19 Tortoises Explaining Monsanto’s Unpopularity

Tortoises calmly telling you about the world’s most controversial agricultural giant.

1. “Monsanto is the world’s largest agricultural seed and pesticide seller. Forty percent of U.S. crops contain its modified genes, as well as 80% of corn and 95% of soy.”

2. “In June, three Monsanto scientists won the World Food Prize for designing high-yield crops fitted for harsh climates and resource-poor farms.”

3. “But in May, protestors in 436 cities worldwide marched against Monsanto. Why do so many of your Facebook friends hate Monsanto?”

4. “Monsanto was a chemical giant before it entered agriculture. It produced Agent Orange for the U.S. military during the Vietnam War, which continues to cause birth defects to this day.”

5. “In 1984, Monsanto paid 45% of a $180 million settlement to U.S. veterans harmfully exposed to Agent Orange, but in 2004, Monsanto’s spokeswoman denied that Agent Orange had long-term health effects.”

6. “It also made PCB, a now-banned chemical coolant. The Washington Post found internal memos from 1969 showing that Monsanto knew PCB was harmful, but saw ‘little object’ in desposing of it safely in the Hudson River and Anniston, Ala.”

7. “‘We can’t afford to lose one dollar of business,’ an internal memo said. Residents of the PCB-contaminated town of Anniston, Ala. (which is mostly poor and black) now report double the rate of diabetes.”

(Also, sorry, I am actually a sea turtle.)

8. “The Department of Justice ended a two-year antitrust investigation against Monsanto last Thanksgiving without releasing its findings, some say under murky circumstances.”

9. “Now Monsanto sells $1 billion worth of Roundup herbicide every three months. Roundup kills all plant life except their own engineered crops. Some Department of Agriculture scientists say it permanently damages our best farm soils.”

10. “A recent study links Roundup with cancer, diabetes, gastrointestinal disorder, and infertility, though the inventor of Roundup won a 1990 Perkins Medal for its environmental friendliness.”

11. “Canadian humor website The Lapine ran a satirical article claiming the company’s genetically modified cucumbers caused Bald Crotch Syndrome, which is untrue. Still, so few people trust Mansanto that many believed it.”

12. “Australia’s Institute of Health and Environmental Research found that pigs fed with genetically modified corn and soy were 2.6 times more likely to develop severe stomach inflammation.”

13. “Six French science academies (as well as Cambridge University researchers) criticized the methodology of a famous 2012 study linking GM corn with cancer in rats.”

14. “U.S. taxpayer dollars help Monsanto sell GM seeds abroad. Monsanto requires farmers to sign contracts promising to buy new seed from them every year, instead of planting leftover seeds as farmers traditionally do.”

15. “Monsanto has sued more than 150 farmers for intellectual property infringement and not paying them royalties.”

Most famously, Percy Schmeiser was sued by Monsanto for the Roundup-resistant canola found growing on his farm. Schmeiser says the canola seeds were blown by wind onto his farm and grew there by accident.

Vanity Fair has another great article on Monsanto’s private investigators threaten small farms in places like Missouri.

16. “They also spent $8.1 million lobbying against Proposition 37 in California, which would’ve required all genetically modified food to be labeled.”

Whether or not you believe in GM food’s health safety, Prop 37 only asked them to be honestly labeled.

17. “Experts disagree on whether failures in Monsanto’s insect-resistant Bt Cotton crops caused a rash of farmer suicides in India.”

Some argue that Monsanto’s steep royalties, frequent crop failures, and pest-prone monocultures drove many Indian farmers into debt and suicide. Others say that soaring costs of living and lost of subsidies are to blame, and activists overattribute Monsanto in a social epidemic.

18. “Activists say too many former Monsanto employees now hold jobs in the Food and Drug Administration, as well as other policy-influencing government positions.”

19. “This March, President Barack Obama signed a bill protecting genetically modified crops from liability over health risks. It also bars federal court from stopping the sales of GM seeds. This helped spark many of the May protests.”

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