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Monsanto
[AP/Natacha Pisarenko]

Apart from the United States, Argentina has been a world showcase for Chemical/GMO giant Monsanto's one-two punch for establishing industrial agriculture dominance, the pairing of its glyphosate weed-killer "Roundup" and crop seeds genetically engineered to resist glyphosate poisoning. Known as "Roundup Ready," Monsanto has engineered a number of staple food/feed crops including corn, soybeans, sorghum, canola, alfalfa and cotton.

The Roundup Ready cultivars became immediately popular in the U.S. due to a food production model relying on extensive monocropping on an industrial scale and a Big-Ag supporting EPA that regulates agricultural chemicals based on cost-benefit analysis. This means the potential of harm to farm workers and other rural dwellers (including deaths, miscarriages, stillbirths and birth defects) is weighed against the presumed benefits to farmers of those chemicals, and routinely comes down on the side of Big-Ag against the health of farmers, farm workers and assorted 'other' rural dwellers. (including all their families).

The Associated Press reported Monday on findings from Argentine records of health impacts compiled by that country's Auditor General's Office that include glyphosate herbicides in increasingly toxic stews applied by farmers to crop fields now that glyphosate resistance is showing up in more and more weeds that affect the cash crops. The health effects are serious, and include a 90% rise in cancer rates since 1997.

Now doctors are warning that uncontrolled pesticide use could be the cause of growing health problems among the 12 million people who live in the South American nation's vast farm belt.

In Santa Fe province, the heart of Argentina's soy industry, cancer rates are two times to four times higher than the national average. In Chaco, the nation's poorest province, children became four times more likely to be born with devastating birth defects in the decade since biotechnology dramatically expanded industrial agriculture.

Monsanto introduced its Roundup Ready crops - soy, corn, wheat and cotton - to Argentina in 1996, promising higher crop yields and fewer pesticides. As resistance spread, that promise has fallen far short of reality. Farmers in Argentina, like those here in the U.S., have taken to mixing much more dangerous chemicals (like 2,4,D) with the glyphosate and spraying indiscriminately against often confusing or non-existent regulations.

So today the AP is reporting Monsanto's response to the issue, Monsanto Co. Calls for better controls on agrochemicals including Roundup after AP report. As usual, accepting exactly zero responsibility for educating farmers using its patented 'system' to grow food crops for people and livestock...

"If pesticides are being misused in Argentina, then it is in everyone's best interests - the public, the government, farmers, industry, and Monsanto - that the misuse be stopped," the St. Louis, Missouri-based commpany said after the AP report was published Monday.
Heh. In truth, glyphosate is indeed a relatively less-harmful herbicide than the worst of 'em, often used by groups and governments to control invasive weeds, grass and such in public spaces or along highways and railroad tracks. The problem is that it quickly loses its ability to kill weeds when the transgenes spread to non-crop wild cultivars. New York State's attorney general sued Monsanto in 1996 for false advertising in its claims that glyphosate is inherently "safe" just because it managed to get EPA approval to market the stuff. As a result, Monsanto paid a $50,000 fine.

Argentina doesn't base its regulation of chemicals on cost-benefit analysis, but insists that if there is a chance of serious and/or irreversible harm, users of a chemical must make sure they protect human health and the environment "no matter the costs and consequences." Unfortunately, the Argentine government hasn't been enforcing those rules. In fact, not a single person or corporate concern has been punished in that country for violating spraying rules from 2008 through 2011. With Monsanto among the players, who is surprised?

The AP report cited data from CASAFE, Argentina's pesticide industry chamber, showing a ninefold increase in the overall amount of formulated agrochemicals sold annually, from 9 million gallons (34 million liters) in 1990 to more than 84 million gallons (317 million liters) in 2012.

Agrochemical use declined at first, then jumped after 100 percent of Argentina's soy came from genetically modified plants and farmers stopped tilling the soil to kill weeds. As resistant pests exploded, farmers found themselves with little choice but to mix in much more toxic chemicals.

For more information on the true toxicity of glyphosate from reports worldwide, see this article, and this one.

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Comment Preferences

  •  It's a slippery slope with Roundup (7+ / 0-)

    As weeds develop resistance, you need more and more chemicals until at some point they start showing up in the crops, and then in humans.

    Monsanto would be better served creating frankenbugs.

    •  The modern 'model' of industrial (8+ / 0-)

      agriculture invented and promoted during the good old Cold War rivalry with the Soviet Union and its infamous 5-year plans, was unsustainable from the beginning. Worse, it was KNOWN to be unsustainable from the beginning.

      We 'won' the Cold War back around 1990, which marks the beginning of the concerted export of our unsustainable agricultural model to the rest of the world. The ol' hard sell, despite the knowledge that the model is unsustainable. So it's been a constant challenge ever since for the Big Ag players - like Monsanto - to come up with ever more inventive means to keep it going despite its unsustainability.

      Now the farmers aren't doing the proper crop rotations because of the issue with remnants of the last crop grown (Roundup Ready) becoming uncontrollable 'weeds' in the new crop, thus messing with harvesting and processing machinery. The no-till aspect of that problem isn't specifically Monsanto's product, but it is a result of those resistant weeds as much as a product of the overall unsustainable farming model we exported. There are sustainable ways to grow food. Big Ag isn't using them.

    •  Bite your tongue man! (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Portia Elm, Joieau, whenwego

      No franken-anything! Yikes.

      Gentlemen, congratulations. You're everything we've come to expect from years of government training (Zed, MIB).

      by GreenMother on Wed Oct 23, 2013 at 02:57:35 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  It's criminal what Monsanto is doing and it (5+ / 0-)

    looks like terrorism to me. So many people will die and they have affected future generations as well. On top of that they have caused massive die-offs of butterflies and bees.

    To thine ownself be true

    by Agathena on Wed Oct 23, 2013 at 11:56:47 AM PDT

    •  Maybe So, But... (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Portia Elm, Joieau, Agathena, chimene

      Well, yeah, but think of all the money being made. Doesn't that justify killing and maiming a lot people? I mean, those people aren't real, in the sense that they're not rich, so what difference does it make?

      Look, we're in business to make money. That's why we exist. We wouldn't be doing or moral duty if we failed to maximize profits for our stockholders, now would we? That's our job, and we'd be without a job if we didn't do that. The more money we make for the company, the more money we make for moi, if you'll excuse the French.

      Look, just the fact that we have more money means we're superior. Even the workers in our plant know this. You should see the buggers shuffle and look away when we walk through, afraid that we'll lay them off. Which, you know, isn't a bad idea. Fewer salaries to those people means a bigger bonus for me. Now that's a moral responsibility!

      A Southerner in Yankeeland

      To save your life and our country, read "Pity The Billionaire" by Thomas Frank, and "Winner-Take-All-Politics" by Jacob S. Hacker and Paul Pierson. Then read more books.

      by A Southerner in Yankeeland on Wed Oct 23, 2013 at 02:39:39 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  My only problem here (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Joieau

    Is using Mercola as a source in your last paragraph.  His article only sources his own articles.  That's a problem.  Mercola doesn't have a stellar credibility record.

    Is it true? Is it kind? Is it necessary?

    by Hummingbird on Wed Oct 23, 2013 at 12:08:24 PM PDT

    •  I found the cites of mainstream (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Hummingbird, blueoasis, Portia Elm

      studies quite voluminous, though you may have to go two hops to get there. You can of course ignore any source for anything if you do not think them credible. I didn't include a link to Monsanto's statement either, though they vehemently deny all responsibility for everything they've ever done. As they always do.

      Many do not consider HuffPo a credible source either. Those were just fill-ins to the information from AP Monday and today, but AP isn't all that credible lately either, are they? Suit yourself.

      •  I just get a lot of reactions (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Joieau

        If I send people to anything on Mercola's site.  It's very possible he's accurate, but unfortunately he has this very bad habit as using his own articles for a source.  That's not good journalism.

        Is it true? Is it kind? Is it necessary?

        by Hummingbird on Wed Oct 23, 2013 at 12:50:09 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I'd never heard of Mercola, (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          etbnc, Portia Elm

          but I have used various sources as support for reports on various issues. A lot of science (including public health and epidemiology) is more or less arguable, usually on the basis of ubiquitous 'dueling experts'. Some with less than transparent motives for opining the way they do. A diarist can offer any number of citations from any number of sources on either 'side' of any issue. From flat denial through bought-and-paid-for to blanket denial that there are even issues to be discussed. Corporate science goes all the way down to owning the departments in state land grant universities who do their research dirty-work.

          I find such sources eminently dismissible, others obviously have a different opinion. The mainstream media most often doesn't report anything that doesn't support the corporate line. AP did pretty well on this subject, all things considered, to at least report what's going on in Argentina (and god only knows where else). AP did not say the 90% rise in cancer rates since 1997 are absolutely attributable to Argentina's embrace of Monsanto, et al.'s Big Ag 'system' and products. But I sure consider a 90% rise in cancer rates over just 16 years to be significant. It deserves honest investigation, because whatever is causing it, it's killing a lot of people.

          My source for this diary is the Associated Press, their sources, and a couple of blog sources from this week reporting the same story. There's a million of 'em out there, pick a few you like.

  •  'scientific delirium madness' sang (5+ / 0-)

    the Byrds a generation ago.

    There's been insane hubris and short-sightedness in the business/science/government complex for so long now. Based on the notion that humans have ascendency over, and full understanding of, Nature.

    Well, seems most of the world understands that GMO crops are risky business. And Monsanto's inroads in various places has more to do with hefty bribes being paid than science, productivity, or even common sense.


    Actual Democrats: the surest, quickest, route to More Democrats. And actually addressing our various emergencies.

    by Jim P on Wed Oct 23, 2013 at 12:25:50 PM PDT

    •  Makes me wonder how many (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Jim P, KayCeSF, Portia Elm

      reports of sick and/or dead/dying farmers and farm workers - plus families and other rural dwellers - we never hear about in our own country. Monsanto has tentacles into all levels of government regulation of its products, including FDA, EPA and USDA. They also fund (one way or another) an awful lot of university research and have enough clout to pretty much axe whatever research they don't like.

      •  One way to find out, is to do searches online (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Joieau

        using select key words like "Chemical, injury, illness, agriculture, farming, + town known in agricultural area"

        Local stories seem to get filtered out of the big national press, making it appear as if there are no connections and therefore no problems.

        Whether that's Monsanto's fault directly I cannot say. I doubt it though. Unless you can show they bought ad space at google the way that BP did during the Gulf Gusher.

        Gentlemen, congratulations. You're everything we've come to expect from years of government training (Zed, MIB).

        by GreenMother on Wed Oct 23, 2013 at 02:54:55 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  This should be shown every time we have to (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    KayCeSF, Joieau

    fight the agro-chemical companies or our own EPA to protect our soil and water and by extension our health.

    Gentlemen, congratulations. You're everything we've come to expect from years of government training (Zed, MIB).

    by GreenMother on Wed Oct 23, 2013 at 02:52:45 PM PDT

  •  thank you for posting this (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Joieau

    I was a student at Univ of MD in 95, and worked at Wye Research and Education Center for 6 months in the ag trials area.  At the end of my time there, they were introducing "no-till" and the special equipment that drilled the seed into the soil.  Vetch or alfalfa was grown, then killed off with Roundup, then planted with soy or corn.  Everybody but me (only woman) was excited about it.  I was frickin horrified.  My first awareness that Monsanto now owned the research there.  Soon after, areas were fenced off and the biotech trials began, but I had moved on to the entomolgy lab by then.  When I first got there, it was an IPM site.  I have no idea what has happened there now, except I heard that govt grants were available on the Eastern Shore a few years ago and govt employees in the know jumped on the money.

    I know that my boss at WREC had neurological problems that resembled epilepsy, but have no idea if they were related.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5a6uA76vYDM

    by Portia Elm on Wed Oct 23, 2013 at 04:13:41 PM PDT

  •  Thanks for this, Joieau. (0+ / 0-)

    The info on cancer rates is appalling.

    Please explain the photo at the top.  What is this illustrating?

    --------------------- “These are troubling times. Corporation are treated like people. People are treated like things. …And if we ever needed to vote, we sure do need to vote now.” -- Rev. Dr. William J. Barber

    by Fiona West on Wed Oct 23, 2013 at 08:07:59 PM PDT

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