As you tell people about Monsanto and GMOs, the most common response you will hear is this: “What’s Monsanto?” and “What are GMOs?”
Following are some talking points to help you answer those questions. (Thanks to Occupy Monsanto for providing the graphic and most of these talking points.)
The Monsanto Company is one of the world’s largest pesticide and seed companies. It is also the largest producer of genetically modified organisms. Genetic modification is based on the idea that God and Mother Nature don’t know what they are doing. And that we human beings, through crude and imprecise laboratory methods, can combine unrelated species, to create life forms that survive and thrive in toxic chemical baths or which generate poisons from within their cells, turning those plants into pesticides, plants which we then eat.
Monsanto is corrupt. Monsanto has built its feudalistic fortune selling agricultural poisons, genetic manipulation, and legal/political posturing. In 2010, Monsanto spent $120 million on advertising to convince consumers that GMO foods are safe, despite scientific evidence suggesting otherwise. For all its self-touting as a champion of farmers and the answer to modern (industrial) agriculture, Monsanto’s real principles are mono-cropping, killing plants and insects, manufacturing infertility, and litigating on behalf of their greedy shareholders.
GMOs are dangerous. The plants produced by Monsanto’s seeds are designed to be treated with toxic herbicides and pesticides, chemicals which have been suspected to increase allergies and have been linked to decreased fertility, asthma, organ failure, and even cancer.
The poisons Monsanto produces are devastating, and they’re getting stronger. The widespread use of herbicides like Monsanto’s RoundUp has given rise to weeds which have become resistant to the very chemical that would inhibit their growth. These superweeds have become an aggressive pest for the average farmer. Monsanto’s answer? New product lines with even more toxic chemicals, and to design crops which are engineered to withstand doses of herbicides that would otherwise kill them. This process renders traditional weed killers less effective and reinforces farmers’ dependence on products, which poison our rivers and groundwater supply.
Monsanto implements business strategies that prey on communities in crisis. Monsanto Company has a nasty habit of pushing their patented seeds, infused with infertility or harmful genetic material, on to communities in crisis. This is their way of locking in customers for the long term. In India, the devastating generational debt faced by farmers has resulted in over 250,000 suicides, as their ability to save, breed, and exchange seeds has been taken from them.
It is our right to know if our food contains genetically engineered material. Since 1992 we have been eating this food without knowing it. Nearly every industrialized country in the world has labeled GMO food, and many have banned it outright. Yet Monsanto Company remains opposed to labels, recently threatening to sue the State of Vermont for their democratically enacted labeling legislation, the Vermont Right to Know Genetically Engineered Food Act (H. 722).
RoundUp poison and RoundUp Ready GMO crops cannot discriminate between pollinators and pests. The use of Monsanto’s patented poisons and GMO crops have been strongly correlated with Colony Collapse Disorder, a loss of 30 to 90 percent of worker honey bees from honeybee colonies. This is a threat to crops everywhere. Monsanto’s pesticides kill not only insect pests, they also kill beneficial insect pollinators like bees and butterflies.