A guitar and cello play soothing music in the background. The camera pans over farm fields while a voice talks about the living planet beneath our feet. Then the bucolic scene shifts to overcrowded cities, farmers in poverty.
No need to despair, the marketing video reassures us. Monsanto’s innovative approach to agriculture is leading us to a sustainable future, where harvests are more plentiful on less land, with less water and energy.
The only problem with this scenario is that it is becoming increasingly tattered. The most recent shredding comes from Bob Kremer, a microbiologist with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service. A Reuters news release reports the result of a 15-year-study of Monsanto’s Roundup.
The longitudinal study shows repeated applications of glyphosate (the primary ingredient in Roundup) “could be causing fungal root disease.” Though Kremer emphasizes more research is needed to tie the chemical directly to fungal diseases, the risk is only one of many already documented. Others include the spread of Roundup-resistant superweeds, risks of health problems in people and livestock, increased use of pesticides and failure to deliver on the promise of higher yields.
With mounting evidence that Monsanto’s Roundup Ready crops carry unacceptable risks, the last paragraph in the Reuters announcement is chilling: “Neither the USDA nor the Environmental Protection Agency, which is reviewing the registration of glyphosate for its safety and effectiveness, have shown interest in further exploring this area of research, Kremer said Friday.”
The biotech-industry fox is in the agricultural hen house. For a very different perspective from the bucolic marketing video, watch The World According to Monsanto. The full version can be viewed online.
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Photo from bark via Flickr Creative Commons