Thursday, June 06, 2013

Holy Wheatena, Batman!

So back in the day (1998 - 2005) Monsanto developed and test-planted a new type of genetically modified wheat that was designed to be resistant to Roundup herbicide.  There were eight field trials of the new seeds in Oregon, among the 16 other states where test plots were planted.  They shut down that program in 2005 before ever growing the wheat strains commercially.  And, we presume, destroyed the seeds and went on to develop other GMO products that are used commercially.  Or should I say, other plant products, like GMO corn, that seems to have ended up everywhere in our food chain.

Fast forward to today.  A farmer in Oregon found a patch of wheat growing in his field like a weed, so he sprayed it with . . . you guessed it, Round up . . . but it didn't die.  So he had it tested and . . . you guessed it again, the wheat was found to be the same Monsanto engineered variety that has supposedly never been released onto the world.

No harm, no foul, said Monsanto.  Genetically modified wheat has not been authorized to be grown or sold anywhere so these few rogue wheat stalks, growing like weeds since they're resistant to weed-killer, are rare as hen's teeth and pose no problem, heh-heh.  Monsanto also claims to have absolutely NO idea how that wheat got where it got to.  (Coincidentally, shortly before this reveal, Monsanto conveniently secured, in a last-minute, earmarked, back-room deal, a Congressional "waiver" in the budget bill that would exempt Monsanto from any and all lawsuits arising from GMO backlash from irate farmers. Convenient?  Prescient?  Guilty knowledge?)

Well, "backlash" arrived in the form of Japan dropping its bid to buy 27,500 toms of Pacific Northwest wheat.  The Japanese don't look kindly on GMOs.  South Korea and the EU followed suit.  Taiwan is also getting antsy. Seems that a good many people in the world don't like GMO food and certainly not GMO wheat.  And since America is the worlds biggest wheat exporter ($8 billion a year), rogue GMO wheat that could transmigrate into regular wheat would mean a collapse of the wheat industry.  (Or, I suppose, every single bushel of wheat could be checked, grain by grain, to identify and pick out the GMO grains?)

Monsanto, meanwhile, isn't worried.  It has that convenient lawsuit-protection earmark.  In addition to that carte blanche, Monsanto's GMO products are patented/copyrighted and any farmer who is found with Monsanto grains on their land without having the proper purchase license, can be sued by Monsanto for unauthorized use.  Indeed, just such a lawsuit has already occurred.

So, farmers better be on high alert.  If they can't sell their crops because a few rogue Monsanto GMO grains have contaminated their fields, not only will they go broke, but Monsanto will sue them for unlicensed seed use. 

It's a perfect set up for Monsanto, and a perfect example of how effective having friends in high political office can be. And if farmers around the world die because of Monsanto's policies?  Who cares. It's not the staff of life, baby, it business. 


Anonymous said...

Will Montsanto's lawyers be contacting those farmers via Verizon?

Churadogs said...

hahahahah. Oy. This is really getting creepy, isn't it. We're going to have to start waterboard our mung beans before daring to eat them.