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Organic Consumers Association

Lobbying and GMO Giant Monsanto Buckle In Europe

For related articles and more information, please visit OCA's Genetic Engineering page and our Millions Against Monsanto page.

The "March Against Monsanto" in 52 countries, an unapproved strain of its genetically modified wheat growing on its own in Oregon, cancelled wheat export orders.... A rough week for Monsanto.

But now it threw in the towel in Europe - where its genetically modified seeds have faced stiff resistance at every twist and turn. Even its deep corporate pockets and mastery of lobbying have failed: "It's counterproductive to fight against windmills," its spokesman told the Tageszeitung.

The propitious week started last Saturday with the "March Against Monsanto," when people in over 400 cities in 52 countries protested against the company, its influence over governments, and its GMO seeds. Much of it was focused on the mundane issue of labeling. Protesters wanted GMO ingredients in food to show up on the label, just like fat or protein. A simple solution to the controversy: let consumers decide.

But a red line for the industry. It's worried that consumers will read the label - and choose an alternative. So Monsanto continued to assure us through its minions that labeling would be too costly, that it would kill the cupcake shop down the street, that we don't need to know anyway because GMO foods are safe for human consumption, etc. etc.

These assurances bring up echoes from the past. Monsanto's previous flagship products included the once harmless DDT, now banned worldwide; a family of industrial chemicals called PCBs that are now considered highly toxic; Agent Orange, the defoliant liberally used during the Vietnam War and promoted as harmless to people, with grave results for the Vietnamese and US soldiers who came in contact with it. And there was saccharine, the sweetener that ended up being a carcinogen. More recently, Monsanto reinvented itself and decided to save mankind not with a DDT successor, but with genetically modified seeds, whether people wanted them or not.

The hubbub of the "March Against Monsanto" had barely died down when the USDA confirmed that genetically modified wheat was mysteriously growing on a farm in Oregon. Something that we'd been assured could never happen. Numerous impenetrable precautions would prevent that. Monsanto had developed that strain years ago, but field trials ended in 2004, and the thing had never been approved for sale or consumption. The reaction was immediate.  


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