The Monsanto Corporation is one of the world’s biggest agribusiness firms and has a large stake in both genetically modified crops and the pesticides designed to help these same crops stay bug-free.
In Monsanto’s world, their products combine to produce low-effort, high-turnover crops for farmers, creating wealth for the farmers and naturally, wealth for Monsanto.
Partly as a result of this marriage, Argentina has grown to become the world’s third largest producer of soy beans and a large number of farming communities have bought into the Monsanto agribusiness model.
According to explain complaints from environmentalists and ecologists:
“Instead of turning the topsoil, spraying pesticides and then waiting until the poison dissipates before planting, farmers sow the seeds and spray afterward without harming crops genetically modified to tolerate specific chemicals.
This “no-till” method takes so much less time and money that farmers can reap more harvests and expand into land not worth the trouble before.
But pests develop resistance, even more so when the same chemicals are applied to genetically identical crops on a vast scale”.
Predictably and tragically, any bargain struck with the devil contains a catch, and Argentina is just starting to reap the true rewards of the effortless, short term gain promised by American agribusiness firms.
As pests gain resistance, farmers are left to mix in even more toxic chemicals to keep them at bay, including, in some cases, Agent Orange. As a result of the indiscriminate use of pesticides, near homes, schools or really wherever there are soy beans, a survey of 65,000 people in farming communities across Argentina found “cancer rates are between two and four times higher, with higher rates of hypothyroidism and chronic respiratory illness”.
Birth defects are also becoming increasingly common and Dr Andres Carrasco, a molecular biologist at the University of Buenos Aires, says even the comparatively benign chemical, glyphosate, the world’s favourite weed killer, can cause spinal defects in embryos, even in small doses.
Monsanto said, the company “does not condone the misuse of pesticides or the violation of any pesticide law, regulation, or court ruling”, which seems a polite short hand for “couldn’t give a shit, as long as we’re legally protected”. The thought that they might be in a large part responsible for an inordinate amount of human suffering caused by their products doesn’t seem to rate a mention.
Source | http://www.thevine.com.au