The Coastal Post - August 1999

Monsanto's Terminator Technology Could Lead To World Famine

By Carol Sterritt

For many of us, this has been the best of times; it has been the worst of times.

Environmentalists the world over have been rejoicing that entire governments are backing away from companies like US-based Monsanto. Recently, Monsanto has been "offering" the world genetically-altered foods, and new varieties of seeds that are considered to be terminator seeds. The genetic alteration of basic foodstuffs includes impregnating the genetic code of specific plants with bt (bacillius thuringiensis). The pollen of corn that has thus been modified has been shown to kill off feeding Monarch butterflies, even those eating other crops at a distance from the altered ones.

And in the new "terminator seed" diorama, traditional food crop seeds will become sterile if certain chemical products are not applied. A farmer who heavily plants Monsanto soybeans will find that the seed from this crop will not regenerate, for example, following a season in which no Round Up (a Monsanto post-emergent herbicide) has been applied to the crops.

In Europe, and other countries, this is a "hot" news item. Discussions of the many profound and historical implications of new food and seed policies are discussed daily in the media. While America's collective unconscious was stuffing itself on Monica and Bill forced-feedings, and following those, the "strike" against Yugoslavia-people the world over have been carefully considering what the future may hold once genetically altered foods enter the mainstream of their croplands.

A slang word created to describe the brave new world of genetically- alterated seeds and crops is the term, "Franken-food." One noted implication is that the newly burgeoning "organic" farming approach will quickly, within a single decade, be exterminated by "Franken-food" technologies.

For instance, a farmer choosing Monsanto's methods cannot control the pollen from his crops. Thus any neighboring farms may well have their non-Monsanto seed source genetically altered, via pollen-transmission of the "Franken" crop's DNA-coding.

In the United States, EPA approval of the new food methods was nearly instantaneous. As those of us researching the EPA's industry-shilling policies understand all too well, the EPA examined these new farm methods only from the stand point of whether they would indeed produce viable crops. Larger implications were to be examined by a special agricultural committee of the Agriculture Department. This committee, as we cynics suspected it might, quickly decided that there was no need to actually supervise proposals coming from "respected" industries.

In other lands, the approval for Monsanto was not easily forth-coming. The European Union (EU) passed legislation prohibiting the importation of such foodstuffs. Norway, Cote d'Ivorie, and most importantly, India, prepared lengthy summations that were presented to the scientific body of the United Nation's Bio-diversity Convention (SBSSTA). But their careful demands for consideration of ethical and political realities could not sway a body of international political power already sold out to the Powerbrokers.

Rather, the SBSTTA scoffed at an approach requiring caution in terms of embracing these new technologies. Instead, the go ahead was given for complete commercialization, if not outright monopolization, of the world's seed bank. This UN decision goes even further. It allows trade sanctions to be imposed upon those national governments who ban the terminator seed.

In related developments in Great Britain, consumers there are regaining control over their food market. Five years ago, the Monsanto-manufactured hormone, bovine somatotropin (BST), a substance injected into dairy cows to increase milk production (by 10 to 15%) had been banned by the European Union. The United States, on Monsanto's behalf, demanded that the World Trade Organization force punitive sanctions against the European Union if the ban was not removed by December, 1999. Accepted European science found carefully documented links between consuming BST-altered milk and breast and prostrate cancers. American governmental "science" rejected such "concerns".

According to London's "The Guardian Weekly", "it has been revealed that when the US Food and Drug Administration discovered that Monsanto's own tests were grossly inadequate, it established a new safety category, approving BST as a "manageable risk." Last year, the FDA admitted that it had allowed the sale of the hormone without having seen any safety data. It had relied instead on a summary provided by Monsanto."

The Guardian goes on to say, "Exposure of this kind of collusion has seldom prevented the United States from forcibly exporting its revolting habits. The World Trade Organization has to decide whether a country or a group of countries is excluding a product for genuine health and safety reasons, or doing so merely in order to protect its own manufacturers."

The pattern emerging is that of the United States, through powerfully controlling most international organizations, using force, on behalf of Monsanto, to inflict brand new behaviors upon entire sets of nations. These mandated behaviors involve a people's most intimate activities, i.e. controlling their farming and market consumption habits. Few things are as intimate as what you put in your mouth each meal.

The World Trade Organization relies on the UN's food standard agency, Codex. Codex is top-heavy with US-aligned advisors, "scientists", and other "experts" recruited from America's big agri-business to determine whether a product is safe or not. Its history is saturated with its rubber-stamping approval for most US-derived technologies.

But recently, as the Guardian points out, Codex has taken a small independent first step away from being America's hostage. Using safety concerns rather than political ones, it announced that scientific data was too overwhelming in proving that the bovine hormone was not safe, and therefore, not consumer-ready. Therefore, the US was unexpectedly asked to drop its lawsuit against the European Union.

However, the bovine hormone will continue to be part of our own food regimen. Perhaps that is fitting and perfectly poetically just. Here in the home of the non-brave, and the land of the corporate-controlled, we do well to ingest those things we eagerly attempt to forcibly export. America, eat your Round Up-ready soy beans and drink your BST milk. The genetic nightmare America has created is as close as your children's lunch boxes. Don't forget to lick your plate. The specter of a Monsanto-created, world-wide famine lurks in the not-to-distant future, just one more bridge to the twenty-first century.

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