Monsanto’s Responsibility to Humanity: Does it Exist

Monsanto and Bayer just announced an enormous merger which Monsanto rejected because the offer being  ‘too low’, on Tuesday. If the Monsanto-Bayer deal does happen, it would create one of the world’s largest agrochemical businesses. 

“Bayer AG’s bid to acquire Monsanto Co. would bring the German pharmaceutical maker deep into the lucrative but socially controversial business of genetically modified crops while paring the share of health care in its business…” says JACOB BUNGE and CHRISTOPHER ALESSI of The Wall Street Journal. 

Why the hell does a pharmaceutical company want to takeover a company that, essentially, is making everyone and everything sick?! When common sense kicks in, it tells me that this is purely to profit from the pockets of the people who are sick from farming BT cotton. Even the animals who graze on the crops after it has been cultivated are dying within days. Are there no ethical or moral ramifications for the corporations that destroy the lives of persons committing suicide and their families who are left behind? “Roundup herbicide, which is meant to kill farm weeds, “poses the risk of serious human health hazards including cancer”, says a new study by the Indian Institute of Toxicology Research (IITR)” stated by Gargi Parsai of The Hindu online news paper.

Seeds are the planet’s shared genetic resource that gives us food, security, the clothes we wear etc. The seed saving movement is growing. Communities are banding together to save and share heirloom and open pollination seeds that are in danger of disappearing off the face of the Earth as a result of industrialized agriculture and multinational corporations that control the majority of our seed supply. The documentary “Open Sesame: The Story of Seeds” by M. Sean Kaminsky seeks to inspire people about the importance of seed saving—and its urgency”. (“”Open Sesame” Shows the Importance of Seed Saving.” N.p., n.d. Web. 25 May 2016.) So, if a company like Monsanto is creating seeds that are genetically modified to the degree that they can only be used once, what happens when that ONE seed is lost forever? If there are no other variances because greed has ruled them ‘inefficient’… Will this seed be lost forever to history?  Will cotton become a fable like the dinosaurs that became extinct? Is the human race a metaphorical meteorite heading for disaster and destruction? How the hell do these corporate scum-bags sleep at night? …Lots of money for lots of security guards, I’m guessing.

Monsanto has inserted a toxic gene that has ended the seeds ability to produce fertile offspring: 

Roundup Ready crops are crops genetically modified to be resistant to the herbicide Roundup. Roundup is the brand-name of a herbicide produced by Monsanto. Its active ingredient glyphosate was patented in the 1970’s. Roundup is widely used by both people in their backyards and farmers in their fields. Roundup Ready plants are resistant to Roundup, so farmers that plant these seeds must use Roundup to keep other weeds from growing in their fields. The first Roundup Ready crops were developed in 1996, with the introduction of genetically modified soy beans that are resistant to Roundup. These crops were developed to help farmers control weeds. Because the new crops are resistant to Roundup, the herbicide can be used in the fields to eliminate unwanted foliage. Current Roundup Ready crops include soy, corn, canola, alfalfa, cotton, and sorghum, with wheat under development. Roundup Ready crop seeds have notoriously been referred to as “terminator seeds.” This is because the crops produced from Roundup Ready seeds are sterile. Each year, farmers must purchase the most recent strain of seed from Monsanto. This means that farmers cannot reuse their best seed.” (Roundup Ready Crops.” The Roundup Ready Controversy. N.p., n.d. Web. 25 May 2016.)

Many GMO seeds need the application of toxic herbicides (such as round up) to trigger their growth:

“Monsanto claims to be addressing the needs of the world when it comes to the food supply. However, there is little to no evidence that the use of Roundup Ready crops increases the yield or profit of farmers who use their seeds. A press release from the New Soil Association released in April, 2008 shows that genetically modified crops do not result in higher yields than non-genetically modified crops. Realistically, however, most genetically modified crops (including Roundup Ready) are developed to be pesticide and herbicide resistant, rather than directly increase the yield of a given crop. This makes one question whether it is even important to have herbicide resistant plants at all, or if the focus should shift to provide other advantages that do increase yield. Many argue that because Roundup Ready crops do not increase the yield or profits of farmers, they only serve to benefit Monsanto. There is little to no benefit for the consumer, but high reward for the corporation. Farmers must not only purchase new seeds from Monsanto each year, but also Monsanto’s own herbicide Roundup.”  (Roundup Ready Crops.” The Roundup Ready Controversy. N.p., n.d. Web. 25 May 2016.)

Finance farmers buying their seeds by taking a piece of the harvest – use land as collateral

Keith Kloor of Issues in Science & Technology, asked Anoop Sadanadan, a political economist at Syracuse University, “..if there are sociocultural factors that might also explain why Indian farmers have taken their own lives? “So farmers have a choice,” he responded. “In America, a farmer could just default on a loan and say, ‘come after me.’ But in India, they commit suicide. Why? There has to be something cultural there. Is it shame?” But the proximate cause of many suicides, he reiterated, is the “debt burden” associated with the loan sharks, especially in states where farmer credit is tight.” (“Issues in Science and Technology.” Issues in Science and Technology. N.p., n.d. Web. 25 May 2016.) It seems to me as though the agricultural communities of India are being put through the ringer. Is there anyone out there who is willing to stand up for the ethical treatment of the farmers and labourers? 

When harvest is not as good as described, the farmer ends up permanently in debt to the seed company and loses land in order to pay for this insurmountable debt. This is a viscous circle for these farmers and their families to endure. Bt cotton crops do not yield more product than organic cotton, this ‘Roundup Ready’ seed was implemented in the 1970’s as a means to improve the quality of the cotton by reducing the insects that essentially ‘ruin’ the product during the growth period. Monsanto claims that this was done in order to produce higher yields of cotton, but this is not the case. So how are these farmers supposed to help themselves if the very companies they are forced to buy from, do nothing to help their valuable workers? These farmers have no other way of sustaining their livelihoods, these farms are all they have. It’s heartbreaking to think that their only salvation from big corporations who do nothing for the well being of humans, like MONSANTO, is suicide.

Families of the farmers in certain regions of India suffer hardship long after the feilds have been picked clean, when their fathers, brothers, uncles and cousins commit suicide in the fields they work in, by drinking fertilizer. Many die on the way home, or on the way to help when their family members are desperately carrying them down a littered dirt road in hopes of saving them. The land is littered not only with garbage, but also with unmarked graves of those who have died as their only salvation.  

At what point is it morally justified to force a law to grow only a certain type of seed? Only in the past 60(‘ish) years has the structure of seeds changed by the hands of humans. You can look anywhere for the information on studies regarding the effects of what this corporation is doing to change seeds for their benefit- the answer will always be; that there has not been enough studies of the effects these changes will have on ecology and surrounding life. How the hell is that responsible in any way?!

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