Combating GMO 'fear-mongering' at America's Monsanto

Apr 08, 2014 by Juliette Michel
The entrance sign is seen at the headquarters of Monsanto, at Creve Coeur in St. Louis, Missouri, on April 7, 2014

At a laboratory at its headquarters in the US heartland, a Monsanto scientist demonstrates how genetic material is inserted into plants, a common procedure still viewed as a dark art in parts of the world.

In Chesterfield, Missouri, outside of St. Louis, the Monsanto biologist wields a pipette and two shucked ears of corn to show how genes are transferred when creating genetically modified seeds.

The process is always being refined at this massive biotech conglomerate, with some 1,200 employees constantly on the search for new inroads in the science.

Researchers can even cross corn with animal genes if they want, although "we don't do that mostly for public perception purposes," explained Ray Dobert, a company official in charge of biotech regulatory policy at Monsanto, who often is tasked with public presentations for the company, the world's leader in GMO seed production.

Labs containing much of Monsanto's latest research in this science remain closed to visitors, who nevertheless were able to tour parts of the facility, and to peer at its greenhouses, with plants growing under multi-hued lights.

For many years in the United States, corn, soybeans and other crops have been genetically modified to enhance their appearance or to improve yield, with no discernible negative health effects on the public.

Genetically modified food has been responsible for "not a single issue on food safety," said Robert Fraley, Monsanto's executive vice president and chief technology officer. "Not a hiccup, not a stomach ache."

Monsanto is the world's top producer of genetically altered seeds, which it says are far more resilient against pests and harsh weather, yielding crops that are more abundant and more marketable.

Other genetically-modified seeds are resistant to herbicides, allowing for spraying that will eradicate unwanted weeds and plants, but leave the desired crops unharmed.

Journalists assembled at the company's headquarters in Creve Coeur, a few miles from the research center on a recent visit hailed from skeptical Europe, where the public has been far more resistent to the promise of genetic manipulation.

Europeans—and some Americans as well—worry about the possible negative health and environmental consequences of crop varieties whipped up in a Petri dish, but Fraley dismissed such concerns.

The widely accepted belief in much of the United States that genetically modified foods are safe "does not prevent misinformation on the Internet, or ... fear-mongering," he said.

He also rejected criticism that farmers will become dependent on Monsanto products or that they are being duped into paying premium prices for the GMO seeds sold exclusively by the company.

"You might be able to fool a farmer a year. But they are savvy businessmen. No one can fool them to buy a product that does not add value," Fraley said.

In fact , Fraley said, are more needed than ever.

He points to rising world population, and the need to feed a planet where more people have entered the ranks of the middle class and demand more and better food.

The amount of arable land is finite, the scientists at Monsanto said, underscoring the need to create increasing crop yield per acre of land already in cultivation.

Scientists here also point to the inexorable march of voracious insects, which threaten to devour much of the world's produce—but not, they maintain, those crops they have genetically designed to repel them.

In the face of growing demand for its products, the company has boasted healthy revenue growth of 21 percent last year.

It plans to spend $435 million to expand its facilities here and says it plans to add 800 more researchers to its ranks.

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spidusb
4.1 / 5 (9) Apr 08, 2014
This is a very under-researched story. It tells nothing of crop contamination and the resulting law-suits Monsanto and its subsidiaries bring against unsuspecting farmers who never wanted their product in the first place. It does not tell of a world-wide attempt by Monsanto to patent FOOD. "Monsanto! The same company that brought you AGENT ORANGE". This article fails to mention the poisoned community living near their plant with massively elevated cancer rates compared to neighboring communities. I have one simple request: label it. Let the uniformed market make up its own mind. Do not force the choice on people. Respect the public enough to tell them.
loneislander
3.7 / 5 (7) Apr 08, 2014
Easy way to get rid of GMO "'fear-mongering'": Label everything with GMO in it. Allow the public to decide.

1) the "fear" is gone instantly and, 2) people won't buy what causes damage over time.

What this does not address is the fact (FACT) that all GMO (if the particular combination could not happen in nature) is in fact genetic pollution, which, has no half-life and stays around forever.

Insanity. Pure gluttonous insanity -- right up there with war.
TegiriNenashi
2 / 5 (4) Apr 08, 2014
"...Scientists here also point to the inexorable march of voracious insects, which threaten to devour much of the world's produce..."

"Climate change" threatening the crops is nowhere in the picture... Or those pesky insects are AGW displaced species ("climate refugees")?
scalefreenetwork
3.7 / 5 (3) Apr 08, 2014
It is also interesting to note that the journalist highlights the demands for "more food" - and "increasing crop yield" - with growing populations.
Monsanto and other GMO advocates have been promising this old chesnut for DECADES...and don't have any evidence of a crop which delivers.

Also, the claim "genetically modified crops, Fraley said, are more needed than ever" would be laughable, if it weren't so tragic. Given the cycle of seed patenting & licensing and the destruction of alternative species of similar crops by Monsanto - OF COURSE GENETICALLY MODIFIED CROPS ARE MORE NEEDED THAN EVER!!!
More info here:
http://www.global.../5329947
Deadbolt
2.7 / 5 (3) Apr 08, 2014
GMO as a concept = fine.

Monsanto being the ones leading the GMO revolution = horrible.

Monsanto is a vicious disgusting company that has used IP rights to genes to fuck over small farmers when Monsanto seeds end up contaminating those farmer's lands.
Bob Phelps
4.3 / 5 (6) Apr 08, 2014
This is the same old disinformation, crafted by PR companies and repeated ad nauseum.
GM crops yield no better than good conventional varieties. For instance, non-GM Europe's agriculture outperforms the GM-dominated USA's farms: http://www.global.../5341518 Download the peer -reviewed paper here: http://dx.doi.org...3.806408
To meet the challenges of climate change, & depletion of the oil and phosphate reserves on which high input industrial farms depend, we should resource other agricultural research priorities that focus, for example, on soil restoration, water conservation, and the sustainable eco-agricultural systems which the UN's IAASTD report asserts can 'feed the world', in perpetuity: http://www.unep.o...ult.aspx
That is a more credible solution than Roundup tolerant GM crops.
TegiriNenashi
1.9 / 5 (9) Apr 08, 2014
What is this, Luddite festival? Monsanto or not, there are so many exciting things happening in synthetic biology! If you insist that old ["organic"?] way is just fine, you'll be rendered obsolete on footnote of history.
scalefreenetwork
3.3 / 5 (7) Apr 09, 2014
TegiriNenashi, I suggest you read about who the Luddites were, and what they stood for - before throwing ridiculous names and claims around.
Let me guess, you believe new-technologies = progress = benefits. How cute.
And I'm really glad that you find synthetic biology exciting...but if you blindly believe that synthetic/systems biologists are capable of anticipating all of the potential complex interactions which occur within and between cellular lifeforms, you're kidding yourself.
It's only a matter of time before the release of a synthetic organism has unforeseen catastrophic consequences across many of our planetary ecosystems...
Lex Talonis
3.7 / 5 (3) Apr 09, 2014
These fuckers at Monsanto should be shot.

Watch this video of how the fuckers running Monsanto put farmers out of buisness with bogus law suits they caused... and see what a bare faced pack of lying cunts they are.

Percy Schmiser vs. Monsanto - parts 1, 2, 3.

https://www.youtu...LZSCsRLs

https://www.youtu...uhJ2mrf8

https://www.youtu...ga2EKev8
Lex Talonis
3.7 / 5 (3) Apr 09, 2014
A speech by Percy Schmeiser, a Canadian farmer sued by Monsanto because pollen from GM canola blew onto his field.

https://www.youtu...LZSCsRLs

https://www.youtu...uhJ2mrf8

https://www.youtu...ga2EKev8
Lex Talonis
5 / 5 (1) Apr 09, 2014
Ooooo,
Spadia
Apr 09, 2014
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
LariAnn
5 / 5 (1) Apr 09, 2014
Monsanto is only half the problem - the other half is the courts that side with them in lawsuits brought against farmers for "patent infringement". Yes, your pollen comes into my fields and seeds are produced as a result. I always save my seeds from the current year to plant next year so I don't have to buy them - but now I'm infringing on a patent because wind-blown pollen from GMO crops has contaminated my seeds. That's your way of forcing me to buy seeds every year. Kiss my butt, Monsanto, and the courts you've paid off to support you as well.
aturc
not rated yet Apr 09, 2014
Ya Monsanto is about the epitome of reckless profiteers. They really need to be reined in.

I often read the posts on climate change articles, because I kind of enjoy watching science bared down to its overtly political roots (a la Kuhn), leaving a "post-normal", that is without political consensus, science flopping around. It is all pretty revealing. Not that I don't think science doesn't continue to exist in these cases, but that it becomes incredibely hard to sort out the issues if enough political positioning, read disinformation, is flying around.

I was expecting something similar, but I was pleasantly surprised to see that all the comments here were overwhelmingly negative.
Pejico
Apr 09, 2014
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
TegiriNenashi
3 / 5 (2) Apr 11, 2014
It's only a matter of time before the release of a synthetic organism has unforeseen catastrophic consequences across many of our planetary ecosystems...


Do you realize that DNA changes happen in nature all the time? That there is really no difference between synthetic molecule, and the one created by random mutation? All those evil Monsanto lab coats are doing is controlled steering of genetic evolution that carries on in nature with or without your permission.

Let me put it this way. You are responsible organic farmer who grows tomatoes, and select seeds of the best species to plant for next year. No, you shouldn't do that! Who knows what side effects your introduction of the new, supposedly genetically superior organisms might have.

Still not clear? You and your wife decide to make a child. How do you know the combination of your genes wont create a Frankenstein?
btb101
5 / 5 (1) Apr 12, 2014
so why won't they eat their own GMO in their own canteen? They only allow organic to be served..

double standards or something they are not telling us?
Let he eat the fruits of his labor first..
Agomemnon
not rated yet Apr 14, 2014
Its not just Monsanto its also the FDA, USDA and EPA..
FDA has never approved a GMO as safe. They do no safety testing or analysis of the genetic damage done by GE (example the gm soy has 700 times the allergen of non-gmo soy)
USDA permits the applicatiEon of glyphosate without restriction.
EPA keeps increasing the allowable amount of glyphosate, a cancer-causing, endocrine disrupting, herbicide that is also patented as an antibiotic in our water and our food.
Oh,,the EPA refuses to test the levels in the environment but scientists and doctors are finding this build up in the human body and breast milk.
aau93940
not rated yet Apr 14, 2014
That there is really no difference between synthetic molecule, and the one created by random mutation
Actually it really is. At first, Monsanto technologies aren't still perfect and the rezidui of viral vectors appears in products. These viral RNA may be mutagenic and inhibite the RNA silencing. The GMO products contain terminator genes, leading to infertility and occasionally complete lost of harvest. The original gene mutations come from chromosomal DNA, but in GMO they're inserted as a loop of extrachromosomal DNA and another genes used as markers or triggers for the replication. What this means is, it would be easier and more likely for this artificial gene to be transferred to another organisms, such as a bacterium or virus, than if it were attached as part of a full chromosome.
aau93940
not rated yet Apr 14, 2014
Therefore the inclusion of GMO in the human diet has raised concerns about the transfer of transgenes from GMO to intestinal microflora and enterocytes. For example, researchers have found small pieces of rice ribonucleic acid (RNA) in the blood and organs of humans who eat GMO rice. Another study found in bees a variant of the tobacco ringspot virus, an RNA virus that likely jumped from tobacco plants, to soy plants, to bees. The pigs that ate the GM diet had a higher rate of severe stomach inflammation — 32 percent of GM-fed pigs compared to 12 percent of non-GM-fed pigs.
powerup1
not rated yet Apr 14, 2014
I'm going to invest in Monsanto stock. Many of the people that are against this company are the same people that don't allow their children to be vaccinated, putting us all at risk.
aau93940
not rated yet Apr 14, 2014
people that are against this company are the same people that don't allow their children to be vaccinated, putting us all at risk
Every advantage comes with its own price here.

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