LEGISLATION / POLITICS

Why We Must Reject Monsanto’s Trojan Horse – A response to Monsanto

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On the 6th of June, Monsanto responded to my article (earlier printed in the guardian) on their blog here in a post titled –Nigerian paper sows misinformation on GM and hybrid seeds. Monsanto and its imperial agents such as a Mr Abdallah el-Kurebe disappointingly don’t address any concerns raised instead focus on the fact that I am an architect.

Mr. Monsanto says “Let’s leave aside the obvious question of whether architects, however qualified, should be considered authorities on anything other than building design.”

Mr. Monsanto and Mr. Kurebe, did Awolowo study education? Or was he a teacher? No, yet we know his effect on the educational system. Did Obasanjo study agriculture or farming? Yet we know his success as a farmer and I won’t talk about the late great Ibrahim Tahir (Talba of Bauchi). Attacking the messenger from the onset shows the inferiority and weakness of your argument. Mr. Monsanto, after belittling my article to a ‘rant’, speaks about a statement I made with regards to genetically modified tomatoes.

Many of the accusations in Gbadebo Rhodes-Vivour’s rant lack any credible substantiation, or are just downright bizarre. For example, his claim that biotech tomatoes (which don’t exist, btw) can become toxic and cause cancer’. – YES, they don’t exist now, but Mr. Monsanto conveniently does not mention why.

The first commercially available genetically modified food was a tomato engineered to have a longer shelf life (the Flavr Savr).
Rats fed genetically engineered Calgene Flavr-Savr tomatoes (developed to look fresh for weeks) for 28 days got bleeding stomachs (stomach lesions) and seven died and were replaced in the study.”Food Safety – Contaminants and Toxins. Reviewed in J.P.F. D’Mello, CABI Publishing, 2003.
In October 1991, Dr Edwin Mathews from the Department of Health and Human Services and of the FDA’s Toxicology Group wrote to the FDA Biotechnology Working Group saying: “Genetically modified plants could also contain unexpected high concentrations of plant toxicants”.
In a memo dated 16 June 1993 to Linda Kahl, Consumer Safety Officer at the Food and Drug Administration – FDA (America’s version of NAFDAC), Fred Hines, Staff Pathologist at the FDA wrote:

“There is considerable disparity in the reported findings of gastric erosions or necrosis lesions from the three studies provided by Calgene Inc. This disparity has not been adequately addressed or explained by the sponsor or the laboratory where the study was conducted’
In 1994, Dr Joseph Cummins, Emeritus Professor of Genetics at the University of West-Ontario warned that “the inclusion in Flavr Savr tomatoes of a genetic sequence from the Cauliflower Mosaic Virus could create virulent new viruses. “
Eventually due to safety concerns and economic failure, the modified tomato was taken off the market. Mr. Monsanto, that’s a WHOLE LOT of history to conveniently leave out don’t you think?

Below is Monsanto’s ‘copy and paste’ response to every negative complaint or tragedy their technology brings to people all over the world from Argentina all the way to India and South Africa.
’Roundup® brand agricultural herbicides have a long history of safe use when used according to label directions in more than 100 countries around the world. Comprehensive toxicological studies have demonstrated that glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup® branded agricultural herbicides does not cause birth defects or reproductive problems.

Safe use right?, Long history right? Let’s talk about the safety and long history of a product you also produced and told the world was safe for a long period of time –DDT
In 1944, Monsanto became one of the first manufacturers of the insecticide DDT to combat malaria-transmitting mosquitoes. Despite decades of Monsanto propaganda insisting that DDT was safe, the true effects of DDT’s toxicity were at last confirmed through Independent research and in 1972, DDT was banned throughout America. Today, it is common knowledge that DDT causes cancer. But back in the 1940s, Monsanto told us it was safe.
With regards to the 300,000 farmer suicides in India, Monsanto does as a typical Brutish American corporation does, similar to the NRA ( National Rifle Association) justifies gun ownership after a mass shooting in America, ‘Parents buy more guns to protect yourself from your 10 year old , teachers should too’ or ‘ Gun violence is caused by video games, music and movies’. Somehow it would seem mass killings are caused by everything except the guns, I digress.

The real reason for farmer suicides are failed promises of Monsanto, the creation of pest resistance, expensive seeds and the need for a larger amount of water relative to natural varieties. Bt cotton was a failure, but guess what? Monsanto had been paid for their magic seeds, so while their books recorded profit, farmers were dying in debt.
According to physicist and author Vandana Shiva,Monsanto’s contributions to a “suicide economy” in India, such as an increase in the price per kilogram of cotton seeds from 7 to 17,000 rupees. Shiva lists additional complications:
“Indigenous cotton varieties can be intercropped with food crops. Bt-cotton can only be grown as a monoculture. Indigenous cotton is rain fed. Bt-cotton needs irrigation. Indigenous varieties are pest resistant. Bt-cotton, even though promoted as resistant to the bollworm, has created new pests, and to control these new pests, farmers are using 13 times more pesticides then they were using prior to introduction of Bt-cotton. And finally, Monsanto sells its GMO seeds on fraudulent claims of yields of 1500/kg/year when farmers harvest 300-400 kg/year on an average.”

They quoted their Imperial agent Mr Abdallah el-Kurebe extensively but this one quote is a true gem:

“That the country’s subsistence agriculture can no longer supply the needs of its growing population is undoubtedly true. This is the very reason for the country’s adoption of agricultural biotechnology and the biosafety law seeks to provide the framework for Nigerian scientists who have done much research to move forward from field trials into commercial testing phases for eventual deployment to farmers,” Mr Abdallah el-Kurebe a “Media Fellow” of Agricultural Bio-sciences.

Mr. Media Fellow, apart from interviewing people and recording what they tell you, have you done any critical research? I mean according to you “The human body would always be able to “digest” the engineered tomato that is cooked.” Are you saying engineered raw tomatoes wouldn’t digest in the human body? That aside back to your quote. Nigeria has not mechanized our agriculture; neither has it created a storage network to stem the fifty percent spoilage rate of farm produce that occurs between the farms to the consumer. The media fellow is advocating GMO’s as the only solution for Nigeria, he speaks about research but what research have Nigerian scientists done? Was it Nigerian scientists that created the Bt strain Monsanto donated for the Bt cowpea? The answer is NO. Was the transgenic Bt Cowpea created at the IAR Zaria? NO, it was created by CSIRO in Australia. So the scientist at (IAR) Zaria without Bio-safety laws or public discourse, are carrying out field trials with technology they don’t have the ability to create, test or assess the effects on the humans that will consume them.
The Institute for Agricultural Research (IAR) in Zaria in association with Monsanto and CSIRO in Australia have created Bt Cowpea using genes derived from the bacterium, Bacillus thuringiensis (which was provided by Monsanto and combined by CSIRO) and have carried out field trials (Ezezika & Dall, 2012).
It is clear from these experiments and associations that the Nigerian scientists and agencies the “media fellow” speaks about have become planters, mere surrogates for experimentation on behalf of Monsanto and similar organizations.

To round it up, Mr. Monsanto asks “Why do media organizations continue to give space to anti-GM activists with absolutely no qualifications to rant about the alleged risks of GM seeds, which the world’s leading scientific and public health authorities have deemed to be every bit as safe as conventional seeds and foods?”

Mr. Monsanto, Which scientific and public health authorities?
Ultimately, it is the food producer who is responsible for assuring safety” — FDA, “Statement of Policy: Foods Derived from New Plant Varieties” (GMO Policy), Federal Register, Vol. 57, No. 104 (1992), p. 229
“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 F.D.A.’s job” – Philip Angell, Monsanto’s director of corporate communications. “Playing God in the Garden” New York Times Magazine, October 25, 1998.
Clearly there seems to be a HUGE AMOUNT of confusion between you and the FDA, You really should sort that out.

A speech made by US Rep Dennis Kucinich on the house of congress floor:
“In 1992 the Food and Drug Administration decided that genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are the functional equivalent of conventional foods. They arrived at this decision without testing GMOs for allergenicity, toxicity, anti-biotic resistance and functional characteristics. As a result hundreds of millions of acres of GMO crops were planted in America without the knowledge or consent of the American people: no safety testing and no long term health studies. The FDA has received over a million comments from citizens demanding labeling of GMOs. Ninety percent of Americans agree. So, why no labeling? I’ll give you one reason: The influence and the corruption of the political process by Monsanto. Monsanto has been a prime mover in GMO technology, a multi-million dollar GMO lobby here and a major political contributor.’

Mr. Monsanto clearly has no problems with a ‘Media fellow’ (a journalist) publishing his own opinions nor do they have a problem quoting him extensively yet they have an issue with an Architects opinion. Please watch Mr. Abdallah explain his work.

Not the most objective source is he?
Typical, but that’s expected from a company that sues farmers, bullies and sues states e.g. Vermont because the people demand their food is labeled. All this is to be expected of a company that has a God complex, with an aim to control our food and claim ownership of seeds with a business model that enslaves farmers.
“People will have Roundup Ready soya whether they like it or not” – Ann Foster, spokesperson for Monsanto in Britain, as quoted in The Nation magazine from article “The Politics of Food” by Maria Margaronis December 27, 1999 issue.

IS IT BY FORCE?

Listen, Mr. Monsanto, you can’t come to Nigeria and bully us in to neo-colonialism. Your ancestors fooled us once with umbrellas and mirrors but it won’t happen with your magic seeds. I am not sure what our Minister of agriculture, Mr. Adesina is telling you or who you think we are in this country.
Nigeria will mechanize, Nigeria will develop and provide for each and every Nigerian without your enslavement and without your disease linked technology.
You want ‘qualified’ commentary right, possibly from a scientist right? No problem, here you go:
“The few scientific researches done on the effects of these foods on humans have showed stunted growth, impaired immune systems, bleeding stomachs, abnormal and potentially precancerous cell growth in the intestines, impaired blood cell development, misshaped cell structures in the liver, pancreas and testicles, altered gene expression and cell metabolism, liver and kidney lesions, partially atrophied livers, inflamed kidneys, less developed organs, reduced digestive enzymes, higher blood sugar, inflamed lung tissue, increased death rates and higher offspring mortality as well.
After GM soy was introduced in the UK, allergies from the product skyrocketed by 50 percent. Repeated use of seeds like Monsanto’s Roundup-Ready soybeans results in vicious new super-weeds that need far greater amounts of stronger herbicides to combat. Their toxic residues remain in crops that humans and animals then eat. Even small amounts of these toxins are endocrine disruptors that can affect human reproduction adversely. Most recently, tests showed the presence of the herbicide glyphosate, widely used with Monsanto’s herbicide-tolerant GM soybean and maize varieties, in samples of mothers’ breast milk in the United States.”
Ify Aniebo (BSc, MSc, MRes, MPH )is a molecular geneticist from Oxford University, with a master’s in public health She was also recognized by Nigeria’s President Goodluck Jonathan during the centenary celebrations as an inventor and innovator.

Imagine if a Nigerian company behaved in a similar fashion to Monsanto and tried to push their dependency inducing technology through the senate of America. That company would be labeled a threat to national security. The sheer volume of hypocrisy and arrogance this company exudes is disturbing, but it’s not their fault. Our leaders who are supposed to be in charge of our welfare have become nothing more than lap dogs to these multinationals, willing to sell out their country in a heartbeat for personal gain.
O land of sleeping giants! Are we so blind to see that Minister Adesina’s previous associations with the Rockefeller Foundation a major advocate for GMO’s (where he served between 1998-2008) which has strong ties to the IITA and Monsanto, creates a huge conflict of interest? In whose interest is the Ministers violent push to get Monsanto in to Nigeria? Who does our Minister of Agriculture truly serve? Where do his loyalties lie? This conflict of interest presents a threat to our food sovereignty as well as a threat to our National security.
Nigerians, are you not tired? We drive in cars made by foreigners on roads built by foreigners using phones created by foreigners. Foreign companies drill our oil then they even “help” us refine our oil then sell it back to us. Agriculture is the most basic achievement of any civilization, the one thing we have that is our own, Our Minister Mr. Adesina is intent on outsourcing that as well. Do you not see that while our farmers become dependent on these seeds which they never needed in the first place, Monsanto and the likes take this revenue back to their country and guess what they do with it? They build more labs, pay scientist salaries, make more advancement and make their own country greater. Is it so difficult to see that we can never be great if we keep looking for handouts, keep being more and more dependent? We keep outsourcing our ability to think, to create, to innovate, all for short term gain. We need to  invest in ourselves, make OUR own mistakes; learn from them in a bid to create an environment for global giants to emerge in Nigeria, by Nigerians for Nigerians on

OUR OWN TERMS.
This is more than agriculture it is more than science it is about us as a people deciding to stand. It is about not leaving a legacy of slavery and sickness to our children and future generations.

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