Getting creeped out by Monsanto


For whatever reason, Mr. Green Scene and I just got around to watching Food Inc. last week, though it’s been out for a while. It didn’t tell us much we didn’t already know after having read Fast Food Nation and plenty of Michael Pollan, and watching King Corn.

But it did give us a kick in the pants. We were reminded of how truly screwed-up is the agribusiness industry in this country, how deeply unhealthy is most of the food on supermarket shelves and restaurant menus, and how worthwhile it is for us to put the effort toward growing our own food and sourcing from local farmers.

One of the big villains in the film is Monsanto, which (like most major agribusiness companies) refused to be interviewed. The corporate giant is shown suing a one-man seed cleaning business in the Midwest, claiming that he’s inciting farmers to violate Monsanto’s patents on genetically modified seed. (Farmers are not allowed to save Monsanto’s GMO seed–a very creepy situation, since saving seed is a time-honored pillar of world agriculture.)

Seeing this film perked my ears up to the weekly e-mails I get from the Organic Consumers Association. They’ve been waging a campaign against Monsanto for a while now. The latest news from their corner has to do with more than 100 studies showing the ill effects of Monsanto’s GMOs on plant health, as well as a virulent new pathogen that "proliferates in soils treated with Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide."

Blech! It makes me look at our little army of seedlings–ancho peppers, Blue Wind broccoli and cilantro–with a bit more of a political eye than I otherwise would. But gardening only goes so far. On these big GMO crops like corn and soybeans, national changes need to happen.