Soy Powerful: How Monsanto Pushes Genetically Modified Soybeans on Unwilling Consumers

tractorsCurrently, residents of the United States and Canada consume genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in around 70% of the foods they buy in grocery stores. By comparison, consumers in the European Union nations, Japan, China, Australia, New Zealand and other countries are able to avoid GMOs because their governments require mandatory labeling on foods that contain genetically engineered ingredients.

According to Consumers Union, 95% of consumers in the U.S. want products containing genetically modified organisms to be labeled. Yet, in 1996 the FDA ruled that genetically modified foods were not substantially different from others and need not be labeled. Then, in January 2009 as the Bush administration headed out the door, the outgoing FDA ruled that it wouldn’t require the labeling of genetically modified meat or fish.

What’s going on here? We’re told that the free market works because of the rational behavior of informed consumers. How can consumers make intelligent choices when the information they need is deliberately held back by government influenced by powerful corporations?

We’ve talked about the power seed giant Monsanto exerts on our government before. Did you know that Monsanto’s hydra-like tentacles of influence extend across the globe? Let’s explore how the company was able to introduce its GM soybean technology to Brazil.

There was a point in the early part of this century when Monsanto wasn’t doing too well. It couldn’t sell its products in Europe. Nobody wanted them. Americans were getting anxious about consuming foods made from GM seeds. Monsanto needed a new market. A big new market. We’ve already talked about how the soy industry in Brazil has led to slavery and deforestation. The soy industry in Brazil has also had a big impact on Monsanto, essentially saving the company from ruin.

According to a policy brief from Food First, and other sources, Monsanto used illegal tactics to push their GM technology on Brazilian farmers and then strong-armed the Brazilian legislature to make the technology legal.

Brazil had a ban on planting of GM seeds in effect since 1998, but it was one of the only holdouts in South America. Brazil’s neighbor, Argentina, was a large producer of GM soy. Monsanto encouraged farmers in Brazil to plant its “roundup ready” GM soybeans that were illegally imported from Argentina in defiance of the ban. Monsanto knew that once its seeds were in the ground they would be able to make a case for intellectual property rights. Armed with their patents, the company’s lawyers went to the courts to solidify its new Brazilian market.

By arguing that Brazil was impeding its legal right to collect royalties on its intellectual property (the seeds), Monsanto made its case and GM soy was legalized in Brazil in 2003. Still, the essential companion to Monsanto’s Roundup-ready GM soy, the herbicide Roundup, was not legal yet. In 2004, a congressman from southern Brazil pushed through a series of federal amendments legalizing the herbicide. This same congressman purchased a large farm from Monsanto for one-third of the market price. The Brazilian government is investigating the congressman for corruption.

You may be thinking that you’re not eating GM soy because you buy organic. But if you eat organic food that contains soy lecithin (and you probably do since its in everything) check back in two weeks when we wrap up our soy series with a piece about soy lecithin. We’ll explore why the organic rule allows small amounts of non-organic ingredients in organic products and learn that it’s not that simple.

Want to learn more about the drama behind GM foods? Check out this link to news articles from different sources that will give you a good idea of Monsanto’s trials, successes, machinations, and manipulations over the past few years.

Image: Mike138

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14 thoughts on “Soy Powerful: How Monsanto Pushes Genetically Modified Soybeans on Unwilling Consumers

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  5. The GM products are safe. There is no conistent evicence that they are less safe than any other version. There is also no evidence that organic is safer for you. Bt corn is safer for you becuase it reduces the level of mycotoxins in food. Bt is used by the organic industry. So this anti GM is bullshit wrong. We are so busy focusing on GM we are missinge the real safety issues including E.coli in meat etc and other bugs in food that actually make people sick. There are plenty of citation son teh safety and some that suggest concerns. But there is no real evidence for a problem . GM food is the most tested food we have and we have used it for more than 14 years without a single health or death issue in animals or people. I dare you to chose betwe a cup of Bt corn and a cup of chemical insecticide that it replaces- I know which would be the safer – that’s the real test. A product that has zero effect when fed to rats and a product that kills on ingestion – GEt smart

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  7. why don’t we as consumers do more in boycoting the things we really don’t want to put into our bodies.

  8. As someone truly seeking to better inform myself (and then others) about this issue, I am a little disappointed at the lack of citations for this information. I am left in wanting here. I want to know that there is legitimate info out there that is backed by sound sources. I want to check these source not just consume the flip side of Monsanto propaganda. Let’s see some sources, please!

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  10. Is there a way to avoid buying anything that has to do with Monsanto? I really want to know. I can’t believe our government was stupid enough to let them get so powerful. Email me please, if you there’s anyway to boycott Monsanto!

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  12. Who are Monsanto? Can anyone name names of stock-holders, give incite as to motives other than ROI? Just who in hell is making money from such mayhem anyway? American pensioners? Proxy shares and votes? How in hell does this work? Why does this company get away with crazy stuff? Who do we go to, to blame for a problem, Who is responsible? Welcome to the capitalists last stand! The “Corporation” Crimes committed here go unpunished by American law, they are above the law, once banded into a “corporation” criminals are Scot free to do even murder! Ford motor company sold the “Pinto” death trap car, and actually killed Americans and after paying insurance claims only, went unpunished, and actually stood tall in the fact that they upheld “American law” by getting the highest ROI for the shareholder – their express and intended function under American law! Goddamn! We are so fvcked by our own mis-understanding of our own laws as to afford altruism to corporations! What uneducated fools we are!

  13. ARRGGGHHHH !!!! Those Monsanto ba**ards!! Please, leave our planet and our health alone! It’s much worse than we thought… they own the governments, pretty much. What can we do, besides inform ourselves and make the best buying choices?? But if soy is so all-pervasive… well… just another reason to eat whole foods, and grow our own.

    Thanks for this amazingly informative post.


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