Thursday, December 29, 2011

Monsanto's Killing Fields

I have recently watched an interview with Dr. Don Huber, Emeritus Professor of Plant Pathology at Purdue specializing in microbiology, that will curl your hair (see the whole 57 minute interview at, and/or another shorter interview with Huber at It deals with Monsanto’s herbicide, Roundup (main ingredient glyphosate), and its growing panoply of Roundup Ready seeds which have been genetically engineered to resist the killing effects of glyphosate, thus allowing farmers to spray Roundup liberally, killing all other plants and allowing the Roundup Ready ones to ‘thrive.’ Roundup Ready seeds now in use include Soy (87% of the worldwide crop), Corn, Canola, Cotton and the recently-authorized-by-USDA Alfalfa and Sugar Beets (despite Huber’s urging to Ag Secretary Vilsack to delay the approval of Roundup Ready Alfalfa). Corporate Agriculture considers this a miracle of American science and a boon to farmers and profits and even our health (with Roundup Ready crops, we are told, fewer pesticides have to be applied; Roundup alone does the job).

Dr. Huber, however, informs us in his dry, unemotional style, that this is not merely a mirage, it is a con, a disaster, a crime against nature itself (my words, not his.) The reasons are legion. To begin with, glyphosate, the key ingredient in Roundup, is, like many other pesticides, a “chelator.” That means it binds or creates a barrier around essential mineral micronutrients which are critical to the very heart of life and growth, especially enzyme function. Most critically, it is not just plants that require enzyme function; all organisms and microorganisms need them. So, to cripple the efficiency of a plant’s mineral uptake is essentially to kill them, and to counteract this killing, Monsanto has genetically engineered seeds whose plants have an alternative pathway for the uptake of some of these essential nutrients. They can ‘survive’ the poison of Roundup thereby. But the key point is this: the plant that gets sprayed with Roundup, even the GMO plant, still gets dosed with large quantities of the Roundup sprayed upon it. So does the soil, with all its microorganisms. Thus you get crops that have glyphosate on and in them (the glyphosate goes to key parts, like the seeds), and soil whose microorganisms are damaged the same way—microorganisms, one of whose main functions is to fight diseases. According to Huber, there are already 40 newly-thriving pathogens on many of our crops—diseases that used to be managed. No more. What’s worse, since these GMO crops—especially corn, soy and alfalfa—are the main feed we give to our stock animals, they too are being affected. A botulism has been seen recently in the intestinal tract of cows because glyphosate in the feed is killing or disabling the normal organisms in the cow’s gut that used to fight it.

Now here is where it gets scary. As noted above, all life employs the same basic mechanisms. So if glyphosate impairs the gut ecology in animals, we can expect that the effect in human stomachs will be similar if not exactly the same. Studies have already been done showing that in virtually 100% of cases, stock animals are showing a deficiency in manganese (needed for its antioxidant properties, its role in protecting plants from disease, and its enzyme-activating role in digestion) due to the chelating effect of Roundup Ready feed. There are also studies showing high levels of glyphosate in animal manure (so how use this animal manure on crops???) due to the feed they’re eating (all those Roundup Ready crops, now to include alfalfa), plus some new organism from hell (the electron microscope image of this thing is terrifying) that is suspected of causing reproductive failure in farm animals. First noted by vets in 1998, the fertility failure rate in dairy cattle has reached such proportions—45 to 70%--that dairies now worry about maintaining their stocks (note that Roundup Ready soy and corn were first used as feed in 1998.) And of course, the real killer in all this: though hordes of researchers are trying to identify it, no one yet knows what it is. It seems to be about the same size as a virus, it can be cultured, it is self-replicating, there’s lots of it in GMO corn and soy, but scientists don’t know what it is.

Thus publication about its causes is lagging, but not just for reasons of uncertainty, and here the lugubrious Dr. Huber got as animated as he allows himself to get. Monsanto controls the science in this area. Anyone who does research that is not favorable to its products is either silenced, fired, or prohibited access to all products under patent. Why? because Monsanto makes such research illegal. And the EPA and the FDA and the USDA all go along with it, because the lobby for big agribusiness controls the Congress and all government agencies dealing with such products.

So here’s what we’ve got, folks. We’ve got the most widely-used herbicide in the world killing not only plants (including impairing their ability to fix nitrogen from the air) but essential soil microorganisms and beneficial intestinal organisms in animals. We’ve got GMO crops that allow that product to be used in higher concentrations than ever because we’re told the magic of GMO somehow keeps the stuff off the GMO crop in question, when it doesn’t. And we’ve got symptoms now of some new monster organism that seems to be spreading abortions, infertility and premature aging among the farm animals (not only cattle but chickens, pigs and horses too) on whom we depend. And we haven’t even talked about glyphosate’s proven record as an endocrine disruptor—Huber mentions, in this regard, the notably lowered sperm count of human males, less than half of what it was only 20 years ago. And above all, we have a totally compromised government and its agencies supposedly protecting us, but keeping themselves busiest blackballing and outlawing the science and the scientists who have been trying to sound the alarm about all this.

I don’t know about you, but I’m about ready to call for all-out war on Monsanto, on the USDA and Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack, and everyone else involved in the monstrous system we have allowed to thrive. I’m about ready to sign on with Lierre Keith, who recently called for serious radical action—whatever force it takes—to bring the entire sick system down. I mean, what else is there to do? Appeal to their better nature? It is to laugh, because these people—the CEOs, the so-called scientists Monsanto employs, the toadies in Congress who protect them to keep their state revenues jangling—are willing to poison every living thing on earth in order to maintain their stranglehold on the markets they have cornered. They care not a whit for life—plant life, microbial life, animal life, human life. They care only about killing. Why should we care about them or their sick, profit-driven lives? Why should we not begin a movement that a recent Newsweek column (Newsweek! imagine) predicted would include the following:

There will be prosecutions and show trials. There will be violence, mark my words. Houses burnt, property defaced. (Michael Thomas, Newsweek, Dec. 28)

And I believe there will. And if it targets any of the evil bastards who work, in any way shape or form, for the devil-spawned corporate monstrosity called Monsanto, I for one will cheer and salute and encourage it until the beast is choked on its own deadly brew.

Lawrence DiStasi

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