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The Problem with Monsanto


According to the calendar, despite the fact that there is a growing layer of snow upon the soil outside my house, it's supposed to be Spring. With Spring there's the promise of many things, warmer weather, flowers blooming, and fresh fruits and vegetables on their way. For many homeowners this means dealing with their lawns and in particular, dealing with the perceived weeds that spring up in unwanted places. To deal with the unwanted weeds many folks will turn to using the popular solution of herbicides, perhaps the best well known of these being Round-Up. Many farmers will also turn to using this popular herbicide to protect their crops from invading weeds. Who produces this chemical? A company called Monsanto, a name that has become rather infamous over the years as it's been entwined with another phrase, genetically modified organism or GMO. While the consumption of GMO products has been heavily debated, there is another concern about the heavy use of this product that hasn't been so well addressed, the lack of genetic diversity created by the use of GMO products.

Who is Monsanto? Simply put they are a company that either produces or owns other companies that produce various herbicides and seeds. They produce seeds for products like corn, sugar cane, soybeans, wheat, canola, and others. This company also produces herbicides like Round-up and Lariat. They came across the idea in the 1990's to genetically modify their food crops to be resistant to their herbicides. For the company it was a stroke of genius, for the rest of humanity it will prove to have dire consequences in the long term. I understand that yes, in the short term it's worked well to massively increase production of base food crops, it's the long term that it seems few are willing to consider, particularly those who really should be looking at it.

Diversity is nature's way of ensuring survival of a species despite harsh, changing conditions. It's a basic survival trait that has been taken advantage of by farmers since the beginning of the Neolithic Revolution about 12,000 years ago. The system works, it allows for growth of a species to combat the various challenges of an area it's grown in. If there is heavy weed growth that steals a vital nutrient only versions of that crop that can withstand the weeds will survive. Yet this system was bypassed by the invention of Round-up Ready seeds, seeds that had a gene spliced in to allow them to withstand Round-Up. Well, how's that different you might ask? Simply it's the problem that eventually some weeds will survive and their species will adapt to being resistant. By that time however, farmers will have become adjusted to doing things one way and will be hard pressed to keep up production while having to adapt to dealing with the new weeds.

How do I know this will happen? Well, that's because it already has and is already putting a large strain on an agricultural system taxed by droughts, floods, and a booming population. In 2010 Round-up Ready crops accounted for upwards of 70% of the United States corn and 90% of soybean crops, setting up the system for severe problems. It was also about that time that Round up resistant horseweed, pigweed, ragweed, etc., started to appear. It doesn't take a genius to realize that this is going to become a large problem, yet these chemical companies keeping offering modified seeds made to match with their herbicides.

In the meantime farmers who have tried to grow crops that aren't GMO have struggled with the problem that their crops often end up cross pollinating with their neighbors GMO products. To add insult to injury, not only are these farmers crops not what they wanted but often times Monsanto will then sue them claiming the farmers have stolen Monsanto's product. It's a situation that has put a large number of farmers who would prefer to grow non-GMO crops out of the business and further reduced our supply of seeds in different varieties.

Primarily the reason that Monsanto has chosen to pursue these solutions is in the end, money. Yes they will spout off some noble ideas of feeding humanity and being sustainable. If spraying large loads of chemicals into the ground and profiting heavily while billions around the world starve due to lack of economically priced food is their goal then they've achieved it, otherwise they need to just shut their mouths.

As this world's population continues to grow past seven billion people it's become very important that we keep a close eye on the agriculture industry and how it will be able to meet the food requirements for future generations. The manner in which Monsanto has chosen to meet these goals falls short in the long run, as it's just a temporary fix and it's already wearing off as nature has evolved to meet the challenge. What is needed is a solution that doesn't rely on soaking the ground in chemicals that require hazmat suits to apply but are then ingested by the consumer and a solution that is capable of being used in a manner that does not harm the environment. We need to put more money and more effort into finding this solution and tell companies like Monsanto that we the consumer will not support them profiting off destroying the ecosystem and endangering our food supply.

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byJagFarlane© 18 comments/ 10475 views/ 0 favorites

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