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 Monsanto and Friends' Biotech Blunders
and Disasters Continue

Genetically engineered rapeseed plants
are causing "biological pollution"

Ronnie Cummins
Little Marais, Minnesota

Monsanto and the other gene engineers have suffered a number of technological and public relations "glitches" over the past few years. These biotech blunders and disasters include:

  • The massive marketplace failure of Monsanto's billion dollar flagship product, rBGH. After three years on the marketplace, only 4% of America's dairy cows are being shot up with the drug. Wall Street analysts told Business Week magazine in 1996 that due to farmer and consumer opposition (and the fact that rBGH damages the health of cows) the drug was a total failure, and that in economic terms it should be taken off the market. In scientific and public health terms data continues to pile up that significantly increased levels of the human growth hormone factor, IGF-1, in genetically engineered milk and dairy products constitute a serious human health risk for increased breast and colon cancer. In addition scientific studies have recently been brought to the attention of the World Health Organization that injecting mammals with genetically engineered growth hormones very likely increases their susceptibility to deadly, incurable brain-wasting diseases such as BSE, commonly known as Mad Cow Disease, or its human variant, CJD. Consequently the WHO, the European Union, and the Codex Alimentarius are unlikely to ever approve rBGH as a safe drug, leaving the U.S. as the only industrialized nation in the world to have approved rBGH.
  • In mid-1996 Monsanto/Calgene's highly-touted "Flavr Savr" tomato was taken off the market, ostensibly because of production failures and genetic glitches. Earlier the DNAP corporation's gene-altered "Endless Summer" tomato didn't even make it through its test marketing phase.
  • Initial seed crops of Monsanto's Bt-spliced "NatureGuard" potatoes in 1996 suffered from severe plant virus damage.
  • Monsanto's entire Canadian genetically engineered rapeseed or canola crop had to be recalled earlier this year because of unexplained "technical difficulties."
  • Up to a million acres or 50% of Monsanto's Bt Cotton crop in the U.S. were attacked by bollworms in 1996, prompting lawsuits by outraged cotton growers who claim they were defrauded by Monsanto.
  • Mississippi cotton farmers are preparing to sue Monsanto for damages arising from cotton boll damage or deformities in the 1997 "Roundup Ready" cotton harvest.
  • Field tests in Europe have shown that genetically engineered rapeseed plants are causing "biological pollution" and spreading their mutant DNA characteristics to neighboring plants. Other tests have shown that gene-spliced crops are harming or killing beneficial insects and pollinators such as Ladybugs (Ladybirds) and honey bees, and that pests are rapidly developing resistance to gene-altered Bt crops.
  • In October Greenpeace and other NGOs revealed that soybean plants sprayed with Roundup are more estrogenic and are therefore possibly hormone or endocrine system disruptors. Dairy cows eating "Roundup Ready" soybeans are producing milk with different chemical characteristics (higher fat levels) than cows who are eating regular soybeans.
  • Most recently Irish authorities made public U.S. EPA documents that revealed that Monsanto's supposedly Roundup-resistant sugar beets were dying in alarming numbers after having been sprayed with Roundup.

Published in In Motion Magazine December 17, 1997.

Ronnie Cummins is National Director of the Pure Food Campaign, a non-profit, public interest organization dedicated to building a healthy, safe, and sustainable system of food production and consumption in the U.S. and the world. The PFC's primary strategy is to help build a national and international consumer/farmer/labor/progressive retailer boycott of genetically engineered and chemically contaminated foods and crops.