Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Controling the food chain?

“What Monsanto is trying to do is control the food chain”
Elsa Chanduví Jaña
2/6/2009
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Interview with journalist Marie-Monique Robin
French journalist and filmmaker Marie-Monique Robin, author of the book and documentary The World According to Monsanto, an exhausting investigation into genetically-modified organisms and Monsanto, the world´s largest transgenic seed producer, spoke with Latinamerica Press managing editor Elsa Chanduví Jaña about the effects of these seeds and Monsanto´s ambitions to “control the world´s food chain.” Robin participated in the seminar “Seeds of Diversity vs. Transgenics” in Lima Jan. 28-29, which Comunicaciones Aliadas and Latinamerica Press co-organized.

How would you describe Monsanto´s world vision?
What Monsanto wants to do is control the food chain with patented transgenic seeds. It’s a totalitarian project because to control food is to control the world, it’s to control people. [Monsanto] is a multinational that has been using dirty practices for almost a century. Many of its products are prohibited today because they’re very toxic, such as PCBs [polychlorinated biphenyls], for example, which used to be used in all countries as electric transformers. Monsanto hid the information it had. It lied saying that those PCBs were not dangerous, until it was finally discovered and after a lawsuit in the United States seven years ago it was ordered to pay US$700 million.

There are other examples, such as Agent Orange, that cocktail of herbicides used during the Vietnam War. In this case, Monsanto paid scientists to deny the relationship between exposure to Agent Orange, which contains dioxin, and cancer.

What is Monsanto´s strategy to control the food chain?
Its strategy has many forms. One of the most important is called “revolving doors” in the United States. In the case of transgenics, the fundamental text, which is the basis for worldwide regulations on transgenics, was published in 1992 by the US Food and Drug Administration [FDA], and written by a former Monsanto lawyer who got on the FDA to write the text and later ended up as Monsanto´s vice president. Those are revolving doors. You come from an industry, you get an important position in a government agency, or even an international organization, you stay for a few years and then you go back to the industry. Incredible. They can put their people in key decision-making positions. In the FDA, or the EPA [the US Environmental Protection Agency], the top person was a lawyer for Monsanto.

The other strategy is paying. There are two proven corruption cases. One case in Indonesia: two or three years ago in the United States, Monsanto was found guilty of corruption for paying some 100 Indonesian government officials to introduce Bt cotton seeds. There was a corruption attempt that was also uncovered by a parliamentary commission in Canada in which Monsanto offered US$2 million to be able to put a growth hormone on the market.

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