With more than 40 types of genetically-modified crops being grown in the U.S. and 148 million hectares planted worldwide, agricultural land is awash in the products of biotech companies.
Monsanto, Dow, Bayer, Syngenta and a handful of other biotech companies now own two-thirds of global proprietary seed sales, and have gained control of one quarter of the world’s biomass in the world market economy. While consolidating their grip on the world’s food supply, they relentlessly drive the message that humanity will need their products to overcome food shortages and environmental degradation.
What can we look forward to in the future, assuming the masses of increasingly informed citizens cannot slow the juggernaut of the GM giants? Monsanto leads the pack with a suite of genetically-engineered products in the development or approval phase.
Dicamba, Glufosinate and Glyphosate-Tolerant Corn and Soybean
Not one but three toxic herbicides will be sprayed on herbicide-resistant corn and soybean fields of the future. “Superweeds” have built resistance to glyphosate in RoundUp, so Monsanto’s answer is of course to engineer another crop that can withstand even more of its herbicide products. This has been the most lucrative venture for biotech companies.
Next-Generation Corn, Soybean, and Cotton
As pests are developing resistance to the Bt (Bacillus thuringiensis) toxin in “first generation” corn, soybean and cotton products, Monsanto is engineering “next generation” crops with at least two different types of Bt toxin.
Bt + Roundup Ready Sugarcane
Marketed for Brazil, this product will contain the Bt toxin for pests and will withstand being drenched in glyphosate.
This wheat will be able to withstand a concoction of many different Monsanto poisons, including dicamba and glufosinate products.
Performance Series™ Broccoli
Yes, they’re getting into vegetables too. This genetically-engineered broccoli will have a crown that “extends even with the leaf canopy” and a stem that is “clean without large leaves to remove.”
Genuity® DroughtGard™ Hybrids
This is a collaboration with BASF that will combine genetically-engineered traits with a breeding program to produce a more drought-tolerant corn. Although a good end, it does not justify the means.
Syngenta is also working on herbicide-resistant crops, focusing on a new approach using a class of herbicides known as HPPD (hydroxyphenylpyruvate dioxygenase) inhibitors. Syngenta already produces an herbicide called “Gramaxone” which contains paraquat, one of the most toxic herbicides to mammals, so toxic that it is used as a murder and suicide agent in poorer countries due to its availability. Can we look forward to a paraquat-resistant crop? Syngenta is also working on genetically-engineered ways to increase taste and nutrients in the industrial production of vegetables such as tomatoes, cantaloupe and sweet peppers.
Bayer is paralleling one of Monsanto’s fields of development by engineering crop varieties that are herbicide-resistant and secrete pest toxins. It also seeks to “strengthen crop plants” by increasing taste and making melons easier to eat. Two years ago Bayer paid $750 million to settle lawsuits over its experimental “LibertyLink” GM rice that contaminated more than 30% of U.S. rice lands, ruining export values. Clear evidence has emerged that their neonicotinoid pesticides are devastating honeybee populations.
The dominance of genetic engineering and chemical use is not in the best interest of sustainable agricultural advancement. A few GM giants are acquiring ownership of the world food system and exerting more control over governments. Their GM crops are contaminating conventional and organic crops, while their chemicals are poisoning us and the environment. Real sustainable methods are receiving almost no attention in the shadow of GM giants. It’s up to the citizenry to become informed and speak out against this assault on our food.