Genetically-Modified Food: Threat to Humankind

Strategic Culture
by Wayne Madsen

Scotland has become the latest nation to ban the cultivation of genetically-modified (GM) crops, also known as GMOs – genetically-modified organisms… While Scotland has championed the anti-«Frankenfood» cause, the U.S. Congress voted to ban states from requiring food manufacturers to label their food as being genetically-modified. 

Scotland has taken advantage of new European Union regulations that permit it to opt out of being forced to allow GMO agri-business to gain access to Scotland. In its decision, the Scottish National Party (SNP) government in Edinburgh has broken with the Tory government in London, which has allowed the production of GMO crops. Opponents of GM foods argue that although the European Union law allows some nations to opt out of growing GM crops, it allows others to permit GM companies an opening into their agricultural sectors, thus circumventing current GM bans in Germany, Italy, and France.

As with every issue that pits neo-conservative governments against populists and progressive parties and movements, the neocons favor genetically-modified food cultivation and production, just as they favor continual warfare and inaction on the face of global climate change. The debate over genetically-modified food has exposed neo-cons as not only pro-corporate prostitutes but also as anti-humanist gargoyles and ogres who leap right out of the pages of Lord of the Rings.

The Scottish government issued an official statement on the ban: «The Scottish Government believes that GM policy in Scotland should be guided by what’s best for our economy and our own agricultural sector rather than UK priorities… there is no evidence of significant demand for GM products by Scottish consumers. To grow GM crops in Scotland would damage our clean and green brand».

To prevent contamination of Scottish crops by English GM seeds, a strict agricultural inspection regime must be established on the English-Scottish border, something that will be music to the ears of the pro-independence Scots and a nightmare to the English who want to preserve the increasingly-unworkable «United Kingdom».

The only Scottish Member of the European Parliament to serve on the body’s agricultural committee, Alyn Smith of the SNP, said that Scotland wants to have the reputation for growing and exporting natural foods, not adulterated GM products. Smith said while the SNP favors «carefully regulated research and development of GM foods», it does not want to jeopardize Scotland’s role as a producer of natural quality foods.

While Scotland has championed the anti-«Frankenfood» cause, the U.S. Congress voted to ban states from requiring food manufacturers to label their food as being genetically-modified. American agri-business, led by chief GM manufacturer Monsanto, does not want consumers to know what sort of genetically-adulterated food products they are eating. The first casualty of the Congress’s Act, inappropriately titled the «Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act» of 2015, was Vermont’s mandatory GMO labelling act. The federal legislation also neutralized similar GMO labeling laws in Maine, Hawaii, Oregon, and Connecticut. To illustrate the nature of Monsanto’s lobbying efforts to oppose GM labeling the firm spent $5.5 million to lobby against a GM labeling bill in the California legislature. The recent TPP summit on Maui was a bitter pill for the residents of the Hawaiian island who voted in a referendum to ban GM food from the island. Enactment of the TPP would strip residents of Maui to determine what kinds of crops are grown on their island.

The U.S. Congress opted to institute a GM industry-friendly national labeling act, which would place responsibility and standards for labeling GM products within the Big Agriculture-dominated U.S. Department of Agriculture.

One of the effects of the Trans-Pacific Partnership will be an allowance for companies like Monsanto to sue nations banning or restricting GM foods in an unaccountable international courts called Investor State Dispute Settlement Tribunals (ISDST). The same holds true for the planned Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). If the United Kingdom accedes to the TTIP, Monsanto could sue Scotland before an ISDST and potentially have scrapped Scotland’s GMO farming ban.

The roles of the TPP and TTIP are to circumvent national sovereignty and place corporations like Monsanto over the will of elected governments and the peoples they govern. In addition, under free trade agreements like the TPP, articles like this one criticizing Monsanto could result in costly lawsuits against author and publisher brought before ISDSTs. Constitutional guarantees of the freedom of the press and speech in the United States and other TPP and TTIP signatory nations are abrogated by «free trade» agreements designed to place the rights of multinational corporations over nations, states, provinces, counties, municipalities, and individual citizens.

U.S. Representative Peter DeFazio sounded the alarm about Monsanto and its corporate ilk in an interview with Telesur in April of this year. DeFazio said about the Obama administration and its hell-bent intentions to enact so-called «free trade» agreements like the TPP, «Call it the smoking gun. Proof that fast track and massive free trade agreements like the Trans-Pacific Partnership are written by and for multinational corporations such as agriculture giant Monsanto. Instead of using trade deals as an opportunity to protect and strengthen consumer rights by joining the countries which require genetically engineered food to be labeled, this administration wants to benefit wealthy corporations at the expense of the public». DeFazio, a Democrat from Oregon, was calling out a Democratic president, Barack Obama, on the White House’s support for firms like Monsanto.

Russia and France have banned the cultivation of Monsanto’s GM products, including corn. Monsanto corn has been found to cause cancerous tumors in laboratory rats. However, the proto-fascist government of Ukraine has welcomed Monsanto and other GM companies with open arms. At risk is Ukraine’s large wheat-growing industry. Perhaps nothing more shows the link between neo-cons and GM foods as does the U.S. neocon support for the Ukrainian government and its dangerous agricultural policy meant to benefit Monsanto and destroy the individual Ukrainian farmer.

Monsanto’s very history as a company should result in skepticism and universal derision over its Frankenfood line of products. The firm was founded in 1901 in St. Louis, Missouri by Chicago businessman John Francis Queeny, who obtained «seed money» for the company from his wife, Olga Mendez Monsanto, the daughter of Don Emmanuel Mendes de Monsanto, a Dutch Sephardic Jew whose family came to New Orleans via Curacao and the slave-borne Caribbean sugar industry. In fact, the Monsantos made much of their fortune from the transatlantic slave trade. From its roots in trading in African slaves, Monsanto now trades in adulterated food products and pesticides shown to be harmful to not only human health but also to livestock and bee, beneficial insect, and bird populations. Monsanto’s first major Frankenfood offering was the sugar substitute saccharin, a derivative of coal tar and which was sold to the Coca Cola Company. Saccharin has been shown to cause bladder cancer in humans.

Not coincidentally, just after President Obama’s trip to his paternal homeland of Kenya, seven Kenyan Members of Parliament from parliamentary committees dealing with Agriculture, Livestock and Cooperatives, Education, Research and Technology, Health, Environment and Natural Resources, Finance, Planning and Trade introduced legislation to lift Kenya’s ban on GMOs. Apparently, the Kenyans succumbed to the desires of an American president who is more interested in protecting the profits of Monsanto, whose initial financial backing came from a family of slave traders, than in the health of the people of Kenya.

From trading in human chattel to pushing harmful food products, Monsanto has become a fitting symbol for the GM industry. It is also fitting to ban Monsanto and its products and defy the corporate push for unfair and unbalanced trade agreements.

Strategic Culture