Bu-lat-lat (boo-lat-lat) verb: to search, probe, investigate, inquire; to unearth facts

Volume 3,  Number 18              June 8 - 14, 2003            Quezon City, Philippines


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Unmasking Monsanto
Australian researcher unearths Monsanto’s global atrocities

With the Bt-corn controversy still raging hot, fanned by a 29-day hunger strike by environmentalists, a book detailing alleged atrocities by Monsanto, a major agro-chemical transnational corporation, recently hit the Philippine market. It is expected to intensify even more the seething anger of farmers, scientists’ groups and peasant organizations over the commercial sale of Bt-corn which the Macapagal-Arroyo government has already approved.


Titled “Selling Food, Health, Hope: The Real Story Behind Monsanto Corporation,” the book was written by Sarah Wright, a PhD candidate of Geography from Washington University in Seattle. It was launched June 5 in Quezon City, sponsored by the non-government organization Magsasaka at Siyentipiko para sa Pag-unlad ng Agrikultura (Masipag).

The book reveals damaging information collected by the author from significant documents and through personal interviews relating to Monsanto’s long and tortured history.

“It is important that this information is made available to the people of the Philippines to help them make informed choices,” says Wright. “Monsanto has been selling itself as a clean, green and trustworthy company. Unfortunately, their record shows this is not true,” she added.

An Australian, Wright is a research fellow of MASIPAG and the United States’ Social Science Research Council. She is also a board member of PressurePoint, a Seattle-based organization dedicated to addressing unchecked corporate power. She has previously worked as research coordinator of the Mineral Policy Institute in Sydney, Australia and as project coordinator of the Urban Food Production Program of the Equipo Verde in Havana, Cuba.

Monsanto’s real story

According to the book, Monsanto was formed in 1901 in St. Louis, Missouri, producing a chemical called saccharin. Monsanto has since then grown into a colossal company with over $4.5 billion in sales in 2002 alone. Of these sales, 40% came from Roundup (a herbicide) and other glyphosate products and 34% from seed and genomics.

Monsanto’s business extends to more than 60 countries and has major chemical manufacturing facilities in Argentina, Belgium, Brazil and the U.S. and parcels of land, manufacturing and agricultural facilities in all the continents.

In recent years, Monsanto reportedly spent billions of dollars buying bio-tech companies to gain control of strategic research patents. It has also been involved in major efforts to buy out smaller seed companies all over the world to monopolize and control the people’s basic sources of life.

According to Wright, Monsanto’s name has become notorious for writing laws, bullying countries (like the Philippines as of late), intimidating journalists and placing its executives in top positions in every government.

“(Monsanto) is best known for aggressively promoting genetically-engineered seeds and biotechnology. Genetic engineering has been associated with major risks to the environment, to human health, and with the corporate control over farming systems and life itself,”  Wright says.

“What is less known about Monsanto is its shameful history of polluting towns and rivers, and creating toxic chemicals including the notorious Agent Orange used in the Vietnam war,” she adds.

At war with Monsanto

Meanwhile, a broad anti-GMO alliance nationwide called the Resistant and Solidarity Against Agrochemical TNCs or RESIST! has launched a national boycott campaign last week against Monsanto’s products, coinciding with the book launching.

Among the products that they urge people to stop patronizing are seeds Cargill, Dekalb, Machete, the Bt- corn variety Yieldgard and corn of Bollgard, InGard and the Roundup ready.

The militant scientists’ organization, Samahang Nagtataguyod ng Agham at Teknolohiya para sa Sambayanan (AGHAM) chairperson Dr. Giovanni Tapang said that “Monsanto must answer and pay for its criminal and civil liabilities against the peoples of the world.”

Tapang, a physicist, also challenged pro-Monsanto scientists in a public debate to reveal the truth about the dangers of GMOs.

Rafael Mariano, chair of the militant peasant group Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) and RESIST! Convenor, lambasted Monsanto as “one of the major violators of farmers rights” and “a threat to the world’s food security.”

"Monsanto does not care if it destroys our environment, our livelihood, our life. They are only interested in gaining profits by controlling our agriculture,” says Igmedio Facunla, MASIPAG chairperson, in a statement. He asked his fellow farmers to adopt organic farming or other sustainable agricultural practices that are healthier, cheaper, and safer to the environment. Bulatlat.com

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