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Jordan, Kenya, Korea, Malawi, Malaysia, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand,, Pakistan, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russian Federation, Singapore, Slovakia, South , Spain, Sri Lanka, Switzerland, Taiwan, Thailand, Turkey, Uganda, Ukraine, United , United , Venezuela, Vietnam and Zimbabwe. So far...
  7. BASF is the European equivalent of Monsanto. The recently had their GMO potato Amflora approved for production in the EC. The potato is not to be used for food production nor fodder, but it is a starting point for giants like Monsanto and BASF to gain acceptance for their products.
  8. BASF writes the following on their website: "Seed treatment is a business area with growth potential: Genetically modified crops are playing an increasingly important role worldwide."
  9. When a company like BASF or Monsanto develop a GMO they patent the product. If i.e. a Monsanto soybean spreads, intentionally or unintentionally, to a neighboring farmer, Monsanto can sue the farmer for patent infringement.
  10. Farmers buying Monsanto product are not allowed to save seed for next years production. They have to buy new seed. If they save seed they can be sued for breach of contract. In effect the farmers are made dependent on Monsanto's product.
  11. Monsanto's latest venture is to patent pigs.
  12. Their agenda? Control food, control everything.

Is this a common enemy, food lovers can join ranks against? You tell me.


  1. Not quite. You should read Tomorrow's Table by Pamela Ronald for a different perspective. We can unite against Monsanto for sure, but GMO's as a whole? Nah.

  2. Do you mind sharing a summary of the main thesis of the book?

  3. 1. GM soy isn't the problem, the expansion of agriculture per se is. Monsanto are actually partnered with others in Brazil specifically to reduce deforestation and to promote conservation.

    2. No, they own the trait, which they license to other companies. Roundup is off patent and can be produced by anyone (hence Monsanto losing a tonne of profitability in 2009 due to low priced competitors glyphosate based herbicide) - I note you also fail to mention that using Glyphosate as opposed to other herbicides has a reduced environmental impact.

    3. Same deal, traits, not seeds per se, I believe their market share in seeds is ~30% in the case of corn and soy.

    4. No, they haven't. GM traits in India have led, on average, to increases in cotton yield and profitability in the region of 30-100%, concurrently reducing the use of insecticidal sprays.

    5. No, there aren't. There are some poorly designed and discredited studies (or reinterpretations of data) which suggest a marginal change in a few parameters which is miles away from kidney or liver failure.

    6. So they employ a lot of people? Evil I tell you.

    7. GM acceptance already has a foothold in the EU, both in terms of imports and in terms of growing GM. BASF are also way more diversified than Monsanto in terms of products they bring to market - the comparison is a rather weak one what with BASF being a chemical company first and beign in GM a way distant second.

    8. True statement.

    9. Not so much, Monsanto sue over patent infringement only when presence of the trait in the field is above levels that can be explained by accidental exposure - there has to be some level of intent.

    10. Not so much, at the end of the year you can..... buy seed from somewhere else, also the practice of preventing seed saving is at least as old as the practice of utilizing commercial hybrids - both from a legal stance and from one of utility (offspring of hybrid plants will not be as good in terms of yield, or whatever other traits the hybrid was initially purchased for)

    11. Only if by latest venture you mean scientific advance that was made years ago and subsequently sold to a completely different company and after which many other ventures have been made (latest ventures would include but not be limited to smartstax corn, vistive gold soybeans etc etc) Also the patent was not "on pigs" which is a pretty ignorant statement, it was on specific use of a genetic market in pigs for breeding "higher yielding" pigs.

    10. Conspiracy theory much? At worst you can accuse Monsanto of being profit driven (and still remain truthful) Their agenda really - produce more, with less (and be the ones selling the traits that do this) - the parentheses are my own addition that you're not likely to see in any PR release.

  4. 9. What exactly is the definition of "some level of intent?"

    What is your opinion of Food Inc and King Corn?

    And do keep a civil tone.

    (I'll get to the rest later. Bit late over here.)

  5. 7.

  6. Ewan, it seems you have knowledge about the biotech industry most of us don´t. How come?

    1. Source?
    2. Semantics.
    3. Same thing
    4. I have read that article as well. The majority of reports confirm what I wrote.
    5. You are right on this one. I should have written "could be linked". Same as scientist for the "other" side.
    6. You may try and ridicule my standpoint. Let´s keep this up and go to pure ad hominem arguments.
    7. 300.000+ Europeans disagree.
    10. While saving seed is a practice as old as agriculture.
    11. Semantics yet again.
    12. Those are the words of a former Monsanto employee, not mine.

    Now, Ewan. Once again, keep a civil tone or your next comment is going in the trash. This is not Biofortified.

  7. 1. Why would GM soy be the problem and not the fact that soy itself is a commodity product? Source for Monsanto partnering in Brazil to reduce deforestation and promote conservation in ag - I'll get back on the name of this once I find it, at home rather than work now so don't have the link handy.

    2. Not semantics, there is a huge difference between owning the seed and owning the trait. Monsanto clearly have trait dominance because they own patents on most of the main traits used in agriculture today. If they had wanted to monopolize the seed industry they quite easily could have by not licensing the trait to their major competitors and to small seed dealers. This isn't the route they took - which was a total gamechanging approach to business as traits etc are concerned.

    3. Same thing

    4. The majority of sources may well say that, but the peer reviewed science, and the numbers, say no. If you'd like some linkage again it's at work, but I can return and post - there's a post on it over at the monsanto blogs (its old, and closed sadly, but there was a long winded debate over the whole thing) If GM was driving people to suicide and breaking them then it becomes somewhat hard to explain a couple of things. First, the suicide rate amongst Indian farmers (while horribly high) did not change appreciably following the release of GM crops in India, second the adoption of the technology is practically ubiquitous amongst Indian cotton farmers - which seems unlikely for a trait so expensive and unreliable as to drive a plague os suicides, finally it is hard to reconcile the massive increases seen in Indian cotton production since the release of GM cotton with failure.

    5. Although the articles on the other side are well designed and show no biologically signficant differences (at least those used by international regulatory bodies)

    6. I simply didn't understand why a list of locations of Monsanto offices had anything to do with the arguement. Surely it's fair to poke fun a little, we don't have to be completely miserable just because we don't neccesarily agree...

  8. 7. While a lot of Europeans may disagree the fact remains that a number of GM products are allowed to be imported into the EU, and 1 other (at least... I forget what the recent bout of reg approvals allowed, I think it was growth of the potato and import of 3 other GM varieites?) is allowed to be grown, although is generally only grown in Spain if I recall - there's a growing impetus particularly in the UK to move towards GM tech - the most awesome thing about the luddite nature of Europe in regards to GM, particularly in the 90's, is that without it I'd probably not have persued a career in genetics and wound up working for Monsanto, so it's not all bad!

    10. Nobody is prevented from saving seed if that is what they want to do. They just need to select varieties it is legal to save. If agriculture worked now as it did even 60 years ago we'd be in so much trouble in terms of production that it wouldn't be funny. Hybrids can't be saved (legally, or from a pure utility stance) and are arguably the major advance in modern agriculture, accounting for the massive yield increases since the 50's - the fact is that most farmers who'd be using traited seeds aren't saving seed anymore, they're using hybrids - it's a non-issue in my mind, and nothing is stopping farmers from not using seeds they can save - farmers make the choice because the benefits outweigh the costs.

    11. It's not really semantic to say that scientific work done years ago and sold isn't the latest thing Monsanto has done, neither is it semantic to point out that the patent isn't on a pig, but on a method for pig breeding using a particular genetic marker - it's a very important distinction which grounds the debate in reality rather than in hyberbolae - this whole thing might get more air recently what with the recent overturning of the BRCA1/2 patent as my thinking is that a lot of genetic markers will fall under the same ruling what with being unmodified genetic sequences, although that's somewhat tangential to the discussion at hand.

    12 (or 10 as I apparently wanted to call it...) which former employee? (this current one says that's not the deal)

  9. I thought I'd responded to your other comment, dunno if I had a posting fail or if it ended up in moderation or something... as I had attempted to say in that post, this is an issue I'm passionate about, which combined with my general ability to sound like an arrogant ass isn't always the best at leaving me sounding civil, particularly in text where the nuances of a dry sense of humor often get lost - I'd ask that you be a little thick skinned and deal with the meat of my arguements rather than any percieved incivility, as I believe these are important topics to discuss to further people's understanding of what goes on and to explore the issues more.

    I'd also suggest that you not give up on biofortified as fast as you appear to have - Anastasia and Karl particularly are a really good, less biased source than I, on a lot of the facts on GMOs - I'd also strongly suggest looking up Pam Ronald's blog 'tomorrow's table' (she of the book quoted above - which is another I haven't gotten around to yet) for a fresh look at GM tech etc (she advocates a system whereby GM and organic can be used together to reduce inputs etc even further while maintaining yields - in general she isn't overly enthused by traits like RR I believe - being more interested in academic research approaching the problems rather than big industry - she's also generally a ton more civil than I, although you're likely to encounter my responses in her blog also...)

  10. Ah, I see, you ARE an employee of Monsanto. Great!
    Discussing with the source is of course much easier than with someone who has second hand knowledge.

    I just got home, am moving as we speak, so I will take a closer look at your posts later.

    And thank you for keeping a civil tone, it makes for a better conversation.

  11. Much of my knowledge is still relatively second hand - I'm low level research rather than high level executive... anything I say is completely my own opinion on the subject and not official Monsanto (this disclaimer brought to you by my desire to keep my job!)

  12. Lol, I am sure Monsanto appreciates what you are doing here, so I wouldn´t be too worried. ;)