“Monsanto is not alone in the research and development of crops designed to ward off destructive pests and disease, to require reduced pesticide applications, and to increase nutrition and yield in areas with traditionally poor showing for both.

Some of these pioneering life science research centers are for-profit firms. Some are government agencies. Others are academic institutions also working to find new ways to bolster the world’s food supply and alleviate hunger. In one form or another, these agriculture research operations are found in nations around the world: in China, Japan, Kenya, South Africa, Brazil, India, Australia, France, Switzerland, Germany, the U.S., etc. Burdensome local biases against intellectual freedom so necessary for science to thrive cause many of these firms to operate out of research centers located in the United States. One key component common to each grouping of scientists is how to achieve their goals without contributing more deleterious stress on the environment.

Regardless of the number of firms in the biotech field and despite the promise and products of this research, the harshest criticism, not praise, is reserved for Monsanto. …

Arguably, to characterize Monsanto’s century plus of labor as completely chivalrous, saintly and beyond reproach is to present only the “glass half full” portrait of the company and the chemical industry in general. The history of the field and firm is hardly free from legitimate environmental concerns. The most egregious include a horrific legacy of indifference in waste disposal. Admittedly most of the offensive practices by Monsanto and others took place during an era, before the birth of environmentalism in the 1970s, when newspaper empires embodied in the great dailies such as The New York Times and The Washington Post, when Members of Congress, the nations cities, factories and everyone else flushed raw sewage and piped every type of industrial and human waste into our waterways, forests, oceans and wild lands. It was an accepted practice with no evil to the earth intended. That’s just what everyone did without regard to the immediate or long-term consequences.”

The above text is from The International Foundation for the Conservation of Natural Resources website with the article at

This is Part 2 of ‘GM Food Crops’. Part 1 was posted on 8th June.

9 Responses to Monsanto

  1. Graham Finlayson June 13, 2005 at 8:05 pm #

    My God, I can’t believe that article was written on a website with the words ‘Conservation of Natural Resources’ in the heading. Jennifer, to say that we need another environmental organisation here to push for truth, and then you present the most biased, propagandist load of lies (I’m not politically correct) that I have ever read. Yes they did introduce DDT,Agent Orange and PCB’s, which was somehow made to sound heroic, with disasterous consequences for millions of people. And then as now they defended themselves to the ninth degree. All in the name of profits. Why if their research and technology is so fantastic have they not been able to “ever” eradicate a pest. Because just like the ‘pharmaceutical industry’ my friend, the money is to be made in fighting the war and not in ‘winning’ it.
    To make huge claims as to the acreage sown to GM belies the fact that most who are growing it have been backed into a corner by a very powerful organisation. And of course there are a lot of others that have ‘bought the bullshit’ and think nothing of the long term damage and only of their short term economic gain, of which they may think they have no control.
    To say there has not been a single health problem since 1996 is an extraordinary claim for a company that deals in lethal toxins. Would that have more to do with the fact that they will not admit any liabilitiy until defeated in court, and/or their astounding lack of responsibility for any future problems with GM. It is this power to control everyone from the farmer to the public to governments, all in the name of economic growth that scares me. Too much focus on the percieved benefits of an approach that is simply a quick fix to a much deeper problem for society and our environment. I’ve not heard any claims for the growth capacity of GM food crops to be exponential, as is the global population so how can we rely solely on that theory. Especially if the soil killing, chemical saturated GM crops become the only way.
    Although Monsanto would have us believe that Roundup is better for us then beer or coffee, the truth is that it is not, and in fact has been found to contaminate waterways in Europe while the company claims that soil bacteria will break it down. Another study has shown that it also has been linked to increases in ‘blight’ as two of the fungii seem to like it!!.
    To say they have been persecuted by the environmental lobby groups when they are really “half saintly” would make me laugh if it wasn’t so serious. If only we could.
    Our future depends on the ability of scientists to study and understand our eco systems from the ground up. To actually delve into the complexity of the microbiological activity that is the real basis for life. Treating the individual problems as they arise, usually with a harmful chemical ‘solution’, will continue to eat into our already depleted reserves of natural capital.
    I am just a conservative sheep ‘cocky’ from out west, but I would run off with a lefty, ratbag group such as Greenpeace or WWF before giving an inch to the likes of Monsanto.

  2. Jennifer June 13, 2005 at 8:56 pm #

    The truth is perhaps most easily found when there is opportunity for honest debate and discussion. ARe you saying Monsanto is so evil, that agricultural chemicals including DDT are so evil … there can be no discussion?

  3. Louis Hissink June 13, 2005 at 10:16 pm #

    Since when have Monsanto produced anything which a sheep herder would be concerned with? I thought sheep herders herded sheep, not corn or wheat or cotton or whatever.

  4. kartiya June 13, 2005 at 10:44 pm #

    hello jennifer , apart from the toxic air and chemicals that people around agricultural have to breathe in and drink through their tank water on a regular basis now , the thought that the crew next door are about to possibly grow “Roundup ready” crops for the next 10 years is enough to crank up up a fair bit of “chemical resistance” from a lot of thinking Australians .
    my spray contractor mate is now moving to give up growing crops because he has already managed to manufacture weeds with a high degree of chemical resistance on his own property .
    spray drift on unsuspecting neighbours is obscene – all agricultural sprays should have a strong and persistant odour marker to alert people to their presence . would Monsanto include one , i don’t think so .
    the poor health and shorter lifespan of farmers and agricultural workers is a testament to their unhealthy environment .

  5. Graham Finlayson June 14, 2005 at 9:21 am #

    Louis, That is a codescending comment regular readers of this blog have come to expect from you. My concern is not so much for my small part of the world, as I can make the decisions necessary to influence my own environment to an extent. A mere ‘sheep herder’ I may be, but not far upstream on our river system is a massive cotton conglomeration that has had a huge impact on the livelyhood of every ‘cocky’ downstream.
    This is obviously a concern, but my main worry is reserved for my daughters future in a world where monetary profit takes precedent over the vastly more important issue of our ecology.
    I apologise Jennifer for seeming to want to stifle debate. That was not my intent at all. I agree there needs to be honest debate and I would welcome that. My frustration is that the more I look for the truth, the more stories are uncovered about the suppression of facts relating to evidence by these large companies of ‘mistakes’and falsified reports. You would have to be naive to believe that with so much power over governments this doesn’t happen.
    Genetics may and probably will have a fantastic benefit for us all into the future.The focus just neeeds to be taken off the need for a quick fix solution,and made to address the way in which ‘decisions made’ impact on us all.

    Wish I could go and ‘herd m’sheep….bloody rain!

  6. Jennifer June 14, 2005 at 9:26 am #

    Glad to know it is raining!

  7. Louis Hissink June 15, 2005 at 12:25 am #


    I take your comments seriously.

    You state that your property is downstream of a large cotton growing operation, and that operation is affecting the viability of your farming operation.


    It’s called life and you and I need to adapt.

    Only the living have the means to adapt – the dead can’t.

    No point flogging a dead horse

  8. kartiya June 16, 2005 at 12:01 am #

    louis , we have forestry groups demanding social impact studies for new national parks … why should’t there be the same for the likes of graham and the many others downstream detrimentally affected by these huge developements ??
    apart from their large and selfish water use ,the problem is the chemical pollution in runoff water these poisoned properties produce that our sheep and cattle have to drink and our native fish have to try to breed and survive in . would you happily drink the water in the darling ? or perhaps you may be like the national party polly ,that said he’d drink 245T .Is he still around ?

  9. Graham Finlayson June 16, 2005 at 12:07 am #

    I agree Louis, and have set my place up so that I do not have to rely on water from QLD. My place does not get inundated to any great extent except for a big flood. And I’ll still get it then, although I don’t think there has been one since ’83!.
    I am however worried about the water quality and the fact that plenty of my friends and neighbours are affected worse than us. Some that are further upstream have lost up to half their carrying capacity without any hint of compensation. Pretty tough. Especially when irrigators squeal like stuck pigs when threatened with any reduction in allocation. My reason for commenting on this blog though, is my concern for the bigger picture issues, and to read of others opinions. It keeps my everyday problems in perspective.

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