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Monsanto Company ©
06-29-2010, 09:08 PM,
#16
RE: Monsanto Company ©
Monsanto, Big Brother of the New World Agricultural Order: An Interview With Marie-Monique Robin

Sunday 27 June 2010

by: Mickey Z., t r u t h o u t | Interview

photo
Journalist and filmmaker Marie-Monique Robin. (Photo: Razak / Ségolène Royal)

Award-winning French journalist and filmmaker Marie-Monique Robin is the author of "The World According to Monsanto: Pollution, Corruption and the Control of Our Food Supply" (The New Press) and the creator of the film by the same name.

In a review of these two projects, Leslie Thatcher writes: "What Marie-Monique Robin most effectively documents are the perverse effects - the moral, social, technological, economic and market failures - of Western society's economic organization, most specifically with respect to science and the products of science and, ultimately, with respect to the preservation of the public commons and human life on the planet."

My conversation with Marie-Monique Robin follows:

Mickey Z.: Was there an initial spark that led you to this project that took three years and investigations on four continents to complete?

Marie-Monique Robin: My "story" with Monsanto began in 2003, when I made three documentaries for the Franco-German channel ARTE (to which I pay a tribute for the quality of its programs) about the reduction of biodiversity.

MZ: Please take us through those documentaries and their connection to Monsanto.

MMR: The first, "Biopirates," told how corporations like Monsanto were holding abusive patents on living organisms which are contributing to a new drastic reduction of biodiversity. At that I time, I heard about a company called Monsanto which already held more than 600 patents on living organisms. The second documentary, called "Wheat: Chronicle of a Death Foretold," told the story of cultivation of that golden cereal, from the very beginning 10,000 years ago until today and explained how the practices of industrial agriculture that brought the "green revolution," made thousands of local landraces and varieties disappear, a dramatic evolution which will be accelerated by GMOs [genetically modified organisms]. At the same time the so-called green revolution provoked a huge contamination of the environment through the massive use of chemical pesticides, "biocides," which "entered into living organisms, passing one to another in a chain of poisoning and death," as Rachel Carson wrote in "Silent Spring." Finally, I made a documentary, called "Argentina: The Soybeans of Hunger," about the cultivation of Roundup Ready soybeans in Argentina, where I depicted the environmental, social and health disasters which the introduction of Monsanto's GMOs represent. Today, they cover 60% of the area under cultivation in the country.

MZ: What was the process like, creating these three films?

MMR: I traveled around the world for a year: Europe, the United States, Canada, Mexico, Argentina, Brazil, Israel and India. The ghost of Monsanto lurked everywhere, almost like the Big Brother of the new world agricultural order - the source of much anxiety. Therefore, I proposed a new investigation to ARTE about this powerful multinational, created in 1901 in St. Louis, Missouri, the world leader of GM foods (90% of genetically modified crops) which presents itself on its website home page as "an agricultural company" the purpose of which is to "help the world's farmers to produce healthier food ... while reducing the impact of agriculture on the environment." But what it doesn't say is that, before getting involved in agriculture, it was first of the largest chemical companies of the twentieth century and one of the biggest polluters in industrial history. My book, "The World According to Monsanto," tells how the firm became one of the major industrial empires on the planet and one of the most controversial companies in the industrial history.

MZ: With so much background and research, how did you ever reach the conclusion that you had gathered enough material to write this important book?

MMR: Once more, I traveled a lot - to the US, Canada, Mexico, Paraguay, India, Vietnam, Europe - and met a lot of scientists, experts, whistleblowers (from the FDA, EPA, Berkeley University), lawyers, farmers and Monsanto victims. I consulted thousands of declassified documents from the EPA (on dioxin), FDA (GMOs), judiciary affairs (PCBs), scientific studies, reports from independent organizations and then decided it was enough!

MZ: Monsanto has given the planet "gifts" like Agent Orange and Roundup Ready crops, PCBs and GMOs, yet, for most humans, it has pretty much flown under the radar. To what would you attribute the fact that the vast majority of us rail mostly at governments, instead of the far more dangerous and powerful multinational corporations?

MMR: The problem is that the corporations act behind the scene, manipulating information, studies, press and the experts of the regulatory agencies. To speak quite frankly, I had never imagined before that a company could resort to such procedures, to sell its harmful products, in complete impunity, during decades: concealing scientific data, lying, manipulating regulations, corruption, pressuring scientists and journalists, threats. The problem is also that governments do not take any legal action against companies which are repeatedly affecting the environment and the health of consumers. If Monsanto were a private person, it would be convicted as a great criminal, but current law protects the criminal companies, which are never held accountable for the damage they cause.

MZ: What role does Monsanto play in the all-important areas of food safety and food supply?

MMR: Nowadays Monsanto is the world leader in biotechnology and the first seed company. Ninety percent of the GMOs grown in the world belong to it. During the last decade, the firm bought dozens of seed companies all over the world, pushing its transgenic seeds, which are patented. A patented seed means that the farmers who grow it may not keep a part of their crops to re-sow it the next year, as farmers used to do everywhere in the world. In the US and Canada, farmers who grow transgenic crops must sign a "technology agreement" - the no-sowing requirement is clearly expressed. If they don't respect the agreement and violate the patent, they are harassed by the "gene police" and sued by Monsanto. Clearly, transgenic crops are just a tool to control the seed supply, which is the first link in the food chain, by forcing farmers to buy seeds each year.

MZ: How influential is Monsanto in the decision-making process at the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and other so-called protection agencies?

MMR: It was quite amazing to discover how Monsanto is using the "revolving door," in order to control the decisions and policies that affect its products. Just one example: To avoid tests on GMOs to assess their possible harm on the consumer health and on the environment, the FDA invented the concept of "substantial equivalence," which was based on no scientific data, as James Maryanski, the former chief of the Biotechnology Department, recognized in front of my camera. And who wrote the FDA's May 1992 policy? A former Monsanto attorney named Michael Taylor, who was hired by the FDA as deputy commissioner for policy, and then became Monsanto vice president! Interesting enough, Michael Taylor went back to the FDA under the Obama administration.

MZ: What does it say about industrial civilization that Monsanto has become so rich and powerful by creating and selling what you call "some of the most dangerous products of modern times"?

MMR: Consumers and citizens played a role in this dramatic story. We all use the hazardous products, which characterize "modern life." And the price we are paying is very high. In my next documentary and book, "Toxic Lies," I explain how the chemical industry is "poisoning our plate." I investigated the link between chemical exposure (pesticides, food additives, plastics, etc.) and the epidemics of cancer, neurodegenerative diseases, obesity, reproductive disorders and diabetes, which can be observed in the so-called "developed countries," and especially in the US. And if you investigate how all the chemicals are assessed and regulated, you finally understand that consumers are not protected at all against these dangerous hazards.

MZ: What can be done? What can readers take away from this interview and your book that will inspire immediate direct action? What steps would you recommend being taken to challenge not only Monsanto. but also an industrial culture seemingly hell bent on wiping out life on earth?

MMR: The key is held by consumers and farmers. That means that all of us should promote organic farming by buying organic food, which is the best way to protect our health and environment. That will be the end of Monsanto and similar companies for sure. Another suggestion: order "The World According to Monsanto: Pollution, Corruption and the Control of Our Food Supply."

Marie Monique-Robin received the 1995 Albert-Londres Prize, awarded to investigative journalists in France, and is the director and producer of over 30 documentaries and investigative reports filmed in Latin America, Africa, Europe and Asia.
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07-28-2010, 03:04 PM,
#17
RE: Monsanto Company ©
Haitian Peasants March against Monsanto Company for Food and Seed Sovereignty

Full article;

LINKAGE

Quote:By La Via Campesina

Source: Americas ProgramMonday, July 26, 2010
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On June 4th about ten thousand Haitian peasants marched to protest U.S.-based Monsanto Company’s ‘deadly gift’ of seed to the government of Haiti. The seven-kilometer march from Papaye to Hinche—in a rural area on the central plateau—was organized by several Haitian farmers’ organizations that are proposing a development model based on food and seed sovereignty instead of industrial agriculture. Slogans for the march included “long live native maize seed” and “Monsanto’s GMO & hybrid seed violates peasant agriculture.”



The poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, Haiti shares the Caribbean island of Hispaniola with the Dominican Republic. About 65 percent of Haiti’s population lives in rural areas as subsistence farmers. On January 12 2010, a devastating earthquake leveled Haiti’s capital city Port au Prince, and 800,000 urban refugees migrated to rural areas. According to Chavannes Jean-Baptiste, coordinator of the Papaye Peasant Movement (MPP) and a member of La Via Campesina’s international coordinating committee, “there is presently a shortage of seed in Haiti because many rural families used their maize seed to feed refugees.”



With sales of $11.7 billion in 2009, U.S.-based transnational corporation Monsanto Company is the world’s largest seed company, controlling one-fifth of the global proprietary seed market and 90 percent of seed patents from agricultural biotechnology. In May Monsanto announced that it had delivered 60 tons of hybrid seed maize and vegetables to Haiti, and over 400 tons of its seed (worth $4 million) will be delivered during 2010 to 10,000 farmers. The United Parcel Service is providing transport logistics, while Winner—a $127 million project funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and focused on ‘’agricultural intensification’—is distributing the seed.[i] Monsanto stated that it made the decision to donate seed to Haiti at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland: “CEO Hugh Grant and Executive Vice President Jerry Steiner attended the event and had conversations with attendees about what could be done to help Haiti.”[ii] It is unclear whether any Haitians were included in the conversations in Davos.



Some have charged that the Monsanto representative in Haiti is Jean-Robert Estimé, who served as foreign minister during the brutal 29-year Duvalier family dictatorship.[iii] While Monsanto vehemently denies this claim[iv], Estimé is included in an email exchange about the donation between Elizabeth Vancil, Director of Global Development Partnerships at Monsanto and Emmanuel Prophete, a Haitian agronomist working for the Minister of Agriculture.[v] The domain for Estimé’s email address is Winner (http://www.winner.ht), which implies he works for the U.S. government.



The Haitian rural organizations consider Monsanto’s seed donation part of a broader strategy of U.S. economic and political imperialism. “The Haitian government is using the earthquake to sell the country to the multinationals,” stated Jean-Baptiste. Vancil stated that opening up Haitian markets to Monsanto’s products “would be good.”[vi]



Monsanto emphasizes that its donated seed is hybrid and not genetically-modified (GM).[vii] However, reliance on hybrid seed will erode Haitian farmers’ food sovereignty and self-reliance; Monsanto acknowledges that they will be unable to save seed to plant in the future[viii], and must pay annually for the seed. Even the donated seed must be purchased—Monsanto donated the seed to the Haitian government, which is charging farmers for the seed. “Providing an outright donation of seed would undercut one of the basic pieces of Haiti’s agricultural and economic infrastructure,” says Monsanto.[ix] USAID’s Winner program is distributing the seed through farmer association stores, which will use the revenue to reinvest in other inputs, and help “farmers decide whether to use additional inputs (including fertilizer and herbicides) and…how to handle next year’s planting season.” [x] This implies that the farmer associations will use the proceeds from the seed sales to purchase Monsanto seed and inputs in future seasons.
If Thine I that I spy with my own little I Doeth Offend thee ; Pluck It out.

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07-28-2010, 06:02 PM,
#18
RE: Monsanto Company ©
Smoking gun?

Quote:Some have charged that the Monsanto representative in Haiti is Jean-Robert Estimé, who served as foreign minister during the brutal 29-year Duvalier family dictatorship.[iii] While Monsanto vehemently denies this claim[iv], Estimé is included in an email exchange about the donation between Elizabeth Vancil, Director of Global Development Partnerships at Monsanto and Emmanuel Prophete, a Haitian agronomist working for the Minister of Agriculture.[v] The domain for Estimé’s email address is Winner (http://www.winner.ht), which implies he works for the U.S. government.

Agricultural imperialism via life patents. Who would have envisioned this, not even Orwell or Huxley, I imagine or maybe they just left that part out.
There are no others, there is only us.
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12-29-2010, 01:46 AM,
#19
RE: Monsanto Company ©
Originally published December 28 2010
Monsanto to fight potential lawsuit by organic farmer whose land ruined by GMOs
by Ethan A. Huff, staff writer

(NaturalNews) Australian organic farmer Steve Marsh recently had his organic certification status pulled by the National Association for Sustainable Agriculture, Australia (NASAA) because his organic wheat field was contaminated by a nearby genetically-modified (GM) canola field. And after Marsh threatened to sue the GM farmer for the incident -- which has cost Marsh his entire business, by the way -- Monsanto, the owner of the GM canola, came out and said it would legally back the GM farmer "in any way [it] could."

A previous NaturalNews report on the issue explains that GM canola materials blew from a nearby GM field about a mile away and contaminated over 540 acres of Marsh's organic wheat fields (http://www.naturalnews.com/030686_G...). As a result, Marsh's fields can no longer be considered organic due to very high standards in the Australian organic industry that hold a "zero tolerance" policy concerning contamination with foreign genetic material.

But rather than work towards prosecuting both the GM farmer and Monsanto for the environmental damage they caused, West Australia Minister for Agriculture and Food, Terry Redman, is instead going after the organic industry, urging it to modify its contamination standards to accommodate Monsanto. Redman has declared that perfect purity is "unrealistic" and that a maximum contamination threshold needs to be established for GM contamination of organics.

But neither Marsh nor the organic industry is taking the toxic bait. Despite efforts by Redman to persuade Marsh to influence the NASAA to compromise its high standards, Marsh has indicated that he plans to sue the farmer for ruining his business, following the release a pending government investigation of the matter. And Monsanto, of course, has promised to help defend the GM farmer in the event of a lawsuit.

Sources for this story include:

http://www.theaustralian.com.au/bus...



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06-06-2012, 12:50 AM,
#20
RE: Monsanto Company ©
Seeds of doubt: Brazilian farmers sue Monsanto

Five million Brazilian farmers are locked in a lawsuit with US-based biotech giant Monsanto, suing for as much as 6.2 billion euros. They say that the genetic-engineering company has been collecting royalties on crops it unfairly claims as its own.

The farmers claim that Monsanto unfairly collects exorbitant profits every year worldwide on royalties from “renewal” seed harvests. “Renewal” crops are those that have been planted using seed from the previous year’s harvest. While the practice of renewal farming is an ancient one, Monsanto disagrees, demanding royalties from any crop generation produced from its genetically-engineered seed. Because the engineered seed is patented, Monsanto not only charges an initial royalty on the sale of the crop produced, but a continuing 2 per cent royalty on every subsequent crop, even if the farmer is using a later generation of seed.

"Monsanto gets paid when it sell the seeds. The law gives producers the right to multiply the seeds they buy and nowhere in the world is there a requirement to pay (again). Producers are in effect paying a private tax on production," Jane Berwanger, lawyer for the farmers told the Associated Press reports.

In the latest installment of the legal battle erupting in South America, the Brazilian court has ruled in favor of the Brazilian farmers, saying Monsanto owes them at least US$2 billion paid since 2004. Monsanto, however, has appealed the decision and the case is ongoing.

In essence, Monsanto argues that once a farmer buys their seed, they have to pay the global bio-tech giant a yearly fee in perpetuity – with no way out.

At stake is Brazil’s highly profitable and ever growing soybean production. Last year, Brazil was the world's second producer and exporter of soybean behind the United States, according to the AFP report. The crops can be used for anything from animal feed to bio fuel, and worldwide demand is growing.

Genetically engineered soy first appeared illegally in Brazil in the 1990’s, smuggled in from neighboring Argentina. The Brazilian farmers found the seed attractive despite the ban in place from the Brazilian authorities because Monsanto had specifically designed the seed to be resistant to its own immensely powerful and popular herbicide Roundup.

When used in tandem, the strong herbicide will kill the weeds while allowing the soy crops to grow unimpeded. After the ban was lifted, genetically modified seed flooded the Brazilian market, and now 85 per cent of the Brazilian soy crop is genetically-engineered. Soy has been extremely successful in Brazil, currently making up 26 per cent of the country’s farm exports last year and netting Brazil a total of $24.1 billion, according to AP. However, Brazil’s farmers were apparently unaware there would be a heavy price to pay.

To make a deal with Monsanto is to make a deal with a company that is one the most powerful and pervasive food giants in the world. It is the world’s number one seed developer, and its patented genes have been inserted into 95 per cent of all American soy, and 80 per cent of all American corn crops. Monsanto has repeatedly levied large damage suits against independent farmers that have unknowingly or unwittingly used their seed.

And Monsanto’s reach goes far beyond agriculture.

Monsanto is also the world’s largest manufacturer of synthetic bovine growth hormone, injected into cows in order to stimulate greater milk production. The widespread pressure by the company to use the chemical and the subsequent measures taken by Monsanto to suppress information regarding the potential health risks sparked uproar among American farmers.

When dairy producers that did not use Monsanto’s products began labeling their products as “Hormone Free” or “Organic”, Monsanto slapped them with a lawsuit as recently as 2008, claiming the labels amounted to negative advertising against hormone-produced milk.

Director of corporate communications for Monsanto, Phil Angell, summed up Monsanto’s take on the issue in a report by food author Michael Pollan for New York Times Magazine in 1998: "Monsanto should not have to vouch for the safety of biotech food. Our interest is in selling as much of it as possible. Assuring its safety is FDA's job."
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