This 4-Part Series by Guest Blogger Jennifer Slattery puts Monsanto squarely in the corporate crosshairs. Voted as the worst corporation of 2010 in Corporate Accountability's Corporate Hall of Shame, Monsanto's efforts to conceal the health and safety concerns around Bovine Growth Hormone's inclusion in milk was featured in The Corporation.
The American people are sick of Monsanto Mr. President; figuratively, literally, however you want to look at it. As this online petition, that has quickly accumulated four hundred thousand signatures, should clearly be telling you: We don’t want Monsanto on our plates, infecting our farmlands, and especially not in our Government.
You were elected, in part, because of your pledge in the 2008 campaign to keep your administration free of lobbyists, and yet you have appointed Michael Taylor, a former VP and lobbyist for Monsanto as senior advisor to the commissioner at the FDA. Michael Taylor is the same man who oversaw the FDA policy that allowed genetically modified foods into our food supply in the first place. He has been bouncing back and forth between the regulators and the regulated for decades; the epitome of crony capitalism's revolving door in Washington. First he was Monsanto's attorney, then the policy chief at the FDA, and then again rejoined Monsanto to be rewarded with the position of vice president and chief lobbyist, and now back at the FDA. It's enough to make us sick; again, literally.
So now the only protection of our health is given to this White House resident lobbyist from a food mutating monopoly? This is the best person to entrust the responsibility that labels contain clear and accurate information (like whether or not they contain genetically modified ingredients) when the company has made it painfully clear that it opposes such safeguards? Is this not a policy that lets profit motivations trump human health concerns?
So here is where our first myth in the web of Monsanto's defensive lies comes in:
Monsanto asks on its website: "Is food from GM crops safe?"
"Yes," the company asserts with absolute surety, trust us (who do they think they are, the FDA? Oh wait, they are...). "Food derived from authorized genetically-modified (GM) crops is as safe as conventional (non-GM-derived) food."
As if the people in this country have no idea that along with France six EU nations have slammed the door on GM crops. Memo to Monsanto: its called the World Wide Web for a reason. And these other countries have also shared the studies showing that the company can in no way give such an answer honestly:
"We can conclude, from the regulatory tests performed today, that it is unacceptable to submit 500 million Europeans and several billions of consumers worldwide to the new pesticide GM-derived foods or feed, this being done without more controls (if any) than the only 3-month-long toxicological tests and using only one mammalian species, especially since there is growing evidence of concern (Tables 1 and 2)." ~ From the published French study Genetically modified crops safety assessments: present limits and possible improvements.
The European Union and Canada have also banned the rbgh (rBST is commonly known as Bovine Growth Hormone or rBGH) in milk. Meanwhile, due to the work of Mr. Taylor, all we Americans get is labeling like this:
This is the milk from my fridge. Notice that it is free of rbst, but, thanks to Michael Taylor's position at the FDA, it also has a caveat falsely declaring that there is "no significant difference" because of it. Um, yeah, possibly cancer causing/antibiotic laden milk = big freaking difference. But if that hasn't infuriated you enough, read Monsanto's take:
"Unfortunately in an effort to profit from unfounded fears, many milk processors have labeled their milk to suggest that milk from cows treated with rBST is harmful, or somehow different from milk from untreated cows. We stand by the safety of our products. Therefore we do support legislation requiring that milk labeling be COMPLETE and ACCURATE. We are not alone in this goal. Labeling guidelines published by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration state that labels claiming the milk is 'not from cows treated with RBST' should also contain the statement that 'No significant difference has been shown between milk derived from rbST-treated and non-rbST-treated cows.' It is a simple matter of honesty in labeling."
It's a simple matter of bald faced lying. Shamelessly proclaiming that "We are not alone in this goal." with a reference to your own lobbyist, none other than Mr. Michael Taylor himself when he was at the FDA (before returning back to Monsanto for his VP reward) is just about the slimiest, lowest, and most insulting reasoning they could give. The American people are not stupid, and we do not appreciate being treated like we are.
As many people who saw the excellent work done by reporters Jane Akre and Steve Wilson in The Corporation Film could tell you: there are serious dangers in our milk supply due to Monsanto's rBGH scam, and great efforts undertaken to lie to the American people about them:
Interestingly, Jeffrey Smith (the world's leading consumer advocate promoting non-GMO choices) reported in the Huffington Post that even Monsanto's own employees don't buy what their company is trying to sell us:
"IGF-1 is a huge risk factor for common cancers and its high levels in this drugged milk is why so many medical organizations and hospitals have taken stands against rbGH. A former Monsanto scientist told me that when three of his Monsanto colleagues evaluated rbGH safety and discovered the elevated IGF-1 levels, even they refused to drink any more milk -- unless it was organic and therefore untreated."
What's that? Monsanto employees don't want to eat their own products? It's true, and that's according to the company itself as the UK's Independent report GM food banned in Monsanto employee cafeteria shows:
"Monsanto confirmed the position. "Yes, this is the case, and it is because we believe in choice,"
Choice? How does this statement from Monsanto jive with its stance against truth in labeling, as even the faintest notion of choice? And why doesn't the public at large deserve the same choice as their employees? I feel a deep sense of gratitude to these scientists who aren't staying silent, despite Monsanto's efforts to shut the truth out of the conversation:
Stay tuned for Part 2 and the second Myth to be dispelled: Consumer Choice As Regulation.