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I have been reporting on the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture's raids on Mennonite dairy farmers, on the recent Ohio Department of Agriculture SWAT team raid on an organic coop, on the USDA's terrible weapon against all farmers with animals (NAIS - the National Animal Identification System) - trying to give an idea of the destructive forces being used intentionally against non-corporate farming.  

But unless one sees what is happening to seeds themselves, one misses the scope of things.

Life itself depends on seeds.  

Multinational biotech corporations such as Monsanto have been genetically engineering them, promoting GE-seeds as producing better yields, helping the starving of the world, using less pesticides and as a boon to small farmers.  

Independent studies already show crop failures

and a link between GE-crops and organ damage and various

and it's clear they are designed to require petroleum-based pesticides and the use of pesticides has gone up with their use.

But even if the GE-seeds were wonderful and all that was promised, the real problem with them are the patents they come with.  The biotech companies are monopolizing seeds themselves, actually privatizing the DNA of life.  They sell the GE-seeds at many times the price of normal seeds.  In India, where Bt-cotton farmers have been committing suicide in huge numbers because of debt, Monsanto sells Bt-cotton seed at 1000% higher than normal seeds.

And the seeds come with a contract that must be signed, preventing farmers from collecting seeds off their own land at the end of the season - an historic rupture of humankind's free access to natural growth.  For it is important to notice that the biotech multinationals are not just claiming a patent on their process of altering the seeds but claim to own growth itself.

As astounding a move as that is on human resources of survival, they are doing more.  They are removing actively and aggressively and thoroughly removing access to normal "open pollinated" seeds, the ones we have known since the beginning of time, that farmers have collected and saved and shared among each other.

In the Midwest, where Monsanto sells GE-corn and GE-soy and now owns most of it, it also bought up the "normal seed" companies so farmers no longer have places to go for normal corn or soy.  And though GE-corn cross pollinates over miles and miles with normal corn so maintaining organic corn is nearly impossible now, if its GE-crop is found on a farmer's land, Monsanto sues.  It's a rare farmer who can stand up them, even if the farmer has done nothing wrong.  

Having bought up the normal seed companies, having locked farmers in the Midwest (only an example, it is true worldwide) into patent contracts that remove their right to collect seeds anymore, having set loose a biotechnology that contaminates normal seeds of farmers who do not buy into the patented seeds, having made plain it will sue if even a volunteer plant comes up, Monsanto is now working to eliminate the last man standing between humans and corporate privatized seeds - the seed cleaner.

The farmers has had three choices - to buy normal seed (now almost gone), to buy GE-seeds at huge cost (and going

or to collect their own seeds and use them the next season.  If a farmer has even 10 acres, collecting and cleaning those seeds is a huge task.  If he has 1000, it  would be an impossible task without the seed cleaner whose equipment can separate out seed in just a few hours and whose costs are 1/3 that of buying normal seed.  

Thus, the move to eliminate seed cleaners.  

The seed cleaner is the man who makes sustainable agriculture possible.

So, Monsanto is picking off seed cleaners now across the Midwest, in Missouri,

in Indiana,

and now in Illinois where they are going after Steve Hixon.

Shortly after someone broke into Mr. Hixon's office and he found his account book on his truck seat where he would never have left it, and every one of his remotely located and very scattered customers had three men (described as goons with "no necks") arrive at their farm, going out onto it without permission.  They appear to have serving over 200 farmers.  Mr. Hixon and state police who were called in, believe a GPS tracking device may have been put on Mr. Hixon's mobile seed cleaning equipment.  All of his customers being sued are being intensely pressured to settle, with men coming back again and again and with daily calls and letters.  It appears they are being given a choice between being sued or settling out of court or testifying against Mr. Hixon that he encouraged them to clean GE-seeds.  

Monsanto has made a fortune on these kinds of Mafia extortion settlements since no farmer has the money to stand up to them, so paying them off some huge amount even if the farmer has done nothing, saves them from legal costs they can't possibly manage and a potentially worse fate if they hire some little local lawyer to go up against not one but multiple legal teams working for Monsanto and present in court.  And almost always the case is set in St. Louis where Monsanto is based).

The first words out of the judge's mouth when Moe Parr, a seed cleaner in Indiana, was sued, were "It's a honor to have a fine company like Monsanto in my courtroom."

In addition to the personal attacks on seed cleaners, Monsanto is getting laws put into place in state after state that themselves are overwhelming and destructive of seed cleaners and all those who save normal seeds.

A bill has been introduced in the Ohio state legislature (United States) that would require registration and state-level regulation of anyone who cleans or conditions self-pollinated seed. According to the Rural Advancement Foundation International (RAFI), the proposed legislation is part of Monsanto's aggressive corporate strategy to police rural communities and intimidate seed-saving farmers.

"The proposed legislation is part of a dangerous trend to eliminate or restrict the right of farmers to save and exchange seed - all in the name of increasing seed industry profits" explains Hope Shand, Research Director of RAFI. "We weren't surprised to learn that Monsanto is behind the bill, because the company is already waging a ferocious campaign against seed-saving farmers and it's actively developing the controversial suicide seeds - or Terminator technology," said Shand. Terminator is a technique for genetically altering a plant so that the seeds it produces are sterile.

According to the Ohio Seed Improvement Association, the proposal to amend Ohio's seed law originated with agribusiness giant Monsanto last year. Monsanto is the world's largest seller of genetically modified seed. Under US patent law it is illegal for farmers to save patented seed. To enforce its exclusive monopoly, Monsanto has aggressively prosecuted farmers for what the company calls "seed piracy." But seed saving is illegal only if the farmer is saving or re-using patented seed. Farmers who grow soybeans and wheat, for example, typically save seed from their harvest to re-plant the following year. An estimated 25% of North American soybean seed is farm-saved seed.

Monsanto has waged an aggressive, Draconian campaign against seed-saving farmers in North America. The company has hired Pinkerton investigators to root-out seed-saving farmers and it is using radio ads and telephone "tiplines" in farming communities to identify and intimidate farmers who might save or re-use the company's patented seed. Under Monsanto's gene licensing agreement, the company reserves the right to come onto the farmer's land and take seed samples to insure that the farmer is not violating patent law.

"It appears that Monsanto's newest strategy is to shift the expense and burden of policing rural communities to the seed cleaners and state governments. If the bill becomes law, Monsanto's "gene police" will ultimately become state regulators who are working on behalf of Monsanto," explains Pat Mooney, Executive Director of RAFI.

"The Ohio legislation is unfair to farmers because it places an onerous regulatory burden on all seed-saving farmers and seed cleaners - not just farmers who buy Monsanto's patented seed," explains Shand. If the bill becomes law, it would require seed cleaners to keep detailed records on every seed cleaning transaction, to document the name of the farmer, seed variety names and whether or not the seed is protected by patents or breeders' rights. "In essence, the bill discriminates against farmers who are lawfully saving and re-planting open-pollinated seed varieties," asserts RAFI's Shand.

Ohio farmer and custom seed cleaner Roger Peters opposes the proposed bill to regulate open-pollinated seed cleaners. "Why should any farmer be forced to keep records on law-abiding farmers who clean their own seed?" asks Peters. "And why should public tax dollars be used to protect the patents of private seed companies like Monsanto?" questions Peters.

"State-level seed laws are supposed to protect farmers, not penalize them," asserts Sean McGovern, Executive Administrator of the Ohio Ecological Food and Farmers Association, a Columbus, Ohio-based organization that promotes sustainable agriculture and certifies organic farmers. "I can't imagine any use for this bill accept to enforce Monsanto's patents," concludes McGovern.

If Monsanto can eliminate seed cleaners, they would have accomplished a TOTAL monopoly in the Midwest, the bread basket of the world, and they would control world food, feed and now bio-fuel prices at will.  They would, as well, have broken the fragile dam that seed cleaners and seed bankers now provide against the insanely-fast and just plain insane on-coming tide genetic engineering.

And Monsanto is working closely with the FDA in redefining seeds as a potential health hazard, subject to bioterrorism, and under that rubric to create rules for importation (controlling access)

             Interim final rules on Prior Notice of Importation

rules for registering acceptable facilities (setting up corporate standards for the storage seeds, threatening small farmers)

             Interim final rules on Registration of Food Facilities

rules for talking police control of the seeds (allowing for raids on farmers)

             Final rules on Administrative Detention

and rules for a level of record keeping almost impossible for small farmers and ordinary people to achieve.
            Upcoming final rule on Establishment and Maintenance of Records.

"These new rules will allow FDA to better identify potentially dangerous foods, as well as respond more quickly to new threats and to handle foodborne illness outbreaks more efficiently."

Using the Bioterrorism Act and the Food Emergency Response Network (FERN), the FDA now has a focus on seeds which includes

  1.  Prevention (federal and state surveillance sampling programs to monitor the food supply)
  1.  Preparedness (strengthen laboratory capacity and capabilities)
  1.  Response (surge capacity to handle terrorist attacks or a national emergency involving the food supply), and
  1.  Recovery (support recalls, seizures, and disposal of contaminated food or feed to restore confidence in the food supply).

For those of you painfully familiar with what is happening to real milk dairy farmers and the government use of false "contamination" reports to raid farms, steal products ad equipment and terrorize and destroy farmers, it will be important to see how "bioterrorism" has now moved control over normal food even more tightly into the hands of government/corporate agencies, giving them national reach, crushing regulations for farmers, immense policing power over food,  and the use of an emergency to be able to seize and destroy anything they choose.  

At the level of seeds, it is important note that Monsanto is promoting every part of this.

"Good morning, thank you Jim (Jim Tobin, Monsanto, Vice-Chair of ASTA) for your kind introduction. I’m pleased to meet with you this morning, and to participate in this historic joint meeting of ASTA and the Association of Seed Certifying Agencies (AOSCA).

I congratulate ASTA on its distinction of being one of the oldest trade organizations in the US, (founded in 1883). Both ASTA and AOSCA (established in 1919) are organizations with a long and distinguished history of working together in the development, production, preservation, distribution, and quality assurance of plant seeds. Certainly seeds are the foundation for both human and animal life on earth, providing food, fiber for clothing, and many industrial products that we all use every day."

The laboratories that FERN uses represent the FDA, FSIS, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of Defense, Bureau of Customs and Border Protection, the Agricultural Marketing Service, the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, and the Grain Inspection Packers and Stockyards Agency. Other federal members of the FERN include the Agricultural Research Service, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the Department of Homeland Security, the Laboratory Response Network (LRN) and the National Animal Health Laboratory Network (NAHLN).

The FDA talks about "a safety net" for human health but it is one defined by corporations and one that is closing on our small farmers' existence.

And even the FDA's basic food safety is being "set" in a way aimed to destroy seed cleaners and (if you will notice in the short list below) organic farming itself.

FDA's guidance on good agricultural practices (GAPs) can be found in the

FDA Guide to Minimize Microbial Hazards for Fresh Fruit and Vegetables

where the key sources of contamination in seed production include:

Agricultural water sources
Use of manure as fertilizer
Harvesting, transportation, and seed-cleaning equipment
Seed storage facilities

Please note the FDA does not include Monsanto's petroleum-based fertlizers or pesticides, or GE-labs, as potential sources of contamination.

In addition to buying on seed companies, suing farmers, eliminating seed cleaners, putting laws against seed cleaning and saving into place, influencing the FDA and Homeland Security regulations on seeds that set farmers up to lose theirs in "food safety" or "bioterrorism" raids, a law in Canada pushed by the FDA, USDA and the WTO (all heavily involved with Monsanto) would criminalize all natural substances.  Thought it initially seems to be "only" an attack by the pharmaceutical industry on all natural health substances, it would include seeds and seed banking.  And it would become law in the US - and without any ability to vote against it - if the North American Union is passed.

"What if, just for taking vitamin C, you could be thrown in jail for up to 2 years and fined up to $5,000,000?

That scenario could very well soon become a reality in Canada. The Canadian Government is trying to pass a bill known as Bill C51. According to some interpretations of the bill, it would remove all supplements from over-the-counter availability, by only allowing MD’s to prescribe them as they see fit.

This would mean that if you wanted to take a multivitamin, you would have to book an appointment with your doctor and try to convince your doctor that you are in need of these supplements. If your doctor decides a certain drug would be better for you, then you won‘t have access to your supplements anymore.

Consequences of the bill could include:

  1.  No more supplement stores
  1.  Supplements made illegal unless obtained through a prescription; 70 percent of all current supplements on the market could be removed
  1.  Fines of up to $5,000,000.00 and/or 2 years in jail per incident of being caught breaking this law

We need to understand that the effort to defend Steve Hixon, a seed cleaner, is an effort to defend the right of all of us and of our farmers worldwide to OPEN access to normal seeds.  We must protect those who collect and clean them and we must roll back the massive corporate efforts to utterly control them - by criminalizing any aspect of owning, growing, collecting, storing and re-using of them.  

Seeds are life and survival itself and our human right to access to them is being taken over.  That is why people are coming together now to help defend Steve Hixon, a seed cleaner.  

For those interested in joining FarmOn, a list aimed at providing funds to support the legal teams gathering to help Hixon, go to and request to sign on.

Originally posted to Scaredhuman on Mon Dec 15, 2008 at 08:18 PM PST.

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  •  Tip jar for free human collection of seeds (463+ / 0-)
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  •  Hilarious diary. (14+ / 0-)

    The North American Union?


    And whatever point you are trying to make is highly weakened inclusion of bills which would, finally, regulate the hideous, profit-driven, scam 'natural products' industry.  

    If supplement manufacturers would spend some of the $39 of profit they make on every $40 bottle of placebo, on research, to prove their stuff does anything, they wouldn't be affected by this.  But their stuff doesn't work, or it is harmful, so they don't even try to prove anything.

  •  I must confess... (18+ / 0-)

    I didn't read your entire diary; however, I agree with the premise behind it.  Many years ago I read about Monsanto, its GE (I thought it was GM) seeds, and how they were suing farmers and winning, when their seeds blew onto that farmers land.

    Farmers traditionally obtained their seeds for next years crops from their current years crops, or bought new seed when they couldn't.  Since the "GE" seeds are patented, this causes farmers to buy the seeds year after year, rather than cultivating their own.

    As I understand it, the original genetically modified seed suit filed by Monsanto was filed under the NAFTA agreement, against a Canadian farmer who didn't use Monsanto, but who found his own fields infiltrated with the modified seeds that had blown onto his property...

    •  I try to understand the logic behind all of this. (6+ / 0-)

      Here is a little mental experiment that works for me.

      Let's say a farmer has a cow who gets out of its field and wanders into my yard.  

      I'd probably try to go out and pet it but never mind that.  Let's say the cow does a little minor damage to my plants and lawn ornaments.

      Before leaving my yard the cow does what cows do and takes a poop or two in my yard.

      Should I be allowed to sue the cow's owner for the damage done in my yard?  Should I also have to return the poop to the farmer since the cow and it's poop are actually the property of said owner?

      Would it be wrong of me to use the poop as fertilizer in my yard?  

      •  seriously, why can't we sue Montsano? (17+ / 0-)

        It sure seems like a ripe time to do so.

        Wouldn't there be strong grounds that Montsano is polluting other farmer's fields with noxious, invasive GM crap?

        What other grounds are there?  Surely we can sue them for violating basic rights.

        I'd like to see their corporate charter revoked. I've read about efforts described in Yes! Magazine where municipalities have taken actions relating to such revocation.

        How about if a few large counties in the midwest tell Montsano to fuck off?  

      •  Never heard it reduced to poop but that works. (13+ / 0-)

        Usually I hear the analogy as a lousy bull getting into a field of specially bred cows and impregnating them.  By Monsanto's way of doing business, the owners of the cow owes the owner of the bull.    

        Makes no sense.

        Of course the analogies break down on realizing that GE-crop contamination is terribly serious and irreversible.
        GMO Contamination in Mexico's Cradle of Corn

        Thursday 11 December 2008

        by: Joëlle Stolz, Le

        Researchers who conducted a study confirming the presence of transgenes in Mexico's traditional corn varieties worry about the possible loss of corn as a food. (Photo: STRINGER Mexico / Reuters)
           Raise the alarm for Mexican corn's biosecurity: a molecular study conducted by Mexican, American and Dutch researchers demonstrates the
        presence of genes from genetically modified organisms (GMO) among the varieties of traditional corn cultivated in the remote regions of Oaxaca State in the southern part of the country, even though the Mexican government has always maintained a moratorium on the use of transgenic seed.
           The results of this study incite the experts to demand much more restrictive protective measures. "Old time" agriculture as practiced in Mexico - where wind-blown pollination of corn is the norm and where peasants are in the habit of exchanging their seed - seems to aggravate the risk of rapid GMO contamination.
           An article that details their conclusions should be published in the next edition of the review, "Molecular Ecology." It was written by Elena Alvarez-Buylla of the Institute for Ecology of the Autonomous National University of Mexico (UNAM), with the collaboration of a dozen other scientists.
           Their work could relaunch the controversy that was unleashed in 2001 by a highly controversial article in the magazine, "Nature," the authors of which, biologists David Quist and Ignacio Chapela from the University of  California at Berkeley, revealed that criollos (traditional) corn from the Oaxaca region - one of the cradles of that cereal - were contaminated by Roundup Ready (RR) and Bt genes, property of the American company Monsanto.
           In her book, "The World According to Monsanto," (due for release in March 2009 and already available for pre-order at<>),
        Marie-Monique Robin related how Mr. Chapela became a victim of "media lynching" at that time at the instigation of the dominant company in the GMO market. "Nature" ended up publishing a disclaimer, deeming that the two biologists' article was insufficiently backed up.
           However, seven years later, the work Mrs. Alvarez-Buylla directed broadly confirms their conclusions, as a report published in the November 13 "Nature" emphasizes. The researchers have discovered transgenes in three of the twenty-three fields of Oaxaca's northern sierra where samples were taken in 2001, then in two places sampled in 2004.
           American Allison Snow, of the University of California and author in 2005 of a preliminary study that seemed to undermine Ignacio Chapela and David Quist's discoveries (and which were then immediately exploited by GMO partisans), is publishing an additional complimentary note in the same issue of "Molecular Ecology," in which she judges the molecular analysis conducted by the UNAM team to be "very good," bringing to light "the positive evidence of transgenes."
           This acknowledgement did not come without difficulty. "We battled for two years to get the results of our study published," declares Mrs. Alvarez-Buylla. "In the course of my entire career, I have never encountered so many difficulties! There were efforts to stop the publication of this scientific data!" Biologist José Sarukhan, a UNAM researcher and member of the United States National Academy of Science, had recommended the article for publication by that organization's review. The latter rejected the article in March, with the justification that it risked provoking "excessive media attention for political or environmentally-related reasons ..."
           How - in spite of the moratorium - have GMO transgenes migrated to the far depths of Oaxaca's mountains, and also to Sinaloa State in the north, the biggest producer of corn for human consumption, and to Milpa Alta, a district on the periphery of Mexico? They are found in one percent of the plots analyzed, which is a lot in the Mexican context, where 75 percent of the corn planted comes from seeds selected by peasants from their own harvest.
           The first hypothesis is that some farmers are illegally importing transgenic seeds. Strong suspicions surround the company Pioneer, a big supplier of hybrid corn seeds purchased by Mexico from the United States and distributed to small farmers through government aid programs.
           Preliminary data indicate that a third of Pioneer's seeds are contaminated by GMO, any distinctive labeling of which Monsanto has succeeded in preventing.
           The study's authors call for a strengthening of "biosecurity measures" to preserve native corn varieties, especially in Mexico, corn's "center of origin." They say Mexico must set up truly independent laboratories and adapt criteria of molecular analysis to the Mexican reality, rather than trusting "methods used in countries such as the United States which have an agricultural system entirely different from our own."
           But their greatest concern at present involves planned pharmaceutical trusts which want to make a profit on corn biomass and use it as a bioreactor in order, for example, to express vaccines and anti-coagulants. "Given the incidents that have already occurred in the United States where they have trouble separating bioreactors from GMO, we may fear that corn could turn into the garbage bin of the pharmaceutical industry, at the expense of its purpose as food," fears Mrs. Alvarez-Buylla. "What shall we do when anti-coagulants arrive in Mexicans' tortilla?"

        Translation: Truthout French language editor Leslie

        •  yeah, but where's your science?! <snark> n/t (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          o the umanity
          •  This was found not to be a big problem..... (7+ / 0-)


            In 2000, transgenes were detected in local maize varieties (landraces) in the mountains of Oaxaca, Mexico [Quist, D. & Chapela, I. H. (2001) Nature 414, 541–543]. This region is part of the Mesoamerican center of origin for maize (Zea mays L.), and the genetic diversity that is maintained in open-pollinated landraces is recognized as an important genetic resource of great cultural value. The presence of transgenes in landraces was significant because transgenic maize has never been approved for cultivation in Mexico. Here we provide a systematic survey of the frequency of transgenes in currently grown landraces. We sampled maize seeds from 870 plants in 125 fields and 18 localities in the state of Oaxaca during 2003 and 2004. We then screened 153,746 sampled seeds for the presence of two transgene elements from the 35S promoter of the cauliflower mosaic virus and the nopaline synthase gene (nopaline synthase terminator) from Agrobacterium tumefaciens. One or both of these transgene elements are present in all transgenic commercial varieties of maize. No transgenic sequences were detected with highly sensitive PCR-based markers, appropriate positive and negative controls, and duplicate samples for DNA extraction. We conclude that transgenic maize seeds were absent or extremely rare in the sampled fields. This study provides a much-needed preliminary baseline for understanding the biological, socioeconomic, and ethical implications of the inadvertent dispersal of transgenes from the United States and elsewhere to local landraces of maize in Mexico.

            Published in Proceedings of National Academy of Science.  

            Suggest people seek out current literature using PubMed whenever possible for these discussions on the science rather than the internets.

            You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you mad. Aldous Huxley

            by murrayewv on Tue Dec 16, 2008 at 01:53:23 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Sorry, murrayewv (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              kalmoth, murrayewv

              No one reads the grey boxes after the diary. Another example of misinformation being placed and then never fixed.

              Anyone who has done PCR knows that the potential for contamination is incredibly high, especially if the DNA vectors are grown in the same lab.

              I can't afford any more hair-pullout today.

              Americans, while occasionally willing to be serfs, have always been obstinate about being peasantry. F. Scott Fitzgerald, the Great Gatsby

              by riverlover on Tue Dec 16, 2008 at 05:16:47 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

            •  The validity... (0+ / 0-)

              ...of this study could be greatly compromised by something as simple as prevailing wind.

              •  You say that, but they didn't find it..... (0+ / 0-)

                The prevailing wind isn't all that effective at spreading corn pollen.  Most folks agree the problem is shipping and handling once the corn gets to market or lab contamination of the very sensitive PCR reaction.  

                You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you mad. Aldous Huxley

                by murrayewv on Tue Dec 16, 2008 at 04:02:15 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  Educate me (0+ / 0-)

                  How exactly is corn pollen spread?

                  Farmers' crops which got pollinated by Monsanto crops got that way only after it was shipped to the market?

                  •  Seems a little more complex.... (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:

                    Reading the appellate court ruling to determine the facts.  The famous Canadian case was based on canola or rapeseed, not corn.  Corn is wind pollinated and is usually from close plants- often self pollinating.  Estimates are 100 meters to a max of 300 meters.  The canola case showed more than trace pollination.  

                    Yet, in 1998, tests revealed that 95 to 98 percent of his 1,000 acres of canola crop was made up of Roundup Ready plants.  The origin of the plants is unclear.  They may have been derived from Roundup Ready seed that blew onto or near Schmeiser’s land, and was then collected from plants that survived after Schmeiser sprayed Roundup herbicide around the power poles and in the ditches along the roadway bordering four of his fields. The fact that these plants survived the spraying indicated that they contained the patented gene and cell. The trial judge found that "none of the suggested sources [proposed by Schmeiser] could reasonably explain the concentration or extent of Roundup Ready canola of a commercial quality" ultimately present in Schmeiser’s crop ((2001), 202 F.T.R. 78, at para. 118).


                    Mr. Schmeiser saved seed after using roundup and collected the resistant plants, which could have resulted from crosspollination or the seeds falling from farms nearby losing seeds from trucks along the roadwar.  So he had a round of selection to eliminate the nontransgenic plants rather than have trace amounts in his crop.

                    You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you mad. Aldous Huxley

                    by murrayewv on Tue Dec 16, 2008 at 06:57:36 PM PST

                    [ Parent ]

    •  I remember that incident. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      javelina, Sychotic1

      Outrageous conduct and a case study in how to backdoor these farmers.

      The truth is we are tortured by the truth.

      by walkshills on Mon Dec 15, 2008 at 09:39:09 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  You are referring to Percy Schmeiser who grew (18+ / 0-)

      rape seed - for canola.  His field was contaminated by GE-canola and yet he was sued for stealing Monsanto's GE-crop and he lost.  However, Percy would not settle and accept any agreement to be silent but countersued and won about $600 from Monsanto to clean up his field.  It was not only a moral victory but a major legal one because he established the farmer's right not to have their field contaminated.

      I don't really have a "premise" behind the article.  The facts are there.  It's an overview of what Monsanto is doing.  I guess if there is a premise, it is that what they are doing is bad, but that's just so obvious, isn't it?  It's completely fascist and I mean that quite seriously.  The only thing missing is an army to make the jack-boot intent of all this apparent.

      Thanks for writing.  Percy Schmeiser is a terrific fellow.

      •  you might want to get more about Percy (5+ / 0-)

        up into the body of the diary. He's clearly doing what the rest of us should be doing -- fighting the megacorps.

        NFTT Progressively supporting the troops

        by Timroff on Mon Dec 15, 2008 at 09:54:49 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  It's a good idea only the diary was more about (17+ / 0-)

          what Monsanto is doing to put seeds out of reach of human beings.  

          But a diary on Schmeiser would be good to introduce the whole subject to people who don't know what's going on.

          Monsanto patents its GE-seeds and claims all produced from them as its "intellectual property."

          The Omaha World-Herald in 2004 reported Monsanto would investigate 500 farmers that year, “as it does every year.”  Based on this, the number of farmers already investigated is in the thousands.

          Farmers usually have one lawyer. "Monsanto hires a number of law firms for almost every suit it files."

          One man said “When they [investigators] came up here, they were bragging to other farmers about all of the farmers they had put out of business.”

          "Farmers are being sued for having GMOs on their property that they did not buy, do not want, will not use and cannot sell," says Tom Wiley, a North Dakota farmer

          Monsanto currently holds 647, the most plant biotech patents.  Their Technology Agreement enforcing those patents "opens farmers' books and fields to virtually limitless scrutiny and incursion."  One man said, “They say they don’t trespass—that’s bull."

          Monsanto employee told one farmer, “We own you- we own anybody that buys our Roundup Ready products.”

          Farmers found in violation of the agreement face huge liability.  Bankruptcy is common, farmers losing land in their family for generations. Yet a goodly portion of the "signed" agreements with Monsanto have been forged by the seed agents - possibly as much as 40%."

          Monsanto sued Homan McFarling for 120 times the actual amount of claimed damages, or $780,000
          “A lot of farmers just settle. I can’t afford it—I ain’t got no money,” said Mr. McFarling.

          But some Texas farmers have joined with others to sue Monsanto for crop failures.  BB Krenek, a Wharton, Texas cotton consultant, says "We feel like Monsanto's been lying to us all along."

          So, why not go back to real seeds?

          A Texas cotton farmer similarly says: “Just about the only cottonseed you can get these days is [genetically engineered]. Same thing with the corn varieties. There’s not too many seeds available that are not genetically altered in some way.”

          But aren't GE-seeds more profitable?  American Farm Bureau estimates farmers have lost $300 million
          per year because Europe won't take our GE-corn.  Because Europe established labeling/traceability requirements, US State Department officials said the U.S. could lose up to $4 billion annually in agricultural exports.

          But at least GE-crops use less pesticides ...

          "Farmers are now using from six to 10 times more chemicals because what has happened is that we've developed a new super-weed from genetic engineering."  8 billion poinds of pesticides a year - 20 for each American.  

          Former Texas agriculture commissioner Jim Hightower said "Monsanto is not going to stop until we stop it," remembering a 19th-century woman's words - "raise less corn and more hell."

          Nelson, a farmer being sued, had asked Attorney General John Ashcroft to help his family.  Reply?  "It´s not our policy to get involved in private litigation matters." But  Ashcroft asked the Supreme Court for protection of plant patents.  Nelson said when the main US law enforcement officer acted to "uphold plant patents to protect corporations, yet refused to help farmers - felt like a cold slap in the face."

          "It makes a person wonder if all government is up for sale to the highest bidder."  

          Hightower said "arrogance goes by the name of Monsanto.  Monsanto is a bully.  Monsanto is a thug.  For fun and profit, it has long been tampering with the world's food supply.  ...It's been a leader over the last 40-50 years in dousing our earth, our sky, our water, ourselves ... the entire ecosystem with so many pesticides that every single one of you in this room, everyone in the world, every critter on earth is contaminated with these pesticides, in deed, with dozens of these pesticides.

          "Pesticides ... are killing the farmers and literally killing farming.  The run off of these pesticides from the fields are getting into the water.  More than 100 pesticides are now in the ground water in 40 different states."  

          Never mind the 8 billion dollars a year to buy pesticides or that 1000+ farmers going out of business each year.

          Hightower said the American public, Europe and Japan don't want pesticides.  "If ignorance ever goes to $40 a barrel, I want drilling rights on their (ag establishment) heads, I'll tell you that!"

          Monsanto is "tampering with the very DNA of our food," blocking labeling of GE-organisms and getting away with it because Monsanto and the FDA rotate back and forth between each other.  He said the issue is not a few farmers, or any crops or even tampering with the food supply.

          "The issue is the most fundamental issue of democracy.  It asks this question, the same question that democracy seeking people have always had to ask:  Who the hell is going to be in charge?  A handful of corporate greed-heads, or we, the people?' That's what it comes down to," said Hightower.

    •  here are some facts..... (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      folgers, parryander, SnowCountry

      most commercial farmers buy new seeds.  They especially buy new treated seeds coated with fungicides to prevent damping off or coated with bacteria that help fix nitrogen to the roots of legumes.  This increases yield.  Many of the varieties are hybrids bred for higher yield or specialized aspects (like high oil corn or high starch corn or sweet corn or popcorn).  Cotton doens;t have hybrid seeds and the seeds are ginned out and returned for sale.  Soybeans are also not usually hybrids and could easily be returned for sale when the seeds are harvested.  To buy genetically engineered seeds you pay a premium.  People like monsanto are seeking to keep people from reusing their genetically engineered seeds without paying over and over again.  So this legislation will protect people who are doing that.  It will not affect corn much.  Certainly it won't affect heirloom seeds, which have little economic impact for canned tomatoes etc.  Homegrown fresh tomatoes are a trace of the market.

      You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you mad. Aldous Huxley

      by murrayewv on Tue Dec 16, 2008 at 01:42:30 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  If I buy a chicken (6+ / 0-)

        And the chicken has chicks, I am not going to pay the farmer for the chicks.  When I bought a seed packet at the store for a quarter, I got to keep the seeds.  When I buy a CD, I can make a copy for the house, the car, the summer home, whatever and not pay the artist.

        Why shouldn't they be able to get the seeds?  They grew them.

        There are bagels in the fridge

        by Sychotic1 on Tue Dec 16, 2008 at 07:09:48 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  That's... not exactly true. (0+ / 0-)

          When I buy a CD, I can make a copy for the house, the car, the summer home, whatever and not pay the artist.

          Yeah, you'd think that the Audio Home Recording Act would guarantee that. And that does apply to CDs, because they have no copy-protection built in. However, backing up DVDs or any of those next-generation audio disc formats (DVD-Audio or Super Audio CD) is illegal, because it's illegal to break the copy protection, even if you're doing so for completely legitimate purposes. (It's even illegal to possess information on how to do so, which leads to some weird results.)

          Someone else has said it better than I could:

          It doesn't matter that AHRA permits digitial copying if DMCA forbids owning the technology to defeat DRM, even if your intent is to comply with the terms of the AHRA. Therein lies the danger.

          But hey, at least no one's coming after you for a share of whatever eggs your chickens lay, in perpetuity. I mean, yet.

      •  True, but not the truth (0+ / 0-)

        You left out the part where Monsanto is actively eliminating any alternatives to their GE seeds so that farmers have no choice but to pay their 1000% markup every year.

        No laws but Liberty. No king but Conscience.

        by oldjohnbrown on Tue Dec 16, 2008 at 02:10:50 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  They are doing it with decorative plants too. (19+ / 0-)

    They are turning perennials into annuals. You need to read the tags carefully on yard plants that you buy and make sure they are perennial.

    Perennials come back every year and annuals die after one year, for those who don't know.

    Everyone should buy and save seeds.

  •  One thing the scientists are doing (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    is combining the dna of poisonous plants with food plants in order to kill pests that eat on the food plants.

    That plant couldn't be safe for consumption.

    •  Slight correction (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      lazbumm, mrblifil, HiBob, Ann T Bush

      genes of BT, a bacteria, have been inserted into the genetic material of plants, where they produce a toxin to kill pests. I don't know of any poisonous plant genes used this way. If I'm wrong, someone please correct me.

      •  I don't know. I just know about Bt. (14+ / 0-)

        Thanks for writing.

        Here is material from Jeffrey Smith on what is already genetically engineered.

        Genetically Modified Ingredients Overview

        Here is a summary of what crops, foods and food ingredients have been genetically modified as of July, 2007:

        Currently Commercialized GM Crops in the U.S.:
        (Number in parentheses represents the estimated percent that is genetically modified.)

        Soy (89%)
        Cotton (83%)
        Canola (75%)
        Corn (61%)
        Hawaiian papaya (more than 50%)
        Alfalfa, zucchini and yellow squash (small amount)
        Tobacco (Quest® brand)

        Other Sources of GMOs:

        Dairy products from cows injected with rbGH.
        Food additives, enzymes, flavorings, and processing agents, including the sweetener aspartame (NutraSweet®) and rennet used to make hard cheeses
        Meat, eggs, and dairy products from animals that have eaten GM feed
        Honey and bee pollen that may have GM sources of pollen
        Contamination or pollination caused by GM seeds or pollen
        Some of the Ingredients That May Be Genetically Modified:

        Vegetable oil, vegetable fat and margarines (made with soy, corn, cottonseed, and/or canola)

        Ingredients derived from soybeans: Soy flour, soy protein, soy isolates, soy isoflavones, soy lecithin, vegetable proteins, textured vegetable protein (TVP), tofu, tamari, tempeh, and soy protein supplements.

        Ingredients derived from corn: Corn flour, corn gluten, corn masa, corn starch, corn syrup, cornmeal, and High-Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS).

        Some Food Additives May Also Be Derived From GM Sources:

        The list may change as we encounter new information: ascorbic acid/ascorbate (Vitamin C), cellulose, citric acid, cobalamin (vitamin B12), cyclodextrin, cystein, dextrin, dextrose, diacetyl, fructose (especially crystalline fructose), glucose, glutamate, glutamic acid, gluten, glycerides (mono- and diglycerides), glycerol, glycerol, glycerine, glycine, hemicellulose, , hydrogenated starch hydrolates, hydrolyzed vegetable protein or starch, inositol, invert sugar or inverse syrup, (also may be listed as inversol or colorose), lactic acid, lactoflavin, lecithin, leucine, lysine, maltose, maltitol, maltodextrin, mannitol, methylcellulose, milo starch, modified food starch, monooleate, mono- and diglycerides, monosodium glutamate (MSG), oleic acid, phenylalanine, phytic acid, riboflavin (Vitamin B2) sorbitol, stearic acid, threonine, tocopherol (Vitamin E), trehalose, xanthan gum, and zein.

        Some of the Foods That May Contain GM Ingredients:

        Infant formula
        Salad dressing
        Hamburgers and hotdogs
        Fried food
        Veggie burgers
        Meat substitutes
        Ice cream
        Frozen yogurt
        Soy sauce
        Soy cheese
        Tomato sauce
        Protein powder
        Baking powder (sometimes contains corn starch)
        Powdered/Confectioner's sugar (often contains corn starch)
        Confectioner’s glaze
        Powdered sugar
        Peanut butter
        Enriched flour
        Vanilla extract (sometimes contains corn syrup)
        White vinegar

        Non-Food Items That May Contain GM Ingredients:

        Bubble bath


        Processed foods often have hidden GM sources (unless they are organic or declared non-GMO).
        The following are ingredients that may be made from GM soy, corn, cotton, or canola.



        modified starch

        baking powder


        monosodium glutamate

        bee pollen


        oleic acid

        caramel color




        glycerol monooleate

        phytic acid

        citric acid



        cobalamin (Vitamin B12)


        soy flour

        corn gluten

        high fructose corn syrup (HFCS)

        soy isolates

        corn masa

        hydrogenated starch

        soy lecithin

        corn oil

        hydrolyzed vegetable protein

        soy protein

        corn syrup




        invert sugar (colorose or inversol)

        stearic acid



        inverse syrup





        lactic acid




        tocopherols (Vitamin E)












        vegetable fat

        fructose (crystalline)


        vegetable oil



        Vitamin B12



        Vitamin E

        glutamic acid

        milo starch

        xanthan gum

        Our understanding is that ascorbic acid (Vitamin C), although usually derived from corn, is probably not GM because it is not made in North America. Honey and bee pollen may contain GMOs if the beehives are near GM crops.

        This list is continually being updated and refined. For the most recent version, see

        © copyright Institute For Responsible Technology 2008

        Sources for “Genetically Modified Ingredients Overview:

        Natural Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS), Agricultural Statistics Board, US Department of Agriculture: Acreage. Available at: (2006)

        Cornell Cooperative Extension, GEO-PIE (Genetically Engineered Organisms Public Issues Education) Project.

        Ruth Winter , A Consumer's Dictionary of Food Additives: Descriptions in plain English of more than 12,000 ingredients both harmful and desirable found in foods, 6th ed. (New York: Three Rivers Press, 2004).

        Robert S. Igoe , The Dictionary of Food Ingredients, 2nd ed. (New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold, 1989).

        Research Triangle Institute, “Economic Characterization of the Dietary Supplement Industry” March 1999. Available at:

        Codex General Standard for Food Additives (GSFA) Online Database of the World Health Organization(WHO) Food and Agriculture Organization(FAO) of the United Nations and the reports of the Joint FAO/WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives (JECFA). Available at:

        The University of Maryland Medical Center database of supplements by name:

        Archives of the Agricultural Research Service of the USDA:

        Reports of the European Commission Scientific Committee for Food:

        U.S. National Institute of Health (NIH) PubMed Central (PMC):

        Also consulted the following industry sites:

        Sign up for our newsletter, Spilling the Beans, to keep informed of any new genetically modified foods.

        Download this document in MS Word format.

    •  It might be (6+ / 0-)

      It would depend on the chemicals in question.  In any case it shouldn't just be unleashed on the environment without intensive study first.

      Your political compass Economic Left/Right: -6.50 Social Libertarian/Authoritarian: -6.67

      by bythesea on Mon Dec 15, 2008 at 08:51:20 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  The Bt toxin is harmless to mammals. (9+ / 0-)

      Honestly. Our digestive tracts just don't work that way.

      I'm gonna leave this brokedown palace, On my hands and my knees, I will roll, roll, roll.

      by Remembering Jello on Mon Dec 15, 2008 at 09:37:05 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Even assuming that's true... (13+ / 0-)

        ... as Shiva would ask, how is it both "natural" (and therefore automatically assumed to be safe) and "novel" (and therefore allowed to be patented)?  The logic simply doesn't hold.

        My default positions on GM foods are basically:

        -- I do not trust that they are safe for consumption (see study in rats of GM soy starting on p. 41, here [pdf]);

        -- I do not trust that crops modified to resist one pest won't fall prey to others; they already have;

        -- GM crops are great for the giant agribusiness companies that sell them, less so for farmers;

        -- Even if none of that were true, people should be able to know if a food contains GM ingredients, so they can choose not to eat it.

        •  asdf (8+ / 0-)

          as Shiva would ask, how is it both "natural" (and therefore automatically assumed to be safe) and "novel" (and therefore allowed to be patented)?  The logic simply doesn't hold.

          I may invoke Shiva or other Dieties (FSM even) for spiritual matters but I will invoke my biology degree, specifically the cell and molecular part along with other science for digestive matters.

        •  Heh? (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          parryander, LynneK, cai, Hopeful Skeptic

          how is it both "natural" (and therefore automatically assumed to be safe) and "novel" (and therefore allowed to be patented)?

          The precedant is pretty well established with antibiotics.

          The study you refer to was actually using round-up ready soy, modified by adding an insecticidal gene. I'd need to see #'s on just the insecticide before this would mean much of, well, anything...

          Listen, I agree with you ideologically- I've actually spent a lot of time in organic procedure research. I'm not the shill your post implies.

          My point was, though, that the bt toxin as produced by modified plants is harmless to mammals. Not the snowdrop lethicin gene( though I'd love to see what the LD50 was on that), not the herbicide resistant gene.

          I didn't say that catapillar resistant corn couldn't be eaten by beetles.

          I didn't say that GM food shouldn't be labeled.

          I don't even know where that's coming from.

          I'm gonna leave this brokedown palace, On my hands and my knees, I will roll, roll, roll.

          by Remembering Jello on Mon Dec 15, 2008 at 10:13:54 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  I never said or meant to imply you were a shill. (8+ / 0-)

            If that's how it came across, I apologize.  

            Really, most of my comment wasn't directed at you.  I was expounding more generally about GM crops as a sort of "even if/then" response to arguments I'm seeing throughout these comments.

            I did not know that about antibiotics.  But isn't the difference there that they're naturally occurring substances for which someone has discovered a new purpose?  Whereas the genetic modifications that are taking place in crops never occurred in nature -- tomatoes never crossbred with spiders, potatoes never crossbred with amaranth, etc.

            It's kind of like... say I take a rocket engine and put it in a car.  Both the car and the rocket may have been perfectly safe, but why assume the car with a rocket engine in it is safe?  Particularly when I've strapped it in there with duct tape and stripped Christmas tree lights to do the wiring?

          •  I think this group has done a very good job (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            of just asking things and not jumping on people for missing a step.  It's good.  People seem to be giving each other room.  

            It's okay if you didn't say those things.  I didn't hear you do that.  And I think you are right that Bt when sprayed onto food crops is not dangerous (or very) to mammals.  But Smith says it is 1000x stronger when ingested as part of the DNA of the food.

            Thanks for commenting.

            •  I couldn't find that vid- (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              could you link to it?

              I've just looked at so much data on this- and this isn't what I saw.

              Doesn't mean I'm right, just means I've got to see a lot of data...

              I'm gonna leave this brokedown palace, On my hands and my knees, I will roll, roll, roll.

              by Remembering Jello on Mon Dec 15, 2008 at 10:41:58 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

        •  Thanks so much for this and for the (5+ / 0-)

          links you provide.  Shiva is quite right to say if it's novel, how can it be normal?

          And I notice that Monsanto demands a crushing degree of labeling from farmers but refuses to label any of its products at all and is pushing laws to prevent labeling of genetically engineered crops and animals and cloned animals.

          Thought all of you might be interested in what is being mixed with what in genetic engineering (and it is added to all the time):

          What combinations have been tried?

          It is now possible for plants to be engineered with genes taken from bacteria, viruses, insects, animals or even humans. Scientists have worked on some interesting combinations:

          Spider genes were inserted into goat DNA, in hopes that the goat milk would contain spider web protein for use in bulletproof vests.
          Cow genes turned pigskins into cowhides.
          Jellyfish genes lit up pigs’ noses in the dark.
          Artic fish genes gave tomatoes and strawberries tolerance to frost.
          Potatoes that glowed in the dark when they needed watering.
          Human genes were inserted into corn to produce spermicide.
          Current field trials include:

          Corn engineered with human genes (Dow)
          Sugarcane engineered with human genes (Hawaii Agriculture Research Center)
          Corn engineered with jellyfish genes (Stanford University)
          Tobacco engineered with lettuce genes (University of Hawaii)
          Rice engineered with human genes (Applied Phytologics)
          Corn engineered with hepatitis virus genes (Prodigene)
          What is a gene?

          Every plant and animal is made of cells, each of which has a center called a nucleus. Inside every nucleus there are strings of DNA, half of which is normally inherited from the mother and half from the father. Short sequences of DNA are called genes. These genes operate in complex networks that are finely regulated to enable the processes of living organisms to happen in the right place and at the right time.

          How is genetic engineering done?

          Because living organisms have natural barriers to protect themselves against the introduction of DNA from a different species, genetic engineers have to find ways to force the DNA from one organism into another. These methods include:

          1.  Using viruses or bacteria to "infect" animal or plant cells with the new DNA.
          1.  Coating DNA onto tiny metal pellets, and firing it with a special gun into the cells.
          1.  Injecting the new DNA into fertilized eggs with a very fine needle.
          1.  Using electric shocks to create holes in the membrane covering sperm, and then forcing the new DNA into the sperm through these holes.

          Is genetic engineering precise?

          The technology of genetic engineering is currently very crude. It is not possible to insert a new gene with any accuracy, and the transfer of new genes can disrupt the finely controlled network of DNA in an organism.

          Current understanding of the way in which DNA works is extremely limited, and any change to the DNA of an organism at any point can have side effects that are impossible to predict or control. The new gene could, for example, alter chemical reactions within the cell or disturb cell functions. This could lead to instability, the creation of new toxins or allergens, and changes in nutritional value.

          Does the biotech industry hold any promise?

          Genetic modification of plants is not the only biotechnology. The study of DNA does hold promise for many potential applications, including medicine. However, the current technology of GM foods is based on obsolete information and theory, and is prone to dangerous side effects. Economic interests have pushed it onto the market too soon.

          Moreover, molecular marker technologies - so called Marker Assisted Selection (MAS) used with conventional breeding shows much promise for developing improved crop varieties, without the potentially dangerous side effects of direct genetic modification.

          •  I buy the argument that many of these things have (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            LynneK, Remembering Jello

            come to market too soon, and that all products should be labeled.  But I do not agree with the prohibition of this type of research and believe many benefits are to be had.

            •  I believe that Jeffrey Smith makes distinctions (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              marina, TheWesternSun

              between types of genetic engineering but I am not up on that.  Go to his website and see what you find.

              Remove the patents and the whole thing, except for medical stuff, would collapse.  With the patents, we are all in trouble because the monopoly over food is too dangerous to bear.

              And that is separate from the medical consequences that are already showing up.



              •  I support the abolishment of any type of (12+ / 0-)

                intellectual properly in regards to DNA for any purpose.  The practice is abominable.

                I have read a bit on the subject on GE/GM foods and do see cause for concern and think things have been brought to market far too early, but I also see much promise as well.

                In the end more research is needed.  I will read up on the links you provided.

                •  I couldn't agree with you more about (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  John Shade, TheWesternSun

                  abolishing intellectual property for DNA.  And anything you learn about genetic engineering would be great for helping others and bringing to these discussions which are essential for us to be having.

                  Sometimes I feel the left is hold science up as a god just as the right holds patriotism up.  They seem to each have areas they unquestioningly trust when we need to question in general.  

                  Thanks for commenting here.

                  •  No scaredhuman.... (4+ / 0-)

                    This diary definitely indicates the left don't trust science at all.

                    You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you mad. Aldous Huxley

                    by murrayewv on Tue Dec 16, 2008 at 02:13:52 AM PST

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  no murrayewv (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      dewley notid

                      this diary, like so many like it, indicates that the left doesn't trust nor listen to idiots and all.

                      •  I am not an idiot or a criminal.... (2+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:
                        SnowCountry, Hopeful Skeptic

                        and neither are all the nonorganic farmers or all of the USDA. This is another reactionary fearmongering diary of people who feel helpless and exploited because some website tells them they are surrounded by evil dangerous people exploiting them and trying to ruin the world's food supply.  I find it to be unlikely in the extreme that there is an evil conspiracy run by Monsanto that can't be overcome by people buying organic foods.  They went from 1 billion a year in sales to 20 billion a year in sales and are the fastest growing sector of the market.  Much of the world isn't buying GMOs and the conspiracy doesn't hold water.  It is mixed in with RFID tags on animals and regulation of seed storage and GMOs and raw milk is good for you and no regulation for supplements which are better than allopatric medicine which is somehow run by that other evil conspiracy, Big Pharma.

                        You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you mad. Aldous Huxley

                        by murrayewv on Tue Dec 16, 2008 at 03:59:30 PM PST

                        [ Parent ]

                •  I agree and disagree (0+ / 0-)

                  I just think the patents for GE/GM foods should be limited to 5 years. Exception: When you developed the tech via tax payer monies, than not even that.

                  I am almost a socialist but I think greed can fuel innovation.

                  "Attempting to debate with a person who has abandoned reason is like giving medicine to the dead." - Thomas Paine

                  by liberalconservative on Tue Dec 16, 2008 at 03:18:44 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

          •  Correction (4+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            riverlover, parryander, ChemBob, ribofunk

            It is not possible to insert a new gene with any accuracy

            This is not true for some methods.

            The definition of an idiot is someone who's always absolutely sure that they are right.

            by The little blogger that could on Tue Dec 16, 2008 at 12:00:56 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  and this is debatable too. (11+ / 0-)

            Because living organisms have natural barriers to protect themselves against the introduction of DNA from a different species

            Not really, every time any person, animal or plant is infected with some types of viruses, you get part of the viral DNA jammed into yours.
            All higher organisms are also riddled with transposons (jumping genes) which can jump from one end of your genome to another, cut themselves out of your genome, or reinsert.
            There are multiple examples of genes that have crossed species barriers in evolutionary history. Many of the genes are essentially the same anyway.

            The idea the genomes are stable and inviolate is a myth.

            The definition of an idiot is someone who's always absolutely sure that they are right.

            by The little blogger that could on Tue Dec 16, 2008 at 12:05:06 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  I've heard some hypothesis (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              that lots of our DNA may, in fact, be virally inserted DNA.

              I just found this quickly but don't know much about the site.

              Estimates range from 3 – 8 % of the human genome as being comprised of sections of viral DNA. These and other parasitic, self-replicating pieces of nucleic acids have evolved with us over millions of years after being inserted into our DNA by the viruses that infected our ancestors.

            •  First it's true (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              second pls read my comment below that was made long before this one.

              A lovely little thinker, But a bugger when he's pissed

              by yuriwho on Tue Dec 16, 2008 at 12:56:55 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

          •  i have a degree in genetics, and I can't even (7+ / 0-)

            begin to lay out all the ways that your block quote is just plain wrong.  Maybe some of it was true 20 years ago, but genetic science is moving at light speed, and the web site this came from is VERY inaccurate.  

            There may be some scientifically valid arguments against GM methods, but I do not see any in that block quote.

            Please check into the real science, and not just the "scary" pseudo-scientific crap these web site spew.

            "My greatest strength, I guess it would be my humility. Greatest weakness, it's possible that I'm a little too awesome." -Barack Obama 10/16/08

            by Hopeful Skeptic on Tue Dec 16, 2008 at 04:01:11 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

      •  Listen to Smith's lecture which says (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        marina, dewley notid, TheWesternSun

        otherwise.  The toxin may be harmless sprayed onto plants but built into the DNA of our food is another thing.

        Thanks for writing.

        •  Yes the toxin contains hundreds of proteins..... (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          SnowCountry, LynneK

          and the one built into the plant contains one, and is inserted into the DNA of the plant in one or several places.  Then they analyse the transgenic plant to determine if the other proteins made by that plant are affected before it is released.  That is a lot different.

          You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you mad. Aldous Huxley

          by murrayewv on Tue Dec 16, 2008 at 02:16:10 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  Please cite data to support this. and if you can, (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        please reference data that shows this isn't harmful to the rest of the environment at large. Thanks.

        "Hatred paralyzes life; love releases it. Hatred confuses life; love harmonizes it. Hatred darkens life; love illuminates it." ML King

        by TheWesternSun on Tue Dec 16, 2008 at 12:46:07 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  Bt-corn has a bacillus in it that is 1000x (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      trevzb, marina, TheWesternSun

      stronger in that form when you ingest it, than when it is sprayed on.   Jeffrey Smith of Seeds of Destruction warns since the bacillus normally produces a toxin to kill pests, and since the genes are not stable, that it could potentially turn your gut into a factory to produce the toxins.

      Bt-corn, Bt-canola, Bt-soy, Bt-cotton.  All used for oils across this country now.  None of it labeled.  

      Thanks for writing.

      •  The claim that it could turn your gut into a (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        kalmoth, parryander, murrayewv, LynneK

        factory to produce toxins doesn't seem credible to me.  What mechanism would allow this to happen.  The "genes being unstable" doesn't make sense to me.  In order to insert the genes when they originally modify the plant requires a virus to insert the gene.  Absent the virii how could this happen spontaineously.

        •  No, they don't only use viruses. (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          marina, dewley notid, TheWesternSun

          I hope this helps.  It's a small education on a topic we all need to learn more about.  Be sure to listen to Smith's lecture.

          How is genetic engineering done?

          Because living organisms have natural barriers to protect themselves against the introduction of DNA from a different species, genetic engineers have to find ways to force the DNA from one organism into another. These methods include:

          1.  Using viruses or bacteria to "infect" animal or plant cells with the new DNA.
          1.  Coating DNA onto tiny metal pellets, and firing it with a special gun into the cells.
          1.  Injecting the new DNA into fertilized eggs with a very fine needle.
          1.  Using electric shocks to create holes in the membrane covering sperm, and then forcing the new DNA into the sperm through these holes.

          Is genetic engineering precise?

          The technology of genetic engineering is currently very crude. It is not possible to insert a new gene with any accuracy, and the transfer of new genes can disrupt the finely controlled network of DNA in an organism.

          Current understanding of the way in which DNA works is extremely limited, and any change to the DNA of an organism at any point can have side effects that are impossible to predict or control. The new gene could, for example, alter chemical reactions within the cell or disturb cell functions. This could lead to instability, the creation of new toxins or allergens, and changes in nutritional value.

          Does the biotech industry hold any promise?

          Genetic modification of plants is not the only biotechnology. The study of DNA does hold promise for many potential applications, including medicine. However, the current technology of GM foods is based on obsolete information and theory, and is prone to dangerous side effects. Economic interests have pushed it onto the market too soon.

          Moreover, molecular marker technologies - so called Marker Assisted Selection (MAS) used with conventional breeding shows much promise for developing improved crop varieties, without the potentially dangerous side effects of direct genetic modification.

          GMOs in Foods:

          What kinds of traits have been added to food crops?

          Although there are attempts to increase nutritional benefits or productivity, the two main traits that have been added to date are herbicide tolerance and the ability of the plant to produce its own pesticide.  These results have no health benefit, only economic benefit.

          Herbicide tolerance lets the farmer spray weed-killer directly on the crop without killing it.    

          Crops such as Bt cotton produce pesticides inside the plant.  This kills or deters insects, saving the farmer from having to spray pesticides.  The plants themselves are toxic, and not just to insects.  Farmers in India, who let their sheep graze on Bt cotton plants after the harvest, saw thousands of sheep die!

          Why do genetically engineered foods have antibiotic resistant genes in them?

          The techniques used to transfer genes have a very low success rate, so the genetic engineers attach "marker genes" that are resistant to antibiotics to help them to find out which cells have taken up the new DNA. These marker genes are resistant to antibiotics that are commonly used in human and veterinary medicine. Some scientists believe that eating GE food containing these marker genes could encourage gut bacteria to develop antibiotic resistance.

          What are the problems created through genetic engineering of food and crops?

          Genetic engineers continually encounter unintended side effects – GM plants create toxins, react to weather differently, contain too much or too little nutrients, become diseased or malfunction and die.  When foreign genes are inserted, dormant genes may be activated or the functioning of genes altered, creating new or unknown proteins, or increasing or decreasing the output of existing proteins inside the plant.  The effects of consuming these new combinations of proteins are unknown.

          Thanks for commenting.

          •  All very good information. (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            And understand I am not trying to dismiss the concern, I just don't understand how the genes through digestion would jump from the food into the cells of the digestive tract to turn it into a "toxin factory".

            •  B.t. is a soil bacteria.... (7+ / 0-)

              and the B.t. toxin is picked up by a receptor in the insect midgut not present in humans.  The bacillus is highly unlikely to live happily in your gut.  And if it did, why would it be used by organic gardeners without that happening in a hundred years?

              Critics of agricultural technology usually discuss risk not actual bad things that have happened to people- unless they are talking about chemical pesticides and insecticides and fungicides.  Plenty of risk there.  B.t. was intended to reduce those chemicals use.

              You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you mad. Aldous Huxley

              by murrayewv on Tue Dec 16, 2008 at 02:20:04 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

        •  Recent research in gut bugs... (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          elfling, dicentra, pstoller78

          the good kind and the not so good kind focuses on gene swapping on antibiotic resistance but it has wider implications since swapping genes potentially affects every aspect of micro-organism life and consequences for us as well. Bacterial flora swap genes freely and we barely understand what the effects of that can be as well as much of what else is going on in our digestive tracts. The balance of these microorganisms is extremely complex and variable in each person and also from person to person. Local environment, diet, genetic patterns all play a part in establishing the specific micro ecology of digestive tracts. We have not even conclusively identified all the micro-organism species in our guts and what their specific roles are.

          The average human body, consisting of about 1013 (10,000,000,000,000 or about ten trillion) cells, has about ten times that number of microorganisms in the gut....

          Somewhere between 300[2] and 1000 different species live in the gut,[3] with most estimates at about 500.[7][4] However, it is probable that 99% of the bacteria come from about 30 or 40 species.[8] Fungi and protozoa also make up a part of the gut flora, but little is known about their activities.

          Not all the species in the gut have been identified because some cannot be cultured, so DNA isolation and identification is difficult. Populations of species vary widely among different individuals but stay fairly constant within an individual over time, even though some alterations may occur with changes in lifestyle, diet and age. An effort to better describe the microflora of the gut and other body locations has been initiated; see Human microbiome project.

          There is complex signaling and feedback system going on as the host (us) and our symbiotes keep a balance that keeps bad bugs in check. Toxins are produced by "good" bugs to inhibit bad ones and the bad ones at times over produce their own toxins if they get the upper hand.

          The indigenous bacteria send chemical signals to the host about the amount of nutrients they need, and the host provides only that much, so harmful bacteria are starved out. Indigenous gut floras also produce bacteriocins which are proteinacious toxins that inhibit growth of similar bacterial strains, substances which kill harmful microbes and the levels of which can be regulated by enzymes produced by the host.

          Do we understand the processes that keep all this in balance and working properly? (Bug genes are the key to human digestion)

          Knowing that gut bacteria are key to digestion and metabolism, Jeffrey Gordon of Washington University School of Medicine in St Louis, Missouri, and his colleagues went in search of a core group of bacterial species that aid digestion. They expected to find these species living in the guts of most healthy people.

          When the researchers analysed faeces from 154 people this turned out not to be so. The subjects did, however, all possess the same core group of bacterial genes needed for digestion, albeit from different species (Nature, DOI: 10.1038/nature07540).

          It is this combination of genes, rather than any particular species, that is necessary for a healthy gut, says Gordon. "We've learned that you can have different collections of species, yet the gene functions represented in these collections are broadly shared."

          We are constantly introducing destabilizing novel factors that amount to a huge open ended invisible experiment on our health. We are resilient and our gut ecologies do a good job but the more we learn about what is and might be going on in there, the huge parallel increase in auto-immune diseases (including IBD and related conditions) and many other diseases of "Civilization" is suggestive of links to changes in our diet that may be at least partially due to our increasing reliance on some side effects of mono-culture agriculture, over processed foods and our exposure to many types of pollution and the effects of these at metabolic, systemic and genetic levels including our digestive processes.

          Murphy's law and the law of unintended consequences does not make Monsanto's heavy handed monopolistic tactics and single minded pursuit of one business plan heedless of the negative effects on biodiversity, local culture, the existence of small farmers easy to accept and that is apart from possible health complications as well. If they can even partially suppress rational debate and research that might call into question any of what they are doing we will not be adequately protected from negative consequences. If they can lump all criticism with fringe fear mongering groups and use that to evade democratic checks on their own agenda then we will not be ready or somewhat protected from the unforeseen. Some if not most of the Loony anti-GM brigade are not loony and some will by the law of averages and free thought happen upon real issues that need to be explored further.

          We cannot predict what or even if there are serious, profound toxic consequences to world ecology or to our health from GM but it needs to be followed just like any other "additive". Will the next mega-plague or global increase in some auto-immune or degenerative disease turn out to be leveraged by genes introduced or amplified inadvertently by GM? A long shot maybe... but if we totally reject anything that could cast a shadow on even the smallest part of Monsanto and other's efforts to control world agriculture, the denial will delay our understanding and healing if and when something goes wrong. In the meantime their strong arm political and legal tactics and economic destruction of those who stand in it's way is a more immediate "Disease" and just as toxic in it's own way. A big company has the power to ignore critics and take away our power to say no to them. That is the biggest illness of all; an erosion of Democracy.

          Pogo & Murphy's Law, every time. Also "Trust but verify" - St. Ronnie

          by IreGyre on Tue Dec 16, 2008 at 04:20:07 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  Really? (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      SnowCountry, LynneK

      please, provide an example.  That seems unlikely.

      You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you mad. Aldous Huxley

      by murrayewv on Tue Dec 16, 2008 at 02:02:42 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Monsanto is getting out of the Ag chemical biz (12+ / 0-)

    they are a self-proclaimed seed company now. And soon to be the only seed company, by the looks of things. With all that means for the price and availabilty of food. You may not choose organic food, but enjoy the choice while you have it.

  •  This is nonsense, as usual. (10+ / 0-)

    I am sorry to say it so harshly, but it is true.

    Please add some science to your outrageous posts.


    I could use income in exchange for value. I need work badly.

    by Translator on Mon Dec 15, 2008 at 09:11:25 PM PST

  •  Monsanto and rBST (15+ / 0-)

    Their lobbyists were behind the attempt to ban retailers from labeling milk as 'rBST-free' in Pennsylvania (thanks to potential US Sec of Ag Dennis Wolff):

    Regardless of how you feel about the use of these hormones, I would think most of us would agree that the consumer should have access to this information to make his own decision.

  •  Life should not be commodified (10+ / 0-)

    However this is exactly what's happening.  As reported by the ETC group in November, corporations such as Monsanto now control 1/4 of the planet's biomass.

    The escalating climate crisis will be used as leverage to lay claim to the remainder.

    In the face of climate chaos and a deepening world food crisis, the Gene Giants are gearing up for a PR offensive to re-brand themselves as climate saviors. The companies hope to convince governments and reluctant consumers that genetic engineering is the essential adaptation strategy to insure agricultural productivity. In the words of Keith Jones of CropLife International, an industry-supported non-profit organization, "GM foods are exactly the technology that may be necessary to counter the effects of global warming." But rather than an effective way to confront climate change, these so-called "climate-ready" crops will be used to drive farmers and governments onto a proprietary biotech platform.

    "Chance has put in our way a most singular and whimsical problem, and its solution is its own reward." -Sherlock Holmes

    by The Anomaly on Mon Dec 15, 2008 at 09:29:57 PM PST

  •  Anti-science diaries designed to fuel hatred (13+ / 0-)

    remind me a lot of the McCain-Palin campaign. They pick their facts and present them with as the fundamental truth when reality is far more complex and though they may be based on some true facts, they neglect any view points or facts that do not agree with them.

    This leads to people armed with pitch-forks calling for heads to roll.

    'I heard Obama has been palling around with folks who know someone at Monsanto'


    I despise diaries like this one. I'll bet the author knows little to nothing about the economics of farming or molecular biology and genetics.

    A lovely little thinker, But a bugger when he's pissed

    by yuriwho on Mon Dec 15, 2008 at 09:43:26 PM PST

    •  This particular (6+ / 0-)

      diarist gets lots of face time because she or he goes to the emotional aspects of important things.

      However, the diarist seems to know little science.  Thank you for stating your impression well.

      Warmest regards,


      I could use income in exchange for value. I need work badly.

      by Translator on Mon Dec 15, 2008 at 09:51:08 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Anti-science? You're the one bringing hatred (4+ / 0-)

      with your "I despise" comment.

      And you are the one steeped in ignorance.  If you even read the diary, which seems unlikely, why don't drop your general accusation and alert us as to which of your cherished "facts" have been ignored?

      What viewpoint has been neglected?

      Rather than complain that it has been neglected (could your argument be any emptier?), why don't you stretch real hard and see if you can represent Montsano's view?

      Or perhaps you want to represent the view of a happy Montsano farmer?  Yeah try that for us.  Since you're so sure "the author knows little to nothing about the economics of farming or molecular biology and genetics", surely you know something and you can enlighten us.

      •  Ok argument/viewpoint #1 (0+ / 0-)

        Thesis: Monsanto forces farmers to buy their seed/chemicals

        No they don't you are free to plant your own seed and weed/de-pest your fields as you see fit. The farmer looks at the situation from an economic standpoint and makes the choice based on reality.

        A lovely little thinker, But a bugger when he's pissed

        by yuriwho on Mon Dec 15, 2008 at 10:05:23 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  From my limited reading skills (10+ / 0-)

          I didn't see this diary as a complete anti-science diary. I see it more of a monopoly diary in the begining. Basically that this company has driven out the competition. Then after make it hard to find alternate seed. Then to add insult when nature takes it coarse and cross pollinates a field with no control of the farmer the fruits of the farmer (the seed) is taken away from him. It would be me having an peach orchard and the guy 10 miles a way has one and they cross pollinate when it wasn't planed and that other farmer came over and said he had the right to my peaches since his field pollinated mine.

          Now I am not a scientist, but personally I do not trust engineered food. That is just me though.

          I don't care what you do in your beds, just keep your hand out of my pocket.

          by the mom in the middle on Mon Dec 15, 2008 at 10:17:03 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  If they buy up the seed, farmers can't buy it! (5+ / 0-)

          See "Not Clueless and Hysterical" post above.

          It would be hard to compete with the price of their seed if they are buying up seed of good heirloom open-pollinated varieties and taking them off the market, don't you think?

          How will we ever get enough of any heirloom open-pollinated seed on the market in enough quantity at a low enough price to compete if they are that ruthless?

          Economics will force the farmer's hand to buy their seed.

          Next argument?

          Humanity has eaten more than 80,000 plant species through its evolution...We now rely on just 8 crops to provide 75 percent of the world's food. -Vandana Shiva

          by Pay It Forward on Mon Dec 15, 2008 at 10:22:56 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  That is true, but seeds are available (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            from sources other than Monsanto. We also have seed banks (one major one is in northern netherlands or thereabouts) around the world with lots of diversity. Are you telling me that Monsanto is the only seller in the seed market for corn?

            A lovely little thinker, But a bugger when he's pissed

            by yuriwho on Mon Dec 15, 2008 at 10:36:11 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  No, I am saying they are buying organic seed... (9+ / 0-)

              and taking it off of the market.

              In the story I told about my friend  (See "Not Clueless and Hysterical"), they falsely represented themselves as a couple trying to buy an organic seed business with the apparent goal of perpetuating the work of the seedsman who grew those strains of many hundreds of varieties of vegetables for as much as 30 years (not to mention however long they were grown before that). The couple was a front for Monsanto, who then took the seeds off the market, and also sold his domain to another big seed company who is nowhere near as diverse, with stock from who-knows-where.

              I don't know about corn.

              I do know that most seed banks have very little or nothing, at this point, to do with growing seed to get it out into the hands of farmers and gardeners who want to eat and feed others at this time.

              What I also know is that seeds of specific varieties grow best in very specific ecotypes. If an open-pollinated seed has been developed that can germinate in dry summer weather, grows well through the wet winters of the pacific northwest, can tolerate clay soils,  provides small heads of broccoli, for example, throughout the winter, sets seed well, and perhaps has tender, edible leaves, and has variation in other factors such as defoliation tolerance, speed of growth, speed of germination, length of seed viability, etc. etc., then the loss of that seeds stock is like a wing of a library burning down. Sure, there are other books in the rest of the library, other broccoli varieties in the world, even other seeds from that stock elsewhere, but that farmer's stock was carefully selected and the loss of that source is a big deal. Multiply that over and over from Monsanto's deceitful buyouts, along with the loss of the cultural knowledge that developed these plants and all the loss of the stock grown by native people that is long gone, and then the actions of Monsanto trying to control the seed cleaning business looks like Fahrenheit 451.

              Don't you think so?

              Humanity has eaten more than 80,000 plant species through its evolution...We now rely on just 8 crops to provide 75 percent of the world's food. -Vandana Shiva

              by Pay It Forward on Mon Dec 15, 2008 at 11:26:05 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  now that is a good comment (3+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                dewley notid, IreGyre, TheWesternSun

                ty for being informative.

                I think alternative seed suppliers might have a market opportunity now. At the least they should send some samples to the seed banks to prevent them from being monopolized out of a market by a friken corporation that is treated as an equal to me in the court of law..

                A lovely little thinker, But a bugger when he's pissed

                by yuriwho on Mon Dec 15, 2008 at 11:44:06 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

              •  You say it extremely well. What we are losing in (5+ / 0-)

                biodiversity that has been hand selected over thousands of years to fit a particular location, soil and weather conditions, etc. to a tee, is being intentionally destroyed at an incredible speed.  

                One of the remaining "safe havens" of heirloom seeds has been given access to by the big corporations.   Kent Whealy  former director was ousted last winter.

                Really appreciate the depth and the conviction of your comments.

              •  Park Seeds are still privately owned..... (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                yuriwho, SnowCountry

                and their connection with Monsanto is they buy licensed varieties from a garden seed company Monsanto bought.  So if your goal is to crush Monsanto and you fear licensing fees go to them, Park seeds buying these varieties will not support Monsanto, but rather Park Seeds.

                And this guy sold his varieties so he must have thought they were worth something for his time and effort.

                Lots of issues to do with biodiversity of crop plants but Monsanto isn't anti-biodiversity.  Where do you suppose they get the germplasm for their breeding programs?

                You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you mad. Aldous Huxley

                by murrayewv on Tue Dec 16, 2008 at 03:40:22 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

            •  Yes. That is almost completely true. It is (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              very hard to find normal corn now and very hard to grow any that does not become contaminated by Bt-corn, at which point Monsanto has often sued for theft of its intellectual property.

              Seed collecting, seed cleaning, seed banking is under threat.  Did you read the diary?  

            •  seeds (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Pay It Forward

              Here is the problem (besides the other alleged attacks on other seed organizations): Monsanto seems to go after anyone whose seed is contaminated with their GM genes.

              If you save seed and your neighbors farm uses monsanto seeds, there will be cross contamination unless you can afford a very large buffer zone.   And even then it will probably happen, though slower, as insects, wind, etc. carry seed onto your land.   If you are a seed producer, your seeds will also be eventually be contaminated.   If you try monsanto's seeds and then go back to open pollinated varities, stray kernels from the monsanto crop could contaminate.    If the contamination is low enough, you might escape monsanto for a while but you can't sell your products as GM free or organic, at which point your harvest may not be profitable enough to sustain you.   Plus, even if Monsanto doesn't win, you may still have the legal expenses.

              Before GM, seed saving was difficult, particularly for farms that were small or wanted more than a single variety of the same species, but you could tolerate a greater level of cross contamination.

              Since you can't save or sell seed that contains their patented genes and their genes are highly viral, they effectively have a way to ban the sale of competing seeds, the practice of saving seed, and the practice of open pollination.    Even ignoring any potential risk from the genes themselves, this is very dangerous.

              This is the core of the seed supply being in danger argument.   In addition, there are a number of other alleged attacks on the seed supply.

              Now, things may have been blown way out of proportion.   Many Environmental groups seem to have, unfortunately, proven to be unreliable sources of information on environmental issues, and become self serving organizations sinking to misrepresentation, tabloid journalism, and propaganda techniques, and fail to understand or willfully ignore the real science of risk.    This makes it harder for legitimate environmentalists.

              There is potentially a very real problem here.   But I can't trust the judgment of a diarist who took a cheap pot shot at nuclear energy - an area I have spent months investigating and is one of the safest, or even the safest, and most effective tools we have against global warming in the next few decades.   Opposition to nuclear is a pretty good indication of someone who has lost their way ... or their mind.   Nuclear is safe even with the gross overestimation of the dangers of low level radiation commonly used.

              There is a parallel between Monsanto and the MPAA/Music Industry and RIAA/Industry.    Corporations charge inflated prices for their product which leads to piracy since people are willing to pay reasonable prices but not unreasonable ones, then peoples rights are violated on a mass scale to stamp out that piracy.

              It has been suggested that farmers sue monsanto for contamination of their land.    As appealing as this idea is, it is on murky ground (as is monsanto suing the farmer).
              Consider the case of two adjacent farms growing non-GM corn where at least one is saving seed.   Lets say I am growing Bloody Butcher and you are growing Blue Giant.   Now, my red ears start showing blue splotches.   Can I sue you?   And your blue ears are showing red splotches?   Can you counter sue?   Now suppose that your blue giant variety is shown to have an actually or perceived dangerous naturally occurring pesticide that is considered harmful to humans (around 99% of pesticides in the plants we eat are of natural, not man made, origin - mother nature has been engaged in chemical warfare long before humans got into the act).   The average person had a greater margin of exposure, relative to the cancer causing dose in rats, from natural chemicals in cinnamon, bread, mushrooms, coffee, alcohol, and lettuce (individually) than they did from DDT (before it was banned).   Of course, some natural pesticides are actually considered to be good for us (polyphenols are antioxidants and are produced in greater quantity when the plants are attacked by insects).   Around 7.5% of cancer is "caused" by naturally occurring pesticides in food and man made chemicals in food "cause" another 0.1%; ultimately, though our risk of cancer has much less to do with the initial precipitating event than is commonly thought.

              With genetic engineering of food, we are messing with stuff we don't really understand well enough.  We don't even really understand the implications of our pre-GM food and our track record for major changes to the food supply hasn't been good.

              An aside on cancer: The US RDA for vitamin D is way too low at 400 units.   With significant sunlight exposure, the body will make around 20,000 units which will decline to 10,000 units with tanning.    The right physiological dose for an adult is probably around 4000-6000 units.   You can get that from sunlight or vitamin supplements - you won't get it from food.    A mere 1100 units of vitamin D will reduce your cancer risk by around 60%.   A study in one European country showed that a modest increase in sunlight would save 10 lives due to internal cancers for every life lost due to skin cancer.   It is also well established that cancer rates are higher at higher latitudes, lower elevations, in blacks, in winter, and a number of other cases that correlate with lower sunlight induced vitamin D production.   But we have been taught to avoid the sun (you do want to avoid sun burns, however).    Humans did not evolve to cover our bodies with clothes, spend most of our time indoors, wear sunscreen, etc.  

              I have given links to the sources before.  There are links to a couple hundred research studies on vitamin D/cancer here.

              -6.25, -6.36 Worst. President. Dictator. Ever.

              by whitis on Tue Dec 16, 2008 at 03:37:07 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

            •  try Pioneer Seeds..... (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              but they will still want money for their patents.

              You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you mad. Aldous Huxley

              by murrayewv on Tue Dec 16, 2008 at 03:41:02 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

          •  Exactly right, and even worse, they are making (0+ / 0-)

            laws to criminalize collecting seeds and other laws to wipe out normal seeds in raids.

        •  Okay yuriwho (yuriwho is from Monsanto?) (0+ / 0-)

          You're free until the last seed cleaner and seed company are bought out by Monsanto.

          What's your thesis about their attempts at domination?

          Just a little misunderstanding?

          •  You are now attacking me (6+ / 0-)

            rather than my argument. Thats not fair or nice. And no I have no affiliation with any farming related companies, no stock either. But I am a scientist with an educated opinion.

            I would HR you for that, but it's just not worth it if we want to have a discussion.

            A lovely little thinker, But a bugger when he's pissed

            by yuriwho on Mon Dec 15, 2008 at 10:33:20 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  you are right (0+ / 0-)

              I attacked you in addition to attacking your argument.  I apologize.

              So how about the attack on your argument?  Monsanto is buying up seed companies and seed cleaners so that the farmer will not have a choice?

              •  While I do not approve of Monsanto (0+ / 0-)

                trying to corner the seed market. I also know that it's pretty much impossible to do so. Imagine trying to buy all the seeds in the world. You asked me earlier for a specific issue, I gave one. You attacked me and did not address it.

                A lovely little thinker, But a bugger when he's pissed

                by yuriwho on Mon Dec 15, 2008 at 11:21:27 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  It is not impossible. They are doing it. Read (6+ / 0-)

                  the diary.  The seed companies in the Midwest are gone and now they are taking out seed cleaners and virtually criminalizing seed collecting and seed banking.

                  In India, farmers can not find normal cotton seed now - in regions that have grown cotton for centuries.

                  So, while you can say it is pretty much impossible, that flies in the face of the reality which is what the diary is about.  It is happening around the world, including Iraq.  

                  In this country, OCM has started a campaign called "Taking It Back" - referring to ownership of seeds.  

                  This take over of seeds could not be more thorough of serious and that was the point of the diary, NOT science.  The science discussion came from people here and was answered with good material from Smith, one of the leading experts in the world on the health consequences of GMOs as well as on explaining to non-scientists how genetic engineering works.

                  •  It's a battle but they have not won (2+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    decisivemoment, murrayewv

                    and I suspect organic seeds/natural foods can become the basis of a new company if they spent enough on advertising to counteract Monsanto.

                    This is a business battle IMO. I am assured by the seed banks that the raw material of life is being protected.


                    deep below the fingers of gollum.

                    Here's a link to the article on the topic: seeds

                    A lovely little thinker, But a bugger when he's pissed

                    by yuriwho on Tue Dec 16, 2008 at 12:48:36 AM PST

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  One seed bank, Kew, (4+ / 0-)

                      is collecting 1/10 of the species on earth, or trying to. What about the other 90%? But that seed is not evolving in different climates and soils as the earth changes, developing symbiotic relationships with the evolving biota, and is not in quantity out in the world. It's a vault, not a laboratory or farm or distribution business.

                      And, I don't think they are selecting, for example, the best-tasting mango growing on an island in indonesia that also happens to be resistant to, (I am making this up), brackish water (as the waters rise from climate change).

                      They are saving some genes, but not the best of the best for all different climates and ecotypes.

                      Humanity has eaten more than 80,000 plant species through its evolution...We now rely on just 8 crops to provide 75 percent of the world's food. -Vandana Shiva

                      by Pay It Forward on Tue Dec 16, 2008 at 02:18:10 AM PST

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  there are lots of other seed companies..... (2+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:
                        yuriwho, SnowCountry

                        they jsut all want the same rights as Monsanto because they are companies making a profit.  So if you want to fight patents and plant breeding, perhaps seed companies are only symbolic of your dislike for capitalism.  

                        You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you mad. Aldous Huxley

                        by murrayewv on Tue Dec 16, 2008 at 03:36:24 AM PST

                        [ Parent ]

                      •  And good luck finding (1+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:

                        any of the major crop species that are even open-pollinated. Hybrid corn varieties were developed because crop yields were increased. Seed-saving doesn't work from hybrid fields as the seeds do not breed true. Farmers at least in the US have been quite willing to buy new seed every year from the companies who produce hybrid seeds, but somehow, genetically-modified seed is different?

                        Americans, while occasionally willing to be serfs, have always been obstinate about being peasantry. F. Scott Fitzgerald, the Great Gatsby

                        by riverlover on Tue Dec 16, 2008 at 06:38:49 AM PST

                        [ Parent ]

            •  I think it is valid question. Do you think that (4+ / 0-)

              what Monsanto is doing to put seeds out of reach is an accident?  A mistake on their part?  A small thing?  

              What is your opinion since that was the substance of the diary - NOT science.

              •  Monsanto is a business..... (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:

                they invest in and develop technology and then sell it to people for a profit.  My opinioin of the substance of the diary is that you don't want patents or technology in your food and are using GMOs as a flaming torch to rally folks against frankenfood boogy man.  But if you peel back the layers, who is trying to not buy the seeds from Monsanto?  Farmers who want the technology for free after Monsanto invested in it, not farmers who don't want the technology.  If you don't want the technology, buy organic and make it profitable for them.  

                Don't conflate that with the regulation of the supplement industry, which has come about after years of Republicans fighting safety activists on behalf of the corporate donors from big supplement industries who didn't want the FDA in their business.  

                You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you mad. Aldous Huxley

                by murrayewv on Tue Dec 16, 2008 at 03:33:26 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  The FDA are not helping us either... (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  North Coast Ohioan

                  donors from big supplement industries who didn't want the FDA in their business

                  The FDA are in bed with the big pharmaceutical companies and more than ever over the past 8 years. the Safety activists you refer to? who bankrolls most of them...? More Republicans are in the back pockets of big pharma against the interests of the "supplement industries".. why? Guess who has more money? Repubs are always more numerous and active where the most money is.... (and to be fair, politicians in general...)

                  At least there is something to be said for free choice. Are the "Big Supplement companies" somehow the same as Monsanto or Big Pharma in scale and power?? Their interests at least align with freer choice. Denying people the choice to take supplements or not is what the FDA is ultimately trying to do.  And they are doing it largely at the behest of Big pharma and other groups aligned with them. There is less harm in supplements than the products of BIG Pharma that the FDA is shilling for.  They see a lot of potential customers not taking their drugs because they are able to choose alternatives. With all the misdiagnoses and mis-prescription and misuses of prescription drugs, there is much more harm in the endless use of these compounds that end up killing incredible numbers of people every year. Supplements at worst maybe do not do anything but in contrast they may actually help many people without killing lots of them. We are not all identical and do not get everything from a "balanced" diet.

                  Who pays for all the studies that "Debunk" nutritional claims for supplements? Who designs the studies and protocols and why are they setup in ways that guarantee the result? They choose formulations and artificial situations that will lead to the conclusions they want. Big Pharma is bankrolling most of the debunking and along with that they are and have been pushing the FDA to eliminate the competition.

                  And the usual blind swap, single variable studies increasingly are unable to reveal the synergies, negative and positive, that are at work in Pharmaceuticals and supplements. Supplements especially as nutritional aids act more generally on our overall diet and metabolism with the aim of re-balancing deficiencies with compounds that are based on components foods we and the rest of the planet have been ingesting over very long periods of time. They are more meant for prevention rather than as more immediate cures/control of severe or chronic disease. But the overlap is wide and cure and control of conditions by diet and specific supplements is not a case of all right or all wrong. As is often the with the built in limits of traditional studies how are actual effects going to be really understood? Choosing a single supplement and taking no others which is what a traditional, controlled study requires and it dooms the conclusions to being useless in way too many cases. Especially when not properly controlled for poorly understood co-factors.

                  Sure, many pharmaceuticals are also based on compounds found in nature but they are designed to act very specifically to cure or control disease in a very focused and often powerful way. The conditions they are meant to help are often life threatening and the medicine can also be dangerous. Oversight of all this by the FDA etc. is of course necessary. Until the Genome and "proteinome" are better understood and development of something like holistic metabolic studies with direct real-time individual diagnostic/metabolic feedback is a reality we will be swatting around dueling studies which are contradictory and pretty much pointless.

                  Applying the same rigorous restraints needed for Big Pharma on the supplement/nutraceutical manufacturers would stifle much of the progress being made by them. It would be legal and bureaucratic overkill all out of proportion to alleged potential harm not dissimilar to cannabis prohibition. There are very many 2nd and 3rd generation supplements that are much more effective with proven cutting edge benefits to health and longevity. These newly appreciated super foods and related compounds go way beyond "C" "B" and the usual traditional supplements. These "nutraceutical" supplements are collectively a positive and vibrant growth area of nutritional medicine as a complementary parallel to Strict Western Medicine and while reasonable oversight of it should be welcomed by most, turning any oversight into a tool of suppression and monopoly by competing interests should be rejected as well.

                  We all can benefit from access to supplements that can delay or prevent ill health. Supplements that meet manufacturing purity and safety standards will do no harm and allow us all to be part of an expanding and beneficial mass movement of users. The very level of demand for these products is a very real symptom of the deficiencies of modern medicine. They do not have all the answers and in fact except for clear cut clinically provable disease they do not have foolproof answers for a large amount of our health issues. It is both amazing what modern medicine has leaned and achieved and equally amazing what they haven't a clue about. We have to have alternatives to them. They don't know everything. They kill millions of us every year world wide through mistakes, dangerous drugs and just the sheer magnitude of the challenge of what we just don't know yet. We should be free to choose alternatives up to a point... (the line is crossed for instance by parents denying blood transfusions, surgery, vaccinations to their children....)

                  Compared to going to your Doctor for poorly understood or misdiagnosed conditions and relying entirely on what the very slow and expensive process of new drug development by big pharma, supplements are a more direct faster democratic and Darwinian market evolution. But these are complementary areas. On the one hand, cures overseen by a Doctor and prevention, which can be chosen and controlled by people themselves. People buy what seems to work for them and after a while that even overcomes the placebo effect. Some will continue to have expensive urine and actually not get any appreciable benefit but over time free flow of information will allow more and more people to make informed choices. We only have one life and we should have as much choice as to how to try and make the most of it, stay healthy and live as long as we can. Prevention is complementary to cure and it is cheaper and seems to be developing faster. It is often wrong or mistaken but it does no harm. And for those who wave rare exceptions around like vitamin A poisoning, or tainted Amino acids to try and prove otherwise do not invalidate supplements as a useful choice any more than tainted meat or veggies means we should become vegetarians or stop eating food...

                  A healthier population will purchase fewer of the products of Big pharma.... If supplements make no difference what does Big Pharma have to be worried about? I have a feeling that they have internal profit forecasts based on how sick or how well we all will be and how much or how many of their products we will HAVE to consume... A healthy population does not make for a  healthy bottom line for pharmaceutical companies. Unless they see real possibilities in nutraceuticals AND THEY WANT IN ON ALL THE ACTION THERE AS WELL... Once the relatively small supplement companies are regulated into uncompetitive stasis, submission and bankruptcy they can be more easily merged, acquired co-opted and the valuable research and compounds copyrighted, patented, and dispensed through the usual channels a a greater profit to them and less benefit to us....

                  Actual intent of large corporations can be misinterpreted along tin hat conspiracy lines but that misunderstands their real focus of just getting maximum profits to shareholders and the inevitable myopia and denial about the side effects of their operations. They do not have to listen to dissenting voices. They make their own reality when they are big enough. That is the conservative disease we are all suffering from. Until everything is more democratic, Big Pharma It is really just a very big Bull in a china shop in an industry that is sometimes high-risk, throwing it's weight around for maximum benefit to itself heedless of or in denial of the negative side effects of what they are doing. hmmm often just like their products....

                  "Big Supplement" is a pygmy totally out-gunned by big pharma. And we should usually root for the comparative little guy and free choice...

                  Pogo & Murphy's Law, every time. Also "Trust but verify" - St. Ronnie

                  by IreGyre on Tue Dec 16, 2008 at 06:40:08 AM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  Pharma is regulated.... (0+ / 0-)

                    and needs to prove safety and efficacy.  For the most part, Pharma works.  Ask me how my husband survived lymphoma 4 years ago- it wasn't herbal tea folks.  Some big Pharma Biotech company made Rituximab and there you go.  Sorry if you think tea and sympathy would have worked.  I keep reading how many supplements don't work and have harmful effects.  So many ingredients from China- and so little data.  I read this prosupplement stuff and I feel in the presence of people who are true believers, uninterested in experimental data or evidence based medicine.  

                    You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you mad. Aldous Huxley

                    by murrayewv on Tue Dec 16, 2008 at 03:43:22 PM PST

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  Not knocking trad medicine (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      North Coast Ohioan

                      and glad to hear your husband survived the lymphoma.

                      But for all the miracle cures and lives saved and great and good doctors and solid research there is the other side of big corporations with too much power and influence and hack doctors who just prescribe and over-prescribe and mis-prescribe and who swallow high profile expensive promotional campaigns to use the latest product from big pharma who have bent rules, spent lavishly on promoting them and on campaign contributions and lobbyists and who also suppress research that shows some of their products are dangerous or ineffective.

                      I myself had a recurring type of infection with a risk of blood poisoning and in one instance brain damage (thanks doc for catching that one) and the drugs and even the special soaps that were supposed to work best were later proved to be ineffective (and in the case of the soaps toxic) and both the antibiotics and the soap formulations were taken off the market. I later just adjusted my diet, took supplements and eventually I stopped getting the infections.

                      As for supplements, yes I am wary of wide-eyed over-enthusiastic believers touting the next great thing. But there is solid research evidence for much of what people are taking and I take the time to read as much about conflicting studies to understand what the findings actually imply and try to make informed choices. I'm not big into herbal teas as cures... but I think informed use of them can add to improving health for many and aid in preventing disease.

                      And as for cancers like the rest of human health it is very complex and very incompletely understood. Some like childhood leukemia are now routinely treated with a high success rate. But that is partially due to luck and determination. There are still huge gaps in understanding what causes all the many types of cancer and all the genetic and metabolic implications in it's progression and treatment.

                      I worked in a Medical library a while back and did a lot of reading. What I learned most of all is that it is really awe inspiring what we have learned and what we can cure but it was also equally daunting to realize how much we do not know. And we are still hugely ignorant of a lot that goes on in our bodies and even exactly why some drugs work and why many do not or even kill us. And Big pharma tolerates a large collateral damage rate among patients along the route to profits and curing disease. They can also absorb large lawsuit settlements against them because they do so very well in their business. They are regulated but not as much as they might be with the FDA full of once and future employees of the pharmaceutical industries or their lobbyists.

                      We can trust our doctors, usually. We have to and fortunately most of them are good or very good. But like St.Ronnie once said "Trust, but verify". They and the pharmaceutical companies don't know everything despite what a good confident bedside manner might imply... and they can also make mistakes.

                      One mistaken Doctor almost killed our oldest son... fortunately we made him understand that our son was actually very sick and would have died if we had taken his word that there was nothing to worry about and just taken him home. The surgery the next day saved him but the nursing care afterwards harmed him and affected negatively him for many years. 6 years later, his life was saved again by different doctors who also saved his leg after keeping him from bleeding to death after a severe accident. And this time the nursing care after was exceptional and still brings tears of gratitude to my eyes.

                      Early Surgical procedures saved my wife from having life threatening cervical cancer and still allowed her to have our children. I am grateful for that. I was given a needless operation when I was 12 and I am not grateful for that. I have had chronic problems that may be partially related to that my whole life and I am not grateful for that. My mother just had successful brain surgery last year and is doing fine. My mother-in law survived colon cancer and recovered well from the surgery 2 years ago and has all normal function. Both are in their 80's. (my mom also had successful eye surgery recently and her glaucoma is controlled and stabilized) I am of course also very grateful for their medical care as well.

                      I am currently on BP meds that have been taken off the list of first line use in the USA, England and many other countries after many years of being the preferred choice to prescribe. They are associated with a much greater risk of kidney damage and development of Type II diabetes. Thanks doc... when do I get taken off the beta blocker and switched to the Angiotensin stuff? next appointment I hope. The damn beta blocker turns my toes purple & blue in the winter. and they HURT. I hope I don't lose a toe or two before I get re-prescribed.

                      Pogo & Murphy's Law, every time. Also "Trust but verify" - St. Ronnie

                      by IreGyre on Tue Dec 16, 2008 at 05:55:36 PM PST

                      [ Parent ]

          •  this comment is rude... (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            yuriwho, jay w

            obnoxious, and somewhat trollish, I am sorry.

        •  You didn't read the diary. You missed (0+ / 0-)

          what is happening to farmers and their inability to choose.

      •  Earth Ling, don't let them get to you. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        I really appreciate your comments and support and the value of the diary in terms of collecting the larger picture of what is happening to seeds is obvious to anyone not bent on being absurd.  

        The diary was an article on Oped News where it was main headlined and is still getting huge attention.  So let these guys mess around and throw the word science around, but they have missed the point of the diary and the science issues got answered.

        Thanks for commenting.

    •  I Would Bet Molecular Biologists Are Clueless (13+ / 0-)

      for the most part.  Genetic engineering is in the "let's try this and see what happens" stage.  This crap needs to stay in the lab under controlled conditions until we actually have an idea of what we are doing.

      Engineering is, for the most part, solving immediate first-order problems and then multiplying by a factor of ignorance just to be on the safe side.  Screw that when you're dealing with something as fundamental as the food supply.

      If it ain't broke, don't fix it.  What is broken is us, not nature.  Or better yet KISS.  That should ring a bell with engineers.  We are making crap that is not derived from natural evolution.  At some level it is going to be incompatible with us and other critters who are derived from natural evolution.  Maybe this is how we evolve?  I'll leave that to the philosophers.

      If you want science, how about these dingbats prove the introduction of new species will not adversely disrupt the current ecosystem.  What is the rule of thumb regarding assumption?

      As far as Obama goes, all I care about is consistency and what he has upstairs.  Sarah Palin is the embodiment of the contempt a subset of society has for America.  Screw them too. ;)

      I love science.  I despise commercial interest disguised as science.

      •  great line! (6+ / 0-)

        I love science.  I despise commercial interest disguised as science.

        Well said.

      •  OK, I'll play this game (6+ / 0-)

        Mother Nature has done more crazy experiments in the last 3 billion years than humans have done in the last 40 years (the time since genetic manipulation was discovered in a lab) by a factor of a googolplex or more. Mother nature even combined completely separate organisms into a single cell to produce animal cells. Your cells are abominations, every one of them, since you have both a central genome and a mitochondrial genome. The mitochondrion is the now the energy factory of the cell. Once the two genomes were in the same cell competing for control, the co-habiting genomes decided that the mitochondrion was better at energy production and the host genome was better at communication. Each genome used their own strengths to the max and let their inept genes wither away. Today in an animal cell, the main genome is useless at energy production and the mitochondria are the masters of this, but the mitochondria lost most of it's other abilities (except cell suicide decisions--apoptosis and a few other key cellular decisions). Now the two genomes work together as a team of rivals (I love the political analogies). This type of experiment happens all the time in nature. We have DNA in us from viruses, insects, blue-green algae and countless other organisms.

        The difference between scientists in the lab and mother nature is that mother nature does far more experiments and selects for those rare results that are actually more fit in the wild. Not just more fit for one task, but more fit to survive and adapt as needed to changing environments.

        Every time I do a genetic experiment in the lab I think to myself that mother nature has done this already.

        A lovely little thinker, But a bugger when he's pissed

        by yuriwho on Mon Dec 15, 2008 at 10:29:29 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  The issue is the monopoly. The patents. (6+ / 0-)

          The removal of all competition.  The undermining of democracy to achieve corporate goals.  The threat to human survival when resources are taken over and put out of reach by people.

          •  that is what patents do.... (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            yuriwho, SnowCountry, Cat Whisperer

            legally set up a limited monopoly for 17 (now 20) years so people who invest in a technology can gain the reward for it.

            Arguing against patents and GMOs at the same time is complex.  Would you not want a patent if you worked hard and made an invention and wanted to license it?  There is an argument to be made that patents benefit small inventors more than big companies, or that big companies then buy up small companies to get their patents.  But arguing against patents using just Monsanto as the example is difficult.  They are not a seed monopoly by any means.  There are plenty of other seed companies still in business.  Problem is they patent and use GMOs too.  Even small independent seed companies offer varieties developed by companies owned by Monsanto and pay licensing fees.

            You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you mad. Aldous Huxley

            by murrayewv on Tue Dec 16, 2008 at 03:14:35 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  I largely agree with what you are (0+ / 0-)

              saying except that, as I understand it, Monsanto is patenting something that we have never patented before to my knowledge: life.  Also, the patents on seeds cannot really be enforced fairly because they interact with other seeds that are not GMO.  

              Speak softly and carry a big can of tuna.

              by Cat Whisperer on Tue Dec 16, 2008 at 06:37:15 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  uhhh.... (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:

                not so.  Lots of life patenting out there from plant patents for cuttings and varieties to patenting of life in the famous oil eating bacteria case from Chakrabqrty in 1980

                Soon Monsanto's glyphosate and B.t. patents will run out and then what?  Anyone can collect the genes and cross them into any variety they want, paying Monsanto nothing.  Will it still be such a horrible deed without the monopoly?  

                You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you mad. Aldous Huxley

                by murrayewv on Tue Dec 16, 2008 at 07:01:39 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  Yes, even without the patents though they (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  North Coast Ohioan

                  from hell.

                  Indigenous seeds, gifts of nature and hand selected over centuries to be an ideal fit to the specific niche they are being replaced by combinations never before seen or possible in nature, being created for profit and control, by people proceeding with astounding arrogance and ignorance, using primitive knowledge of complex genes, and seemingly blind to the trail of contamination and even deaths they are leaving behind.

                  Here there are over 800 comments, far and away more than any other diary main headlined on Dailykos today, and a reflection of how serious the issue of Monsanto is to people.

                  And yet on the home page here at Dailykos, they are announcing Vilsack's nomination, calling it "star power," amazingly ycompletely disconnected from an awareness of Vilsack's closeness to Monsanto.

                  Six Reasons Why Obama Appointing Monsanto's Buddy, Former Iowa Governor Vilsack, for USDA Head Would be a Terrible Idea

                  OCA, November 12, 2008

                  Nov. 12, 2008

                  * Former Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack's support of genetically engineered pharmaceutical crops, especially pharmaceutical corn:

                  * The biggest biotechnology industry group, the Biotechnology Industry Organization, named Vilsack Governor of the Year. He was also the founder and former chair of the Governor's Biotechnology Partnership.

                  * When Vilsack created the Iowa Values Fund, his first poster child of economic development potential was Trans Ova and their pursuit of cloning dairy cows.

                  * Vilsack was the origin of the seed pre-emption bill in 2005, which many people here in Iowa fought because it took away local government's possibility of ever having a regulation on seeds- where GE would be grown, having GE-free buffers, banning pharma corn locally, etc. Representative Sandy Greiner, the Republican sponsor of the bill, bragged on the House Floor that Vilsack put her up to it right after his state of the state address.

                  * Vilsack has a glowing reputation as being a schill for agribusiness biotech giants like Monsanto. Sustainable ag advocated across the country were spreading the word of Vilsack's history as he was attempting to appeal to voters in his presidential bid. An activist from the west coast even made this youtube animation about Vilsack
                  The airplane in this animation is a referral to the controversy that Vilsack often traveled in Monsanto's jet.

                  *Vilsack is an ardent support of corn and soy based biofuels, which use as much or more fossil energy to produce them as they generate, while driving up world food prices and literally starving the poor.

                  At FarmOn, the response to Obama's terrible, terrible selection of Vilsack was the following.  

                  To understand what is wrong with the patenting of seeds, and to meet VandanaShiva who is a leader in fighting genetic engineering and for farmers, watch this video before reading the following article.

                  Globalization <>

                  Multinationals Rob Seeds of Poor: Vandana Shiva and Houston Catholic Workers Protest Patenting of Life Forms at RiceTec in Alvin, Texas

                  by Mark and Louise Zwick

                  It seemed incredible. A corporation in Alvin, Texas, just an hour and a half by car from Casa Juan Diego, was trying to patent seeds that rice farmers had developed over centuries in India and Pakistan. Actually, they had already done so and were in the process of renewing the patent. Farmers in India and other poor countries would have to pay Rice-Tec in order to plant their own rice. Rice-Tec was claiming the seeds as their private property.

                  How could this be?

                  As we demonstrated with the well-known visionary and author Vandana Shiva, who had come from India to protest this robbery of the intellectual property rights of Indian farmers, and with others who had come from various parts of Texas, with our grandchildren, and with Sue David, fellow Catholic Worker, we chanted, "We told you once, we told you twice, Hands off Basmati rice!" Basmati is one of the varieties of rice developed in South Asia over so many centuries, one chosen by Rice-Tec to make their own.

                  The Houston Catholic Worker has been publishing articles for a number of years about policies of the World Bank, International Monetary Fund and the World Trade Organization which make food more and more expensive throughout the Third World. The result has been that the poor of the world, no longer able to grow their own food, cannot afford to eat. The insistence of these international organizations, directed by wealthy countries and multinational corporations, that poor countries grow cash crops for export and use the money from their exports to import almost all of their food, has caused irreparable harm: local agricultural economies have been destroyed and hunger and even famine have been the result in many countries.

                  Many may not actually be aware that "ten corporations control 32 percent of the commercial-seed market, valued at $23 billion, and 100 percent of the market for genetically engineered, or transgenic, seeds. These corporations also control the global agrochemical and pesticide market. Just five corporations control the global trade in grain." These corporations, such as Monsanto and Cargill, were key players in shaping international trade agreements such as GATT and now the WTO.

                  Vandana Shiva, a woman from India who has been active in the naming and the rejection of these policies which produce for the consumer societies of the North while masses of people to the South struggle to have enough to eat each day increased our awareness. We doubt that the average American is aware that one of the major roles of the World Trade Organization is this very legitimization of the patenting of life forms from poor countries by multinational corporations.

                  Vandana Shiva has published two books with South End Press (Cambridge, MA) on these topics, which are clearly written and accessible to the average reader. Stolen Harvest: The Hijacking of the World Food Supply (2000) and Biopiracy: The Plunder of Nature and Knowledge (1999). She also writes in the magazine Third World Resurgence, where these issues are explored from the point of view of the countries most affected by the policies.

                  The massive demonstrations in Seattle came as a surprise to many who were unfamiliar with the issues. The writings of Vandana Shiva, who has been very much a part of the anti-globalization movement which came together at Seattle, can do much to explain the concerns of those demonstrators from allover the world. As Ms. Shiva put it:

                  "Corporations that have made governments their puppets and that have created instruments and institutions like the WTO for their own protection are now being held accountable by ordinary people." She describes the attitudes and hope that made the Seattle protests and the continuing protests around the world possible, speaking of "a community of creativity and courage that has dared to challenge globalization at a time when history is supposed to have ended."

                  In Stolen Harvest, she points out the fundamental discrepancy in our understanding of questions regarding world hunger: "A corporate myth has been created, shared by most mainstream environmentalists and development organizations, that industrial agriculture is necessary to grow more foodand reduce hunger. Many also assume that intensive, industrial agriculture saves resources and, therefore, saves species. . ." Ms. Shiva explains how the opposite is true: that agriculture and aquaculture based on chemicals, herbicides and biotechnology instead use up resources, destroy local agriculture and create hunger.

                  Shiva contends that "free" trade is rather based on robbery: "The completion of the Uruguay Round of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) in 1994 and the establishment of the World Trade Organization (WTO) have institutionalized and legalized corporate growth based on harvests stolen from nature and people. The WTO's Trade Related Intellectual Property Rights Agreement criminalizes seed-saving and seed-sharing. The Agreement on Agriculture legalizes the dumping of genetically engineered foods on countries and criminalizes actions to protect the biological and cultural diversity on which diverse food systems are based."

                  According to Shiva, it is the Monsanto company that has done the most through its propaganda to convince the people of the world that everyone will die of hunger unless biotechnology is used to produce more food through industrial agriculture. Ironically, Monsanto is basically not a food company, but one that specializes in pesticides, fertilizers and hazardous chemicals (even though more recently they have renamed their chemicals as "agricultural" products to disguise the content), which could not be sold if traditional methods of farming were used.

                  Shiva debunks on a practical level another part of the myth, that food from biotechnology and patented seeds is cheaper than that grown in traditional methods, showing how higher costs of seeds, technology fees, and the increased use of chemicals involved in the cultivation of genetically engineered seeds leads farmers into serious financial troubles.

                  The problems with Monsanto's tactics, when applied in poor countries are dramatically described by Shiva. One of the examples is Monsanto's interest in killing weeds, which, it turns out, are an essential part of the food supply in South Asia and Africa: "In Indian agriculture, women use up to 150 different species of plants (which the biotech industry would call weeds) as medicine, food, or fodder. For the poorest, this biodiversity is the most important resource for survival. In West Bengal, 124 'weed' species collected from rice fields have economic importance for local farmers. In aTanzanian village, over 80 percent of the vegetable dishes are prepared from uncultivated plants. Herbicides such as Roundup (sold by Monsanto) and the transgenic crops engineered to withstand them therefore destroy the economies of the poorest, especially women. What is a weed for Monsanto is a medicinal plant or food for rural people."

                  The mantra is: there will not be enough food for the world if industrial agriculture is not the method. However, the increase of famine and hunger all over the world in poor countries since these policies have been implemented belie the whole premise. In an article in Third World Resurgence (Aug.-Sept. 1996) Tewolde Berhan and Gebre Egzibher described the discussion at the 1996 Leipzig conference on the Conservation and Sustainable Utilization of Plant Genetic Resources for Good and Agriculture. He pointed out that for many centuries local agriculture has existed without hazardous chemicals and with enough prosperity to feed the people:

                  "Everyone accepted that peasants and their predecessors throughout the last 10 millenia generated all the agrobiodiversity we have and took care of it and still do. But delegates from industrialized countries kept saying with unmistakable conviction that they do not know if in situ (in place) conservation works. Until they internalized it into scientific lore, the system which had generated all the agrobiodiversity which science is now trying to understand and manipulate was, to them, non-existent or at least not real. It is like somebody meeting you on the road and saying to you that you exist because he sees you, that you did not exist before he saw you, and that you will stop existing as soon as he goes past you. What megalomania!"

                  Ms. Shiva notes clearly that the "highest-level political and economic conflicts between freedom and slavery, democracy and dictatorship, diversity and monoculture are involved in the decisions about the world's food supply." She advocates democracy in food production, rather than control by a few multinational corporations. The way she and poor women of India are approaching the problem is by a campaign on Gandhi lines. His chant to the British was, "Quit India!" The women now say to the multinationals: "Quit India!"

                  The movement in India, following Gandhi's ideas, to save seeds from the multinationals, which has been building for over a decade, is called * Navdanya *(the movement for saving seed). Shiva describes Gandhi's approach and how it is being used again:

                  "In periods of injustice and external domination, when people are denied economic and political freedom, reclaiming freedom requires peaceful non-cooperation with unjust laws and regimes. This peaceful non-cooperation with injustice has been the democratic tradition of India and was revived by Mohandas Gandhi as satyagraha. Literally, satyagraha means the struggle for truth. According to Gandhi, no tyranny can enslave people who consider it immoral to obey laws that are unjust. As he stated in Hind Swaraj, 'As long as the superstition that people should obey unjust laws exists, so long will slavery exist. And a non-violent resister alone can remove such a superstition.'

                  "On March 5, 1998, the anniversary of Gandhi's call for the salt satyagraha, a coalition of more than 2,000 groups started the bija satyagraha, a non-cooperation movement against patents on seeds and plants. . . .

                  "The salt satyagraha embodied India's refusal to cooperate with the unjust salt laws and was an expression of India's quest for freedom with equity. The bija satyagraha is our refusal to accept the colonization of life through patents and perverse technologies, and the destruction of the food security by the free trade rules of the World Trade Organization. It is an expression of the quest for freedom for all people and all species, and an assertion of our food rights.

                  "*Navdanya*'s aim is to cover the country with seed banks and organic farming initiatives. Navdanya will not recognize patents on life,
                  including patents on seed. It aims to build a food and agriculture system that is patent-free, chemical free, and free of genetic engineering. This movement will reclaim our food freedom."

                  The movement for food democracy in India is a part of alliances with scientists, citizens' movements in many other poor countries, and consumer movements.

                  We Catholic Workers found that protesting together with those who have developed this groundswell movement in the poorer countries may possibly be of some force in the multinationals' keeping their hands off the goods of the people.

                  (*Houston Catholic Worker*, Vol. 20, No. 7, December 2000)

        •  Mimicry Is Not Mastery (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          Nature is not a discovery process using the scientific method.  It is the domain.

          Nature does not take short-cuts nor is it profit motivated.

          Methods are not organisms and what you create in the lab is not found in the wild.  There have already been screw ups with new organisms killing other species adapted to current conditions.

      •  Thank you for this comment. I also think that (4+ / 0-)

        "science" is being confused with a technology in the hands of industry and you are quite right that it is at a very primitive stage.

        As to don't fix it if it isn't broken, here is a recent UN study showing that organic farming could feed Africa, but organic farming, of course, doesn't sell pesticides or patented seeds or take over control of Africa's farming for corporations so people are pushing genetic engineering on the "backward" Africans.

        Notice the science that the farmers use in rejecting genetic engineering.

        Thanks for commenting.

      •  Speaking as a molecular biologist..... (7+ / 0-)

        and a patent holder and inventer and company founder- I find your comment to be funny.  We aren't clueless or evil.  

        Most agricultural products are invasive species somewhere brought in from other lands.  All agriculture is unnatural technology and has enabled the very rapid expansion of the human population.  All the food you are eating that you don't grow personally or have given to your from someone who grows it is connected to commercial interests.   Embracing the "If it ain;t broke don't fix it" idea is charming.

        So when is it broken and when does it need to be fixed?  If the cotton boll worms eat all the cotton, is it broken then?  If the wheat rust decimates 80% of the world's wheat crop, then is it broken?  If the peanuts get aflatoxin, is it broken then?  We have transformed the world with agriculture and it is constantly breaking and being fixed using plant breeding and recently, genetic engineering and molecular biology.  It is interesting who you meet on the internet.

        You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you mad. Aldous Huxley

        by murrayewv on Tue Dec 16, 2008 at 03:25:41 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  What You Advocate Is Unethical (4+ / 0-)

          Invasive species are a great example.  Let's just solve a first-order problem and create a whole set of new problems in a problem domain we hardly understand.  We haven't figured out the atmosphere.  We barely have any knowledge on the oceans and look at the results of what we have applied.  The same goes for the land.  We're still finding new terrestrial species.  We hold clinical drug trials because of ignorance about our bodies.  Our programs, in a deterministic domain we created, still have bugs in a couple thousand lines of code.  Yet we somehow automagically know the biosphere enough to release an unknown.  What you advocate is simply unethical and irresponsible.

          Modern, large scale agriculture is broken because growing food is not its design goal.  The products taste like crap if they have taste at all.  Health care shows the same pattern.  Education shows the same pattern.  Exploiting vulnerability or creating dependency relationships means higher profit margins so I understand your interest.  IP laws and biotechnology are a match made in exploiters heaven so I understand your chomping at the bit.  "Oh gee, who knew the wind would blow pollen on your crops.  We own your crop now!"  Pure profit.

          The same large scale wonders you use to sell people also point to the potential of large scale disasters.  So I agree.  We are dealing with a technology that will have far reaching consequences.

          If you knew your problem domain, you would know disease is not an indicator of nature being broken.  Our agricultural techniques create environments ripe for disease.  Instead of adapting our techniques, because we are infallible after all, it must be nature's fault.

          If you knew your problem domain, eliminating diversity usually produces undesired outcomes.  Gee, something bad happens when we stuff a whole bunch of one species in one area.  Gee, who knew there are disease vectors.  When an all you can eat buffet for a predator is created, don't surprised if it and its buddies show up.

          Can you remove the altered DNA from the environment?  Didn't think so.  How long can pollen survive in the wild?  Unlike our other technologies, there is no undo on biotechnology.  This is a one way trip with a component of our life support system.  Maybe if people such as yourself worried more about getting it right than about lining your pockets while passing costs onto others, there wouldn't have been so many screw ups with the simpler technologies.

          You are ignorant of your ignorance and that makes you handling this technology dangerous because it really is Pandora's Box.

        •  Hi murray (0+ / 0-)

          "Most agricultural products are invasive species somewhere brought in from other lands."

          If this were true crops would be more persistent in the environment than the "weeds". We wouldn't need to save seeds.

          Cotton needs to be retired to its native range.

          I want to create my own culture, I don't want to be entertained. - Lawrence Lessig (-7.25/-5.54)

          by barz9 on Tue Dec 16, 2008 at 05:14:35 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Crops are very interesting technology..... (0+ / 0-)

            original species from which most crops were derived cannot be identified- there isn't a trace of the original maize, just a primitive relative teocinte.  The origins of the soybean are lost in time and there is a difficult to work with relative in Australia http://globalfoodchainpartnerships.o...  Wheat is a triploid hybrid and only some of the original genomes have been identified.  There are diverse tomatoes and potatoes still in the Andes, but the potato famine reflected the lack of genetic diversity in the potato to resist a parasite.  This little plant epidemic almost wiped out my ancesters- even as the British sold the wehat harvest and let them starve.

            The original squashes and pumpkins are a far cry from wild relatives.  Hover, some crops such as rice, sunflower, oilseed rape, squash, sorghum, sugar beet, and carrot have been shown to hybridize with wild and/or weedy relatives.

            Wild species of cotton (G. barbadense and G. tomentosum) occur only in arid parts of the tropics and sub-tropics. EPA forbids growing GMO cotton near these wild relatives.  There is also concern glyphosate resistance will escape from canola into weeds like mustard making superweeds.  However, most wild species have the fertility barrier of different chromosome numbers.

            There are quite a few wild relatives of rice however.  But selection by humans for nondehiscing varieties (ones that don't shatter and spread their seeds but leave the seeds stuck together onto the head of the grains so they can be harvested) means that these crops don't usually make it as weeds, rather like wheat and corn.  

            So my suggestion is that agriculture represents something unnatural and different from the weedy relatives from which these crops derive.  The younger the crop the more like a weed it can be considered.  

            As for the pollination from the GMO crops to any weedy relatives that is considered a big deal.  Believe it or not, EPA restricts allowing GMO cotton to be farmed in areas where such relatives live.  We have purposely cultivated these species to allow them to invade and take over the environment and frankly, without our coddling most would not do all that well.  Invasive animals are a lot bigger problems, like africanized bees brought in to improve bee hardiness and nutria brought in for their fur and cats and dogs brought in for their companionship and ability to rid our fields and storehouses of vermin.  Rats (bless their sweet selves) and cats we brought in with our domesticated crops have wiped out a fair few species and still are a major threat to songbirds.

            I find the desire for natural agriculture to be interesting considering how very unnatural this process is.

            You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you mad. Aldous Huxley

            by murrayewv on Tue Dec 16, 2008 at 05:48:11 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

    •  This diary... (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      yuriwho, Argyrios, Hopeful Skeptic

      is kind of like really nice home-made raspberry jam for some reason mixed with used-up utility knife blades.

      •  lol (0+ / 0-)

        A lovely little thinker, But a bugger when he's pissed

        by yuriwho on Mon Dec 15, 2008 at 10:50:18 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  What matters to me is... (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        kalmoth, Cat Whisperer

        where were the knife blades before being used to mash up the jam, and were they washed? Or are they chipping or rusty?

        Or is your point (for real) that there was just not enough intellectual rigor, and so there were too many points the diarist was trying to make, and none of them clear enough to debate specifically?

        Just wondering...

        Humanity has eaten more than 80,000 plant species through its evolution...We now rely on just 8 crops to provide 75 percent of the world's food. -Vandana Shiva

        by Pay It Forward on Mon Dec 15, 2008 at 11:02:35 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  You said it well... (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Cat Whisperer, Hopeful Skeptic

          there was just not enough intellectual rigor, and so there were too many points the diarist was trying to make, and none of them clear enough to debate specifically?

          •  but also... (and this is my last comment) (0+ / 0-)

            this is simply my perception of the diarist's writing style - it has a distinct berry flavor, is somewhat sticky, and for some reason contains small sharp fragments that go like "Screeeeeeeeeeech".

            •  I really did LOL... (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              dotdot, dewley notid

              and you said, it was a style thing for you...

              that's partially just a matter of personal taste, as you said earlier.

              Regardless of style, this has been, for me, one of the most engaging diaries as far as subject matter that I have ever gotten stuck in. Now I need sleep.

              Humanity has eaten more than 80,000 plant species through its evolution...We now rely on just 8 crops to provide 75 percent of the world's food. -Vandana Shiva

              by Pay It Forward on Tue Dec 16, 2008 at 12:29:11 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

    •  I don't understand what you are missing here. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      But it's okay.  You have missed everything being contributed, including the science and the non-hysteria.

    •  Ok smart guy. (0+ / 0-)

      Tell me then.  How come the genetic methods can't just stand on their own?

      I see the problem when people want to use them despite the patents.  That's not how I would like to see it go, but I also understand how the law currently is.

      Then we have somebody, who gets caught up in the thing.  The suits against them, combined with the aggressive means to cut their options seems to be more onerous than necessary.

      Finally, there are those that embrace the whole thing.

      Why are the people, who just want to farm naturally a threat?

      Speak or be spoken for. This is the lesson learned over the last 8 years.

      by potatohead on Tue Dec 16, 2008 at 12:25:28 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Monsanto has lots of breeding programs.... (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        riverlover, yuriwho, SnowCountry

        and wants to protect that Intellectual property.  Folks aren't breeding resistance to disease and improved yield and other characteristics into a plant line for free.  This takes many years- often 6-10 with travel around the world to get to other countries to accelerate the number of generations.

        This diary wants to be antimonopoly, but intellectual property and patents give you a legal monopoly.  Not sure folks here understand that this is an investment by a company to improve a product for the customers- the farmers.  You are the ultimate customer and unless you refuse to buy the food made by modern plant breeding companies you will allow this to continue.  Only buy organic food grown from heirloom varieties.  Otherwise farmers will keep buying higher yielding varieties to make more money and stay in business.  If they start making more money from you, then they will provide you the product you want.

        When farmers started making more money selling corn for ethanol, they planted more corn.  Demand = increased supply.  Seems like this diary is railing against the rights of farmers to rip off Monsanto's IP.  But if the farmers found that the consumers rejected the Monsanto products completely, they would stop growing them.

        You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you mad. Aldous Huxley

        by murrayewv on Tue Dec 16, 2008 at 03:06:09 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  How will we, they ultimate customer, choose to (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          purchase or not purchase these new crops when Monsanto has found a way to keep up from labeling their new creation.

          Do they really expect us to be pleased as customers when we realize they have actually narrowed our options.  We have two choices.  Buy organic or risk buying GE/GM foods/ingredients.  What about the customer who isn't yet convinced that organic foods are worth the extra price and also isn't convinced that GE/GM has been on the scene long enough to feel completely comfortable with it.

          I saw organic food as offering choice.  I see Monsanto's approach as market takeover.  Organic wanted a label.  They felt they were providing customers with an improved product and pushed to allow customers the option of knowing which products were organic.  Monsanto feels that they have an improved product but wish to keep the end user from knowing when they are purchasing said product.  I don't care for the strong hand approach.  I will continue to have little use for Monsanto as a result of these practices.  

        •  But Monsanto enforces its patents (0+ / 0-)

          against those who are growing organically when it just happens that crops cross pollinate. Monsanto seems to want to drive all organic competitors out of the market, and that would make sense from their business model, but it isn't rationale when we consider the problems associated with what Monsanto is doing.  

          I agree that intellectual property should be protected, but this issue isn't just about intellectual property owned by Monsanto; it's about Monsanto monopolizing the way in which we grow food.  The evidence of GM seeds affecting non GM crops is well-documented, so that is also a huge issue.  It is one thing to create a GM seed for a specific purpose, but it is another when that seed influences crops in a manner not intended.  

          For example, when Monsanto genetically engineers a seed to grow a crop and yet not develop seeds; it is creating the possibility that we may destroy crops from producing seed altogether.  That is why there is a movement to save seeds.

          Also, consumers do not know about genetically modified food and issues surrounding Monsanto in the United States because of food labeling problems.  

          Speak softly and carry a big can of tuna.

          by Cat Whisperer on Tue Dec 16, 2008 at 06:47:03 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Why don't consumers know about GM foods? (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            Who has put out a study showing how bad they are for people? Where is the data?  Seriously I keep looking and there aren't studies that support the contention of risk.  

            Frankly, there isn't much data on the rBST milk either, but the dairy farmers were not unanimous in their desire to use this product.  They wanted a price premium for not using it with labeling and they got it.  So when Monsanto stops making the product, will the prices of so-called organic milk go down?

            I don't think organic milk that is just factory system reared cows without rBST is the answer.  So is nonorganic food cheaper because all these chemicals give higher yield and productivity or is organic food more expensive because corporate america is making a big fat buck off us all and want the profits.  Not sure, but still like my organic produce to cut back on the pesticides.

            You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you mad. Aldous Huxley

            by murrayewv on Tue Dec 16, 2008 at 07:45:23 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

        •  I read it a different way. (0+ / 0-)

          Basically Montsato is being overly draconian in this protection.

          Not only are they wanting to protect their IP (a lot of which shouldn't be allowed, but that is another discussion), but they are working hard to eliminate competitors to own food production.

          This is not wise for a whole lot of reasons.

          1.  We need robust competition to keep people honest and promote better tech
          1.  With that much control, they then have an influence on society that's not healthy.
          1.  We don't know all the ramifications of their path, and are rapidly being compelled to follow it.

          I take exception with all three of these things.  If their approach is competing well, and is being validated by market forces, then there is no reason to continue to be so draconian with those choosing to compete in their own way.

          Seed harvesting is something we've done since we knew how.  It's a core human technology that may well prove quite useful.  Bad things can happen, times can get tough, etc...

          Speak or be spoken for. This is the lesson learned over the last 8 years.

          by potatohead on Tue Dec 16, 2008 at 10:38:16 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  I feel conflicted in these debates. (6+ / 0-)

    I feel that companies such as Monsanto need to be stopped there practices are beyond wrong.

    But I am not against GE/GM foods.  I do think that before being released to the public much more research must be done and that products should be marked as such so people can make there own choices.  

    But whenever I read discussions of this nature it always seem that either side wants all or nothing so I have a hard time supporting either side.

    •  why is it wrong to ask to be paid.... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      for your work?  If Monsanto improves a seed line and the customer buys seed that agrees they can't resell it (and the seed bags are so marked) why is this evil?  If I buy software and agree to a license should I be allowed to sell it to others to copy it?  I don't think you folks know much about the amount of investment there is in wither GM or conventional breeding- takes years.

      And Monsanto isn't the only seed company in this country or the world.  

      You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you mad. Aldous Huxley

      by murrayewv on Tue Dec 16, 2008 at 03:09:01 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Your comments are beginning (0+ / 0-)

        to sound like a one-note drumbeat here.  Could you please respond to comments I made in response to yours concerning the fact that these patents are not the same as other types of patents?  We are not talking about a machine or software here.

        Speak softly and carry a big can of tuna.

        by Cat Whisperer on Tue Dec 16, 2008 at 06:50:07 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  did so to another comment.... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          Went to work for the day.  

          I find this to be a not very fact based and confusing diary.  I have no objection whatsoever to someone deciding to not purchase GMO foods or seeds.  I think the data on safety support that these products are safe, and the farmers are buying the products willingly to raise yield and lower costs.  

          Patenting life is standard practice since 1980.  Plant patents also have a long history and a good record.  When you buy an African violet, it will usually be patented and you can't take cuttings and sell it.

          You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you mad. Aldous Huxley

          by murrayewv on Tue Dec 16, 2008 at 07:05:02 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  Tactics or strategy? (0+ / 0-)

        I truly fail to see any legitimate apology for a corporation which sues farmers which you claim Monsanto is only trying to help because their bastard pollen blew onto that farmer's land.

        Getting paid in that way is as immoral as anything I can think of.

        •  case is a little more complex than that.... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          Monsanto determined it was 95-98% their cultivar and that it was obtained after he saved the seeds that survived treatment with roundup.  Doesn't sound quite so pollen spread based on any experimental data with buffer zones.

          People here operate with little knowlege of intellectual property or specific facts with great comfort.  However even a small amount of examination of the literature will greatly expand your understanding of what is biologically happening.

          There are people who want a vegan lifestyle and want to use only herbal supplements and grow their own food, unmarked by the RIFD tags or using any hybrid seeds or GMOs or fertilizers and pesticides of synthetic origin.  Great- totally support their lifestyle for them and frankly, Monsanto isn't out to get them in the slightest.  

          But the question of the diarist (among many) is should Monsanto be able to estblish a monopoly via a patent (totally legal and constitutional) and should they be able to establish a monopoly of agricultural seed companies, forcing their patented technology on unwilling farmers who have no other source for their seeds.  People have seriously muddled the two issues which have quite different legal basis.  For example, we do have antitrust laws as well as patent laws.

          Of course I wouldn't support the latter- monopolies of this sort are unfair.  But I strongly question that this has actually happened in the USA or the world.  I contend the farmers are buying the seeds Monsanto is selling for their own benefits.  And if consumers didn't reward those farmers and distributors by consuming those foods at the lowest possible price (99 cent quarter pounder anyone?) then Monsanto would be out of luck.  This is the case when farmers chose not to accept the transgenic wheat designed by Monsanto.  

          Some individual farmers as reported in this blog also report the cost of the nonGMO seeds is too high and that corn and soy are commodities for which a farmer can only compete on cost.  But is that Monsanto's fault or a more pervasive problem.  

          Others feel GMOs are some sort of dangerous unproven technology with grave human risk.  I have pointed out the lack of conformation of that in published literature.  There is a risk in just taking blogs and their assertions of fact at face value instead of checking on facts yourself.  For example, interesting to me to learn corn pollen is only living for 2 hours.  

          I also waxed windily on the issues on the total lack of naturalness in agriculture as a system.  It is a human technology for over 10,000 years with very little resemblence to the original lifestyles of our ancestors.  As we got better at producing more food we became slaves to agriculture- we had more mouths to feed.  And we need to recognize that the world does have problems because of that unnatural agricultural system.  Of course we should work towards sustainable agriculture with less pesticides and herbicides etc.  But it needs to be energy efficient and we need to be mindful that monoculture as practiced on our scale will cause outbreaks of insects and disease in our crops that could require exceptional intervention to prevent world famine.  And it is fine for us to eat our organic food and great for us to reward through purchases people who chose to use nongmo crops.  

          But others in the world and in the USA just don't care what they eat.  Calling everything the end of the world as we know it and a conspiracy makes us look reactionary and careless of facts- many of which remain inadequate.  When people have no understanding whatsoever they naturally fear everything and take much of this at face value.  There is much to criticize in modern agriculture- it is very destructive of our environment.  I may be windy and academic, but I am not a troll or a Monsanto plant (pun intended).  

          You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you mad. Aldous Huxley

          by murrayewv on Tue Dec 16, 2008 at 07:33:24 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  No Monsanto monopoly? (0+ / 0-)







            Monsanto Tried to Block Research Showing GE Corn Causes Infertility
            Nov 21, 2008

            (OrganicJar) An independent study commissioned by the Austrian Ministry of Health has found significant infertility effects from mice fed genetically modified (GM) corn. Monsanto, which has a near-world monopoly on all agricultural seeds tried to, not only stop the study from the beginning, but then tried to block the results from being published.

            In one study design where mice were continuously breeding. Mice fed on GM corn had no litters or produced less offspring after the third or fourth litters, than those fed on conventional corn. The differences were statistically significant.

            The corn, sold by Monsanto, contains a gene that produces the toxic “Bt” pesticide in every cell and in every bite. The results raise the question whether this toxin (or some other unpredictable change in the GM corn) might be contributing to the rise in infertility, allergies or other immune disorders in North America.

            Monsanto (and the other GM corporations) have NEVER provided any help for feeding studies or other research over which they do not have direct control over the results. That is why truly independent studies are almost impossible to conduct.

            Download the Austrian study

            Biological effects of transgenic maize NK603xMON810 fed in long term reproduction studies in mice.
            Sources: organicconsumers gmwatch

            You pride yourself on what you know and subtly cast aspersions on other views by characterizing them as wanting "a vegan lifestyle and want[ing] to use only herbal supplements and grow their own food, unmarked by the RIFD tags or using any hybrid seeds or GMOs or fertilizers and pesticides of synthetic origin.  Great- totally support their lifestyle for them and frankly, Monsanto isn't out to get them in the slightest."

            You seem to suggest that those who are critical of GMOs are hippies or air heads and you're fine with that but ....  

            On what basis do you say "Monsanto isn't out to get them in the slightest"?  Or "others in the world and in the USA just don't care what they eat."

            Forgive me but I am uncomfortable with anyone's life experience being treated as inferior to book-learning, is not experience of the real world or about human beings themselves.  Concepts are all right, good even, but there are real people trying to save themselves from something that is threatening, untested and being forced on them by corporations with immense power.  

            Perhaps the Thika Declaration by Kenyan farmers will make clear that people do care what they eat, that they know more than any of us about circumstances on the ground and with out a university education, and that Monsanto and its ilk ARE out to get everyone of us.


            1. The Thika Declaration on GMOs

            Statement from the Kenya Small Scale Farmers Forum 20 August, 2004

            We, the Kenya Small Scale Farmers Forum leaders, representing crop farmers, pastoralists and fisherfolk, do declare today, August 20th 2004, that farming is our livelihood and not just a trade. Farming has been passed down from generation to generation, and is now threatened by Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs).

            GMOs are a danger to food security and our indigenous gene pool. Patented GMO crops threaten farmers’ ability to save and share their indigenous seeds which have stood the test of time. Thus they will reduce our seed security and food security, without the long and short term effects on our health and environment being known. GMOs will hand control of our food systems to the multinational companies, who have created these seeds for financial gain, and not for our need.

            These new seeds may create conflict between farmers due to the risks of cross pollination from GMO to non GMO crops leading to contamination between farms.

            GMOs will increase costs for farmers. This new kind of agriculture has been produced using a complicated and expensive process called genetic engineering. To make their profits back from the farmers, the companies patent the GMO seeds, which leads to higher costs for farmers, who are then forbidden from saving and sharing their seeds for planting the following season. If the seeds fail, farmers are left in great destitution. The agrochemicals associated with GM crops will oblige farmers to pay the high prices set by the companies, and replace the need for paid farm labour, thereby threatening our livelihoods.

            GMOs threaten Kenya’s environment. A clean environment is a fundamental right for all. GMOs on the contrary are contaminative, unfriendly to our biodiversity, and pose a threat to the existence of our indigenous seeds, to organic farming systems, and to human and animal health in general.

            Our government is being arm-twisted to accept GMOs by multinationals, without considering the effects on small scale farmers.

            Small scale farmers in Kenya should be included in policy formulation on agriculture research and food security. Government should invest in irrigation, improvement of infrastructure, appropriate technologies, marketing, subsidies, credit, farm inputs and better rangeland management, and NOT ON GMOs.

            We believe that God created life, and no one can own it, not even Monsanto, Syngenta or other multinational companies. We therefore reject all GMOs in agriculture, and call upon the Kenyan government to respect our indigenous expertise. Therefore to be able to fully understand the effects of GMOs on our livelihoods, health and environment, we demand a twenty-year moratorium on GMOs in Kenya.


            Media release:

            BIOSAFETY BILL ENDANGERS KENYA Draft Biosafty Bill Will not Protect Kenya from the

            Risks of GMOS

            Thursday 2nd September 2004

            Kenya’s draft Bill on Biosafety is flawed, and does not do enough to protect Kenyan agriculture, people and environment from the potential risks of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs), said a coalition of farmers groups, environmentalists, and development NGOs today.

            Parliament is due to debate the Biosafety draft Bill that is supposed to regulate the import of GMOs and provide protection for Kenyans. GMOs are organisms (for example crops such as maize) that have been genetically engineered with genes transferred from different species (such as bacteria) to confer new traits (such as resistance to stem borer pests). Farmers’ groups, environmentalists and NGOs are concerned that these new organisms, which are patented, will contaminate Kenyan seeds and pose a risk to farming livelihoods, the environment, and human and animal health.

            The groups were responding to the National Council of Science and Technology’s announcement last week that the Bill has been developed and has been forwarded to Parliament awaiting approval.

            “A Biosafety Bill should provide protection to Kenyans and the environment, and ensure that the future of Kenya’s agriculture and farmers is not compromised.” Said Moses Shaha, chairman of Kenya Small Scale Farmers’ Forum (KESSFF). “There are many possible risks from the widespread use of GMOs, and any Bill must seek to minimise the likelihood of these risks.”

            Eric Kisiangani of Intermediate Technology Development Group - East Africa (ITDG-EA) added, “Kenya’s Biosafety Bill needs to be rigorous and should have strong safety standards to regulate any import, growth and use of GMOs. However this draft Bill seems to be more of a mechanism to facilitate and approve GMOs, rather than to regulate them.”

            “Neither the Kenyan people nor civil society or environmental groups have been consulted in the drafting of the Biosafety Bill.” Said Oduor Ong’wen of Southern and East Africa Trade Information Network Initiative (SEATINI). “Perhaps that is why the Kenyan draft Bill does not even conform to the minimum standards recommended under the international UN Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety, as shown by legal experts affiliated to the African Union.”

            “There are better and cheaper options than GMOs for tackling the problems faced by Kenyan farmers, which do not jeopardize Kenyan interests or endanger our people and nature.” Pointed out Thari Kulissa of ECOTERRA Intl. “For example, the International Centre for Insect Physiology and Ecology (ICIPE), has shown how intercropping with napier grass and desmodium can protect against stemborers and weeds, increase soil fertility and provide fodder for cattle. Why do we need expensive and risky GMOs when we already have the answers?”

            Zachary Makanya of Participatory Ecological Land Use Management (PELUM) added, “Our organisations have come together out of concern that the Kenyan government is rushing to allow GMOs into our agriculture, without considering the damaging effects, precautionary measures on how to prevent them, or means to compensate farmers and consumers who are harmed by them. The safety of GMOs has not been proven, and we should not just assume that organisms with genes from completely different species like bacteria are safe for us to eat or plant. These new organisms must not be allowed to contaminate our seeds.

            “GMO crops are patented, which means that farmers pay higher prices for seeds, and are forbidden from saving or sharing their seed for the following season. GMOs therefore have huge potential to harm Kenyan farmers’ livelihoods. The Biosafety Bill must reflect these concerns and potential dangers. But the current draft fails to do so.”

            NOTES TO EDITORS:

            1. This statement has been made by a coalition of farmers groups, environmentalists and development NGOs, including: Kenya Small Scale Farmers’ Forum (KESSFF), Participatory Ecological Land Use Management (PELUM), Action Aid, Intermediate Technology Development Group (ITDG), ECOTERRA Intl, Bridge Africa, INADES and Southern & Eastern Africa Trade Information Network Initiative (SEATINI).
            1. The National Council of Science and Technology announced on August 25th that the draft Bill had been developed during a workshop in Nakuru. See East African Standard, “GM Foods Bill Ready, Says Officer” 26th August 2004


            1. The UN Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety is an internationally agreed protocol on the minimum standards and procedures that countries should implement to ensure prevention of risks from GMOs. It entered into force on 11 September 2003. Kenya is a signatory.
            1. Kenyan farmers are concerned about the effects that GMO crops will have on their agriculture and indigenous seeds. See “Kenya Small Scale Farmers’ Forum: The Thika Declaration on GMOs” August 20th 2004

            And “Farmers Reject GM Food Crops” Kenya Times 25 August 2004


            1. For further information on Genetically Modified Organisms and Genetic Engineering, please visit the FOCUS ON AFRICA link at


            1. For further information on this statement please contact:

            Eric Kisiangani (ITDG) +254-20-271 3540

            Zachary Makanya (PELUM) +254-67-31 686

            Thari Kulissa (ECOTERRA Intl) +254-20-88 26 58

            Action Aid +254-20-444 0 444


            1. Multi-National Firms Accused Over GMOs

            Article from The East African Standard (Kenya). Date: 23 August 2004
            The newly-registered Kenya Small-Scale Farmers Forum yesterday claimed that the Government was being arm-twisted by multinationals to accept genetically modified food whose consumers become infertile as recently proved by German sheepkeepers.

            The group representing farmers, pastoralists and the fishermen further expressed fear that as famine continued, some developed countries offering food aid might slip into the country the terminator technology seeds that threaten farmers' ability to save and share indigenous seeds which have stood the test of time. During a news conference in Thika, national chairman Moses Shaha said GMOs posed a great danger to food security and other indigenous gene pool because they were dormant and would mix through cross pollination.

            This will hand over control of our food system to multi-national companies who have created these seeds for financial gain increasing costs for farmers through the use of agrochemicals association with GM crops replacing the need for farm labour.

            Shaha said GMOs threatened Kenya's environment as it was contaminative and unfriendly to bio diversity posing a threat to the existence of indigenous seeds, organic farming system, human and animal health.

            •  Kenyans aren't unanimous..... (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              Kenya should embrace genetically modified organisms (GMO) technology if the war against hunger and malnutrition is to be won.

              Speaking during the launch of tissue culture bananas in an agricultural forum at Kutus town in Kirinyaga district assistant minister for co-operative development Hon Jebii Kilimo said people need to be educated on the organisms to understand how they are grown and their importance.

              She said GMOS can increase development in African countries and those that have embraced the technology have enough foods and extra products to sell.    

              Kilimo said most youth are jobless and non governmental organizations should take the advantage to educate them on proper husbandry and agricultural standards for the organisms that have proved to bring profits. She castigated western countries for discouraging African countries from introducing GMO technology while the Western countries shave totally embraced it and are selling their products to African countries.


              There is a maize shortage in Kenya right now.  link
              And their government is worried about whether or not they should import GMOs in case people are starving.

              An African blogger wrote in March about the foolishness of Africans rejecting modern agricultural technology, led on by conspiracy minded folks such as yourself, while South Africa embraced it and is prospering.  link

              In May 2002, in the midst of a severe food shortage in sub-Saharan Africa, the government of Zimbabwe turned away 10,000 tons of corn from the World Food Program (WFP). The WFP then diverted the food to other countries, including Zambia, where 2.5 million people were in need. The Zambian government locked away the corn, banned its distribution, and stopped another shipment on its way to the country. "Simply because my people are hungry," President Levy Mwanawasa later said, "is no justification to give them poison."

              The corn came from farms in the United States, where most corn produced—and consumed—comes from seeds that have been engineered to resist some pests, and thus qualifies as genetically modified. Throughout the 90s, genetically modified foods were seen as holding promise for the farmers of Africa, so long as multinationals would invest in developing superior African crops rather than extend the technology only to the rich. When Zambia and Zimbabwe turned away food aid, simmering controversy over the crops themselves brimmed over and seeped into almost every African state. Cast as toxic to humans, destructive to the environment, and part of a corporate plot to immiserate the poor, cutting edge farming technology is most feared where it is most needed.

              You are killing people with your fear mongering.  Shame on you.  Why are you having someone dance on the head of a pin like a microarray study instead of looking at humans who have been consuming this food FOR 15 years in the USA?    


              You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you mad. Aldous Huxley

              by murrayewv on Wed Dec 17, 2008 at 05:59:05 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

  •  There is no reason to continue here (12+ / 1-)

    since emotion and illogic rule.


    I could use income in exchange for value. I need work badly.

    by Translator on Mon Dec 15, 2008 at 10:17:41 PM PST

  •  Just like water, intense capital privatization is (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    kalmoth, marina, dewley notid, barz9, IreGyre

    wrong. When we let the fantasy of capitalist privatization moves this far into the essentials of life it is a threat to the foundations of our biological, and social existence. Thanks for all the good information.

    Love = Awareness of mutually beneficial exchange across semi-permeable boundaries. Political and economic systems either amplify or inhibit Love.

    by Bob Guyer on Mon Dec 15, 2008 at 11:01:42 PM PST

  •  This looks like a Scientology argument... (14+ / 0-)

    ...I'm not sure I've ever seen a more important subject raised in a diary and then utterly dismissed without comment by a group of what appear to be one-liner generator bots.

    The claim that the diary is anti-science seems to me factually incorrect. Besides that, it misses the point entirely, which is that intellectual property rights are being asserted over real property that has been infected by the intellectual property quite naturally.

    This is more than a local battle between a corporate giant and a seed cleaner. This is a fundamental question about the ownership of human sustenance.

    Anti-science? Emotional?

    God help us all.

    •  Exactly. (3+ / 0-)

      I'm sure they're very smart, but not one of them give any indication of having read the diary.

      And yes, I might have missed a couple.

      Voting changes things. That's why they don't allow it.

      by happymisanthropy on Mon Dec 15, 2008 at 11:54:53 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  The presentation mixed anti-science views with (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      kalmoth, murrayewv

      anti-corporate monopoly views (I agree with the latter, but not the former).

      It led to a lot of anti-science comments.

      Science supporters reacted.

      A lovely little thinker, But a bugger when he's pissed

      by yuriwho on Mon Dec 15, 2008 at 11:59:09 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Thank you. The diary was calm and a broad (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      dewley notid, Earth Ling

      overview of something dire that is happening to all of us.  It was not about science nor in any way anti-science (where someone raised a science issue, it was addressed and good links were provided).

      I think trouble is either being made intentionally since the criticisms don't even match what is being presented or people haven't bothered to read the diary and have gone off on their own tangents about genetic engineering and are holding some argument with themselves.

      Fortunately, the diary is having a big impact in other places where it is considered significant and the issues extremely disturbing - which they are.

      I don't have a good read on what goes on here at Dailykos but some ringers jump in and say things with no factual basis at all, presenting no material themselves, or material that doesn't even fit the point, and I wonder what is motivating them or if they have a purpose to disrupt things.  

      Doesn't matter, though, because the diary stands on its own and is getting a lot of attention even here.  And there is no way around the reality of what Monsanto is doing.

      Thanks so much for your comment.  A bit of sanity in the midst of ... whatever you want to call the disconnected remarks.

  •  again with the baby and the bathwater (10+ / 0-)

    Liberals are supposed to be pro-science. I use science every day when I argue with muppets who are in denial about global warming. At least I'm consistent.

    There have been a rash of Monsanto-has-terrible-corporate-practices=all-GM-research-is-evil articles. When people offer critical analysis, they are dismissed as trolls. It's lame.

    Again I make the point: If you have a problem with corporate control of food, patenting of life, monoculture, overuse of agrichemicals, overuse of pesticides, overuse of petrochemicals, and unsustainable agriculture, stop insulting our intelligence and say so instead of lumping them in the "GM" bag for marketing purposes. These are not GM issues and banning GM would not solve these issues.

    The definition of an idiot is someone who's always absolutely sure that they are right.

    by The little blogger that could on Tue Dec 16, 2008 at 12:12:18 AM PST

    •  Who are you speaking to? The diary was not (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Earth Ling

      about genetic engineering per se but about monopoly.  You seem to have set up a straw man and are talking to him.  Certainly nothing you are saying fits anything the diary was about.  

      •  GE is mentioned multiple times (5+ / 0-) the diary and in the comments. The diary to me implies that GM is an essential part of the problem when in fact it is peripheral. Monsanto could do exactly the same practices with seeds derived from marker-assisted selection or conventional breeding.
        The first three links you provide are about GM seeds, one of which doesn't work, and none of which seem to be peer-reviewed. Most of the subsequent commentary is about GM seeds.

        I completely agree about the problems with monopoly.

        The definition of an idiot is someone who's always absolutely sure that they are right.

        by The little blogger that could on Tue Dec 16, 2008 at 12:23:05 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  make that the first six links,, (4+ / 0-)

        two of which don't work, one of which goes to a general website with no indication which specific articles you refer to, and none of which are peer-reviewed.
        And no, I'm not going to apologise for asking for peer-reviewed evidence. Otherwise it's just he-said she-said and the debate goes nowhere.

        The definition of an idiot is someone who's always absolutely sure that they are right.

        by The little blogger that could on Tue Dec 16, 2008 at 12:26:21 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Except for the Cornell link, the links all (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          dewley notid, Earth Ling, watershed


          You don't have to apologize but the diary was has only a short beginning about failure of genetic engineering farming promises to pan out and even that was not about the science of genetic engineering so much as the impact on farmers as reported in India or by a major study on pesticide use accompanying genetic engineering.  

          Were this about genetic engineering itself, maybe peer-reviewed articles would be an addition but even then, they would not be the only articles of value.  

          There is no debate whatsoever about Monsanto suing and getting rid of seed cleaners across the Midwest, pushing laws that are destructive to seed collectors and seed bankers and farmers who use open-pollinated seeds, regulations put into the FDA and Homeland Security that are a threat to normal seeds, the bill in Canada that could criminalize seed banking, or the fact that all of that is an immense threat to us as human beings.

          You have ignored the content of the diary for a tangential issue.

          •  I think it's an important issue. (4+ / 0-)

            Let me put it this way. Whenever there's a diary about energy policy, or some new energy tech (for example), engineering type-people come on this blog and critically analyse. The debate is usually constructive. Misconceptions get sorted out. Good-looking but bad techs get spotted. Unlikely but good techs get highlighted.

            This does not happen with GM, or any diary that lumps GM into unrelated issues, which your diary does I am sorry. You basically have two camps: scientists and the rest. The scientists routinely get accused of being trolls, bots, of being in the pay of monsanto. The idea that we might have something to contribute is anathema to some. With a few exceptions it's totally polarised. Sloppy generalisations get made because it's what people want to hear, and they get totally defensive when these sloppy generalisations are pointed out.

            The definition of an idiot is someone who's always absolutely sure that they are right.

            by The little blogger that could on Tue Dec 16, 2008 at 12:46:26 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Not so... (0+ / 0-)

              Whenever there's a diary about energy policy, or some new energy tech (for example), engineering type-people come on this blog and critically analyse. The debate is usually constructive. Misconceptions get sorted out. Good-looking but bad techs get spotted. Unlikely but good techs get highlighted.

              No. Same thing happens as here. If somebody constructively criticizes some "magic bullet" engineering solution, a bunch of clueless types try to flame him|her down.

              Here's an example.

      •  Dude... (2+ / 1-)
        Recommended by:
        yuriwho, Hopeful Skeptic
        Hidden by:
        Earth Ling

        let me quote you...

        a link between GE-crops and organ damage and various

        Your diary (and the quotes therein) offers NO SUBSTANTIATION WHATSOEVER of this claim - just hand-wringing. Note that there is some research supporting this claim, but you don't quote it. What you quote is not research.

        Let me also note that I may be not entirely unbiased in judging your diary, because your writing style (and even your user ID) just raises my hackles. I cannot help it. Scared humans just smell funny to me.

    •  You have hammered the nail (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Hopeful Skeptic

      and found the fundamental dissonance between the environmentalists and the scientists on this issue. ty for your comments.

      A lovely little thinker, But a bugger when he's pissed

      by yuriwho on Tue Dec 16, 2008 at 12:32:28 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Thank you (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      kalmoth, yuriwho, Hopeful Skeptic

      Reading this pulls my head apart. Monsanto clearly has corrupt business practices, aided by the Bush administration etc. etc., but the blind vehemence against GM just clouds the whole issue.

      •  I think there hasn't been any blind (0+ / 0-)

        vehemence here but a lot of good discussion and a some good links and a chance for people to start thinking about what is involved.  There is no more blind vehemence against GMOs than there is blind trust in biotech.

    •  thank you for saying this clearly... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      stop insulting our intelligence and say so instead of lumping them in the "GM" bag for marketing purposes.

    •  Corporate Control (3+ / 0-)


      For a clear-headed look at how this corporate control has contributed to the loss of small farms, the over use of chemicals, monoculture, et al, see The Future of Food.

      Furthermore, isn't Monsanto a monopoly by now? Do we still have anti-trust laws in Bush World?

      The legal questions are intriguing, and I like the part of the diary that discusses legal help for someone who's being sued by Monsanto.

      From a legal point of view, it really pisses me off to hear that anyone found growing Monsanto's plants, even if they didn't want them, if they were just the result of drift, then Monsanto can sue them. I would think it would be the other way around. If I'm an organic farmer, and someone's allowing their Monsanto pollen to drift into my organic corn, I should be able to stop them.

      It's like some guy comes over to my yard and sprays pesticide on my organic spinach, then sues me for using his pesticide without permission.

  •  Please allow me to try and summarise the (17+ / 0-)

    point the diarist is making and some of the comments that seems to be missing this point:

    1. Monsanto is producing GE-seeds.
    1. Farmers are being forced to use these seeds by Monsanto:

    (a) removing other (natural) seeds from the market
    (b) preventing seed harvesters from harvesting seeds
    (c) Thugs invading the land of farmers

    1. Monsanto is using law enforcement to ensure farmers play by their rules
    1. Monsanto is succesfully lobbying to change the law to ensure they will have the monopoly on seeds.
    1. Apart from the above, GE technology has not been developed using the precautionary approach, and unless all uncertainty regarding GE seeds are addressed by unbiased research, this monopolisation should not be allowed to continue.

    The diarist provides ample evidence of the above-mentioned points, backed up with links.

    Now, some commenters are saying the diarist is attacking science.  He is not.  The fact is that GE science is still in its infancy, and had been implemented commercially before being properly peer reviewed and tested for any potential long term side effects.  Saying that research should be conducted properly prior to commercialising a science is one of the basic principles of good science.

    Some other commenters are accusing the diarist of being 'emotional'.  When people loose their jobs and livelihoods as a result of corporate greed, and where there is potential harm to health due to the commercialisation of untested scientific products, people should get emotional.  Just like with the job losses due to the corporate greed of the auto-makers.

    Finally, advocating the precautionary approach is not anti-science, it is the epitome of being pro-science.  I cannot understand that some commenters call themselves scientists and do not support proper research.

    'UBUNTU = umuntu ngumuntu ngabantu ("a person is a person through (other) persons")

    by watershed on Tue Dec 16, 2008 at 12:27:15 AM PST

    •  Well done. n/t (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Earth Ling, watershed

      Humanity has eaten more than 80,000 plant species through its evolution...We now rely on just 8 crops to provide 75 percent of the world's food. -Vandana Shiva

      by Pay It Forward on Tue Dec 16, 2008 at 12:33:53 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  I disagree with points 2 and 5 (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Monsanto is not forcing farmers to comply and with regards to 5, try applying that same principle to a car your factory is making. It's impossible to prove a negative.

      A lovely little thinker, But a bugger when he's pissed

      by yuriwho on Tue Dec 16, 2008 at 12:35:34 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Your car is not out breeding (5+ / 0-)

        with the neighbor's cars, altering the offspring of the Ferraris and giving them genes of Volkswagens that may even be sterile (or you might wish they were).

        Humanity has eaten more than 80,000 plant species through its evolution...We now rely on just 8 crops to provide 75 percent of the world's food. -Vandana Shiva

        by Pay It Forward on Tue Dec 16, 2008 at 12:45:44 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Your response is anti GMO (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          and I see no evidence that know anything about it

          A lovely little thinker, But a bugger when he's pissed

          by yuriwho on Tue Dec 16, 2008 at 12:50:34 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  I don't know alot... (6+ / 0-)

            and I said earlier what my concerns were:

            Please tell me where I am wrong.

            My understanding is that GM plants can and do pollinate non-GM plants within reach, which for grass, for example, is a long way.

            Here in the northwest, we have a lot of trouble with a weedy grass, an Agrostis, that invades wetlands. People are trying to restore some of the wet prairie in our area, which is down to less than 1% of the area it once was. In restorations, people sometimes use herbicides to fight the grass, so that native seeds can get a chance to get going.

            Some company was trying to develop Roundup-ready (herbicide-resistant) grass of the same species.

            If that grass is planted in golf courses around here, my understanding is that that pollen may well pollinate the grass around wetland areas, making it difficult to kill the stuff with herbicides, and thus increasing the difficulty in reclaiming wetlands.

            Isn't that example a real problem with taking genetically modified plants and putting them in an environment where the possible, and even likely, ramifications are not well thought-out?

            In the same vein, I wonder if the varieties of GM vegetables that are meant to have sterile seed might not cross with non-sterile varieties and render the next generation sterile on land nearby?

            As far as GM food in the body, I don't know, but I would think that it would depend on the specific food and its modifications. I know little about that.

            Please respond. I would like to know where I am incorrect.

            Humanity has eaten more than 80,000 plant species through its evolution...We now rely on just 8 crops to provide 75 percent of the world's food. -Vandana Shiva

            by Pay It Forward on Tue Dec 16, 2008 at 01:11:15 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Pay it forward, pay no regard to yuriwho. Just (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              dotdot, Earth Ling

              check out his latest diary to understand who we are dealing with here...

              Its a waste of time.

              Btw, you are absolutely correct.

              'UBUNTU = umuntu ngumuntu ngabantu ("a person is a person through (other) persons")

              by watershed on Tue Dec 16, 2008 at 01:25:10 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  You might want to read more than the most recent (0+ / 0-)

                diary before casting judgment. I look at your most recent diary and I shake my head too.

                This is what I see when I view your page:

                A lovely little thinker, But a bugger when he's pissed

                by yuriwho on Tue Dec 16, 2008 at 01:34:45 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  I was hoping for your response (3+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  yuriwho, dewley notid, Earth Ling

                  to my limited grasp of some of the issues I think about with GM plants, since you raised it with me. See my post above in response to you - I look forward to your response, even if I won't read it until tomorrow. I would appreciate it.

                  It's been a valuable evening for me, thanks.

                  Humanity has eaten more than 80,000 plant species through its evolution...We now rely on just 8 crops to provide 75 percent of the world's food. -Vandana Shiva

                  by Pay It Forward on Tue Dec 16, 2008 at 01:38:29 AM PST

                  [ Parent ]

              •  Not sure who (3+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                yuriwho, Earth Ling, watershed

                we are dealing with, because I have enjoyed responding to yuriwho as much as anyone. And yuriwho liked my broccoli variety/Fahrenheit 451 analogy.

                But hey, I want to think that I can convince anyone that my seemingly rational thought processes should make perfect sense to others. Sometimes I even succeed.

                And thank you for telling me that I am correct in my minimal grasp of the issue at hand - beyond the corporate monster issue that we all agree on.

                I really gotta go this time, I will look at new comments tomorrow. This is definately my tribe here on DailyKos; glad to engage with y'all!

                Humanity has eaten more than 80,000 plant species through its evolution...We now rely on just 8 crops to provide 75 percent of the world's food. -Vandana Shiva

                by Pay It Forward on Tue Dec 16, 2008 at 01:35:20 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

            •  I agree that plants in the wild (0+ / 0-)

              are a potential threat and I do not want them there if possible. I am also not worried about them since I doubt they can compete. Some of them may seem to flourish for a while but they are not selected for a competition win against nature, thus they will die. I believe that everyone (all scientists/all companies) have greatly underestimated MumNat

              A lovely little thinker, But a bugger when he's pissed

              by yuriwho on Tue Dec 16, 2008 at 02:07:40 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

            •  Since I do not know the precise genes which (2+ / 0-)

              monsanto is using in their terminator technology I can only comment generally

              Yes these plants can cross pollinate but there are three separate genes involved in terminator technology and for these to work, the plant must be missing an essential gene for seed fertility. The three genes restore this essential gene only in the presence of a chemical. Cross pollination may spread these genes to other plants but those plants will have the essential gene and thus will not be rendered infertile if they inherit a terminator genes. (this is based on the information in their patent, they may be using different implementations of the technology which result in different answers to this question depending on which essential gene their use in their technology).

              Roundup-ready technology is different, these express an extra gene which makes the plant resistant to the herbicide Roundup. This extra gene can cross pollinate into nearby plants and quite a few research studies have been conducted to examine this. Generally speaking it is a small effect (a few percent of a neighboring field) and unless roundup is being used in that population there will no selection to propagate this gene.

              One of the rationales for developing terminator technology was to prevent spread of GMO plants into wild populations. Sadly however Monsanto uses it unfairly. Introduce it cheap, when everyone is using it, jack up the prices.

              The business practices of Monsanto are reprehensible to me, the science however is not the issue.

              Hope that answers a couple of your questions.

              A lovely little thinker, But a bugger when he's pissed

              by yuriwho on Tue Dec 16, 2008 at 01:31:39 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  Yes, thank you! (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                yuriwho, North Coast Ohioan
                Very interesting.

                So the terminator plants then might pass on pollen that carry the possibility for sterility in future generations of an open-pollinated plants, but it would essentially be nullified as long as the other plants carry a specific chemical that they normally do?

                As far as the Roundup-ready grass, it sounds like it could be a small problem in certain situations, and could create a problem where natural areas are next to areas where the Roundup-ready plants are used, if it is a site where restoration is attempted by trying to exclude the non-native grass with herbicides.

                I really appreciate your effort to answer my questions. I know lots about native plants, but little about GM plants and the mechanisms involved, both within those plants and between GM and non-GM plants.


                Humanity has eaten more than 80,000 plant species through its evolution...We now rely on just 8 crops to provide 75 percent of the world's food. -Vandana Shiva

                by Pay It Forward on Tue Dec 16, 2008 at 02:59:41 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

            •  To learn a great deal about GMOs, go to (0+ / 0-)

     and listen to the lecture and read the materials there.  It is perhaps the most thorough location for information on what has been genetically engineered so far, what is involved, what the problems are, etc.

          •  There is nothing 'anti-GMO' in applying (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            supak, dewley notid, Earth Ling

            good scientific principles before implementing a technology.

            if GMO as technology can be proven to have no harm to other organisms, fine.  Until that is proven, it is an untested technology.  Would you eat something made from ingredients that we developed in a lab without it being tested properly, showing that it wont do you any harm?

            'UBUNTU = umuntu ngumuntu ngabantu ("a person is a person through (other) persons")

            by watershed on Tue Dec 16, 2008 at 01:23:13 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

      •  It is not impossible to proove a negative. Many (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        murrayewv, dewley notid

        scientific hypotheses are structured to prove the 'negative' or absence of something.

        Secondly, wanna know the reason why German and Japanese and Korean cars are more superior than American ones?  They are designed with the best safety features, i.e. based on the approach of precaution...

        Fundamentally simple, isnt it?

        'UBUNTU = umuntu ngumuntu ngabantu ("a person is a person through (other) persons")

        by watershed on Tue Dec 16, 2008 at 01:20:32 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Watershed, (0+ / 0-)

          what do you think of my example? Yuriwho may have left... which I have to do soon... I must... but I would love a response, expeciailly from yuriwho, but I appreciate your viewpoint...

          Humanity has eaten more than 80,000 plant species through its evolution...We now rely on just 8 crops to provide 75 percent of the world's food. -Vandana Shiva

          by Pay It Forward on Tue Dec 16, 2008 at 01:25:39 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Pay it forward, if you are referring to this Q: (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            dewley notid

            Isn't that example a real problem with taking genetically modified plants and putting them in an environment where the possible, and even likely, ramifications are not well thought-out?

            In the same vein, I wonder if the varieties of GM vegetables that are meant to have sterile seed might not cross with non-sterile varieties and render the next generation sterile on land nearby?

            This is exactly the point.  These aspects and possible side-effects of GMO's have not been properly studied.  These are the type of questions the GMO researchers should have answered before the stuff was commericalised.  Unfortunately, money talks, and these questions are still not answered.

            In South Africa, we have a law that forces agricultural corporations like Monsanto to do these studies before they can market their products. Monsanto tried to take to government to court over the law, but failed.  We are therefore not seeing the same kind of monopolisation here as in the USA.

            Good science is based on ensuring the effects of technology is understood before it is being used.  That means that answers to questions such as yours is part of the reasearch and development, and not add-ons after effects are causing problems.

            Here is an article that illustrates this:

            From: Reuters, Oct. 31, 2008
            [Printer-friendly version]


            By Sybille de La Hamaide

            PARIS (Reuters) -- Europe's top food safety agency said on Friday that
            France's ban on a genetically modified maize [corn] developed by U.S.
            biotech giant Monsanto was unjustified.

            Monsanto's MON 810 is the only GM crop grown in the European Union,
            unlike in the United States and Latin America, where they are more
            common. Many European countries doubt the safety of using the genetic
            technology in agriculture.

            "No specific scientific evidence, in terms of risk to human and animal
            health and the environment, was provided that would justify the
            invocation of a safeguard clause," the European Food Safety Authority
            (EFSA) said in an opinion released on its website. The EFSA is based
            in Parma, Italy.

            France suspended the use of MON 810 earlier this year, invoking a so-
            called safeguard clause against the European Commission's decision to
            authorize the GM maize.

            The French government said it had serious doubts about whether Mon 810
            maize was safe for the environment.

            However, the cultivation of genetically modified organisms (GMO) has
            remained legal. The European Commission, which monitors food safety
            and implementation of EU food standards across the bloc's 27 member
            countries, had requested the opinion from the EFSA.

            The Commission will consider the opinion and will very likely order
            France to lift its ban, diplomats said.

            If the Commission did order removal of the ban and France chose to
            oppose it, it could provide more information to justify the ban or
            appeal the decision at the European Court of Justice.

            France is the European Union's main agricultural power and its largest
            exporter of farm products. Its GMO ban has drawn criticism from
            interest groups on both sides of the issue.

            Polls show that the vast majority of French are opposed to GM crops
            because they have not seen enough proof that they do not pose risks to
            consumers and the environment.

            Monsanto says the protein contained in the maize has selective
            toxicity but is harmless to humans, fish and wildlife.

            You can subscribe to Rachel's Precaution Reporter to get weekly updates on similar articles.

            'UBUNTU = umuntu ngumuntu ngabantu ("a person is a person through (other) persons")

            by watershed on Tue Dec 16, 2008 at 01:36:41 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  BTW, what I dont get in that article is why the (5+ / 0-)

              "Onus of Proof" that the GMO will cause harm is on the French Government.  It should be on the proponent of the technology to show that their technology wont cause harm, not the other way around...

              Illogical, but I guess that is money talking for you...

              'UBUNTU = umuntu ngumuntu ngabantu ("a person is a person through (other) persons")

              by watershed on Tue Dec 16, 2008 at 01:47:46 AM PST

              [ Parent ]