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OpEdNews Op Eds    H1'ed 5/9/09

Seeds of Truth

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I have learned over the past decade if I want to know what's really going on in the United States, I have to cruise through the foreign media to see what's creating a furor or causing a stink. So, while searching for the status of Spain's on-again, off-again criminal proceedings against six Bush Administration war criminals, this headline in Der Spiegel caught my eye -- "Frankenfood Ban is Neither Populism nor Panic-Mongering."

A closer look at the article revealed it wasn't a Norm Coleman ploy to get folks in Minnesota to quit eating burgers and fries, nor a menu for the genetically obscene monster in Mary Shelly's "Frankenstein," but an announcement by Germany's Agriculture Minister Ilse Aigner that Germany is banning the cultivation of MON 810, a genetically modified (GM) corn produced by US biotech giant Monsanto.

The GM Monster

It appears that MON 810 is also believed to be the "Frankenstein" of GM crops by at least five other European countries -- France, Austria, Hungary, Greece and Luxembourg -- all of whom have banned its use. MON 810 was approved by the European Union in 1998, and was the only GM crop approved for cultivation in Germany. Aigner said she had legitimate reasons to believe that the genetically modified Monsanto seed "presents a danger to the environment." The plant produces a toxin that not only destroys the larvae of the corn borer moth, but other, beneficial, insects as well.

Andreas Thierfelder, spokesman for Monsanto Germany, responded that Monsanto would decide "as quickly as possible" whether to take legal proceedings. She said the "matter was very urgent as the planting season was about to start." Just how urgent was evident days later when Monsanto filed a lawsuit against the German government, claiming that its ban on MON 810 is arbitrary and contravenes EU rules. Although Monsanto sued France in an effort to overturn its ban on genetically modified corn, and lost that battle in March when France's highest court ruled that the corn "may" harm the environment and wildlife, the German government is justifiably edgy, as it must prove conclusively to the German court that MON 810 damages the environment.

But the feeder GM corn is just one tiny blip on the Frankenfood radar. And, it's not just Europeans who should worry. As Jim Hightower, former two-time Texas agriculture commissioner warned way back in June 2004...

"For some time, the likes of Monsanto have had their white-smocked engineers tinkering merrily and dangerously with the very DNA of food, genetically modifying the natural composition of things like potatoes so they contain a pesticide in every one of their cells, or altering rice so it contains a diarrhea drug in every bite. This is no mere lab experiment, for unbeknownst to the vast majority of Americans, Monsanto and a handful of other global biotech giants have quietly spread the seeds of these genetically altered Frankenfoods to so many farms over the past decade that about a third of the foods on U.S. supermarket shelves now contain organisms with tampered DNA -- everything from baby food and milk to products made with soybean and corn. Thanks to well-placed campaign donations and powerhouse lobbying, this infiltration of our food supply has been done with practically no consumer awareness, since both Bill Clinton's and George W's administrations have let these foodstuffs be sold in America without so much as a label on them to tell us that we're buying something that our families might prefer to avoid."

Kinda ruins the appetite, doesn't it? Not just the fact that Monsanto has infiltrated the bulk of our food chain, but that it clearly believes it has the right to do so with or without our knowledge. It has fought oversight, regulation, labeling and scientific research for years. The arrogance with which multinational biotech corporations such as Monsanto are disrupting and modifying life's natural genetic order -- from seeds to food to animals to humans to the environment -- is creepy. The Almighty must surely be watching in slack-jawed amazement.

The Profit Plan

These giants are "chemical" corporations, and one of their goals is to create seeds that will withstand more (and more and more) of their herbicides. Monsanto, which gave us the deadly Agent Orange and the toxic weed killer Roundup, is not alone in its quest to manipulate, or to control the world's order. Germany's chemical giant Bayer, well known for its popular and effective Bayer aspirin, and for Alleve and Alka Seltzer, was the first to introduce heroin as well as mustard gas, and produces a series of neonicotinoids -- insecticides that attack the central nervous systems of insects, such as bees. Other mega-corporations dealing in both pharmaceuticals and pesticides, to name a few, are Merck, Dupont, Dow Chemical, and Syngenta -- but Monsanto has been around for more than a century, produces 90-percent of genetically modified seed -- and has many friends in high places. Many high places.

Last year, Vanity Fair's Donald L. Barlett and James B. Steele teamed up to present a well-researched background article, "Monsanto's Harvest of Fear," wherein they listed some, but not all, of these friends...

(...) Monsanto has long been wired into Washington. Michael R. Taylor was a staff attorney and executive assistant to the F.D.A. commissioner before joining a law firm in Washington in 1981, where he worked to secure F.D.A. approval of Monsanto's artificial growth hormone before returning to the F.D.A. as deputy commissioner in 1991. Dr. Michael A. Friedman, formerly the F.D.A.'s deputy commissioner for operations, joined Monsanto in 1999 as a senior vice president. Linda J. Fisher was an assistant administrator at the E.P.A. when she left the agency in 1993. She became a vice president of Monsanto, from 1995 to 2000, only to return to the E.P.A. as deputy administrator the next year. William D. Ruckelshaus, former E.P.A. administrator, and Mickey Kantor, former U.S. trade representative, each served on Monsanto's board after leaving government. Supreme Court justice Clarence Thomas was an attorney in Monsanto's corporate-law department in the 1970s. He wrote the Supreme Court opinion in a crucial G.M.-seed patent-rights case in 2001 that benefited Monsanto and all G.M.-seed companies. Donald Rumsfeld never served on the board or held any office at Monsanto, but Monsanto must occupy a soft spot in the heart of the former defense secretary. Rumsfeld was chairman and C.E.O. of the pharmaceutical maker G. D. Searle & Co. when Monsanto acquired Searle in 1985, after Searle had experienced difficulty in finding a buyer. Rumsfeld's stock and options in Searle were valued at $12 million at the time of the sale.

Bartlett and Steele go into some detail about the lengths Monsanto will go to protect its patent rights, not only against GM or GE (genetically engineered) farmers, but organic farmers as well. They write...

Monsanto goes after farmers, farmers' co-ops, seed dealers -- anyone it suspects may have infringed its patents of genetically modified seeds. As interviews and reams of court documents reveal, Monsanto relies on a shadowy army of private investigators and agents in the American heartland to strike fear into farm country. They fan out into fields and farm towns, where they secretly videotape and photograph farmers, store owners, and co-ops; infiltrate community meetings; and gather information from informants about farming activities. Farmers say that some Monsanto agents pretend to be surveyors. Others confront farmers on their land and try to pressure them to sign papers giving Monsanto access to their private records.

Once you opt to buy Monsanto seeds, you are no longer a farmer, you're a "grower" -- a serf -- and you must sign a Technology/Stewardship Agreement wherein you agree, among many other restrictions, to use Monsanto seed for planting only a single commercial crop...not to sell or give seeds to any other person for planting...to pay annual technology fees (in addition to the price of the seed) due Monsanto...to turn over your records and receipts anytime Monsanto asks for them. In short, you sign your life -- and your livelihood -- over when you become a "grower." And, if you're ever taken to court (and it's likely you could be), and you lose (and it's likely you will) -- you will find you agreed to pay Monsanto and its attorney fees and all related court costs.

The End Game

This goes way beyond garnering profits for agriculture conglomerates such as Monsanto. It is about disrupting the natural order of life -- whether plant or animal. And, for those orchestrating this havoc, it is about control. As Henry Kissinger once said matter-of-factly, "If you control the oil you control the country; if you control food, you control the population." Kissinger has long been obsessed with two things -- depopulating the world and establishing a New World Order.

What better way to control the food than to ban seed saving -- what better weapon is there to use against starving populations than food? The answer is laid out in detail in F. William Engdahl's November 2007 critical book about genetic manipulation, "Seeds of Destruction." Engdahl is no conspiracy theorist. He is a leading researcher as well as an economist and an associate and regular contributor for the Centre for Research on Globalization.

In his extensive three-part review of "Seeds," investigative journalist Stephen Lendman reveals "... the diabolical story of how Washington and four Anglo-American agribusiness giants plan world domination by patenting life forms to gain worldwide control of our food supply and why that prospect is chilling."

Lendman reminds us that Kissinger has been both at the forefront and behind the scenes since the 1960s when, as Engdahl wrote, "the Rockefellers were at the power center of the US establishment (and) Secretary of State Henry Kissinger (was) their hand-picked protege." Kissinger was there as Nixon's Secretary of State in 1973 when the food crisis hit and, as Engdahl said, he decided US agricultural policy was "too important to be left in the hands of the Agricultural Department so he took control of it himself." Even back then, Kissinger's goal was to go global and seize control of the agricultural food market. Kissinger's "food diplomacy" was to use food to "reward friends and punish enemies."

Lendman writes, "Food is power. When used to cull the population, it's a weapon of mass destruction." He says "One way or another, the Rockefeller Foundation aims to reduce population through human reproduction by spreading GMO seeds." And the "world's number one" in patenting seeds is Monsanto. He explains...

Like it or not, they're advancing their agenda, and a 2004 Rockefeller Foundation report shows it. GM crop production achieved nine consecutive double digit year increases since 1996. More than eight million farmers in 17 countries now plant them, over 90% in developing nations. Far and away, the US is the world's leader "with aggressive Government promotion, absence of labeling, and the domination of US farm production." Here, "genetically engineered crops (have) essentially taken over the American food chain." In 2004, over 85% of soybeans were genetically modified, 45% of corn, and since animal feed is mainly from these crops "the entire meat production of the nation (and exports) has been fed on genetically modified animal feed." What animals eat, so do humans.

According to Engdahl, agribusiness giants, aided by the Rockefeller Foundation, the US government and the World Trade Organization (WTO) are progressing relentlessly toward the second pillar of Kissinger's end game -- controlling food to control (and expunge) populations of lesser nations. In December 2007, Engdahl sounded the alarm about yet another seed venture (adventure?), "Doomsday Seed Vault in the Arctic," a steel-reinforced concrete seed bank built deep inside a mountain on the remote Norwegian island of Spitsbergen. This "program" is funded by the Rockefellers, by such seed giants as Syngenta and Monsanto -- and by Microsoft founder Bill Gates, who knows a bit about monopoly.

The Way Out

Engdahl says that, since 2007, Monsanto and the US Government together hold the patent for a commercial seed called "Terminator," designed to commit suicide after just one harvest, and farmers will be forced to return to Monsanto or other seed giants to purchase new seeds each year for crops needed to feed their populations. He said if they're allowed to continue their reckless pursuit of power, in a decade or so, the small farmer will be but a memory and the majority of the world's food producers would be little more than feudal serfs in bondage to three or four giant seed corporations. "Those who say 'it can't happen here' should look more closely at current global events," he wrote. "The mere existence of that concentration of power in three or four private US-based agribusiness giants is grounds for legally banning all GMO crops even were their harvent gains real, which they manifestly are not."

The good news is that Europe is fighting back against being forced to plant genetically manipulated seeds for plants and food. Countries like Austria and Denmark, France -- and now Germany -- are standing up, and standing together, to ban biotech products. As is always the case, when those who lust for power and control concoct their grand schemes, they fail to factor in the human response. Lendman says public opinion throughout Europe is strongly opposed to GMO foods and ingredients. He writes...

Several EU countries, including France, Germany, Austria and Denmark, even ban some EU-approved biotech products to further cloud the outlook. Polls show why, with European public opinion strongly opposed to GMO foods and ingredients, with hostility levels in France as high as 89% and 79% wanting governments to ban them. This shows European consumers are far ahead of Americans and much better protected (so far) by their overall exclusion as well as having labeling requirements for those allowed to be sold. That provision is crucial as it empowers consumers to use or avoid eating these foods. If enough people abstain, food outlets won't carry them.

It's not that Americans don't care that the Rockefeller-Gates-Monsanto plan to solve world hunger is but a ghastly scheme to cull the population of its nonproductive bottom-feeders. Thanks to conspiratorial US media, most of us are either blissfully unaware or are unable to make a sound because, as Hightower said, our "Congress and the White House (and the media) have Monsanto checks stuffed in their ears."

The way out is to become informed -- and just say no to having unlabeled, untested products crammed down our throats. If we do nothing, we will reap what we sow. We will, as Charles Galton Darwin, grandson of evolutionist Charles Darwin, wrote in his 1952"The Next Million Years," be condemned to the status of workers in a beehive.

We must stand up and support Europe's attempt to organize a ban on genetically modified crops and food. It is the way -- the only way -- out of this mess. Lendman, who maintains "the stakes are much too high -- human health and safety must never be compromised for profit," suggests that we read Engdahl's book, which is a "wake-up call" for all of us.

I suggest we start by reading Lendman's review of that book, which is a much louder wake-up call.

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Sheila Samples is an Oklahoma writer and a former civilian US Army Public Information Officer. She is a Managing Editor for OpEd News, and a regular contributor for a variety of Internet sites.

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