Bayer + Monsanto: What’s the Good News?
The Wedding You Weren’t Invited to.
By now you’ve probably heard: two of the world’s most powerful and destructive biotech-agrochemical corporations of all time — Bayer & Monsanto — have officially tied the knot. The romantic $66 billion dollar merger will result in Monsanto taking on the name “Bayer Crop Science Division.” The pair is now honey-mooning in Fiji; the US wasn’t an option due to the honeybee colony collapse syndrome that follows in their wake. So, how can two of the most bloodthirsty, ecologically devastating big corp villains coming together possibly be a good thing?
Easier to Protest
One of the biggest problems for activists working to educate the public on the atrocities of big agro-biotech was the fact the Monsanto brand was such a lovely target. Heck, the name even sounds kinda like “Monster-Santa.” The problem was, by focusing so much energy on one company, the other equally diabolical big agro-biotech corporations were not getting enough recognition for their equally despicable practices. Now, thanks to the industry gobbling itself up and consolidating, it will be much easier for protesters and activists to give a larger percentage of the industry the attention it deserves.
Before Bayer bought up Monsanto, Bayer barely registered as target of GMO-pesticide protests. Now, due to their underestimation of the conscious community’s ability to keep up with their sneaky moves, they have set themselves up to be the next big target of mass protests: March Against Bayer-Monsanto! What some food advocates refer to as the “Big Six” companies which control 75% of all GMO and pesticide research, are now just four: Bayer-Monsanto, Dow-DuPont, ChemChina-Syngenta, and BASF. It seems time for the millions of us protesting in thousands of locations worldwide in March Against Monsanto demonstrations to simplify things this year and change our name to something more inclusive like “March Against Big Biotech.”
We really have to start asking ourselves, are these the kind of people who should be allowed the freedom to engage in business?
Easier to Prosecute
Now that the big agro-biotech companies are merging, it will be much easier to hold them accountable for their wrongdoings. By now, most people recognize Monsanto to be one of the most evil companies in history, but most are unaware of their long tainted history, or of the fact that Bayer is one of the few companies with a comparable track record. In the USA, corporations are legally considered people, so we really have to start asking ourselves, are these the kind of people who should be allowed the freedom to engage in business? At least now that they are one and the same, it will be much easier to put them all in a courtroom for Crimes Against Humanity.
So just how bad are these companies? Let’s start with Monsanto. In 1938, Monsanto first learned the PCBs it manufactured were extremely toxic to people and the environment, but then continued mass distributing them until they were finally banned in 1979. They also manufactured the widely used pesticide DDT which disrupts the reproduction cycles of many animals and increases breast cancer risk in humans by four times. In the 1960s and 70s, it was Monsanto’s very own “Agent Orange” which was sprayed in mass over the impoverished country of Vietnam. Estimates are that over 400,000 were killed or maimed as a direct result, not including over 500,000 children born with defects, or the countless people who starved as a result of their crops and forest food sources being wiped out. Recently their flagship product, Roundup, was declared to be a carcinogen to humans by California. But by placing numerous former corporate officers in key positions of power such as current Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, Monsanto has been able to guide agencies like the EPA into declaring this deadly link unlikely. President Obama even recently signed what many call the “Monsanto Protection Act” which gives the company immunity from any future prosecution for producing GMO seeds even if they are found to be carcinogenic in the future. In spite of this, in San Francisco alone there are over 450 lawsuits currently pending against the company just for Roundup.
We’re just scratching the surface here, so let’s move on to Bayer. Most widely known for it’s patented Aspirin, they were also the first to patent heroin, which was marketed as a “non-addictive” “cough suppressant”. In 1914, one of its co-directors, Duisberg capitalized on an opportunity to turn chemical waste into profit, recommending the German government use Chlorine gas on the frontlines- which it did, killing at lease 60,000. Duisberg was so proud of his efforts he even had a commissioned piece by Otto Bollhagen depicting a gas attack which he hung on his dining room wall.
During WWII, Bayer became the largest German producer of bombs and continued developing toxic gases like Sarin and Tabun. In the 1980s, they manufactured a blood clotting agent called Factor VIII. After it’s inventory was found to be contaminated with HIV they were not allowed to sell it in the US. Rather than accept the losses, they shipped it overseas, without heat treating it to eliminate the virus, resulting in the spread of HIV and AIDS to large numbers of hemophiliacs across Asia and Latin America. In addition to lawsuits arising from this, in 2014 they listed 32 liability lawsuits they were facing. The environmental destruction caused by Bayer is also nearly unimaginable. The neonicotinoid pesticides it produces in mass were recently shown to be a large contributer to colony collapse syndrome in bees.
Colony collapse disorder is the phenomenon that occurs when the majority of worker bees in a colony disappear and leave behind a queen, plenty of food and a few nurse bees to care for the remaining immature bees.
Why it Matters to You
Big Agro-Biotech’s GMO crops are genetically engineered to survive being saturated with pesticides, but those toxins are still absorbed and passed on to the consumer. For this reason, even if GMO plants are eventually proven safe, it won’t mean the finished product is non toxic. Many public health epidemics like food allergies, skin allergies, and cancer have ballooned since the introduction of GMO crops. For years, though, Monsanto’s lobbyists and government insiders have blocked GMO labeling. If a cancer link has been found, it is highly likely, given their history and political prowess, that they have already covered it up. Syngenta, for example, a much smaller biotech company funds reasearch in 400 Universities, and has been shown to work relentlessly to discredit anyone who tries to reveal the harm their products cause.
Overuse of pesticides has created super-weeds and super bugs which are immune to glyphosate and other pesticides. The most common “solution” for this is to use more of, and stronger pesticides. The toxic runoff caused by this overuse is creating dead zones in the ocean that deprive many marine creatures of oxygen. But it’s not just runoff that’s to blame, Monsanto has also been caught directly dumping massive amounts of toxic substances, creating huge public health problems. These are just a few of the reasons 26 countries have already banned companies like Bayer-Monsanto from selling GMOs, and 64 require GMO labeling. If the lawmakers are much too busy lining their pockets to care about the people they represent, who are the victims of GMO experiments? That’s just about all of us.
Longterm Gain for Small Farms
Big corporate mergers are often viewed as negative events because they concentrate resources, reduce the amount of competition, and consequentially drive prices up in the short term. It may be true that many pesticides and GMO seeds will become more expensive, but in spite of Bayer-Monsanto’s charming commercials about solving world hunger, these companies have been causing disastrous problems for small farmers and the environment. As soil becomes contaminated by chemical overuse, less arable farm land is available for small poor farmers. The longterm result is decreased access to safe, healthy food for the world’s impoverished. Even in the US, many small farm operations have fallen victim to the aggressive tactics of Monsanto, which is famous for prosecuting farmers for having seeds with their patented DNA, even when it’s a result of their crops being contaminated through cross pollination. When, for example, toxic pesticide runnoff kills a small duck farmer’s animals in Chile, the small farmer lacks the resources to find justice in the courts.
People in the world who die of starvation die due to lack of access, not because the world doesn’t produce enough food.
At NatureHub, we firmly believe in the power of buying good, green, and local. If decreased competition causes prices of patented Monsanto seeds to go up along with their pesticides, it will encourage farmers to look for better, local options. If GMO food prices do go up it will place healthier, less chemically-laced, non-GMO, and organic foods on a more level price point. In the long term, decreased profitability of big corp GMO seeds will encourage more local farming, more genetic diversity in seeds, and more community gardens and CSAs in response to the rising demand for food. This, in short, is putting power back in the hands of local communities. If you don’t think buying locally is important, think again.
For the past several years, Monsanto has been struggling and that’s great news for everyone who cares about human health and the environment. In recent years they announced heavy layoffs: 2,600 in 2015, and 1,000 in 2016. The reasons cited were quarterly loses, and declining revenue in various GMO “staples.” It’s unfortunate for the people who get laid off when big companies consolidate, but the fact that decreased profitability is forcing them to consolidate is a trend nothing other than fortunate. The lawsuits are piling high on both sides of Bayer-Monsanto, and the truth about them is already going mainstream. A name change will not be enough to stop the bleeding now. The arrows of truth have struck deep, and there won’t be enough Round-up to kill the healthy shoots coming up to replace them. The planet is becoming immune to their pestilence. Like big tobacco in the 1990s, big agro-biotech is weakened, hated, and now devouring itself. RIP Monsanto.
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