Monsanto is, arguably, the most evil corporation on the face of the earth (more on that later). But what is even more troublesome is that Monsanto, a corporation, might be more powerful than the nation of Germany!
Germany has banned the cultivation of GM corn, claiming that MON 810 is dangerous for the environment. But that argument might not stand up in court and Berlin could face fines totalling millions of euros if American multinational Monsanto decides to challenge the prohibition on its seed.
So let me get this straight. A nation cannot simply ban Monsanto's product, even after said nation decides that it's bad for the environment? Even though EU law says that they, indeed, can ban such things? Wow.
It seems it's legal for a EU nation to ban such things:
(German Agriculture Minister) Aigner is taking advantage of a clause in EU law which allows individual countries to impose such bans.
And, in fact, this same GM Franken-seed has already been banned in Austria, Hungary, Greece, France and Luxembourg.
So how in the world would Germany lose a fight with Monsanto on this subject?
The ban could prove costly for the German government. Experts in Aigner's ministry recently told SPIEGEL that it will be hard to prove conclusively that MON 810 damages the environment, which could enable Monsanto to win a court case opposing the ban and potentially expose the government to €6-7 million ($7.9-9.2 million) in damages.
Monsanto said Tuesday that it would look into the question of whether it would take legal proceedings as quickly as possible. Andreas Thierfelder, spokesman for Monsanto Germany, said the matter was very urgent as the planting season was just about to start.
Again, let me get this straight. A nation has to prove to a corporation that its product damages the environment, otherwise it can't ban it?
Aren't nations supposed to be more powerful than corporations?
And this isn't just any innocent little company we're talking about, this is Monsanto. What I am about to link to is one of the most depressing stories you'll ever read. It's about farmer suicides in India, thousands of them, caused by Monsanto's marketing of GM seeds to Indian farmers.
Shankara (a farmer who committed suicide), like millions of other Indian farmers, had been promised previously unheard of harvests and income if he switched from farming with traditional seeds to planting GM seeds instead.
Beguiled by the promise of future riches, he borrowed money in order to buy the GM seeds. But when the harvests failed, he was left with spiralling debts - and no income.
So Shankara became one of an estimated 125,000 farmers to take their own life as a result of the ruthless drive to use India as a testing ground for genetically modified crops.
The crisis, branded the 'GM Genocide' by campaigners, was highlighted recently when Prince Charles claimed that the issue of GM had become a 'global moral question' - and the time had come to end its unstoppable march.
Speaking by video link to a conference in the Indian capital, Delhi, he infuriated bio-tech leaders and some politicians by condemning 'the truly appalling and tragic rate of small farmer suicides in India, stemming... from the failure of many GM crop varieties'.
Gosh, so the truth about this "infuriated" the suits at Monsanto. Gee, what a shame, we sure wouldn't want to upset those fat fuckers, now, would we?
I've seen Monsanto apologists come out of the woodwork here on Dailykos. Strange, I know. But they always say "hey, nobody's forcing these farmers to plant this stuff." Well, not so fast:
Village after village, families told how they had fallen into debt after being persuaded to buy GM seeds instead of traditional cotton seeds.
The price difference is staggering: £10 for 100 grams of GM seed, compared with less than £10 for 1,000 times more traditional seeds.
But GM salesmen and government officials had promised farmers that these were 'magic seeds' - with better crops that would be free from parasites and insects.
Indeed, in a bid to promote the uptake of GM seeds, traditional varieties were banned from many government seed banks.
Gee, I wonder how they pulled THAT one off. A few "campaign contributions", Indian style, probably greased the skids for that, don't you think?
Far from being 'magic seeds', GM pest-proof 'breeds' of cotton have been devastated by bollworms, a voracious parasite.
Nor were the farmers told that these seeds require double the amount of water. This has proved a matter of life and death.
With rains failing for the past two years, many GM crops have simply withered and died, leaving the farmers with crippling debts and no means of paying them off.
That brings us to the latest story, which is what inspired me to write this tonight, a story that came out today:
Over 1,500 farmers in an Indian state committed suicide after being driven to debt by crop failure, it was reported today.
The agricultural state of Chattisgarh was hit by falling water levels.
"The water level has gone down below 250 feet here. It used to be at 40 feet a few years ago," Shatrughan Sahu, a villager in one of the districts, told Down To Earth magazine.
I'm sure there's no connection between the crops failing due to a water shortage, and GM crops being planted that require twice as much water as the traditional varieties.
This latest tragedy has also been driven by other "positive economic development" in India, such as a lack of planning when building dams:
Bharatendu Prakash, from the Organic Farming Association of India, told the Press Association: "Farmers' suicides are increasing due to a vicious circle created by money lenders. They lure farmers to take money but when the crops fail, they are left with no option other than death."
Mr Prakash added that the government ought to take up the cause of the poor farmers just as they fight for a strong economy.
"Development should be for all. The government blames us for being against development. Forest area is depleting and dams are constructed without proper planning.
Oh hell, farmers. Who needs 'em?
So what can we do? Well considering Monsanto is possibly more powerful than Germany, probably not that much. But I did find this, at The Organic Consumer's Association:
This one link has an enormous treasure trove of info on Monsanto's dirty work, and action items we can take. They're really on top of it, and I highly recommend you go there. And make sure you get on their mailing list, for their regular newsletter. It's full of great information that you can actually use.
Somehow, the world has to stand up to Monsanto.
UPDATE: Well, as I predicted, Monsanto apologists are popping up all over here. So here's some more information that many people might not be aware of:
After we invaded Iraq, we forced laws upon the Iraqis regarding the use of "patented" seeds from Monsanto. Ironic considering that the Tigris and Euphrates are considered the cradle of civilization, a place where agriculture got its start (at least mythically). But no, it's all been co-opted now by Big American Corporations:
For generations, small farmers in Iraq operated in an essentially unregulated, informal seed supply system. Farm-saved seed and the free innovation with and exchange of planting materials among farming communities has long been the basis of agricultural practice. This is now history. The CPA has made it illegal for Iraqi farmers to re-use seeds harvested from new varieties registered under the law. Iraqis may continue to use and save from their traditional seed stocks or what’s left of them after the years of war and drought, but that is the not the agenda for reconstruction embedded in the ruling. The purpose of the law is to facilitate the establishment of a new seed market in Iraq, where transnational corporations can sell their seeds – genetically modified or not, which farmers would have to purchase afresh every single cropping season.
While historically the Iraqi constitution prohibited private ownership of biological resources, the new US-imposed patent law introduces a system of monopoly rights over seeds. Inserted into Iraq's previous patent law is a whole new chapter on Plant Variety Protection (PVP) that provides for the "protection of new varieties of plants." PVP is an intellectual property right (IPR) or a kind of patent for plant varieties which gives an exclusive monopoly right on planting material to a plant breeder who claims to have discovered or developed a new variety. So the "protection" in PVP has nothing to do with conservation, but refers to safeguarding of the commercial interests of private breeders (usually large corporations) claiming to have created the new plants.
Sure, this is just the "free market" at work. Not.
And as obiterdictum points out in a comment, Monsanto is heavily entwined with the Obama administration as well:
Secretary of Agriculture MonsantoTom Vilsack. (3+ / 0-)
Here's the real story: Obama's Secretary of Agriculture is a Monsanto shill.
Obama, like Clinton, turned over the U.S. Department of Agriculture to Monsanto.
This is not about whether Monsanto is more powerful than Germany. It's about Monsanto being more powerful than our government. It's about Monsanto BEING our government.