Sunday, October 20, 2013


Published time: April 04, 2013 16:34
Edited time: April 05, 2013 12:28  

Monsanto on Wednesday reported that its net income rose 22 percent to $1.48 billion, or $2.74 a share, in a one-year period. The profit increase, which occurred in the three-month period through February, marked a new record for the lucrative biotech company. Revenue rose 15 percent to $5.47 billion, much of which came from the sales of genetically modified corn seeds, particularly those sold in emerging markets like Brazil, Argentina, and other Latin American countries.

Monsanto’s seed business, particularly its genetically engineered corn, cotton and soybeans, increased by more than 10 percent in the second quarter. The seeds repel bugs and are resistant to weed-killers, making them popular among farmers trying to yield more produce.
The profit spike exceeded expectations and Wall Street predictions and may have widened the gap between Monsanto and other seed businesses. The company’s shares also rose 89 cents, closing at $104.51 on Wednesday. Over the past years, the shares have risen by about 10 percent.
"So our bottom line business outlook today means the momentum that we anticipated in our first quarter has clearly carried through into even stronger business results for the second quarter," said CEO Hugh Grant, on a call with analysts, as reported by the Associated Press.
And the company only predicts to be making more money this year: Monsanto expects $2 billion in free cash flow in 2013 and will become “more aggressive” in returning cash to shareholders through dividends and “opportunistic” share purchases,” Chief Financial Officer Pierre Courduroux said during the call with analysts.
But it’s not just the corporation’s seeds that are spiking revenue: the company also sells crop chemicals, which saw a 37 percent increase in sales. The herbicide Roundup, a popular weed killer, jumped by 73 percent to $371 million.
News of the company’s financial success comes just days after US President Barack Obama signed a bill into law that protects the billion-dollar corporation from any sort of litigation. Known by critics as the ‘Monsanto Protection Act’, section 734 of the Agricultural Appropriations Bill gives biotech companies immunity in regards to the production and sale of genetically modified seeds. The company would therefore have free reign to sell genetically engineered products the long-term effects of which remain unknown, without the prospect of facing a lawsuit for it.
Nationwide, Americans from the far right and the far left have united in their condemnation of the provision that benefits Monsanto, and a petition against the provision generated more than 250,000 signatures. Critics claim the legislation allows the company to bypass the court system and continue to dominate the US seed industry.

Published time: July 23, 2013 17:14
Edited time: July 24, 2013 18:12

Biotech giant Monsanto has been awarded yet another victory by the federal government thanks to a recent Environmental Protection Agency decision to allow larger traces of the herbicide glyphosate in farm-grown foods.

Despite a number of studies linking exposure to the chemical with diseases including types of cancer, the EPA is increasing the amount of glyphosate allowed in oilseed and food crops.

The EPA announced their plans on May 1 and allowed critics two months to weigh in and object to the ruling. Following little opposition, though, the EPA is on path to soon approve of levels of glyphosate being found in crops several times over the current concentration.

Glyphosate, a weed-killing chemical developed by Monsanto in 1970, is the key ingredient in the company’s “Roundup” label of herbicides. In the decades since, Monsanto has created and patented a number of genetically-modified organisms and genetically-engineered crops resisted to glyphosate that are sold worldwide under the company’s “Roundup Ready” brand. Those GMO products are then planted in fields where glyphosate, namely Roundup, is used en masse to eliminate weeds from taking over harvest. With scientists linking that chemical to cancerous diseases, though, critics decry the EPA decision and caution it could do more harm than good.

Through the EPA’s new standards, the amount of allowable glyphosate in oilseed crops such as flax, soybeans and canola will be increased from 20 parts per million (ppm) to 40 ppm, which GM Watch acknowledged is over 100,000 times the amount needed to induce breast cancer cells. Additionally, the EPA is increasing limits on allowable glyphosate in food crops from 200 ppm to 6,000 ppm.

Just last month, The Cornucopia Institute concluded a study by finding glyphosate “exerted proliferative effects in human hormone-dependent breast cancer.” A similar study released in April concluded that “glyphosate enhances the damaging effects of other food borne chemical residues and environmental toxins.”

“Negative impact on the body is insidious and manifests slowly over time as inflammation damages cellular systems throughout the body,” independent scientist Anthony Samsel and MIT’s Stephanie Seneff concluded in the April study. “Consequences are most of the diseases and conditions associated with a Western diet, which include gastrointestinal disorders, obesity, diabetes, heart disease, depression, autism, infertility, cancer and Alzheimer’s disease.”

Dr. Don M. Huber, emeritus professor of plant pathology at Purdue University, found in yet another examination that “Glyphosate draws out the vital nutrients of living things,” in turn removing most nutritional value from GMO foods.

A press release issued by the group Beyond Pesticides criticized the decision as well. “Given that alternative methods of growing food and managing weeds are available, like those that exist in organic agriculture, it is unreasonable for EPA to increase human exposures to Roundup,” they wrote.

In the past, Monsanto has long-defended their use of the chemical. “We are very confident in the long track record that glyphosate has,” Jerry Stainer, Monsanto’s executive vice president of sustainability, stated previously. “It has been very, very extensively studied.”

Published time: September 25, 2013 01:55
Edited time: September 26, 2013 17:41  

In its short-term government-funding bill, the US Senate will propose an end to a budget provision that protects genetically-modified seeds from litigation despite possible health risks.
Called “The Monsanto Protection Act” by opponents, the budget rider shields biotech behemoths like Monsanto, Cargill and others from the threat of lawsuits and bars federal courts from intervening to force an end to the sale of a GMO (genetically-modified organism) even if the genetically-engineered product causes damaging health effects.

The US House of Representatives approved a three-month extension to the rider in their own short-term FY14 Continuing Resolution spending bill, which was approved last week by the lower chamber.

The Senate version of the legislation will make clear the provision expires on Sept. 30, the end of the current fiscal year.

Published time: October 17, 2013 03:53

A lobbying group for major US manufacturers has violated Washington state campaign finance law while opposing a ballot initiative that would require labeling genetically-modified foods, according to a lawsuit filed by the state attorney general Wednesday.
The Grocery Manufacturers of America (GMA) ran afoul of state law in collecting and spending $7.2 million against ballot initiative 522 - which voters will consider in November - while not disclosing the individual donors funneling contributions to the organization, alleged State Attorney General Bob Ferguson.
"Truly fair elections demand all sides follow the rules by disclosing who their donors are and how much they are spending to advocate their views," Ferguson said in a statement.
The measure would require the proper labeling of goods which contain ingredients with genetically-modified organisms (GMOs), as well as the labeling of seeds and seed products containing GMOs sold in the state.
With over $7 million spent, GMA is the largest donor to the “No on I-522” campaign. GMA and other opponents have raised over $17 million, spending $13 million thus far, in the effort to block labeling.
The “Yes on I-522” campaign has raised around $5.5 million in support of the labeling. They believe it is crucial for the public’s right to know what is in their food and say the labeling is a positive move considering the numerous questions surrounding the safety of GMOs to human health.
Ferguson’s office alleges GMA set up a “Defense of Brands Strategic Account” and asked its numerous high-powered members to contribute money in an effort to oppose the ballot initiative.
In the process of spending the money, GMA shielded contributors’ identification from public disclosures, the lawsuit alleges.

GMA has a total of 300 member organizations in its ranks.
The attorney general is seeking a temporary restraining order to force GMA to comply with disclosure laws. In addition, civil penalties are included in the suit.
GMA claimed to be surprised by the developments, though it did not say if it asked members to fund the drive to oppose I-522, which would have required a political action committee and disclosure of donors.
"GMA takes great care to understand and comply with all state election and campaign finance laws," the organization said. "GMA will review its actions in Washington state and relevant statutes and continue to cooperate with state authorities to fully resolve the issue as promptly as possible."
Supporters of the ballot initiative pushed a similar claim that was rejected by a Thurston County judge, who said the matter needed to go through the state Public Disclosure Commission, which Ferguson is representing in the suit filed Wednesday.
Washington’s consideration of a GMO labeling measure comes one year after a similar measure was rejected by California voters after companies like Monsanto contributed $44 million for "No on Prop 37.”
Proponents of the California labeling measure only raised $7.3 million in defeat.
Monsanto has contributed about $5 million in opposition to Washington’s I-522. Corporate giants Bayer, Dupont, BASF, and Dow have also contributed to block labeling.
In June, Connecticut became the first state to pass a labeling bill, though legislative requirements demand it would only go into effect once four states - including one adjacent to the state - passes similar regulations.

Published time: October 11, 2013 06:16
Edited time: October 11, 2013 07:22

Joining six continents, 52 countries and over 500 cities, ‘March against Monsanto’ is planning its second mass rally Saturday against the biotech giant and genetically modified food. A number of Agent Orange victims are expected to join the protest.

“Saturday is a big day of action against Monsanto. We took our lights out to a local cornfield. Monsanto is bad for our food and bad for our planet,” the March against Monsanto’s movement posted on its Facebook page.

The rallies, which come four days ahead of World Food Day on Oct. 16, will call on millions of activists to boycott “Monsanto’s predatory business,” genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and other harmful pesticides, which threaten “health, fertility and longevity.”

On October, 5, Movement against Monsanto launched a global 'Twitter storm' asking people to tweet and post certain hashtags as frequently as possible.

Monsanto is a multinational agricultural biotechnology corporation headquartered in Creve Coeur, Missouri. With the exception of weapons manufacturers and other private military firms, there is perhaps no corporation that provides such a dramatic example of corporate influence over government. Not only does Monsanto spend a staggering $8 million a year lobbying government officials (imagine 80 full-time lobbyists each paid $100,000 a year), but many former Monsanto executives hold key positions in the FDA, EPA and USDA, where they have made favorable regulatory decisions regarding Monsanto products.
One of those products, recombinant bovine somatotropin, commonly known as “bovine growth hormone” (rBGH), is a synthetic hormone injected into cows to increase milk production. It also increases the levels a substance called IGF-1 in their milk, which is then passed on to humans. Elevated blood serum levels of IGF-1 have been linked in numerous studies to breast, colon and prostate cancer. For this reason, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Japan and all 27 European Union countries have banned the use of rBGH. The FDA’s highly controversial 1993 decision approving rBGH was overseen by former Monsanto attorney, Michael R. Taylor, who was serving as the FDA’s Deputy Commissioner of Policy at the time. After the decision Taylor left the FDA and again joined Monsanto, becoming the company’s chief lobbyist and Vice President for Public Policy. He has since gone back and forth between Monsanto and various government positions in the FDA and the USDA, highlighting the “revolving door syndrome” that has become a hallmark of corporate-government collusion.
Monsanto’s genetically modified (GM) crops consist primarily of those modified to be resistant to the herbicide Roundup (another Monsanto product) and those modified to contain within their cells the biological pesticide called Bacillus thuringiensis (or Bt). Widespread health and environmental concerns over both these types of GM plants are based on numerous scientific studies and have resulted in many countries banning GM crops entirely. In the European Union a moratorium on new GM crops has been in effect since 1998 and strict labeling is required on all genetically modified food products approved before the moratorium. Monsanto has spent millions of dollars pressuring EU officials to allow the introduction of GM foods into Europe, and—more significantly—recent Wikileaks documents reveal U.S. State Department officials also pressuring EU officials on Monsanto’s behalf.
Monsanto’s actions run the gamut of illegality and dirty tricks, and include the attempted bribery of Canadian officials; the intentional dumping of toxic waste into the environment; and the filing of hundreds of lawsuits alleging “patent infringement” against small farmers whose crops became contaminated with their patented genes, etc. Mass protests against Monsanto have spread to dozens of countries around the world and have included civil disobedience actions like the burning of experimental crop fields and the nonviolent occupation of Monsanto facilities.

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