Lisa Blake

I've been reading about three linked news stories in the last week. Senator Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) had been pushing the Senate to vote on an amendment to the Farm Bill that would repeal the Monsanto Protection Act, originally named by its authors Monsanto and Senator Roy Blount (R-Mo.) the farmer assurance provision. This rider to H.R. 933 (passed this March) allows a farmer or the agro-chemical company that produces seeds (GMO or other) to override even a federal judge's injunction against planting seeds in the event of provable damage to a neighboring farm. This farmer assurance provision slipped through the cracks without debate or much notice by most of Congress. But they're noticing now as the March Against Monsanto and efforts by the Institute for Responsible Technology, Food Democracy Now, Organic Consumers Association and many other groups helped rally opposition against it all across the country.

Now the Farm Bill has passed. Senator Merkley's amendment was not included. However, many took heart when Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich. and Chairwoman of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry) pledged not to let the Monsanto Protection Act go undebated when it expires six months from now. Unfortunately, this lapse of time gives Monsanto, Syngenta, Dow Chemical, BASF and other agro-chemical companies time to speed up introduction of more strains of genetically modified seeds at a time when wheat farmers are losing sales by the appearance of a non-approved GMO in their white wheat meant for export. Japan cancelled their purchase of white wheat for consumption as well as feed wheat since the experimental GMO wheat (officially not planted for twelve years) showed up in Oregon fields. South Korea followed suit, and other countries look to follow their example. This particular wheat was never approved for human consumption, and the last of the experimental wheat was supposedly destroyed in 2001.

In what at first appears as a change of subject, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) states that autism rates are now 1 in 50. Many are arguing that the apparent increase over the last couple of decades is due to better diagnosis, the widening of the definition, and sloppy statistical records from previous years, but even a CNN article recently cites suspicions about GMOs. In Monsanto's case (they own 90% of all GMO seeds), the genetic modifications to the plants are made so more Roundup can be applied without killing the plants that we (or the farm animals) eat. Two results from this new way of growing our food are worrisome: scientists suspect the introduction of new and strange proteins into our diet of triggering allergies, some severe and some subtle, and the growing amount of glyphosate in our diets (the active ingredient in Monsanto's Roundup) kills the good bugs in our digestive system and allow the proliferation of bad bugs. New evidence points to mechanisms by which harm comes to our children while they are still fetuses. Many of these poisons are measurable in the umbilical cord blood drawn before the infant is exposed to any food, air, or water in our polluted world. Autism is accompanied by many digestive issues, and those scientists specializing in the study of autism have begun to suspect early effects of a malfunctioning immune/digestive system to play a large role in the cause.

The causes of autism are complex, an interplay of genetics and their expression through environmental influences. It's been several really bad weeks for Monsanto and friends as news articles abound with queries about the connection of GMOs with the rising rates of this tragic syndrome. Unfortunately for us and the lacewings and the monarch butterflies and the frogs, the increasing saturation of glyphosates in our environment is doing much harm to us all in many myriad ways.

In our political system now, the large corporations can give so much money to candidates in exchange for future favors that we find our government full of appointees from companies like Monsanto, usually in positions with the FDA and Department of Agriculture. Senator Blount (see above—the author of the Monsanto Protection Act) has received over $160,000 from Monsanto in campaign contributions. Agencies such as the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are compromised and make decisions that favor their previous (and future) employers instead of protecting us. (For example, Linda J. Fisher worked for a law group that represented Monsanto, worked for Monsanto directly, worked for the Environmental Protection Agency and later Dupont.)

We are being poisoned with the terrible consequences: the people who should be stopping it—who have the power to stop it—are not on my side or yours, but their own.

Want to take action?