Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Monsanto and the National Academy of Science...Questionable ?

Isn’t it Ironic that the day we analyze Hungry for Profit; the agribuisness threat to farmers, food and the environment by Michael Alteri, I find an article written about the benefits of Genetically modified crops for American farmers? The article comments on a study made by the National research council , which is the first complete analysis on the effect of Genitically modified crops since their introduction to agriculture in 1996. It’s interesting to me that in 2000 Altieri comments that biotechnology has the potential to improve agriculture through making it environmentally more friendly and more profitable, but that under the control of multinational corporations that are creating it that it will most likely not happen. In fact he says that “under the control of multinational corporations it more likely that the results will be environmental harm, the further industrialization of agriculture, and the intrusion of private interests too far into public interest sector research.”(Alteri 86) He also talks about predictions for environmental risks associated with the release of genetically engineered crops, namely that genetic uniformity will be created in rural landscapes, genetic diversity will be decreased, super weeds will be created and that yields from genetically modified crops will not be significantly larger than normal crops. It’s shocking to me that these predictions were made and seem to be true today, yet the National Academy of Sciences has written a 200 page paper on the BENEFITS of genetically modified crops. Something seems off.

The times article starts off talking enthusiastically about the gains that genetically engineered crops (GEC)have provided to farmers, which was a little surprising to me given the extreme negative tone with which Alteiri used when talking about GEC. Unfortunately, excessive use of these crops has gotten in the way of their effectiveness and as more are planted, weeds are becoming resistant to the pesticide and others are having to be used, some which are more toxic than the original pesticide. A host of other problems are listed from a myriad of sources, many of which are repeated in Alteri’s work.

The article also comments that Monsanto is under scrutiny from the Justice Department because of it’s potential violations of antitrust laws. This doesn’t make sense to me, as a huge 200 page paper has been released on how their product is beneficial to farmers! It would be interesting to look up the people who conducted the study and see if they have any affiliation with Monsanto..I wouldn’t be surprised to find out they did.

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