Each day, I hear more disturbing news about Monsanto, the maker of Round-Up and the agricultural company that has been polluting the world with various poisons for decades with products such as Agent Orange and industrial coolants known as PCB’s. Monsano’s advertising campaigns have convinced many people that Round-Up is safe, but the facts just don’t support this. The Women’s Cancer Resource Center (WCRC) and CHOSE (Coalition for a Healthy Oakland School Environment), showed that chemicals such as Round-Up (glyphosate) can result in reproductive damage as well as damage to the kidney and liver, and some studies show a link between the chemical and cancer. (Chemical Injury Network, June 2001) According to the National Audubon Society, of the roughly 672 million birds exposed to chemicals such as Round-Up in the United States each year, 10 percent – or 67 million – are killed. While much of the controversy over Monsanto has centered on its products and technology, there have also always been concerns about the company’s high level connections to the United States Government due to Monsanto’s monetary contributions to important officials and the fact that for decades there has been a revolving door filled with people who worked within the USDA and the FDA, as well as for Monsanto. For example, Don Rumsfeld, our previous Secretary of Defense, was president of Searle Pharmaceuticals, later owned by Monsanto.
William Ruckelshaus, a former chief administrator of the United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) spent over 12 years as a member of the board of directors of Monsanto Corporation. He served under Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, and George W. Bush. And the list goes on and on and includes Supreme Court Judge Clarence Thomas who was a Monsanto lawyer. President Obama announced on March 14th the creation of a White House Food Safety Working Group to improve and coordinate the governments approach to the nationwide food safety crisis. Unfortunately, included in President Obama’s short-list of working group members is Michael Taylor, a former Monsanto executive who has a long history of lobbying for Monsanto and fast tracking Monsanto’s controversial rBGH while at the Food and Drug Administration. And, Tom Vilsack is our new Secretary of Agriculture. Vilsack was named the Biotech “Governor of the Year” and enjoyed numerous rides on Monsanto’s corporate jet during his time in office and he became a schill for agribusiness biotech giants like Monsanto. Currently, Monsanto is behind a Federal Government bill to stop all organic farming. Introduced by Rosa DeLauro, HR 875 is ultimately about one thing: defining ONLY Monsanto’s GMO (Genetically Modified Organisms) products as “safe.” The chairman of the committee that is hearing HR875 is Rep. Henry Waxman from California. He was one of several who allegedly accepted money from Searle to keep aspartame on the market. Searle later sold the patents and manufacturing rights for aspartame, the dangerous artificial sweetener, to Monsanto. Monsanto’s political power is obvious. In 1999, some of the nation’s most prominent antitrust lawyers filed a class-action lawsuit against the Monsanto Company, accusing it of rushing genetically engineered seeds to the marketplace without properly testing them for safety and of forming an international cartel that conspired to control the world’s market in corn and soybean seeds. Ten years later, I just read that South African farmers suffered millions of dollars in lost income when 82,000 hectares of Monsanto’s genetically-manipulated corn (maize) failed to produce hardly any kernels. The plants look lush and healthy from the outside, but there are no kernels on the cob. And, I also just read that Monsanto is now suing the German Government to force them to grow Monsanto’s GM corn. My own family was nearly devastated due to Monsanto’s ability and determination to manipulate the United States Government. Luckily, I realized what Monsanto was doing to us with their artificial sweetener, aspartame marketed under names such as NutraSweet, Equal, Equal Measure, Spoonful, Naturataste, Canderal, Benevia, E951, Nutrataste, Joe Sweet, Indulge, Hermesetas Gold (both ace-k and aspartame), Sanecta, and Tri-Sweet. (Crystal-Lite is a beverage mix that contains aspartame.) About Barbara Metzler