by John Hepburn

June 21, 2004

Monsanto's global website says "Imagine innovative agriculture that creates 'incredible' things today." Actually, I think most of us are more interested in 'credible' things when it comes to agriculture. Like food that people can trust is safe. And crops that meet the needs of the farmers that grow them.

The monsanto slogan used to be "food, health, hope". As if this wasn't absurd enough, it has now been changed to "ImagineTM". John Lennon must be turning in his grave.

Imagine a world with vast monocultures of patented, genetically engineered crops, producing foods with inbuilt pesticides. Imagine the world's staple food crops engineered with genes from bacteria and then released into our food chain without any real understanding of the health impacts. Imagine?

The Monsanto website states boldly that "Integrity is the foundation of all that we do. Integrity includes honesty, decency, consistency and courage."

I suppose 'courage' isn't that far fetched. But 'audacity' would probably be a more accurate word.

Imagine trying to introduce a new product into the market place when most people don't want it, and when it is effectively impossible to keep it separate from other similar products. Imagine being able to insist that the cost of keeping this product separate be passed onto the users of the other, existing products. It's kind of like insisting that your neighbour to pay for the new fence when you bring home a pit bull terrier for a pet. Imagine not only trying to pull off such an audacious scheme but actually succeeding!

'Consistency' is also plausible. Although I suspect the appropriate agricultural term is 'monoculture'.

As for "honesty' and 'decency', I'm not sure how the victims of Agent Orange would feel about that. Or the thousands of people who have been affected by PCB's - another one of Monsanto's brilliant and 'safe' inventions. Or the 70 odd farmers in the US who have been sued by Monsanto for saving seeds and breaching Monsanto's intellectual property?

I for one, imagine a world where Monsanto doesn't exist. Where I don't have to spend my days struggling to stop possibly one of the most irresponsible organisations in human history from involving all of us in an uncontrolled experiment without our consent.

Monsanto are on the back foot. Millions of people have been rejecting their foods. Thousands upon thousands of farmers have been rejecting their seeds. In the face of this, they have 'voluntarily' withdrawn GE wheat in North America, and GE canola in Australia. We can only hope that 'voluntary' liquidation is the next step.

Imagine food without pesticides. Imagine diversity in agriculture. Imagine seeds without patents. Imagine a future without Monsanto?

John Hepburn Australia. johnhepburn@hushmail.com


Informant: Teresa Binstock


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Juni 2004

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