Book Review, "The World According to Monsanto: Pollution, Corruption, and Control of our Food Supply."

Fields of soybeans.  Photo is courtesy of photobucket.com.
Fields of soybeans. Photo is courtesy of photobucket.com.

Are you like many people in this decade who ask themselves, “What are genetically modified foods?” You have no doubt heard all the latest phrases and buzz words in this age of biotechnology. Here is a sampling of terms you might have heard regarding this subject: genetically engineered food, genetically modified food, genetically altered food, genetically modified organisms or just plain GMO or GMO’s.

Like many of you, I have wondered who or what Monsanto is, whether the company has ethics and whether or not genetically modified food can harm my family and I.

I have recently finished reading a riveting book. I was the first person to borrow it from the library when it arrived; shiny and new. I recommend it highly. It is entitled, “The World According to Monsanto: Pollution, Corruption, and the Control of our Food Supply .” The subtitle is, “An investigation into the world’s most controversial company.” The author of the book is Marie-Monique Robin. She was the winner of the 2009 Rachel Carson prize. She is a French journalist. She received the 1995 Albert-Londres Prize for her investigative reporting. The book was translated from the French language by George Holoch, this year (2010).

It took Ms. Robin three years to carry out her investigation to prepare to write the book. Her investigation involved traveling to four different continents.

Soybeans in field.  Photo is courtesy of photobucket.com.
Soybeans in field. Photo is courtesy of photobucket.com.

Agent Orange and Monsanto

I cannot do this book justice if I give too much information in synopsis form. I will reveal just a few subjects of the contents so that you, the reader, might request the book from a library and read for yourself the extensive information Ms. Robin has not only found, but has proven by rigorous, respected investigative methods.

In 2006, during one of Ms. Robin’s interviews in her search for truth, she interviewed Alan Gibson and his wife. Alan Gibson had been vice-president of the Vietnam Veterans of America. There were 55,000 members at that time. Here is a quote from Alan Gibson to Ms. Robin.

“When I got back from Vietnam, I started to have problems with my eyes. And then, three years later, I had the first symptoms of what the doctors call peripheral neuropathy. My bones started to dissolve. One day I was washing my feet and a piece of bone fell into my hand.” Mrs. Gibson then interrupted and said, “First they said it was gout. Then they amputated his toes, then his feet and finally both legs.”

Ms. Robin states that Alan Gibson no longer recalls when he first saw defoliants being sprayed during his tour in Vietnam. The military was told it was the same compounds used in the weed killers at home in America every day. Alan Gibson said, “I had buddies who washed in empty Agent Orange drums or used them to barbecue." Gibson states he and his men were never told that the herbicides contained dioxins. "But the government knew,” he said. (Robin, p. 43)

Dow Chemical, Monsanto and Hercules were three of the main companies responsible for the manufacturing of Agent Orange.

Lies and Manipulation are Uncovered

Ms. Robin gives pages of details as to the scientific creation of dioxins, the loopholes created by four countries placing all kinds of patents on different chemical combinations; the resulting deaths, deformities and unwon legal battles by the common man against multinational corporations -- especially Monsanto.

Monsanto is the company who brought the world Round Up. Round Up for killing weeds was marketed first in France. The commercials on television were family-oriented and folksy with a cute little dog running out to play in the grass while the man of the house finishes spraying the yard for weeds. This was very unethical advertising. Round Up has been proven to be highly poisonous. It triggers the first stage in the development of cancer. Deformities in unborn children have been proven to have been caused by Round Up. The evidences given in the book are extremely difficult to read without feeling some degree of horror.

Ms. Robin explains in her book that a common tactic of the Monsanto company throughout the years has been to market itself as the victim. Whenever the corporation lost a lawsuit, management let a few months elapse and then the company would put out a press release stating that the unsubstantiated rumors about the company will not restrain them from their gallant pursuits. They will, they state, continue to help the environment and also to produce Round Up Ready Soybeans and other food products. Most of us read our newspaper naively and believe the propaganda which falls under our quick gaze. Until I read this book by Marie-Monique Robin, I did not realize that much information about the reality of the Monsanto history and court battles has been made public. As individuals we can easily feret out some of the information on the court cases which Monsanto has lost. Other pieces of information, however, take experience and skill in fact investigation to know where to begin the research. It also takes reliable and credible contacts which Ms. Robin had -- and documented well.

Greenpeace also, thankfully, has been relentless in trying to expose the lies and manipulations of the Monsanto conspiratorial machine.

The promoters of biotechnology have used lies in their arsenal of corruption. They have bribed people in prominent scientific positions to lull the people of the world into believing that the technique of genetic engineering is stable and safe. If and when you read Ms. Robin's book, you will learn how grotesque some of the actual scientific outcomes have been during true and valid experiments. The validity of the experiments is denounced only by Monsanto and his huge public relations machine.

The author of The World According to Monsanto, Pollution, Corruption and the Control of our Food Supply goes into great detail to show the truth through the research and published findings of honest scientists. You will be surprised to find how much is mentioned and proven in the book regarding the Food and Drug Administration’s purposeful failure to protect the people of the United States.


Rice Fields.  Photo courtesy of photobucket.com
Rice Fields. Photo courtesy of photobucket.com

Unnerving

One example is the Bovine Growth Hormone affair. Ms. Robin shows us that at one time the Monsanto official website stated, "Because the chemical composition of the milk is not altered as a result of POSILAC, the manufacturing and taste properties do not change."

Dr. Richard Boroughs, an ethical man later stated to Ms. Robin in his interview with her: "This affair was a real descent into hell....I had joined the Food and Drug Administration thinking I would be working for the good of my fellow citizens and I discovered that the agency had betrayed its role as guardian of the public health to become the protector of the interests of big business." This interview with Ms. Robin was done in 2006, twenty years after the experience he had, yet he was still shaken by it. He said, "It feels as though the ground is giving way beneath me all over again and I am going to be swallowed up. It's still hard today to recognize that I was fired from the FDA because I opposed the marketing of a product I considered dangerous."

Here is another quote by a renowned scientist whose life was altered by the unethical practices of Monsanto. Hungarian resistance fighter, Arpad Pusztai was born in 1930.  He fled to Austria when the Soviets invaded Hungary. He earned a doctorate in biochemistry in London. He specialized in insecticides which naturally occur in some foods. He learned the exact details to the testing done on rats regarding genetically altered potatoes. He tried to stand up for the truth and was attacked and hounded by the Monsanto machine.

Here is an excerpt from Ms. Robin's book regarding Mr. Pusztai. Years ago he had said, "As a scientist actively working in the field, I find it's very unfair to use our fellow citizens as guinea pigs."   Ms. Robin goes on to explain that these "few words about GMOs ruined the career of Arpad Pusztai, an internationally renowned biochemist....who had worked for thirty years at the Rowett Research Institute in Aberdeen, Scotland."

Mr. Pusztai said to Ms. Robin in his November 21, 2006 interview, "I think they'll never forgive me for saying that." Mr. Pusztai was 80 years old at the time of the interview with Ms. Robin.  She asked, "Who are they?"   Mr. Pusztai replied, "Monsanto, and everyone in Great Britain who blindly supports biotechnology. I would never have thought that I could be a victim of practices that recall what Communist regimes did to their dissidents."

A Monster is Pulling the Wool over our Eyes

There are many other subjects in this book. I feel that you might think you needn't read Robin's book -- if I list too many subjects in point form.

We, the people, need to understand these subjects for ourselves. Transgenic contamination is a huge and important part of life these days. We need to know what this phrase means to us individually. Equally important is the chapter titled How Multinational Corporations Control the World’s Food.

We are in a precarious situation and most of us barely grasp the consequences. If you borrow or buy this book, be sure to read the pages titled Monsanto and the Multinational Corporations Behind the WTO Agreement on Intellectual Property Rights. Ms. Robin breaks it all down into layman's terms as she tries to help us understand that our rights are almost gone with regard to food and what we put into our bodies. Here is one pivotal quote: "....With the TRIPS agreement, every country has to follow the model of the United States or else suffer severe commercial penalties because the WTO has absolutely extraordinary powers of coercion and reprisal. This means that if a country doesn't enforce respect for Monsanto's intellectual property rights, for example on a patented seed, the company will inform the American government which will file a complaint with the WTO Dispute Settlement Body." I will leave it to you to look up the meanings of the acronyms WTO and TRIPS.

Monsanto is here on Maui, growing crops, leasing the land from Alexander Baldwin. When one crop has been harvested and the next not yet planted, the fine dirt is blown fiercely by our trade winds. Car windows have to be rolled up. Sometimes the dirt and dust are so thick that visibility is less than five car lengths. This fine dust is filled with toxins and cell-altering material.

I am convinced – after having read this book – that Monsanto is a monster in our midst. We need to educate ourselves and get involved in supporting our local agricultural communities. Please share this message with people in your communities.

Leaders in all communities across the United States -- and throughout the world -- need to become aware of the insidious events happening around us with regard to our food chain.

Here on Maui, we have the South Maui Self-Sustainability Group, a non-profit that is up and running, After you have read thoroughly on well-researched information on the subject of genetically altered or genetically modified foods, I urge you to look around your area and see what agricultural groups are available for you to join and support, so that you and your family can eat healthy, uncontaminated food and avoid genetically modified food.


© 2010 Pamela Kinnaird W

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Comments 30 comments

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Pamela Kinnaird W 4 years ago from Maui and Arizona Author

Yes, it's an excellent book. The author really has respectable credentials and has done thorough research, traveling to several countries to complete her research. Thanks for reading and commenting.


pammycakes 4 years ago

I definitely want to read this book. I did a paper on Agent Orange in college.What a terrible aftermath it left behind for people of Southern Vietnam and our service men and their descendants. It's true a select few in the government new the effects of agent orange. I am in Biotech school and want to be careful who I end up working for!


Pamela Kinnaird W profile image

Pamela Kinnaird W 4 years ago from Maui and Arizona Author

Thanks, Dahlia Flower. And you're probably right -- I should display the book in an Amazon capsule.


Dahlia Flower profile image

Dahlia Flower 4 years ago from Canada

Monsanto and the Multinational Corporations Behind the WTO Agreement on International Property Rights is indeed an important chapter in the book you have reviewed ("The World According to Monsanto: Pollution, Corruption and the Control of our Food Supply" by Marie-Monique Robin.) I am so glad you have highlighted in this hub so many important facts in the book. The author is so well-credentialed in investigations and her sources are impeccable. I bought the book when it first came out but you are right -- it's probably at the library, too.

You should have it on display with your Amazon capsule.

I'm going to share this hub, Pamela.


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Pamela Kinnaird W 4 years ago from Maui and Arizona Author

xstatic, thanks for reading and commenting. I appreciate you stopping by.


xstatic profile image

xstatic 4 years ago from Eugene, Oregon

Makes you grit your teeth doesn't it! Has this become the

Ameican way of doing business? People are helpless, it seems in front of this corporate juggnernaut.

Great and informative Hub! UP!


Pamela Kinnaird W profile image

Pamela Kinnaird W 4 years ago from Maui and Arizona Author

Conradofontanilla, thank you for all that information. I didn't know about earlier history of Monsanto -- before his involvement in Agent Orange.


conradofontanilla 4 years ago

I am not aware about MSG but I am sure about Monsanto on saccharin. I had a copy of a history of Monsanto. Somebody borrowed it and never returned it to me. Agent orange was given a trial run in our own Makiling forest in Laguna, Philippines when the Vietnam war was in rage but we students of the University of the Philippines at Los Baños which has jurisdiction over the forest as a laboratory of forestry students and faculty protested against it. Some Vietnamese have been earning their degrees here. Btcorn is being promoted in our country. If may memory doesn't fail me I got that amygdazole as sweetener of a soft drinks brand that California want consumers warned about in the label.


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Pamela Kinnaird W 4 years ago from Maui and Arizona Author

Hello conradofontanilla. I'm not sure if you have Monsanto intertwined with the pioneering of MSG. Monsanto and his colleagues were involved with Dow which manufactured Agent Orange. Thanks for commenting.


conradofontanilla profile image

conradofontanilla 4 years ago from Philippines

The pioneer company that graduated as Monsanto had a different name which now escapes me. Anyway, it was founded by a sales representative who was selling saccharin among products that he carried. He found that saccharin, an artificial sweetener many times sweeter than cane sugar, always topped his sales. He came up with the idea to form a company, make saccharin and sell it. He hired a chemist from Switzerland whom he could not pay on time. He remedied that by giving stocks to the chemist as payment. His saccharin company progressed that there was a need for another chemist; he hired another one. His company had already grown large when its name was changed to Monsanto. In the manufacture of saccharin there is a residue that is called toluene, that has been found carcinogenic. That could be the reason why the soft drinks that is using saccharin has been banned in at least seventeen states of the United States. That labeling requirement to warn the consumer of a soft drinks about __dazole in California is the latest.

The statement that "A GMO is safe" has no scientific proof at present and in the far future. There is no proof that it is false either. It belongs in the law of excluded middle. That is for logic not for health. But you are right to say we rather be wary of GMOs. I have a Hub "Knowledge Management: A Sentence That Is Neither True Nor False." It also tackles GMOs.


Pamela Kinnaird W profile image

Pamela Kinnaird W 4 years ago from Maui and Arizona Author

I had a look at the petition and the terms of agreement. I am an optimist but not enough to sign the petition with so few signatures there yet.



Pamela Kinnaird W profile image

Pamela Kinnaird W 4 years ago from Maui and Arizona Author

That's so good that you were careful to not let the genetically modified seeds get easily into your crops -- by choosing not to grow corn or whatever was being grown nearby. Farmers have lost their livelihoods due to this problem and Monsanto's legal battles. One Saskatchewan farmer took Monsanto on, using his every penny to fight him. This man has lost his farm but lectures around the world now against Monsanto. (I might have mentioned this in my hub. I'm not sure.)

Thanks for taking the time to stop by.


Flickr 4 years ago

Wow, happy to read someone else doesn't like monsanto. Interesting read. I know when we were growing as organic farmers we chose not to grow certain things such as corn due to our neighbors gmo spreading into our fields. Thanks for such an interesting topic and read.


Pamela Kinnaird W profile image

Pamela Kinnaird W 4 years ago from Maui and Arizona Author

Alocsin, thanks. I'm glad you enjoyed this. I did view "Food, Inc" about a year after I wrote this. It's good. It's a must-see.


alocsin profile image

alocsin 4 years ago from Orange County, CA

I quite agree with you. If you have the time, check out the movie "Food, Inc," which is about Monsanto's efforts that you detail here. Voting this Up and Interesting.


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Pamela Kinnaird W 5 years ago from Maui and Arizona Author

Jed Fisher, I agree -- and Monsanto is pretty much 'unchecked'.


Jed Fisher profile image

Jed Fisher 5 years ago from Oklahoma

One day long ago I was pouring a pot of boiling water on a dangelion, and then I poured some vinegar into the cracks of my driveway to discourage weeds, mostly because it's a lot cheaper than Roundup. But my neighbor saw me and assumed I also hated Monsanto. After listening to what seemed like a "tinfoil hat" rant, I read a couple of articles about Monsanto, and concluded, that corporation is pure evil. Left unchecked, Monsanto could very likely cause a Zombie apocolyse.


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Pamela Kinnaird W 5 years ago from Maui and Arizona Author

PegCole17,you are very welcome.


PegCole17 profile image

PegCole17 5 years ago from Dallas, Texas

This is truly an eye opening article. I'm eager to read the book and find out the whole story. Thanks so much for this insightful hub.


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Pamela Kinnaird W 5 years ago from Maui and Arizona Author

MikeNV. Yes, I know evil is a better word for Monsanto. Thanks for pointing that out. I was trying to keep the tone of the article 'low' so people will actually read the book. The author, Marie-Monique Robin, has done extensive research and has written a very eye-opening book. It can be borrowed from the library. It's titled, "The World According to Monsanto: Pollution, Corruption and Control of our Food Supply."

Thanks for reading this hub, MikeNV.


MikeNV profile image

MikeNV 5 years ago from Henderson, NV

Unethical = EVIL! Monsanto is pushing their roundup resistant Genetically Modified Crops on the World and destroying the livelihood of small farmers. Monstanto is responsible for the deaths of thousands of indian farmers. Monsanto brings to market poison products for profit only. And the United States Government is complicit in the Fraud. A Wikileak this week showed the State Department plotting to get back at France for not allowing Monsanto's GMO Corn to be sold in their country.


Pamela Kinnaird W profile image

Pamela Kinnaird W 6 years ago from Maui and Arizona Author

Thank you, Vaguesan, for reading the hub. I agree with what you've said.

My husband and I have noticed something disturbing, too. At midnight when most people are not traveling the highway here between the Monsanto fields, there is a very bad odor coming from the fields. It is probably RoundUp. The book goes into great detail of the dire consequences that have been proven to occur with RoundUp. Why isn't it banned then? The answers are complex, sinister and amazing.

I hope people will order this book through their library and read it.


vaguesan profile image

vaguesan 6 years ago from Osaka, Japan

I think one of the worst things is how monsanto strong arms farmers into adopting it's products. It ruins farmers lives and destroys biodiversity.

And the worst part is that monsanto products are in everything. Not just food. It's almost impossible to live in the modern world without using something that has a bit of monsanto in it.

good article.


Pamela Kinnaird W profile image

Pamela Kinnaird W 6 years ago from Maui and Arizona Author

Thank you for that information, ixwa. I will bookmark it and have a look at the site and its offerings right now. Fantastic.


ixwa profile image

ixwa 6 years ago

Not to be a bother, you could log onto linktv.org. That will enable you to buy that documentary and many more interesting ones and books too.


Pamela Kinnaird W profile image

Pamela Kinnaird W 6 years ago from Maui and Arizona Author

ixwa, That is great that Link TV is telling things as they are. I don't have a television hooked up except for kids' dvd's sometimes, so I can't get the program, but I'm glad to hear about it.


ixwa profile image

ixwa 6 years ago

Link TV on Channel 375 on Direct TV has been airing a two hour documentary on Monsanto and its shenanigans over this summer and for the past two to three years. This is a rogue corporation which now is working towards owning licenses for the human genome, as well as it owns the seeds that are bought by farmers,and the many tricky contracts forced-upon the farmers. It is important you check out this documentary on Link TV and they have a lot of other fascinating topics which you can purchase from their web site. The people of Link TV often make the viewer aware that their channel is sponsored by by the viewers. I learnt a lot of discouraging facts about Monsanto and now know where our food is coming from and how it gets to be the way it is. Great Hub.


Pamela Kinnaird W profile image

Pamela Kinnaird W 6 years ago from Maui and Arizona Author

Bayoulady, thank you for reading the hub. The book goes into all kinds of detail about scientific research outcomes and information that was hidden as long as possible due to Monsanto's clout. The web of deceit is huge and too big to stop. But we can do whatever we can in our smaller communities. As one great man put it, "There is no conspiracy theory. There is only conspiracy fact."

This book is not written from a conspiratorial angle. It is written in a completely factual manner with scientific published references that anyone can look up as well as court cases that anyone can tap into. The author is doing a superb job of showing the conspiracy facts to even those readers who -- at first -- want to believe that all these conspiracy theories are false.


bayoulady profile image

bayoulady 6 years ago from Northern Louisiana,USA

Chilling,isn't it? I am very concerned, and I know we should get more investigative about what we eat, wear, and live in.I am convinced hormones fed to livestock is the reason our little girl's bodies are maturing so fast.

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