Organic Consumers Association

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Soybeanland Stands Up to Monsanto

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

When President Obama signed a spending bill into law last March, an obscure, anonymously introduced section, the Farmer Assurance Provision, outraged Americans across the political spectrum. Labeled the "Monsanto Protection Act" by critics, the rider strips the Department of Agriculture and federal courts of their powers to stop the planting of genetically modified (GM) crops, even if they are shown to pose health risks. Monsanto's products are already ubiquitous. The company's patented GM soybean seeds, Roundup Ready, are grown by 93 percent of U.S. soybean farms, which must also use its accompanying herbicide, Roundup.

Monsanto, the world's largest seed company, claims it is committed to fighting rural hunger and providing sustainable agriculture for a growing population. Supporters like Forbes Magazine, which labeled Monsanto "Company of the Year" in 2010, claim it "has been working to make humanity better fed." Even nonprofit organizations like the Center for Science in the Public Interest have praised the benefits of GM crops, although the scientific rigor of prominent nonprofits has been questioned as their links to Monsanto have come into view.

The corporation has deep ties to the U.S. government, and it spends millions of dollars each year lobbying American politicians and advertising to defeat local efforts to label GM ingredients in food products. U.S. diplomats push the use of GM products and have sought penalties for European countries that ban Monsanto products.

In recent years, however, international resistance to Monsanto has grown. Vietnamese activists are aiming to prevent Monsanto's entry into their country, where the company is still notorious for producing Agent Orange, a herbicide that caused severe health problems for more than a million people in the wake of the Vietnam War. In India, environmental activists blame Monsanto for the alarming rise in debt and suicide among farmers. And in Mexico, thousands of peasant farmers are protesting plans to introduce GM corn into the country.     

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