I’ve decided to write a series of posts that present how I form my current opinion and thinking on why Monsanto Is NOT Evil like so many people out there without any real evidence for their opinion, like to portray them. This is the first post in the series of what I think will be three or more posts.
In this post I am detailing a FaceBook conversation I’m having with a friend who posted a video produced by Australia’s The Undercurrent a YouTube channel that touts themselves as “News. Satire. Centred. An independent current affairs satire program created & produced by Dan Graetz & Jen Dainer” that is supported by The Guardian saying about them “Combining quality research and investigative journalism to produce news and political satire on topics affecting Australia.”
The video below is entitled “The Undercurrent: why are we being fed by a poison expert? Monsanto and Roundup“…
In my next blog post on this topic I will respond to the messaging in the “The Undercurrent: why are we being fed by a poison expert? Monsanto and Roundup” directly but for starters I’ll begin with my conversation with that FaceBook friend of mine.
My Response To His Posting The Video Begins…
This is pure gish gallop, a fallacious debating tactic of drowning an opponent in such a torrent of small arguments that the opponent cannot possibly rebut in real time. It’s well produced but full of inaccuracies and distorted disinformation. It’s chucking out the BS faster than I can type.
I am really surprised anyone with scientific bone in their body or with any real understanding of agriculture and the agriculture business would ever post this kind of anti-science trash. This video is David Avocado Wolfe, Dr. Joseph Mercola, Natural News, Alex Jones territory. I’d write my own response only I am otherwise engaged this evening and my internet has bogged down to the speed of paint drying. Besides Monsanto already wrote their own reply to this horrid hit piece.
His Reply Back To Me Was…
Don’t get insulting Gerald. Most all information comes from Monsanto studies, using their data, just double checking “their homework”. It’s very easy for Monsanto to fabricate their studies to jibe with the data they want to use, many others have done this in the past. And the main thing with Monsanto is cornering the world market for seeds. The biggest mistake ever regarding patents was granting a patent for their “seed”, all of which cannot be controlled once out in nature. The patent grants them rights over plants that were naturally cross-pollinated with theirs.
The point is not whether or not their plants are harmful, which is mostly complete rubbish, but that their tactic has effectively wiped out biodiversity. Farmers must destroy any seeds left over or any seeds derived from their crops, even those contaminating other fields by act of nature. That is just ridiculous. On top of that, it is a well-established fact that a consortium of big Agra has been consolidating and eliminating smaller seed developers, creating a monopoly. I’m not going to address the “poison plant” issue.
On top of that is the extraordinary influence that Monsanto wields in the halls of government. Again, not getting into poison plants aside from the fact that undo influence poisons ours and any democracy.
And I read their reply, it’s mostly vague platitudes and other “citations”. There have been no long term studies done by anyone, including Monsanto and the data they do have is not openly available citing patent secrecy, which is complete bullshit. A gun can be taken apart and its’ parts inspected and tested and even duplicated without infringing on any patent.
There was a time when DuPont had a product used in the formulation of their product Teflon. Their data didn’t indicate any adverse effects from the chemical. That is because they manufactured their data to jibe with their bullshit. It took one tenatious farmer and a very very smart industry lawyer to uncover their lies, all of which were “corroborated” by outside studies that just regurgitated their erroneous data.
What you are doing is throwing everything out with the hype-baby bathwater instead of looking beyond that hype.
Taking what my friend wrote I then responded back point by point as follows:
Before I get into addressing the individual points you made this evening in your comment to me I’m wondering if you have ever seen The Skeptics Guide to the Universe on Monsanto Myths – YouTube episode? Despite the fact that I’ve posted it a couple times I am thinking you have never seen it given your thoughts on “seed patents” and “terminator seeds” (what I think you might have been referring to as ‘the “poison plant” issue.’)
“— Don’t get insulting Gerald. —”
I am sorry if you think it insulting but I think this video is noxious anti-science bullshit right in the same league as Gary Null’s “Seed of Death” or let’s say Dinesh D’Souza’s upcoming “Hillary’s America”. It’s so full of disinformation and distortion and outright lies that it’s pretty close to “Hate Speech” in my book.
“— Most all information comes from Monsanto studies, using their data, just double checking “their homework”. It’s very easy for Monsanto to fabricate their studies to jibe with the data they want to use, many others have done this in the past. —”
No, it’s not. That is just not true at all. Not if they are going to get any study they commission published in a scientific journal (and that is the only kind of study worth anything) because it would then be subject to the journals peer review which includes scientists NOT in the employ of Monsanto. Any scientist can review the study and find fault with it.
As for “…many others have done this in the past.” Name an instance that I can go an look at. The anti-science anti-GMO voice always says that but they can ever seem to cite me the examples of where Monsanto has manipulated the data.
— “And the main thing with Monsanto is cornering the world market for seeds.”—
That too is false. If it was true you would certainly hear DuPont Pioneer, Syngenta, Vilmorin, WinField and others screaming bloody murder and calling for anti-trust action and that is just not the case. As of 2011 Monsanto had 26% share of the seed market worldwide, DuPont Pioneer 18.2%, Syngenta 9.2, and the other companies 46.6%.
I will admit that Monsanto has eyes on buying Syngenta and that might then concern me only last I heard/read BASF had the lead for purchasing Syngenta seed operations. And besides Monsanto really interested in Syngenta’s agri-chemical business has said it’s prepared to sell Syngenta’s seed business to help appease regulators.
- Move Over, Monsanto: The Pesticide and GMO Seed Industry Just Spawned a New Behemoth | Mother Jones
- Monsanto Says Deal Would Mean Sale of Syngenta Seed Unit – Bloomberg
- BASF Eyes Syngenta Seed Business as Monsanto Bid Looms: Real M&A – Bloomberg
— “The biggest mistake ever regarding patents was granting a patent for their “seed”, all of which cannot be controlled once out in nature. The patent grants them rights over plants that were naturally cross-pollinated with theirs.”—
No that is also not true. In any industry, the protection and maintenance of Intellectual Property Right just like a software developer is fundamental to a company’s ability to finance innovation and grow.
Quoting from “EuropaBio – Why do seeds have patents?”
Contrary to what some say, GM seeds are not the only seeds with Intellectual Property Rights. Almost all conventional (non-GM) and organic hybrid seeds are patented and cannot be saved for use in the next planting season.
In any industry, the maintenance of IPR is an essential basis for innovation and progress.
• IPR encourages continued investment in research and development, and ensures the plant science industry maintains its strong innovative base.
• Patents form the cornerstone of intellectual property protection.
• The protection of regulatory data and confidential business information for biotechnology inventions are important to support innovation and development.
• The plant science industry is one of the world’s most research and development intensive sectors. It ranks in the top four global industries in terms of percentage of sales invested in R&D.
The industry’s top 10 companies invest $2.25 billion, or 7.5% of sales, in the research and development of cutting-edge products in crop protection, non-agricultural pest control, seeds and plant biotechnology. All of these products aim to improve sustainable agricultural production.
The idea that patents are evil and some form of oppressive control over the farmer is nonsense too. Any farmer is perfectly able to buy “open source” seed if they so desire and save seeds if they want to only for the most part farmers don’t want to do that. They want the high-performance seeds that are under patent because they are better and worth the money they pay for them.
There is also another reason why farmer’s generally don’t save seeds and that is that they lose control over the properties of the crop they are growing to mutations inherent in natural selection.
Since the introduction of hybrid varieties, which are not necessarily GMO but may be engineered via traditional breeding methods but are still sold under a license and by contract.
In some cases, hybrid seed does not breed “true”- that is, once you cross-pollinate it, you cross the traits that made it a hybrid in the first place and only 50% of the offspring (assuming only two hybrid traits) will still have a similar mix of traits in the second generation.
- Why do seeds have patents? Are GM seeds the only patented seeds? | Europabio
- (10) What percentage of farms save seeds from year to year? – Quora
- Why Does Monsanto Sue Farmers Who Save Seeds?
- Where do farmers get their seeds? – YouTube
- Why activists, but few farmers, complain they can’t save patented seeds | Genetic Literacy Project
- No, Farmers Don’t Want to Save Seeds – The Farmer’s Daughter USA
- Why don’t farmers save seeds? – Biology Fortified, Inc.
- Why do seeds have patents? Are GM seeds the only patented seeds? | Europabio
— “The point is not whether or not their plants are harmful, which is mostly complete rubbish, but that their tactic has effectively wiped out biodiversity.”—
Biodiversity has not been wiped out (with the possible exception of Bananas) but is a recognized risk for any agricultural method and you can’t blame biodiversity problems on any one company producing seeds. Biodiversity or the lack thereof is a systemic problem. And as I already mentioned in spite of what you think Monsanto hasn’t cornered the market on seed products. Other companies offer different breeds of the crop seeds Monsanto offers. Still, the lack of Biodiversity is a serious problem and risk the agriculture industry worldwide needs to continually address.
And considering that GM technology saved the Hawaiian papaya and are resurrecting the American Chestnut tree from the brink of extinction we might perhaps see GM technology saving the banana too. I see GM technology as championed by Monsanto and companies like them as a big part of the solution and not the root of the biodiversity problem like you are implying.
- The Only Way to Save Your Beloved Bananas Might Be Genetic Engineering | Mother Jones
- Bananas, monoculture and biotech solution: No, Michael Pollan, GMOs do not limit genetic diversity | Genetic Literacy Project
- Bananas: Using Genetic Engineering Against Fungal Disease
- These vitamin-fortified bananas might get you thinking differently about GMOs – Vox
- Genetically engineered super-banana could save millions of lives | ExtremeTech
- The Battle for Biodiversity: Monsanto and Farmers Clash – The Atlantic
— “Farmers must destroy any seeds left over or any seeds derived from their crops, even those contaminating other fields by act of nature. That is just ridiculous.”—
How is it ridiculous? The farmer could have bought “open source” seed. The thing is, you buy the seeds, you sign the contract. Why would you then complain that you have to obey the contract you signed? Why not just buy different seeds that don’t have that contract?
— “On top of that, it is a well-established fact that a consortium of big Agra has been consolidating and eliminating smaller seed developers, creating a monopoly. “—
That is just conspiracy theorist bullshit, I’m not buying that conspiracy theory crap. Like I said that’s Alex Jones territory. I already wrote about Monsanto’s interest in buying Syngenta’s agri-chemical business and their offer to sell off the Syngenta seed business to satisfy regulators. If you think there is something going on bigger than that (outside of Alex Jones) I would like to know what you read where. In other words citation, please.
— “I’m not going to address the “poison plant” issue.”—
The “Poison Plant” issue? No idea what you’re referring to there unless you meant the “Terminatior Seed” issue and in case that is what you meant Monsanto never ever sold “Terminatior Seed” and even though they have the technology has promised never to sell any.
- Why Does Everyone Hate Monsanto? – Modern Farmer
- Top Five Myths Of Genetically Modified Seeds, Busted : The Salt : NPR
— “On top of that is the extraordinary influence that Monsanto wields in the halls of government.”—
This again strikes me a exaggerated non-sense. There are not the big evil Exxon like behemoth everyone is making them out to be. I mean geez Monsanto and Whole Foods are the same size. Sure they lobby to represent their business interests but again what exactly have they done that is so “evil.” Citations please. I know about the “Farmer Assurance Provision” otherwise pejoratively labeled by the pro-organics as the notorious “Monsanto Protection” act. I see the “Farmer Assurance Provision” as a law that protects farmers from laws enacted by the general public that have influenced by fear mongering propaganda and otherwise have little or no knowledge of agriculture methods or science forcing them [the farmers] to destroy crops they’ve planted.
— “Again, not getting into poison plants aside from the fact that undo influence poisons ours and any democracy.”—
Again Monsanto’s influence is not what you think it is and in terms of dollars available for lobbying is tiny compared to other food industry companies (like retailers like Whole Foods) and potential alliances and coalitions those companies can together form such as the organic food industry lobby.
— “And I read their reply, it’s mostly vague platitudes and other “citations”.”—
A platitude is defined as a trite, meaningless, or prosaic statement, generally directed at quelling social, emotional, or cognitive unease so I am not at all sure what you mean by that remark in that in my estimation there is nothing at all in Monsanto’s response that qualifies as a “platitude”. And as for it containing ‘other “citations”‘ that is really exactly what you are really supposed to do when responding to baseless innuendo and lies that have been leveled at you. You should respond with EVIDENCE (i.e. “citations”) that challenges and confronts the charges made against you.
—”…There have been no long term studies done by anyone, including Monsanto and the data they do have is not openly available citing patent secrecy, which is complete bullshit. A gun can be taken apart and its’ parts inspected and tested and even duplicated without infringing on any patent.”—
While that may have been true years ago that Monsanto protected its own research data from a review that’s been addressed years ago and is no longer true.
And as for there have been no long-term studies that is just a bullshit argument. There are plenty of long-term studies and one big one too is that GM crops have a twenty year plus record of safety.
As the skeptical blogger SmilodonsRetreat wrote in his article A Survey of Long-Term GM Food Studies it doesn’t take much effort at all to find the studies and meta-studies on Long-Term Studies of GMOs On Humans and the consensus amongst them would be that “GM plants are nutritionally equivalent to their non-GM counterparts and can be safely used in food and feed.” There have been more than 2,000 studies documenting that biotechnology does not pose an unusual threat to human health and genetically modified foods are as safe or safer than conventional or organic foods
I wonder how is it too that when the claims that GMOs are harmful and dangerous are made they never seem to be linked to any peer-reviewed scientific studies and when there is a link it usually to another unsourced “article” on the internet.
The “There are no long-term studies…” argument is a delaying disinformation message right out of both the Creationist’s playbook. Creationists keep on saying that there are no transitional fossils over and over again when there are thousands of examples.
- A Survey of Long Term GM Food Studies • Smilodon’s Retreat
- With 2000+ global studies affirming safety, GM foods among most analyzed subjects in science | Genetic Literacy Project
- The Debate About GMO Safety Is Over, Thanks To A New Trillion-Meal Study – Forbes
- Why there are no long term GMO studies on humans | Genetic Literacy Project
— “There was a time when DuPont had a product used in the formulation of their product Teflon. Their data didn’t indicate any adverse effects from the chemical. That is because they manufactured their data to jibe with their bullshit. It took one tenatious farmer and a very very smart industry lawyer to uncover their lies, all of which were “corroborated” by outside studies that just regurgitated their erroneous data.”—
That problem you just described is possible in any industry. We have the recent cases of VW manipulating emissions data. We have the case of Tabata airbags etc etc. IT HAPPENS but in lieu of actually finding the actual smoking gun and real evidence of data manipulation you can’t just categorize a company as corrupt and evil just because you think the possibility of being corrupt and evil exists. I mean come on how absurd it that?
—”What you are doing is throwing everything out with the hype-baby bathwater instead of looking beyond that hype.”—
I am not at all sure just what “hype” I am not looking past but my complaint is that The Undercurrents video is a worthless piece of unsubstantiated anti-science trash talk and fear mongering.
Two years ago I believed that GMOs were a “bad thing” and that “Monsanto was Evil” but then listening to our friends Andy & Duane over the top anti-GMO babble (or I should say your friends because they blocked me when they didn’t like my challenging their anti-GMO hysteria) I began to wonder just what was the basis of my thinking that GMOs were such a risky dangerous technology. As I began to do some fact checking on their claims I saw that the scientific support for what they were saying just wasn’t there so I dove in deeper and eventually came to realize that my opinion wasn’t worth shit, it had no scientific basis at all, and I had probably adopted it without ever questioning it as part of my “liberal identity” thinking that is what liberals think isn’t it? That GMOs are a bad thing? I soon discovered that liberals with a good solid scientific literacy didn’t think that way at all and I choose to look into and explore what I had learned was the real scientific consensus opinion in regard to GMO’s and found out it was. From the AAAS (American Association for the Advancement of Sciences) statement regarding a GMO scientific consensus.
The science is quite clear: crop improvement by the modern molecular techniques of biotechnology is safe … The World Health Organization, the American Medical Association, the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, the British Royal Society, and every other respected organization that has examined the evidence has come to the same conclusion: consuming foods containing ingredients derived from GM crops is no riskier than consuming the same foods containing ingredients from crop plants modified by conventional plant improvement techniques.
Well, okay I now accepted that. But that doesn’t mean Monsanto ISN”T Evil does it. They are still are a pretty bad evil company. Right? Right? Seeing I didn’t really have any solid basis for that opinion either, discovering it was an opinion I had picked up just by being around other people that expressed that thinking I decided to check into that too. Expressing the sentiment and quoting rock legend Pete Townshend, I won’t be fooled again.
My References & Resources For This RTOL Article
There seems to be a prevalent myth that, when it comes to GMOs, Monsanto, and related topics, there is an “information gap,” that is, that these issues simply haven’t been studied enough, or that they haven’t been studied in any truly comprehensive or long-term manner.
Illustration by Benjamin Karis-Nix The house was raised above the ground, like a mushroom or a white ray gun, its rooms radiating out like spokes of a wheel. It was 1957 and this was the “House of the Future,” a prototype modular house created by Monsanto, in collaboration with M.I.T.
Responses to Popular Anti-GMO Arguments & Rhetoric The typical rhetoric from the anti-GMO crowd can range anywhere from harmless, benign questions to malignant, ignorant claims based on complete scientific illiteracy. There are hundreds of questions, concerns, and claims from the anti-GMO movement, some more legitimate than others, but I will only be addressing a …
- Argumentum Ad Monsantum: Bill Maher and The Lure of a Liberal Logical Fallacy – Scientific American Blog Network
- Why Neil deGrasse Tyson’s dismissal of anti-GMO concerns matters – Vox
- Labels for GMO Foods Are a Bad Idea – Scientific American
- Solid GMO scientific consensus – based on real science
- Monsanto Encouraged to Dispel Mindless Anti-GMO Myths, Explain Sound Food Science Better – YouTube