Moral Low Ground


WIKILEAKS RELEASE: U.S. Planned Retaliation Against France Over Ban on Dangerous Monsanto Corn

(Flickr Creative Commons)

(Flickr Creative Commons)

Craig Stapleton, the Bush-era US ambassador to France, wanted to retaliate against France and the European Union for banning dangerous genetically modified (GM) corn.

“Country team Paris recommends that we calibrate a target retaliation list that causes some pain across the EU since this is a collective responsibility, but that also focuses in part on the worst culprits,” Stapleton advised in a US government document released by the whistleblower website Wikileaks.

Initially approved by the European Union, the corn in question, Monsanto’s MON-810, was banned in France and other EU countries following research and real-world events that demonstrated the genetically modified seeds were harmful to humans and the environment.

Most GM seeds are engineered to be disease and pest resistant. They sometimes even produce their own pesticides. These are then consumed by the people that eat the crops. Toxins produced by GM crops also harm other organisms in the food chain, upsetting delicate ecosystems. They also tend to be monocultural, which further threatens biodiversity and raises the specter of spectacular crop failures that could result in starvation.

A study by the International Journal of Biological Sciences determined that Monsanto’s GM corn causes organ damage. Kidneys and livers, the two major diet detoxification organs, were most affected, but heart, adrenal, spleen and blood cells were also damaged.

Genetically modified crops may be linked to autoimmune diseases, infertility, gastrointestinal problems and other chronic diseases as well. The American Academy of Environmental Medicine advises people to avoid all GM foods whenever possible. The Academy has also called for a moratorium on GM seeds and the labeling of all foods containing genetically modified components. The United States does not currently require such labeling.

There is also an insidious corporatist element to genetically modified foods. The Monsanto corporation controls about 90% of the GMO seed market. But they are not happy with just 90%. Monsanto bullies farmers who don’t use their seeds until they can no longer refuse to buy the company’s products. They allow farmers to plant, save, multiply and sell seeds before turning on them and threatening to sue them for patent infringement.

In 1980 the US Supreme Court handed down a landmark ruling that said life could be patented. Monsanto has taken full advantage of this ominous ruling. Farmers are forced to buy Monsanto GM seeds and sign agreements promising that they won’t save seeds or sell them to other farmers. That way, they have to purchase new seeds every year. And they must purchase them from Monsanto. Any farmer that chooses not to use Monsanto seeds is in for one hell of an ordeal– even if one Monsanto seed blows onto his field and takes root, he is in violation of patent laws and the company will sue. It is much easier for him to simply buy seeds from Monsanto.

Just like the military-industrial complex, Monsanto has bolstered its agenda by installing former corporate chiefs in state and federal government. Michael Taylor, a former Monsanto VP, now holds a prominent position in the US Food and Drug Administration. And President Obama’s choice for Secretary of Agriculture, Tom Vilsack, has a sickening record of supporting dangerous genetically modified foods and is widely known as a shill for agribusiness giants like Monsanto.

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