From Agent Orange to Soylent Green

You probably do not notice that when you sink your pearly whites into the bun of that cheeseburger you are supporting a chemical company. When you reach across the table for those potato chips you are ingesting a genetically modified product. The condiments ooze from the burger, perhaps dripping with remnants of herbicides. You were never aware of this, nor do you have a choice as a powerful regime resides. Food sustains life and this is Monsanto’s gift to you, as they set out to own intellectual property behind most food in America.

As the manufacturer of Agent Orange, a lethal herbicide used for chemical warfare in Vietnam, Monsanto Company has now shifted to consumer products. What better way to pull in a customer than with the promise of food? Perhaps they felt so bad about taking so many lives that now they want to give them back. Monsanto took one step further; a patent on life.

This idea came about during the 1980s. By utilizing genetic, techniques Monsanto was able to create foods derived from genetically modified organisms (GMO). They did this with a soybean in an effort to make it resistant to powerful herbicides. This way, fewer insecticides would be used and the chemicals that were used would not kill their crops. It was highly successful. Now they legally own this powerful tool.

Also the creator of “Roundup,” Monsanto found an efficient way to destroy all forms of vegetation and still have theirs thrive. When they began selling their “Roundup Ready Soybeans” during the mid-90s, only 2 percent of soybeans in the U.S. contained their patented gene. In America’s present day, well over 90 percent of soybeans contain Monsanto’s patented gene.

These statistics are staggering and unruly, considering the fact that soy is used in a majority of foods and an array of buyer products. Soy is a universal ingredient for pasta, pudding, cookies, crackers, bologna, hot dogs, mayonnaise, salad dressings, sauces, potato chips, and French fries, just to name a few. The issue here is whether it is ethically or politically justified to have one solitary company gain this much control over a lucrative business such as the food industry. Since capitalism is the basic principle of the American economy, consumers assume that they have choices. They have been terrifyingly misled.

Not once have I ever read on any public label that these items were processed with GMO, nor was I ever informed that these ingredients were formerly bathed in toxic herbicides. Granted that herbicides such as “Roundup” that Monsanto gloriously hold high on their pedestal of achievements, has never publicly received any heat for causing harm to people. Then again, I wouldn’t go willingly drink it, either. This is our food and it should be sacred. Perhaps our trust is much too unconditional.

As I pedal furiously on my bicycle across my rural countryside, I pass fields of agriculture harboring stretches of soy. I peel open my eyes for answers. In high hopes I search for labels within the grocery store and seeking ingredients straight from the source. Yet I find nothing educating me on the origins of these crops. Companies such as these have always fought against labeling. It’s not like they have competition. Monsanto holds the voice of politicians within the palm of their hand.

Monsanto held close ties with the Bush administration and exclusively with Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. Close ties trace back to the Clinton administration as well. More recently Michael Taylor advised Monsanto on genetically modified food labeling. He oversaw the Food and Drug Administration’s decision not to label genetically modified foods.

Half a century ago the vast majority of plant breeding was done in public institutions. Public plant breeding is now a thing of the past. The practice of seed cleaning ensured farmers the use of seeds leftover for the next season to come. With stringent laws declared by Monsanto, this practice is now prohibited, and is considered breaking their patent. If not supplied by Monsanto for each new season, thus giving them influence on their product, then where do local and independent farmers turn to? There are only a few remaining public plant breeding institutions left in the country and when Monsanto buys them out there will be nowhere to turn.

A fierce and powerful monopoly reigning over such a powerful necessity as food is a dangerous factor. Monsanto holds a reputation and policy of filing lawsuits and taking legal action against farmers as their crops are cross contaminated, leaving them helpless to prove they have not violated a patent. The public needs to be aware of such an issue, especially when deregulation is strongly required. Monsanto is currently expanding to alfalfa. What will be next? As it surrounds its weak competitors, conventional industry is eliminated. This leaves you as a consumer with no voice or leg to stand on.

5 thoughts on “From Agent Orange to Soylent Green

  1. An excellent article and the issues of Agent Orange,GMO and Roundup are well linked. If I may add that this year 2011 I was in Vietnam to commemorate the 50th annivesrary of when spraying of Agent Orange began 10th August 1961, and it continued to be sprayed for ten-years. The results can be seen today 50 years later with near to four million Vietnamese suffereing from it effects. The people I have seen affected are all ages. What is a crime that remians unpunished is to see the youngsters born many years after the war ended and the spraying stopped.

    To see a child of 8 years with no arms, another minus leg/s, bodies twisted due to Spina Bifida and many more. And yet neither the US givernment or any of the US chemical companies headed by Monsanto have accepted responsibility nor will they make any compensation.

    An international campaign to bring justice to the Vietnamese is needed. Can I ask readers of this excellent article to press the US govt and Monsanto to pay up.

  2. Great article! If you haven’t already, check out the Organic Consumers Association’s Millions Against Monsanto campaign. We’re with you!

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