Global Policy Forum

Monsanto & Other BioTech Giants Deeply Entrenched in US Politics

Multi-national Biotech company Monsanto spent $2 million in the first quarter of 2009 lobbying the US government that genetically engineered seeds were safe and did not need testing. Leaked cables and internal FDA documents show that FDA scientists believe genetically modified foods could lead to new diseases. Although 30 countries have significant restrictions or bans on GMOs, the US government approves of their use.

By Theodora Filis

UK Progressive

December 11, 2011

Monsanto, the multinational agricultural biotech giant, is also the world’s largest producer of genetically engineered seeds. Notorious for its aggressive and heavy handed business tactics, and questionable ethics, Monsanto is deeply entrenched in our political system, having spent $2 million on lobbying in the first quarter of 2009. The policy Supreme Court Associate Justice Clarence Thomas oversaw claimed that the agency was not aware of any information showing that GMO crops were no different in any meaningful or uniform way, and therefore didn’t need testing.

However, 44,000 FDA internal documents made public from a lawsuit showed that this was a complete lie. The overwhelming consensus among the FDA’s own scientists was that GMO foods were quite different and could lead to unpredictable and hard-to-detect allergens, toxins, new diseases, and nutritional problems. They suggested long-term studies, but were ignored.

Last week, WikiLeaks released new diplomatic cables presenting more facts on how the US government is entangled with Monsanto and other biotech giants. Truthout reported:

“Several cables describe “biotechnology outreach programs” in countries across the globe, including African, Asian and South American countries where Western biotech agriculture had yet to gain a foothold. In some cables (such as this 2010 cable from Morocco) US diplomats ask the State Department for funds to send US biotech experts and trade industry representatives to target countries for discussions with high-profile politicians and agricultural officials.”

The French documentary, “The World According to Monsanto,” attacks the US biotech industry, including the “revolving door” between Monsanto and the US government, which has allowed little government oversight over biotech products.

Disturbed by this documentary, US embassy diplomats requested “that Washington agencies provide talking points” so the officers could respond to the documentary on an “if asked” basis. They didn’t want to draw attention to the film, but instead focus on “the positive role ag biotech can play in meeting world food needs.”

While 30 countries have significant restrictions or outright bans on genetically modified organisms (GMOs), the US has approved their use. The reason for the FDA’s industry-friendly policy on GMOs is that the White House (under the first George Bush) ordered the agency to promote biotechnology. Also, the person in charge of developing the policy was the former attorney, Supreme Court Associate Justice Clarence Thomas, then of Monsanto, and later their vice president.

In Europe, any product containing over 0.9% GMO has to be labeled, and consumers generally won’t eat foods that test above this level. In contrast, most US and Canadian consumers don’t even know what GMOs are, and do not realize that they are contained in the majority of processed foods.

Many consumers in the US believe the FDA approves GMO foods through in-depth, long-term studies. In reality, the agency has absolutely no safety testing requirements.

Unlike the Europeans, Americans are uninformed and misinformed on GMOs. The US media has been too quiet about the enormous health risks of GMOs.

Americans know so little about this subject, that only about 1 in 4 are aware that they have ever eaten a GMO food in their lives. The same companies that carefully avoid GMO ingredients for concerned Europeans are happy to sell GMOs to unknowing consumers in the US.


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