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