Monsanto is a well known name. It represents a biotechnology company that has been instrumental in developed genetically modified organisms, notably modified to be herbicide resistant, marketed on a global scale. Monsanto’s initial products consisted of herbicides. The most well known ones and prolifically used were Agent Orange used in the Vietnam war and Roundup, a glyphosate based herbicide.
Monsanto’s business model consists of patenting genetically modified organisms that are resistant to the herbicide they produce, marketing the seeds out to farmers, and marketing the herbicide that it still produces to combat weeds, citing the herbicide resistance of the genetically modified crop.
From a business model to generate revenue the company has been hugely successful. From a public health perspective the company has been a huge failure and puts consumers at risk on a daily basis, due to the lack of regulatory oversight.
A global growing epidemic of weeds that have evolved resistance to glyphosate has alarmed agronomists. The culprit is generally known as Roundup the weed killer marketed by Monsanto and is sprayed on genetically engineered crops that contain the roundup resistant gene.
The area of US farm land infested with glyphosate-resistant weeds has expanded to 61.2 million acres in 2012. In response, farmers are resorting to soil-eroding tillage operations to combat herbicide resistant weeds and increase their use of toxic herbicide chemicals. The USDA reports that 26 percent more pesticides per acre were used on GE crops than on non-GE,conventional crops in 2008.
Instead of addressing the public health risk, agricultural companies specializing in herbicide are seeking commercial approval to increase the toxicity of current available herbicides. Dow AgroSciences is seeking USDA approval of corn and soybeans resistant to 2,4-D, an active ingredient in Agent Orange, which is often contaminated with carcinogenic dioxins. Monsanto is planning to seek approval for transgenic, dicamba-resistant soybeans, corn, and cotton. Dicamba has been linked to substantial health problems.
Monsanto has marketed its genetically modified crop, citing a higher yield, lower prices and safety to the consumer market.
The Center for Food Safety in its 2013 report “Seed Giants vs. U.S. Farmers” reports the exact opposite. Seed prices have risen dramatically in those crops where GE varieties dominate the market such as corn, soybean and cotton.
USDA data reveals that since the introduction of GE seed, the average cost of soybean seed to plant one acre has risen by a dramatic 325 percent, from $13.32
to $56.58. Similar trends exist for corn and cotton seeds: cotton seeds spiked 516 percent from 1995- 2011 and corn seed costs rose 259 percent over the same period.
Center for Food Safety, Seed Giants vs US Farmers. 2013. A REPORT BY THE CENTER FOR FOOD SAFETY & SAVE OUR SEEDS