Saturday, January 16, 2010

Two thumbs down, Monsanto

A quick lesson about GMOs (Genetically Modified Organisms also called GEOs, Genetically Engineered Organisms) and why we don't like them:

Techniques, generally known as recombinant DNA technology, combine DNA molecules from different sources into one molecule to create a new set of genes. The new DNA is then transferred into an organism, like a seed, giving it modified, novel and desirable genes like, in the case of corn and soybean seeds: resistance to the pests, resistance to harsh environmental conditions, and resistance to the powerful herbicide: Roundup. Monsanto owns the Roundup Ready trait. And Roundup. And almost all (nine out of ten) soybeans today carry the Roundup Ready trait. Can you say M-m-m-m-monopoly?

So here's what happens:

Farmers have little choice but to use these seeds. Once they do, they have to come back to Monsanto for more because A) the powerful herbicide has basically killed everything in its path and B) it is illegal to save seeds and use them again. Not to mention Monsanto's Roundup Ready corn crops and herbicide resistant soybean crops have disrupted the agricultural system - causing soil erosion, nitrate leeching, and water contamination.

Why bring this up today, you ask? Because of a recent broadcast on NPR about how seed licensing continues to screw farmers. Read the transcript here or listen to it here. Very uncool, Monsanto (Dupont, Syngenta, and Groupe Limagrain).

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