Originated FarmPowerNews. A particular pleasure to see this in Monsanto's home town rag!
Organic Growers, Not Biotech, Will Ensure Safe Food
(Letter to the Editor of the Saint Louis Post Dispatch, Saturday, 6 JanuarY 2001.)
A Dec. 21 article reported on the organic standards recently announced by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The good news is that the USDA has at last heard more than 350,000 public comments in setting its standards for an "organic" food label. "Organic" means, in part, food that is not irradiated, fertilized with sewer sludge or genetically engineered.
The bad news is that the biotech industry wishes to reopen the debate on the grounds that this decision process, in the words of Roger Beachy of the Danforth Plant Science Center (read Monsanto), was "based on philosophy, not food safety." Are we to infer that Monsanto's decisions are based on food safety and not on philosophy?
Indeed, food safety is not the goal of Monsanto's "science," no matter how fervently it may protest. Monsanto's synthetic bovine growth hormone (rBGH) was allowed in the milk supply, without labeling, prior to USDA approval. Then, based solely on the company's data, the Food and Drug Administration conferred carte blanche without further investigation.
All non-Monsanto studies show that rBGH increases mastitis in cows, hence requiring more antibiotics in milk. Even Monsanto had to admit in an article in The Lancet that insulin-like growth factor (IGF-1), a major link to many common cancers, is present in rBGH milk at levels up to six times normal. What sort of philosophy informs such an irresponsible approach to food safety?
Beachy further states that "the goals of the biotech industry are in line with goals of the organic industry." If he means that we organic growers and adherents applaud biotech's effort to control "natural" selection in the lab by violating the integrity of species, he is wrong.
Likewise, we are not placated by biotech's claim to share with organic a common aim to reduce pesticide and herbicide use. Reduction is a feeble ideal; organic culture completely eliminates synthetic chemicals.
Conversely, agri-chemical companies, in the guise of "life sciences," surely have no business interest in reducing the use of their products. Otherwise why would Monsanto have put its flagship Round-Up product on sale (30 percent off) and then contractually forbade purchasers of its GE seed to use any non-Monsanto glyphosate brand? Concurrently, Monsanto applied for and received permits for a three-fold increase in allowable herbicide residue on soybeans. Might it be that the corporation foresaw the rise in chemical dosage, albeit in fewer applications, now occurring?
We have already realized ecological damage wrought by GE. Iowa State University's recent study on Bt and the monarch butterfly confirms Cornell researchers' findings that Bt pollen is lethal to feeding monarch caterpillars. Controls on GE's entry into our food supply do not work as seen in the notorious GMO taco shell fiasco. The risks of further catastrophic effects of genetic engineering are too great to permit further marketing of products that we do not need.
If pollen drift from millions of gene-altered acres does not pollute organic growers' fields, the true practitioners of life sciences can renew the earth.
Organic growers restore topsoil, along with right livelihood. No profit-generating patents on "intellectual property" need apply! Organic secrets belong to Gaia and are available free to all. We must sustain the international movement to keep GE foods out of our fields and off of our tables.