Monday, September 15, 2008

The World According to Monsanto

September 10, 2008

The long awaited, blockbuster film The World According to Monsanto is now available in the United States...

... But first, great news! Monsanto just sold off their bovine growth hormone (rBGH/rBST) business to Ely Lilly’s animal division, Elanco. Monsanto dumped this genetically engineered drug because snowballing consumer rejection of dairy products from cows treated with rBGH has already driven it out of Wal-Mart, Starbucks, Kroger, and 40 of the top 100 dairies.

Our Institute for Responsible Technology was one of many groups that helped bring about this victory by educating consumers about the potential health dangers (increased risks of cancer, higher fraternal twin rate, antibiotic resistant diseases, etc.). Informed people don’t want anything to do with the drug. When the numbers of concerned, discerning shoppers hit the critical mass, a tipping point in the dairy industry ensued. For the inside scoop, view our new film on rBGH, Your Milk on Drugs—Just Say No!, at . Better yet, watch it as part of the bonus material on The World According to Monsanto DVD...

Film Review: The World According to Monsanto
Directed by Marie-Monique Robin
Reviewed by Jeffrey M. Smith
Distributed by Yes! Books, , $19.95
Includes bonus film and audio CD.

How much outrage can a single multinational corporation inspire? How much damage can they inflict? The breathtaking new film, The World According to Monsanto, features a company that sets a new standard. From Iowa to Paraguay, from England to India, Monsanto is uprooting our food supply and replacing it with their patented genetically engineered creations. And along the way, farmers, communities, and nature become collateral damage.

The Gazette says the movie “will freeze the blood in your veins.” The Hour says it’s a “horrifying enough picture” to warrant “fury.” But most importantly, this critical film opens our eyes just in time.

The film is the work of celebrated award-winning French filmmaker Marie-Monique Robin, whose three years of work on four continents exposes why Monsanto has become the world’s poster child for malignant corporate influence in government and technology. Combining secret documents with accounts by victims, scientists and policy makers, she guides us through a web of misleading reports, pressure tactics, collusion, and attempted corruption. And we learn how the company systematically tricked governments into allowing dangerous genetically modified (GM) foods into our diet—with Monsanto in charge of determining if they’re safe.

The company’s history with some of the most toxic chemicals ever produced, illustrates why they can’t be trusted. Ask the folks of Anniston, Alabama, where Monsanto’s PCB factory secretly poisoned the neighborhood for decades. When the government was eventually informed, “instead of siding with the people who were being poisoned,” they sided with Monsanto.

The company produced Agent Orange, the cancer and birth-defect causing defoliant sprayed over Vietnam. According to William Sanjour, who led the Toxic Waste Division of the EPA, “thousands of veterans were disallowed benefits” because “Monsanto studies showed that dioxin [the main ingredient] was not a human carcinogen.” But his EPA colleague Cate Jenkins discovered that Monsanto had allegedly falsified data. When she asked the EPA to review the flawed studies, Sanjour says, “there was no investigation of Monsanto. . . . What they investigated was Cate Jenkins, the whistleblower! They made her life a hell.”

Cancer was also implicated in research by Professor Robert Bellé on Monsanto’s herbicide Roundup. But his administration ordered him “not to communicate [his] findings due to the GMO question lurking in the background.” Monsanto has the patent for 90% of the GMOs (genetically modified organisms) grown on the planet, and most of them are genetically modified specifically to tolerate applications of Roundup.

Monsanto’s past manipulations were warm ups compared to the virtual government takeover used to approve GM foods. The problem Monsanto faced was that GMOs are inherently unsafe. They can create dangerous side effects. That was the consensus by FDA scientists, according to 44,000 agency documents made public from a lawsuit. But the most important document, FDA’s official policy, claimed that GMOs were not substantially different and that no safety testing was necessary.

Former FDA biotech coordinator James Maryanski admits that this policy “was a political decision,” not scientific. In fact, FDA political appointee Michael Taylor was in charge of the policy. Taylor was formerly Monsanto’s attorney and later their vice president.

Footage shows Vice President George Bush at Monsanto’s facility offering help to get their products through government bureaucracy. And Dan Glickman, former US Secretary of Agriculture says, “when I opened my mouth in the Clinton Administration [about the lax regulations on GMOs], I got slapped around a little bit.”

Tony Blair, the pro-GMO UK Prime Minister, had slaps of his own. When a top scientist in the UK discovered evidence that GM foods had serious side effects, “two phone calls from Downing Street to the director” resulted in his sudden dismissal after 35 years.

Farmers worldwide suffer at the hands of Monsanto. US farmers are sued; South American farmers are driven off their land to make way for GM soybean fields, or they’re poisoned with Roundup; and tens of thousands of indebted farmers in India, whose investment in Monsanto’s GM cotton went bust, have committed suicide. Mexican farmers are discovering bizarrely shaped GM corn plants, suggesting that when GM corn cross-pollinates traditional varieties, it mutates offspring.

Monsanto dominates the seed market and many are concerned. Renowned physicist and community organizer Vandana Shiva says, “If they control seed, they control food; they know it, it’s strategic. It’s more powerful than bombs; it’s more powerful than guns. This is the best way to control the populations of the world.”

The World According to Monsanto is aptly named. It is about Monsanto seeking to recreate the world in its own image, for its own benefit. They intend to replace (and patent) the entire food supply. And since their genetic pollution self-propagates in the environment, it will outlast the effects of global warming and nuclear waste.

Such widespread permanent influence may not be safe with any individual or company. With Monsanto’s record, the results can only be catastrophic.

This powerful documentary might just inspire a global rejection of Monsanto’s plans for our world. If so, it will be the most important film in history.

Jeffrey M. Smith is the international bestselling author of Seeds of Deception and Genetic Roulette, the executive director of the Institute for Responsible Technology, and director of The Campaign for Healthier Eating in America.

The World According to Monsanto is co-produced by the National Film Board of Canada, ARTE France, Image & Compagnie, WDR, and Les Productions Thalie.

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See also Monsanto Declares War on 'rBGH-free' Dairies


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