Posts Tagged ‘ Monsanto ’

Health Regulation page goes live!

The Health Regulation page is relevant to internationalcomparisons.org for several reasons. Let’s highlight a couple of the most critical:

This is pretty straight forward. A great example is the link between child advertising and child obesity. U.S. advertisers spend $15-17 billion annually on advertisements targeting children. As a direct result, 35% of U.S. children are obese. Only Italy and the UK have rates over 25% in the EU which restricts advertisement to children by the EU Audiovisual Media Services Directive which mandates that child advertisement:

a. shall not directly exhort minors to buy a product or a service by exploiting their inexperience or credulity;
b. shall not directly encourage minors to persuade their parents or others to purchase the goods or services being advertised;
c. shall not exploit the special trust minors place in parents, teachers or other persons;
d. shall not unreasonably show minors in dangerous situations;
e. Children’s programs may only be interrupted if the scheduled duration is longer than 30 minutes;
f. Product placement is not allowed in children’s programs;
g. The Member States and the Commission should encourage audiovisual media service providers to develop codes of conduct regarding the advertising of certain foods in children’s programs.

  • The U.S. is the most reluctant advanced democracy to apply the precautionary principle.

In spite of pumping out nearly 20 new chemicals per day (according to Craig Collins’ Toxic Loopholes), the U.S. somehow still doesn’t find it necessary to have tighter policy to regulate the safety of those chemicals. The precautionary principle can be described as a method of policy making by which all chemicals are considered dangerous until proven harmless. Instead, U.S. chemical policy treats the unpredictable agents as innocent until proven guilty. Even once harm is associated with the chemical, certain systemic pitfalls have made it almost impossible to get such chemicals banned. The EU has banned over 1,000 chemicals; the U.S., in spite of the prolific rates at which new chemicals are produced, has banned a laughable total of nine chemicals. Wider application of the precautionary principle could have saved us the multifaceted and widespread hazards from PCBs. Without such tests required, who knows what we’re risking with GMOs and U.S. backed Monsanto initiatives.

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Monsanto and India: distinguishing between stakes and culpability

We conclude our Monsanto series with a final blog on the multi-national’s effects in India. Especially with Prince Charles having drawn attention to the crisis as early as 2008, much controversy and accusation has been thrown around by both the company and organic enthusiasts. The controversy in a nutshell could be frased as, “which factors precisely are to blame for the suicide rate increase in India?” As muddled as things have been, it becomes necessary to clarify as much as possible.

      • Multiple factors likely at play in suicide rate and farming failures

        Studies have sourced draughts, untimely rains, rural poverty, and others say that Monsanto is the principal culprit. All of the former factors undoubtedly have a direct and profound, negative impact on farmer suicide rates as well as the impoverishment of the farmers in a more general, yet still very grave sense. It’s difficult to quantify, let alone pinpoint, the source of the farming suicide rates, yet it remains safe to say the Monsanto GE product has only significantly agitated the case.

      • Monsanto’s product hardly “magic”

        Monsanto promised India a biotech cotton product that would be nothing short of “magic.” What Indian farmers got didn’t even live up to being “pest-proof” as promised. To the extent to which this directly caused how many farmers to take their own lives is difficult to determine; what can be established, however, is that Monsanto has followed its own footsteps in a long history of choosing the betterment of its name and bottom line over the livelihood of its clients or those befallen to the consequences of the company’s decisions. Such fantastical promises worked out better for Monsanto’s strategy than the success of the farmers.

      • Farmer suicides is not the sole issue

        Indian farmers are forced to pay 1,000 percent more for genetically engineered (GE) seeds. Additionally, whereas with organic seeds Indian farmers even after a season with little to no product can still salvage the seed for sewing next season’s crop, the Monsanto seed is genetically engineered to yield a seedless crop, leaving the farmer with no choice but to buy additional seed. Antagonizing the draught issue, Monsanto crops require twice as much water as the traditional product. With the government having aggressively pressured Indian farmers over the last decade to convert to the Monsanto seed, the farmer has found himself in a debt trap, unable to benefit from India’s Green Revolution.

Finally, it should be noted that the Monsanto clients in India are not the only ones being affected. Early this year, Dr. Vandana Shiva controversially tweeted the genetically modified organism imposition in India to rape. Sayer Ji clarifies and defends Dr. Shiva’s claim by noting that

… many GMO crops are wind and insect pollinated, their pollen (and the transgenes they carry) easily evade containment and are capable of traveling great distances. For instance, if pollen from genetically modified corn reaches a receptive non-GMO corn plant, transgenes will be forcibly integrated (through sexual reproduction) into the germline of their offspring, rendering them and all their future offspring permanently GMO. This could therefore be defined as a form of ‘bio-rape.’

As the product pollinates and yields a crop carrying the transgene to the unknowing, faultless farmer, he then becomes liable to Monsanto as using their patented product outside of contract. Just as the culpability for farmer suicide rate increases in India may not be Monsanto’s sole responsibility, the consequences are not limited to Monsanto farmer suicides or even Monsanto farmers themselves.

PCBs and Monsanto’s marred reputation

On the Health Regulation page, publishing soon at  www.internationalcomparisons.org as we announced last week, we will include in the statistic table each country’s policy on  polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). The United States, most of the world, and all other advanced democracies have banned PCBs. Still, PCBs are noteworthy and relevant to our research to the extent that it’s a great introduction to Monsanto’s lack of business and political ethics. After reviewing the information, below, we understand better why the precautionary principle is absolutely irrelevant in U.S. health regulation policy.

  • Monsanto deliberately hid, tampered with, and denied scientific evidence of PCBs’ hazardous properties up to and beyond its U.S. ban in 1977

    As meticulously outlined by foxriverwatch.com, Monsanto has a prolific history of publicly denying knowledge of the damage caused by PCBs (as they did in 197019731974, 1979, 1993), or altering scientific reports (as they did in 1949, 1969–a critical year: see also the Planet Waves report as well as The Nation report–, 1970, 1974, 1975, 1981, 1990) despite privately receiving from others and making their own warnings concerning its harm (as they did in 1937, 1938, 1951, 1956, 1959, 1965, 1966, 1968, 1970, 1972, 1975, 1979, 1980, ).

  • Monsanto neglects safety as its own responsibility and places it on government regulation

    Monsanto should not have to vouchsafe the safety of biotech food. Our interest is in selling as much of it as possible. Assuring its safety is the FDA’s job.

    -Phil Angell, Monsanto’s director of corporate communications

    In fact, in several instances Monsanto has rewarded employees who have intentionally bucked and stalled the government’s ability to regulate.

  • Monsanto sticks close to the federal government not only by an intimate and thorough lobbying campaign, but also by its revolving door relationship between top-tiered company positions and presidentially appointed offices in the EPA, FDA, USAID, and USDA (Obama’s no exception)

    NAME

    MONSANTO JOB

    GOVERNMENT JOB

    ADMIN

    Toby Moffett Monsanto Consultant US Congessman D-CT
    Dennis DeConcini Monsanto
    Legal Counsel
    US Senator D-AZ
    Margaret Miller Chemical Lab Supervisor Dep. Dir. FDA,
    HFS
    Bush Sr,
    Clinton
    Marcia Hale Director, Int’l
    Govt. Affairs
    White House
    Senior Staff
    Clinton
    Mickey Kantor Board Member Sec. of Commerce Clinton
    Virginia Weldon VP, Public Policy WH-Appt to CSA, Gore’s SDR Clinton
    Josh King Director, Int’l
    Govt. Affairs
    White House Communications Clinton
    David Beler VP, Gov’t & Public Affairs Gore’s Chief Dom.
    Polcy Advisor
    Clinton
    Carol Tucker-Foreman Monsanto Lobbyist WH-Appointed Consumer Adv Clinton
    Linda Fisher VP, Gov’t & Public Affairs Deputy Admin
    EPA
    Clinton,
    Bush
    Lidia Watrud Manager, New Technologies USDA, EPA Clinton,
    Bush, Obama
    Michael Taylor VP, Public Policy Dep. Commiss. FDA Obama
    Hilary Clinton Rose Law Firm, Monsanto Counsel US Senator,
    Secretary of State
    D-NY
    Obama
    Roger Beachy Director, Monsanto Danforth Center Director USDA NIFA Obama
    Islam Siddiqui Monsanto Lobbyist Ag Negotiator
    Trade Rep
    Obama

    Source: http://www.organicconsumers.org/monsanto/

    This list is nothing new, as some reports exposed the relationship fifteen years ago.

    Such relations also have pertinent implications in explaining such issues like why Monsanto has gotten away without charges from the EPA during a fraudulent investigation in the early 1990’s.

Italian and French policy values heritage over Monsanto

Yesterday, Italy (from where itnernationalcomparisons.com will conduct its research and reporting starting in October) set a valuable precedent in the world’s fight for an autonomous food system, the EU’s battle against genetically modified organisms (GMOs), and a country’s fight to maintain original taste and quality in its produce.

The protection of Italian distinctiveness must be a policy priority since it determines the existence of ‘Made in Italy’, which is our engine, our future, our leverage to return to growth in the food industry.           -Statement from Italian agriculture ministry

Based on this quote, an 80% public backing, and the decision by three separate governmental ministries to ban Monsanto’s MON810 maize,  the Italians resoundingly favor their own original food over Monsanto’s GM, uniform product. So the Italians are not only setting precedent in standing up against the health risks from GMOs and the corporate irresponsibility from Monsanto, but also by adding another element to the argument: pride in country*. And without the latter, the Italians see their hopes of recovery as significantly diminished. According to Italy, Monsanto’s monopoly and bland, uniform product represents such a threat.

In 2012 the French, the most prolific crop growers in all of Europe,  also banned the same product, the only GM product allowed in the EU. France also claims national heritage to be a factor in its decision in spite of the temporary hardship the French face as they transition agriculturally and economically away from MON810. From France and Italy’s perspectives, having little to do with GMOs is still too much.

Perhaps Italy and France have gleaned from the India-Monsanto relationship, which is too much to take on in the same blog. As we prepare research to be released on our new Health Regulation page coming soon, look forward to more blogs on chemical policy, the precautionary principle, and its commercial antithesis: Monsanto.

*Regardless to what extent Italy made its decision as a matter of national pride in its produce, they will need to provide a scientific basis, a “health or environmental risk,” if their position on MON810 is going to stand. France implemented its own custom ban on GMOs last year by going through the same process.