People are justifiably upset about Monsanto and its super-corporation approach to nutrition, but there are a lot of people out there who are mad for the wrong reasons. Tommy Caldwell is here to clear some of that up for you.
The March Against Monsanto march in Vancouver. via.
If you’ve been keeping up on your current food injustices, you’ve likely heard about the recent Marches Against Monsanto—the worldwide rallies against the production and selling of Monsanto’s Genetically Engineered foods.
The ever-growing concerns with food technology and the questionable direction it has taken is spreading across the world—especially in younger, more progressive circles, and as rallies like these popularize themselves so does the back and forth conversations about the legitimacy of these agricultural concerns.
One of the biggest questions in the air right now is in regards to the legitimacy of the negative claims and soiled reputation of GMO products. Are they safe? Who are they harming? Could they potentially help the world in some way?
Until protesters and corporate opposition can confidently answer those questions with reliable means of information, it will be hard for most to distinguish between right and wrong on the specific topic of GMO technology and products.
However, what has become blatantly obvious to most concerned citizens is the questionable character of the big companies that currently have GMO technologies at their disposal.
Let’s take a look at where the true argument should begin, focus on the aspects we know right now, and delve into the creepy rabbit hole that is the Monsanto Corporation.
Confusing Technology with Evil.
By far the biggest error that these well meaning protestorsmake when organizing, attending, and voicing their concerns is making GMO food production an issue of science instead of an issue of corporate morality. Most fail to see the big picture—and that is the possibility that the actual technology behind GMO production could potentially be used for great things in our agricultural age, but just isn’t.
Just like guns can be used to protect or destroy, and fences can be used to preserve or detain, GMO technology can be used to serve the people or the man. Currently the man is winning that battle—but please don’t make technology guilty by association.
Monsanto: The Real Issue
Monsanto is your typical long-standing super corporation: Incredibly intelligent, incredibly rich, and incredibly fucked. One of their most notorious product creations was a chemical by the name of ‘Agent Orange’, which was used for chemical warfare in Vietnam—killing and disfiguring what is estimated to be millions of Vietnamese people.
Some Vietnamese people would argue that Agent Orange was a bad thing. via.
Since that time they began to use that same knack for helpful technology for food production and agricultural domination. Monsanto is most notorious for their “round up ready” products (seeds that grow their own pesticides for instance) as well as creating seeds that can’t reproduce after their first growth—forcing farmers who buy the seeds to continue buying year after year. Monsanto routinely sues farmers who have the opportunity to ‘save seeds’ for use in future crops for breach of contract. That’s right; Monsanto has a clause built right into their sales contracts that gives them the right to sue any farmer who reproduces food from the previous years’ crops. Sustainability obviously isn’t a big priority in Monsanto’s business plan—but their financial strategies are quite clever.
You may be asking yourself why farmers would continue buying these seeds knowing that they can only use them once and risk being sued for doubling up on crop production—and the answer is strictly based on finances. Monsanto (being as intelligent as they are) have completely dominated the seed market to the point where they control the price. If you want non-Monsanto/GMO seeds, you are going to pay out the ass for them. Monsanto also has a hand in all the major subsidized foods in Canada and the US (Corn, Soy etc.) which means if a farmer wants a break on the cost of his food production he is likely going to receive those savings on a Monsanto brand product. Again, Monsanto knows what’s up and they’ve put themselves in a very dominant position in North American agriculture.
How can a company get away with such a monopoly?
As we’ve already established, Monsanto is a company that moves in well-strategized directions. They aren’t likely to push a product or make any corporate moves that aren’t already pre-determined successes. A big part of their ability to ensure submissive attitudes from government organizations that could potentially shut them down is to hire influential government employees and pay them, or get their current employees influential government jobs. This is called the “revolving door” and can be found between many corporate interest groups and government branches.
If all else fails they’ve recently passed legislation known as the Monsanto Protection Act. This was a bill passed through the US government (cleverly stuck between a bunch of funding projects that required approval in order to release funds to government members) that removes all liability of negative environmental and human repercussions that could come from the production and use of Monsanto products.
This sort of bill is essential for a company like Monsanto that performs all of their own safety testing, and has never conducted extensive long term studies related to the possible long term side effects of their genetically engineered products.
Monsanto has all of their angles covered, and as much as you want to hate them you have to respect how incredibly intricate and progressive they were in their agricultural evolution.
So what do we do about this shitty, shitty company?
Some protestors just can’t seem to get it right. via.
I can start by telling you what you shouldn’t do. Stop blaming technology for a problem that corrupt companies abuse. You not only take away form the actual issue, but you lose the support and interest of the scientific community when you make it out as if they are somehow responsible for the decisions and intents of a massive super-corp. Although there are a handful of scientists responsible for GMO tech abuse—the rest of the scientific community is a sensitive bunch, and if you blame science for the issue you lose sciences support of your concerns.
Secondly, showing up to the front lines of street level protests can be a respectable first step, but without taking any real action on a personal level it could be all for naught. A far more effective strategy to implement in addition to the march is taking direct action through your own personal consumer choices; ensuring that you don’t support Monsanto. Grow your own fruit and vegetable garden, support local, organic farmers, and educate yourself on the sub-companies and products that Monsanto creates or has a hand in. The less money that makes its way into their greedy pockets, the less power they have.
It’s nice to be around like-minded people and feel as though you are making a difference, but the fact of the matter is far too often the feeling of making a difference prevents people from actually taking steps that truly make the change occur.
Know the facts, determine the root cause of the problems you are trying to solve, and start with yourself—the rest is just lip service.
Follow Tommy on Twitter: @hybridtraining