By Phil Shannon
The World According to Monsanto: Pollution, Politics & Power
Spinifex Press, 2010.
373 pages, $44.95 (pb)
“What counts for us is making money,” said a Monsanto vice-president to a new employee at an induction session in 1998, reminding the idealistic novice that there is a simple, and crude, capitalist philosophy at the heart of the US chemical and biotechnology giant.
All Monsanto’s talk about the ecological and humanitarian miracles of its chemicals and genetically modified organisms (GMOs) is so much hot air, says Marie-Monique Robin in The World According To Monsanto.
The reduction of pesticide pollution, the end of world hunger, plants producing biodegradable plastics, corn containing antibodies against cancer — none of these promised GMO solutions have been delivered.
This is because what really matters to Monsanto, as Robin documents, is control of the world seed market and the genetic engineering of those seeds to be resistant to, and therefore dependent on, Roundup, Monsanto’s herbicide with the real miracle; gigantic profits.
GMOs and Roundup, says Robin, are amongst the “most dangerous products of modern times”, joining a list that is heavily populated by other Monsanto products such as polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), dioxin and bovine growth hormones.
In all cases, Monsanto has been fully aware of their harmfulness yet has lied about their dangers with an impunity conferred by the collusion between the company and the public health and environmental authorities of successive US governments.
Monsanto’s criminal tale began in the 1930s with PCBs which are heat-resistant industrial coolants and lubricants. PCBs polluted the planet for four decades until they were banned in 1977, leaving a continuing trail of cancers and other diseases.
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