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Old 04-16-2009, 05:59 AM
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Default Monsanto - Why You Need To Fight Them

I have previously aired my disregard for the Monsanto Company and I am sure many here understand the dangers to humanity they cause, but it never hurts to more fully understand the implications of their actions to your health and to the health of the coming generations. I will be putting up several posts on the topic.

This Company May Be the Biggest Threat to Your Future Health

On March 11 a new documentary was aired on French television. It is a documentary most Americans will never see, explaining how the gigantic biotech corporation Monsanto is threatening to destroy the agricultural biodiversity which has served mankind for thousands of years.

For millennia, farmers have saved seeds from season to season. But when Monsanto developed GM seeds that would resist its own herbicide, Roundup, Monsanto patented the seeds. For nearly all of its history the United States Patent and Trademark Office refused to grant patents on seeds, viewing them as life-forms with too many variables to be patented. But in 1980 the U.S. Supreme Court allowed for seed patents in a five-to-four decision, laying the groundwork for a handful of corporations to begin taking control of the world’s food supply.

Since the 1980s, Monsanto has become the world leader in genetic modification of seeds and has won 674 biotechnology patents, more than any other company. Farmers who buy Monsanto’s Roundup Ready seeds are required to sign an agreement promising not to save the seed produced after each harvest for re-planting, or to sell the seed to other farmers. This means that farmers must buy new seed every year.

Monsanto puts pressure on farmers, farmers’ co-ops, seed dealers, and anyone else it suspects may have infringed its patents of genetically modified seeds. To do this, Monsanto relies on a shadowy army of private investigators and agents. They secretly videotape and photograph farmers, store owners, and co-ops. They infiltrate community meetings. They gather information from informants about farming activities.

Some Monsanto agents pretend to be surveyors. Others confront farmers on their land and try to pressure them to sign papers giving Monsanto access to their private records. Farmers call them the “seed police” and use words such as “Gestapo” and “Mafia” to describe their tactics.

• Vanity Fair May 2008
This is not medical advice. Just opinion. Whatever you decide to do your your health is strictly your business and your choice.
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Old 04-16-2009, 06:01 AM
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Actually, these posts come from another forum by someone who allows me to repost his work and that of course of good old Dr Mercola.

Beware -- Food Crisis Getting Worse

Millions of people across the world are facing hunger and starvation due to the current food crisis. According to experts, the crisis will continue as long as those who dominate the international grain markets remain unwilling to change their behavior.

As food supplies are diminishing, for instance, the government released measures to increase the use of biofuels -- a policy that will further increase food prices.

Biofuels are taking food out of the mouths of starving people and diverting them to be burned as fuel in the car engines of the world’s rich consumers.
• Organic Consumers Association April 21, 2008
• New Statesman April 17, 2008
• The Economist April 17, 2008
• BusinessWeek April 28, 2008

Dr. Mercola's Comments:
In the year 2007, wheat prices rose 77 percent and rice 16 percent. These were some of the sharpest price hikes ever. But this year the speed of change has accelerated even further. Since January 2008, the price of rice has soared just over 140 percent.
Says Josette Sheeran, head of the UN World Food Programme, “… This crisis is different. It is occurring in many countries simultaneously, the first time that has happened since the early 1970s. And it is affecting people not usually hit by famines.”

So what’s happening?

There’s a lot of talk about the rising demand for biofuel being the culprit, as more farmers are now growing biofuel products rather than food, spurred on by various governmental incentives. But that’s certainly not the one and only factor fueling this world-wide problem.

What has Caused This Burgeoning Food Crisis?
Other factors that have been pointed out, in various articles spread across the past weeks, include:
• Improved financial situation of people in China and India has increased demand for western-style diets rich in grains, meat and dairy
• Export quotas by large grain producers, coupled with panic-buying by grain importers
• Trade imbalances among nations
• Population growth, adding 78 million people per year
• Global warming. Unfavorable climatic conditions in 2007 devastated crops in Australia and reduced harvest in other European countries. Southern Africa and the western U.S. have been plagued with severe drought.
• Unsustainable use of land and water
• Rising oil prices, as fossil fuels are needed throughout the agricultural process, from running tractors, to fertilizer production, to shipping

A few others, from non-traditional media outlets, bypass all these “excuses” and point the finger directly at the similarities between our current situation and previous man-made famines for the end purpose of mass genocide.

In January 2008, the BBC broadcast a segment in their “The Things We Forgot to Remember,” featuring Economics Nobel Laureate Professor Amartya Sen, among others, speaking about the 1943-1945 Bengal famine in which 6-7 million people perished when the price of rice doubled, and then finally quadrupled. However, that famine, as now, was not caused by a food deficit per say, but rather by the callous politics in the area at the time.

Personally, one of the things that bother me most after reading through multiple articles on this issue, are the frequent references to the need for “higher yield crops,” rather than the development of sustainable agriculture. Although the names of any particular biotech companies are never mentioned, it walks, talks and reeks like poorly cloaked Monsanto propaganda.

Monsanto’s Rich Harvest
Monsanto’s genetically altered seeds tripled their first-quarter earnings, from $90 million to $256 million, according to BusinessWeek in January 2008. Their GM seeds have been a prime beneficiary of the growing demand for food and alternative fuel sources.

I have a sinking feeling that Monsanto will eventually ride in like a knight in shining armor, offering to end the world-wide plight with its high-yield spawn – those one-time-use-only seeds with dubious genetic signatures that may or may not kill anything that’s left. They already began that project in mid-2007, with the Gates and Rockefeller foundations donating $150 million worth of GMO crops to “reform agriculture and end hunger in Africa.”

That would surely be one of the absolute worst case scenarios we could possibly face, as GM crops are bound to do far more harm than good, both to the biodiversity of the planet and your individual health, through the unchecked introduction of foreign genetic material and hardier pests.

What Can You Do to Help Yourself?
There are certainly no easy answers to these world-wide issues. However, I do believe it’s possible to act as positively as you can on an individual basis.
As Ms. Sheeran stated, the initial response of the middle-class to the current situation is to cut out medical care. Unfortunately, for many this equates to doing virtually nothing to maintain their health, instead of focusing on healthy alternatives and preventive measures. Don’t fall into that category, folks! There is still much you can do to optimize your health that doesn’t have to cost a fortune.
This is not medical advice. Just opinion. Whatever you decide to do your your health is strictly your business and your choice.
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Old 04-16-2009, 06:02 AM
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Home Depot: Do the Right Thing and Dump Monsanto!

Monsanto's top retail product is RoundUp, a broad-spectrum herbicide. Millions of pounds of RoundUp are used every year on U.S. gardens, lawns and farms.

Home Depot is a major vendor of RoundUp.

RoundUp has been linked to numerous environmental and human health problems, including:
• Increased risks of the cancer non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma
• Miscarriages
• Attention deficit disorder
• Reduced production of sex hormones
• Genetic damage and damage to the immune system in fish, and genetic damage and abnormal development in frogs

• Organic Consumers Association

Dr. Mercola's Comments:
Monsanto seeks to pass itself off as an innovative agricultural company, when in reality they produced two of the most toxic substances ever known -- polychlorinated biphenyls, known as PCBs, and dioxin (Agent Orange).

Monsanto may also be responsible for more than 50 Environmental Protection Agency Superfund sites, and they’re the masterminds behind some of the most dangerous products on the market today, such as:
• Genetically modified crops (Monsanto provides the seeds for 90 percent of the world's GM crops)
• Fertilizers, herbicides and pesticides
• Aspartame
• Recombinant bovine somatotropin, or rBST, a genetically engineered growth hormone given to dairy cows to make them produce more milk

Monsanto Has More Control Over Your Health Than You May Realize
Monsanto is also deeply entrenched with the pharmaceutical industry. Pharmacia Corporation was created in April 2000 through the merger of Pharmacia & Upjohn with Monsanto Company and its G.D. Searle unit. After merging with Pharmacia & Upjohn, Monsanto handed over its flagship anti-arthritic drug Celebrex to Pharmacia in order to specialize in agriculture, especially the creation of genetically modified seeds.

Monsanto is actually gaining control over the entire world’s food supply one seed at a time.

Since the 1980s, Monsanto has become the world leader in genetically engineered seeds and has won 674 biotechnology patents, more than any other company.

But Monsanto is not only patenting their own GMO seeds. They have also succeeded in gaining patents for a huge number of crop seeds, patenting naturally occurring life forms for the first time -- without a vote of the people or Congress.

Farmers who buy Monsanto’s Roundup Ready seeds are required to sign an agreement promising not to save or sell the seeds, which has been the traditional practice since the beginning of agriculture. The result of this insane practice is that farmers across the world must now buy new seeds every year, and they must buy them from Monsanto.

RoundUp – Not so Safe After All
One of Monsanto’s longtime star performers is their herbicide RoundUp. It’s sold worldwide as the solution to pesky weeds.
RoundUp long used the slogans, “It's Safer than Mowing"; "Biodegradable," and “Environmentally Friendly." But scientific research has proven Monsanto’s marketing tactics to be less than an accurate portrayal of their product.

For example, glyphosate, the active ingredient in RoundUp, is the most commonly-reported cause of pesticide illness among landscape maintenance workers in California. Additionally:
• The surfactant ingredient in Roundup is more acutely toxic than glyphosate itself, and the combination of the two is even more toxic.
• Glyphosate is suspected of causing genetic damage.
• Glyphosate is acutely toxic to fish and birds and can kill beneficial insects and soil organisms that maintain ecological balance.
• Laboratory studies have identified adverse effects of glyphosate-containing products in all standard categories of toxicological testing.

In one animal study, rats given 1,000 mg/kg of glyphosate resulted in a 50 percent mortality rate, and skeletal alterations were observed in over 57 percent of fetuses. In conclusion the researchers stated that,
“We may conclude that glyphosate-Roundup® is toxic to the dams [female rats] and induces developmental retardation of the fetal skeleton.”

Monsanto was finally forced to discontinue their use of the terms "biodegradable" and "environmentally friendly" in ads promoting glyphosate-based products, including Roundup.

RoundUp May Soon Become Ineffective
The massively widespread introduction of Monsanto’s genetically engineered crops, designed to be resistant to RoundUp, has led to the appearance of RoundUp resistant superweeds.

The soybean, cotton and corn crops, sold under the brand name Roundup Ready, are the world’s largest group of genetically altered crops. In fact, the altered soybeans now make up more than three-quarters of all soybeans grown in the United States. The Roundup Ready gene is also part of 65 percent of the cotton, and 10 percent of the corn grown in the United States.

While farmers like the modified crops because Roundup herbicide can be sprayed directly onto the fields, killing weeds without harming crops, the widespread popularity of the crops is now rendering the herbicide ineffective against some weeds.

Crop scientists say that the crops’ prevalence has greatly increased the use of Roundup herbicide. As a result, the rare weeds that survive the herbicide will ultimately flourish in the "survival of the fittest" environment.

Herbicide-resistant weeds have already popped up in Delaware, Maryland, California, Tennessee, Ohio and Indiana.

RoundUp Ready GMO Crops Lead to Higher Toxicity Levels in Your Foods
What many people fail to realize is that you ingest much more pesticides from genetically modified plants, simply because they contain so much more of them. Like dioxins, pesticides -- including glyphosate -- are not broken down in your body, but rather accumulate over time.

Many types of pesticides are allergenic, neurotoxic, carcinogenic, mutagenic, cause hormonal alterations, and are harmful to male fertility. According to an article by, these hormonal effects could be responsible for a 50 percent decline in sperm count over the last 50 years, stating that if the trend continues, the human race would have to resort to cloning by about 2060.

RoundUp Ready Genetically Engineered Sugar Coming to Shelves Near You
The Organic Consumers Association has also taken up the fight against Kellogg’s planned use of RoundUp Ready genetically engineered sugar in its breakfast cereals. On June 12, the organization sent a letter to Kellogg’s requested they not use GE sugar in its production or face a consumer boycott.

Kellogg responded, claiming that U.S. consumers don’t care if their food contains GE food or not…
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Old 04-16-2009, 06:03 AM
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Did you know that Monsanto has been suing farmers who's crops get cross pollinated by their genetically engineered crops?

Some Farmers Now Protected Against Monsanto Lawsuits

Farmers with crops that become contaminated by patented genetically engineered (GE) seeds or pollen have been the target of harassing lawsuits brought by biotech patent holders, especially Monsanto.

But a landmark piece of legislation protecting California's farmers from crippling lawsuits has passed through both legislative houses.

AB 541 enacts protections against lawsuits brought against California farmers who have not been able to prevent the inevitable drift of GE pollen or seed onto their land. The bill also establishes a mandatory crop sampling protocol to prevent biotech companies investigating alleged violations from sampling crops without the explicit permission of the farmers who own the land.

• Organic Consumers Association August 31, 2008
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Old 04-16-2009, 06:04 AM
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Monsanto's Many Attempts to Destroy All Seeds but Their Own

Some say that if farmers don’t want problems from Monsanto, they simply shouldn’t buy Monsanto’s GMO seeds. But it isn’t quite that simple. Monsanto contaminates the fields, trespasses onto the land taking samples, and then sues, saying they own the crop.

Meanwhile, Monsanto is taking many other steps to keep farmers and everyone else from having any access at all to buying, collecting, and saving of normal seeds:

1. They’ve bought up the seed companies across the Midwest.

2. They’ve written Monsanto seed laws and gotten legislators to put them through, that make cleaning, collecting and storing of seeds so onerous in terms of fees and paperwork that having normal seed becomes almost impossible.

3. Monsanto is pushing laws that ensure farmers and citizens can’t block the planting of GMO crops even if they can contaminate other crops.

4. There are Monsanto regulations buried in the FDA rules that make a farmer’s seed cleaning equipment illegal because it’s now considered a “source of seed contamination.”

Monsanto has sued more than 1,500 farmers whose fields had simply been contaminated by GM crops.


Surviving the Middle Class Crash February 5, 2009
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Old 04-16-2009, 06:05 AM
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I came across this article on GM foods while checking out this guy Hagelins came from our local newspaper almost 9 years ago...Steve

The Providence Journal
CommentaryNovember 9, 2000

ONE OF THE KEY issues that never got discussed in the presidential debates this campaign season was the most serious one facing us today. The fact is that our democracy has been stolen by the powerful lobbies of the special interests. The most conclusive and blatant example of this has been the dangerous experiment being conducted by the biotech industry on the American people. They have genetically manipulated our food supply so that 60 percent of the food on our supermarket shelves has been genetically engineered. The most outrageous thing is that they did it without the knowledge or consent of the American people.

Forty years ago, most scientists thought DDT a safe and promising addition to agriculture. Thalidomide was given to pregnant women by their doctors. Nuclear power was touted as the cleanest energy source on Earth. Marketed prematurely, each of these technological innovations brought unforeseen, unwanted and tragic consequences that could have been easily avoided through proper long-term safety testing. Haven't we learned anything from our mistakes?

From soil to superviruses: In 1994, a genetically engineered bacterium developed to aid in the production of ethanol produced residues that rendered the land infertile. New crops planted on this soil grew three inches tall and fell over dead.

The food chain:
In 1996, scientists discovered that ladybugs that had eaten the aphids that had eaten genetically engineered potatoes died.

The immune system: In 1998, research by Dr. Arpad Pusztai uncovered the potential for genetically altered DNA to weaken the immune system and stunt the growth of baby rats.

Monarch butterflies:
In May 1999, researchers at Cornell University discovered that monarch butterflies died unexpectedly from eating milkweed plants that had been dusted with the pollen of genetically engineered Bt corn.

Pregnant mice: A 1998 study showed that DNA from the food fed to pregnant mice ended up in their intestinal lining, white blood cells, brain cells, and their fetuses. This suggests that the genetically engineered DNA in the food we eat can end up in our own cells.

Honeybees: Last May, a leading European zoologist found the genes from genetically engineered canola jumped the species barrier and were picked up by the bacteria in the digestive tracts of bees. This indicates that antibiotic-resistant genes in genetically engineered foods can cause the bacteria in our own intestines to mutate into superbugs that cannot be killed by antibiotics.

Superviruses: Viral promoters are invasive agents used by genetic engineers to trick a cell into accepting and integrating an alien gene into the cell's own DNA. Some scientists predict that releasing viral promoters into the gene pool could lead to the creation of superviruses and novel infectious diseases for organisms at every level of life -- from bacteria to humans.

These are just some of the dangers that are discernible in the premature marketing of genetically engineered products. The biotech industry is eager to point to their so-called successes while keeping their failures under raps.

Next is the story of rBGH, recombinant bovine growth hormone (or the story of genetically engineered milk). A Monsanto lawyer drafted a letter to the FDA to get rBGH approved. He then stepped down from Monsanto and took an appointment as FDA deputy commissioner for policy. He then opened his own letter and helped draft the FDA's 1992 policy on genetically engineered food and rBGH. The law that followed, in true violation of First Amendment rights, states that it's illegal to say rBGH is in milk and it's illegal to state that it's not in milk. The lawyer returned to corporate life and became Monsanto's vice president for public policy.

Incidentally, rBGH is banned in Canada, Europe, Australia, and New Zealand -- all major dairy producers. It is also banned in other countries. I quote Neal D. Barnard, M.D., president of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, from a magazine entitled Safe Food News (to get this magazine and to sign the national Genetically Engineered Food Alert petition, call 1-800-REAL-FOOD).

"Monsanto's rBGH increases milk production. It also increases udder infections (mastitis) and reproductive problems in cows and shortens their life span. To treat the mastitis, farmers have to give their cows antibiotics. Studies have shown that milk from rBGH cows often contains residues from those antibiotics. And because rBGH-induced mastitis leads to increased amounts of white blood cells -- or pus -- this is also secreted into rBGH milk. But the risks of rBGH go far beyond even this. More troublesome is the fact that rBGH has been linked to increased risk of breast, prostate and colon cancers."

From pizza to chips, soda to infant formula, ice cream to cookies, vitamins to candies, genetically engineered organisms are in the foods we feed our kids every day. Virtually every food you can think of is in the genetically engineered pipeline. And coming soon . . . rat genes in your lettuce, cows that make human milk, and bananas with vaccines.

The only presidential candidate who brought this issue to the forefront of his campaign and informed the American people of the hazards of genetically engineered foods has been the quantum physicist John Hagelin of the Natural Law/Independent Party. As he traveled the country during the campaign speaking in public forums, he talked frankly about the long-term consequences of such experimentation, asking the question:

"Who gave the biotech companies the right to threaten our food and environment? The Clinton-Gore administration and our 'Republicrat' Congress, awash in biotech money. We need mandatory labeling and safety testing of genetically engineered foods, plus a moratorium on the release of these experimental lifeforms into the environment until proven safe."

John Hagelin's message is urgent and of utmost importance. It is essential that the American people act without delay to preserve their own health and that of future generations.
This is not medical advice. Just opinion. Whatever you decide to do your your health is strictly your business and your choice.
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Old 04-16-2009, 06:09 AM
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From: ETC group
Subject: ETC: Tell Monsanto Where to Go!

ETC Group
News Release:
Thursday, May 20, 2004
ETC Group - Home

Canada's Supreme Court Rules on 'David & Goliath' Tomorrow

Tell Monsanto Where To Go!
Letter warnings for Monsanto: There are 5 million Percy Schmeisers.

Bees, beetles and blowing prairie winds can carry Monsanto's
genetically-modified canola a good 26 km - and a whole lot farther if the
transgenic seed or pollen hitches a ride on passing trucks, trains or trousers.
After eight summers in Canada's West, GM canola has earned the dubious status of
a major weed - a common sight in fields, boulevards and cemeteries - and even
backyard gardens. "Canola can winter over for 8 years," says ETC Group's Pat
Mooney in the NGO's Winnipeg headquarters, "meaning GM pollen has probably
travelled a minimum of 200 km since Monsanto first commercialized its patented
seed in 1996." Which is why, Mooney reasons, just about everyone on the prairies
has a direct, personal interest in the May 21st Supreme Court decision. Gene
Giant Monsanto has accused Saskatchewan farmers Percy and Louise Schmeiser of
illegally growing the company's canola. "It's not just farmers," insists Mooney.
"There are about 5 million Percy Schmeisers out here [roughly the population
of Canada's three prairie provinces]. For all any of us know, we could have
Monsanto's canola in our window boxes."

Canada's Supreme Court decision will set a global precedent that will be studied
closely by farmers, jurists, and corporations around the world. Although Canada
doesn't allow patents on higher-order life forms such as plants and animals,
Monsanto believes that its patent on transgenic material gives it a de facto
patent on anything its genes get into. If the Court agrees, the right of farmers
to save seed - a right that has been upheld for 12 thousand years - will be
imperiled and the 1.4 billion people on this planet who depend on farm-saved
seed for their food security will be still more food-insecure. And the burden
with coping with GM contamination will be placed on the farmer rather than the
corporate polluter. If the Court finds for Monsanto, however, it could still
conclude that the Schmeisers did nothing to benefit from the GM seed that blew
onto their property and agree that the corporation is not entitled to damages.
This would not only be a great relief to the embattled
family but it would also be a sharp setback for Monsanto. "With hundreds of
other lawsuits pending, the company's lawyers will be hard-pressed to show that
their GM seeds benefit anybody," Mooney suggests.

What to do? Monsanto claims that anyone who thinks they might have the company's
GM canola without Monsanto's permission must notify the company in order not to
infringe Monsanto's patent. Solution: ETC Group and partner organizations around
the world are asking concerned people to send Monsanto CEO, Hugh Grant, a letter
advising him that Monsanto's seeds may be squatting on their property. "That
puts the ball back in Monsanto's court," Hope Shand of ETC Group's North
Carolina office adds. "It's up to Monsanto to contact the letter-writer and make
amends." "But the form letter doesn't invite Monsanto to do what they did to the
Schmeisers," Mooney stresses. "Monsanto's seeds are trespassing and the company
may have to accept a 'Trespasser Abuser Agreement' making Monsanto responsible
for any damages."

The form letter will be posted on numerous websites around the world over the
next few days. You can print out the letter and send it yourself or click on
"submit" to send the letter by email to Monsanto. ETC Group will send all the
letters to Monsanto by registered mail. Like ETC Group, Monsanto's Canadian
headquarters are in Winnipeg - within easy pollen reach of one another. The form
letter (and cartoons) can be seen at:

For further information:

Pat Mooney, ETC Group (Canada) [email protected]: 204-453-5259
Hope Shand, ETC Group (USA) [email protected]: 919 960-5223
Silvia Ribeiro, ETC Group (Mexico) [email protected]: 52 55 55 632 664
Jim Thomas, ETC Group (UK) [email protected]: 44 (0)7752 106806 (cell)

The Action Group on Erosion, Technology and Concentration, formerly RAFI, is an
international civil society organization headquartered in Canada. The ETC group
is dedicated to the advancement of cultural and ecological diversity and human
rights. ETC Group - Home. The ETC group is also a member of the Community
Biodiversity Development and Conservation Programme (CBDC). The CBDC is a
collaborative experimental initiative involving civil society organizations and
public research institutions in 14 countries. The CBDC is dedicated to the
exploration of community-directed programmes to strengthen the conservation and
enhancement of agricultural biodiversity. The CBDC website is
The Community Biodiversity Development and Conservation Programme (CBDC)
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Old 05-03-2009, 05:42 AM
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Agree 1000%. A most evil company.
India farmers were duped into using their seeds but production is lower than what they had and farmers are killing themselves in droves. I saw an article on this by an Indian magazine. Very sad. They are trying to control all seeds.
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Old 05-04-2009, 03:47 AM
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The GM genocide: Thousands of Indian farmers are committing suicide after using genetically modified crops | Mail Online

The GM genocide: Thousands of Indian farmers are committing suicide after using genetically modified crops

By Andrew Malone
Last updated at 12:48 AM on 03rd November 2008

When Prince Charles claimed thousands of Indian farmers were killing themselves after using GM crops, he was branded a scaremonger. In fact, as this chilling dispatch reveals, it's even WORSE than he feared.

The children were inconsolable. Mute with shock and fighting back tears, they huddled beside their mother as friends and neighbours prepared their father's body for cremation on a blazing bonfire built on the cracked, barren fields near their home.
As flames consumed the corpse, Ganjanan, 12, and Kalpana, 14, faced a grim future. While Shankara Mandaukar had hoped his son and daughter would have a better life under India's economic boom, they now face working as slave labour for a few pence a day. Landless and homeless, they will be the lowest of the low.

Human tragedy: A farmer and child in India's 'suicide belt'

Shankara, respected farmer, loving husband and father, had taken his own life. Less than 24 hours earlier, facing the loss of his land due to debt, he drank a cupful of chemical insecticide.
Unable to pay back the equivalent of two years' earnings, he was in despair. He could see no way out.

There were still marks in the dust where he had writhed in agony. Other villagers looked on - they knew from experience that any intervention was pointless - as he lay doubled up on the ground, crying out in pain and vomiting.

Moaning, he crawled on to a bench outside his simple home 100 miles from Nagpur in central India. An hour later, he stopped making any noise. Then he stopped breathing. At 5pm on Sunday, the life of Shankara Mandaukar came to an end.

As neighbours gathered to pray outside the family home, Nirmala Mandaukar, 50, told how she rushed back from the fields to find her husband dead. 'He was a loving and caring man,' she said, weeping quietly.
'But he couldn't take any more. The mental anguish was too much. We have lost everything.'

Shankara's crop had failed - twice. Of course, famine and pestilence are part of India's ancient story.
But the death of this respected farmer has been blamed on something far more modern and sinister: genetically modified crops.

Shankara, like millions of other Indian farmers, had been promised previously unheard of harvests and income if he switched from farming with traditional seeds to planting GM seeds instead.

Beguiled by the promise of future riches, he borrowed money in order to buy the GM seeds. But when the harvests failed, he was left with spiralling debts - and no income.
So Shankara became one of an estimated 125,000 farmers to take their own life as a result of the ruthless drive to use India as a testing ground for genetically modified crops.
The crisis, branded the 'GM Genocide' by campaigners, was highlighted recently when Prince Charles claimed that the issue of GM had become a 'global moral question' - and the time had come to end its unstoppable march.

Speaking by video link to a conference in the Indian capital, Delhi, he infuriated bio-tech leaders and some politicians by condemning 'the truly appalling and tragic rate of small farmer suicides in India, stemming... from the failure of many GM crop varieties'.

Ranged against the Prince are powerful GM lobbyists and prominent politicians, who claim that genetically modified crops have transformed Indian agriculture, providing greater yields than ever before.
The rest of the world, they insist, should embrace 'the future' and follow suit.

So who is telling the truth? To find out, I travelled to the 'suicide belt' in Maharashtra state.
What I found was deeply disturbing - and has profound implications for countries, including Britain, debating whether to allow the planting of seeds manipulated by scientists to circumvent the laws of nature.

For official figures from the Indian Ministry of Agriculture do indeed confirm that in a huge humanitarian crisis, more than 1,000 farmers kill themselves here each month.
Simple, rural people, they are dying slow, agonising deaths. Most swallow insecticide - a pricey substance they were promised they would not need when they were coerced into growing expensive GM crops.

It seems that many are massively in debt to local money-lenders, having over-borrowed to purchase GM seed.
Pro-GM experts claim that it is rural poverty, alcoholism, drought and 'agrarian distress' that is the real reason for the horrific toll.

But, as I discovered during a four-day journey through the epicentre of the disaster, that is not the full story.

Death seeds: A Greenpeace protester sprays milk-based paint on a Monsanto research soybean field near Atlantic, Iowa

In one small village I visited, 18 farmers had committed suicide after being sucked into GM debts. In some cases, women have taken over farms from their dead husbands - only to kill themselves as well.

Latta Ramesh, 38, drank insecticide after her crops failed - two years after her husband disappeared when the GM debts became too much.
She left her ten-year-old son, Rashan, in the care of relatives. 'He cries when he thinks of his mother,' said the dead woman's aunt, sitting listlessly in shade near the fields.
Village after village, families told how they had fallen into debt after being persuaded to buy GM seeds instead of traditional cotton seeds.
The price difference is staggering: £10 for 100 grams of GM seed, compared with less than £10 for 1,000 times more traditional seeds.

But GM salesmen and government officials had promised farmers that these were 'magic seeds' - with better crops that would be free from parasites and insects.

Indeed, in a bid to promote the uptake of GM seeds, traditional varieties were banned from many government seed banks.

The authorities had a vested interest in promoting this new biotechnology. Desperate to escape the grinding poverty of the post-independence years, the Indian government had agreed to allow new bio-tech giants, such as the U.S. market-leader Monsanto, to sell their new seed creations.

In return for allowing western companies access to the second most populated country in the world, with more than one billion people, India was granted International Monetary Fund loans in the Eighties and Nineties, helping to launch an economic revolution.

But while cities such as Mumbai and Delhi have boomed, the farmers' lives have slid back into the dark ages.

Though areas of India planted with GM seeds have doubled in two years - up to 17 million acres - many famers have found there is a terrible price to be paid.
Far from being 'magic seeds', GM pest-proof 'breeds' of cotton have been devastated by bollworms, a voracious parasite.

Nor were the farmers told that these seeds require double the amount of water. This has proved a matter of life and death.
With rains failing for the past two years, many GM crops have simply withered and died, leaving the farmers with crippling debts and no means of paying them off.

Having taken loans from traditional money lenders at extortionate rates, hundreds of thousands of small farmers have faced losing their land as the expensive seeds fail, while those who could struggle on faced a fresh crisis.

When crops failed in the past, farmers could still save seeds and replant them the following year.
But with GM seeds they cannot do this. That's because GM seeds contain so- called 'terminator technology', meaning that they have been genetically modified so that the resulting crops do not produce viable seeds of their own.

As a result, farmers have to buy new seeds each year at the same punitive prices. For some, that means the difference between life and death.

Take the case of Suresh Bhalasa, another farmer who was cremated this week, leaving a wife and two children.

As night fell after the ceremony, and neighbours squatted outside while sacred cows were brought in from the fields, his family had no doubt that their troubles stemmed from the moment they were encouraged to buy BT Cotton, a geneticallymodified plant created by Monsanto.

'We are ruined now,' said the dead man's 38-year-old wife. 'We bought 100 grams of BT Cotton. Our crop failed twice. My husband had become depressed. He went out to his field, lay down in the cotton and swallowed insecticide.'

Villagers bundled him into a rickshaw and headed to hospital along rutted farm roads. 'He cried out that he had taken the insecticide and he was sorry,' she said, as her family and neighbours crowded into her home to pay their respects. 'He was dead by the time they got to hospital.'

Asked if the dead man was a 'drunkard' or suffered from other 'social problems', as alleged by pro-GM officials, the quiet, dignified gathering erupted in anger. 'No! No!' one of the dead man's brothers exclaimed. 'Suresh was a good man. He sent his children to school and paid his taxes.

'He was strangled by these magic seeds. They sell us the seeds, saying they will not need expensive pesticides but they do. We have to buy the same seeds from the same company every year. It is killing us. Please tell the world what is happening here.'

Monsanto has admitted that soaring debt was a 'factor in this tragedy'. But pointing out that cotton production had doubled in the past seven years, a spokesman added that there are other reasons for the recent crisis, such as 'untimely rain' or drought, and pointed out that suicides have always been part of rural Indian life.

Officials also point to surveys saying the majority of Indian farmers want GM seeds - no doubt encouraged to do so by aggressive marketing tactics.

During the course of my inquiries in Maharastra, I encountered three 'independent' surveyors scouring villages for information about suicides. They insisted that GM seeds were only 50 per cent more expensive - and then later admitted the difference was 1,000 per cent.
(A Monsanto spokesman later insisted their seed is 'only double' the price of 'official' non-GM seed - but admitted that the difference can be vast if cheaper traditional seeds are sold by 'unscrupulous' merchants, who often also sell 'fake' GM seeds which are prone to disease.)

With rumours of imminent government compensation to stem the wave of deaths, many farmers said they were desperate for any form of assistance. 'We just want to escape from our problems,' one said. 'We just want help to stop any more of us dying.'
Prince Charles is so distressed by the plight of the suicide farmers that he is setting up a charity, the Bhumi Vardaan Foundation, to help those affected and promote organic Indian crops instead of GM.

India's farmers are also starting to fight back. As well as taking GM seed distributors hostage and staging mass protests, one state government is taking legal action against Monsanto for the exorbitant costs of GM seeds.

This came too late for Shankara Mandauker, who was 80,000 rupees (about £1,000) in debt when he took his own life. 'I told him that we can survive,' his widow said, her children still by her side as darkness fell. 'I told him we could find a way out. He just said it was better to die.'

But the debt does not die with her husband: unless she can find a way of paying it off, she will not be able to afford the children's schooling. They will lose their land, joining the hordes seen begging in their thousands by the roadside throughout this vast, chaotic country.

Cruelly, it's the young who are suffering most from the 'GM Genocide' - the very generation supposed to be lifted out of a life of hardship and misery by these 'magic seeds'.

Here in the suicide belt of India, the cost of the genetically modified future is murderously high.
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Old 05-04-2009, 04:44 AM
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It is so sad. I heard about this on NPR radio last week. I cried all the way home from work.
This is not medical advice. Just opinion. Whatever you decide to do your your health is strictly your business and your choice.
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