Friday, May 24, 2013

Everyone's horrified by Monsanto

From the Heartland, Margot McMillen writes: Warren Porter of the U of Wisconsin, a zoologist, was on Farm and Fiddle, my radio program on KOPN 89.5 fm Wednesday night talking about how poisons are delivered to plants and animals. It turns out that the inert ingredients in common poisons, like Monsanto’s Roundup, are not inert. In fact, some of them are designed particularly to deliver the poisons into the cells. They are like soaps that break down oils to break down cell barriers. These ingredients are dangerous because they help the poisons kill. Warren’s research has looked into ramifications of all these ingredients in the environment. Because after they kill, they go into the water and air. So we drink, breathe, eat them. There’s an epidemic of sterility going on—low sperm counts and hermaphrodite aberrations in reptiles and insects. Some boy children in areas of Mexico where our vegetables are raised have developed breasts that can function to make milk and girl children losing the cells they’ll need to make milk for their future babies. I asked Warren if we could stop using all the poisons tomorrow, how long would it take to get rid of the effects? He said 100 years, if it was possible at all. After talking to him, Hannah was nearly in tears. Dan looked like he had been slammed with a two by four. As for me, I tried to reassure them that, as responsible, sustainable-minded farmers, we’re trying to do all we can to change the trend and I apologized for being part of my generation, the ones who have created all the excess. It would be great to be in denial about the effects Dr. Porter was talking about. Then you could just go to Wal-Mart, buy crappy lettuce and fried chicken and pretend like you were providing a good meal for your family. With the March Against Monsanto coming tomorrow, I’ve been really surprised by the hatred against that company. All it takes is a casual mention, and people just open up with really revealing comments. One friend told me to keep her in the loop. Her son works for Monsanto and she tries to tell him, for example, that his employer is the number one reason for suicides among farmers in India, and he acts like that doesn’t matter. It makes her so ashamed. Other people, more political ones, are angry about the derailment of democracy—the money Monsanto spends on lobbying. Some of my university friends are mad that Monsanto money skews the research that comes out of the university. It seems like everyone has a different reason to be disgusted with this company. I wonder if the disgust has gotten to the stockholders and buyers of Monsanto products. I know that some farmers say they can’t find seeds without the GMO genes in them. One of my young friends, a chemist, thinks she might want to work for Monsanto some day and change things “from the inside.” Well, that’s a great idea but with so much money at stake, nearly impossible.

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