Don’t Do Business with Monsanto!

by Melissa Diane Smith

Below is a guest opinion piece I wrote and sent into the Arizona Daily Star close to two weeks ago. I was hoping it would be published during The International Monsanto Tribunal/March Against Monsanto weekend (October 15-16, 2016). The Star didn’t publish the article, but I gave a copy of this article to each one of the Pima County supervisors during their meeting on October 18, 2016.

 

It’s ironic and extremely disturbing to read your October 9th front-page story about negotiations to give a tax break to Monsanto for a greenhouse in Pima County exactly one week before March Against Monsanto marches are planned throughout the world and before The International Monsanto Tribunal where witnesses will provide their accounts of harm to health, the environment, and farmers’ livelihood from Monsanto’s agricultural practices.

County Administrator Huckleberry says he doesn’t think Monsanto’s record should be an issue. Who is he kidding? Read the online comments on all the recent Star articles about Monsanto. Americans are sick of government officials signing secret contracts and doing shenanigans such as putting the Monsanto greenhouse parcel into a federally designated “foreign trade zone” to give it a tax break while not even considering if a Monsanto facility is good for our community.

As the author of Going Against GMOs, I learned through four years of research that Monsanto is known for not being truthful about its products or business. Just last year the company agreed to pay $600,000 in fines for not reporting hundreds of uncontrolled releases of toxic chemicals at one plant in Idaho.[i]

In 2009, France’s highest court found Monsanto guilty of lying by falsely advertising its Roundup herbicide as “biodegradable,” “environmentally friendly,” and claiming it “left the soil clean.”[ii] According to The New York Times, the Environmental Protection Agency first determined glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup, might cause cancer as early as 1985,[iii] and last year, the International Agency for Research on Cancer declared it a probable human carcinogen.[iv]

What happens if Monsanto isn’t telling the truth about its enclosed greenhouse in Avra Valley and uncontrolled releases of Roundup or other pesticides occur in our environment? What if Monsanto uses more of our precious water on its crops than it says it will? What if some Monsanto-patented genetically modified organisms (GMOs) escape the controlled environment, spread through wind drift, and contaminate pesticide-free family farms nearby? Will Monsanto sue the farmers for patent infringement and put them out of business? Will experimental DNA from Monsanto’s new varieties contaminate heirloom varieties of corn just like GMO corn contaminated wild varieties of corn in Mexico?[v]

Southern Arizona, just like Hawaii, is blessed to have a warm, sunny climate in which we can grow food year round. But biotech companies, including Monsanto, created such havoc in several Hawaiian islands that in 2013 the mayor of the Big Island of Hawaii signed a bill into law that banned future plantings of GMOs and prohibited biotech companies from operating on the island.[vi] [vii] Why is Hawaii, which has experience with biotech companies like Monsanto, banning them from operating there? Because people realize that it’s not worth the terrible price paid to work with Monsanto.

For the good of our community, I implore the Pima County supervisors to educate themselves about Monsanto’s record and for Pima County residents to speak up en masse to stop this deal!

Melissa Diane Smith is a Tucson-based health journalist, holistic nutrition expert, and the author of Going Against GMOs.

 

[Note: We know now, just a few weeks later, that in addition to a greenhouse, Monsanto is planning traditional field operations, which will allow pesticides to be sprayed in the open environment. I rest my case. This is just one example of how Monsanto doesn’t tell the truth and should not be trusted.]

 

References:

[i] Monsanto Fined for Not Reporting Toxic Chemical Releases. NBC News, March 26, 2015. http://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/monsanto-fined-not-reporting-chemical-releases-n330971.

[ii] Monsanto Guilty in ‘False Ad” Row. BBC News, October 15, 2009. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/8308903.stm.

[iii] Pollack, Andrew. Weed Killer, Long Cleared, Now Doubted. The New York Times, March 27, 2015. http://www.nytimes.com/2015/03/28/business/energy-environment/decades-after-monsantos-roundup-gets-an-all-clear-a-cancer-agency-raises-concerns.html?_r=0.

[iv] Guyton, Kathryn Z et al. Carcinogenicity of tetrachlorvinphos, parathion, malathion, diazinon, and glyphosate. The Lancet Oncology, published online March 20, 2015. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S1470-2045(15)70134-8

[v] Harkinson, Josh. Yes, It’s True: GMOs Contaminate Mexican Corn. Mother Jones, Feb. 24, 2009. http://www.motherjones.com/blue-marble/2009/02/yes-its-true-gmos-contaminate-mexican-corn.

[vi] Koberstein, Paul. GMO companies are dousing Hawaiian island with toxic pesticides. Grist, June 16, 2014. http://grist.org/business-technology/gmo-companies-are-dousing-hawaiian-island-with-toxic-pesticides/.

[vii] Mayor Kenoi Signs Bill 113. Office of Mayor Billy Kenoi (news release). December 5, 2013. http://hawaiicountymayor.com/2013/12/05/mayor-kenoi-signs-bill-113/.

 

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