Monsanto again lashes out with expensive "organic" vegetables

Monsanto again lashes out with expensive

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By Adán Salgado Andrade

In a previous article, I referred to how lucrative food handling and processing is, which, even for some years, have been genetically altered in order to give them special characteristics that make them more resistant, say their creators, for example, to pests or droughts.

In particular, the agro-American company Monsanto has been characterized as the one that has promoted the genetic modification of food the most. Monsanto was formed in 1901, by John Francis Queeny, with the initial purpose of producing the sweetener saccharin (widely used by diabetics). Monsanto was the last name of his wife, Mrs. Olga Monsanto.

These were very good times for chemical companies, especially since the flood of inventions that occurred in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries demanded many industrial compounds and bases. Already in the 1920's, Monsanto had expanded to produce sulfuric acid and polychlorinated biphenyl, PCB, a cooler used in the first transformers and electric motors and that would continue to be used until the 1980's, but its use was suspended, when it was found that It was a very dangerous substance for the environment, whose pollutant effects last for years (Monsanto, which was the only company that continued to produce it in the United States, voluntarily suspended its manufacture in 1985, due to its high danger).

After these blunders (as in many other things that Monsanto has done), the company began to manufacture plastics and synthetic fabrics and in the 1960's, founded a division to produce herbicides, including the defoliant called "Agent Orange", widely used in the war against Vietnam, as a chemical weapon to "clear" (that is, destroy) wooded areas where enemies were hiding, in order to avoid ambushes, but it was also used to destroy their crops, provided they lacked food and achieve its prompt surrender (since the English intervention in Malaysia, this dangerous herbicide was used). The other company that made it was Dow Chemical, but it was so toxic that it not only killed plants and trees, but it poisoned and killed soldiers and civilians. In fact, its pernicious effects are still present on land heavily contaminated by this deadly chemical (since 2012, joint programs have been carried out between the governments of Vietnam and the US to clean up thousands of hectares of land still contaminated since the war).

In the 1970s, Monsanto invented another herbicide, Roundup, whose active ingredient is glyphosate. This herbicide was used by farmers, as long as it would combat the herbs that grow between the crops, and thus achieve an increase in production. And then, very conveniently, Monsanto, in the 1990's, began to dabble in agriculture, using its past "experience" to develop types of crops that would resist, please, its own herbicide. A good recipe, inventing a poison and, later, the antidote, in order to capture death and life. From there, their frankenfood cereals emerged, characterized by genetically altering them. The procedure consists of inoculating at a molecular level a characteristic that makes a plant resistant, for example, to a pest or drought, or even that its seeds cannot grow (that, according to Monsanto, “protect its patents”, such as if nature could be patented). So Monsanto's lack of ethics, as you can see, comes almost from its founding.

As I pointed out, the genetic alteration initiated by Monsanto was achieved by inoculating at the molecular level such absurd characteristics that, for this reason, more and more their frankenfood creations have been rejected in many countries. For example, in the case of its transgenic corn strains, such as Cry3Bb1 (called Terminator, since its seeds do not germinate, in order to "protect" its patent), it has inoculated a toxin derived from the bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis, Bt, which, supposedly, makes it more resistant to pests, in addition to "consuming less water." All these claims have been denied by scientists who have studied this corn and have concluded that it is neither so resistant to pests, nor does it consume less water, since, on the contrary, it requires more liquid corn. The presumed resistance to pests was questioned, since the larva of a beetle from the United States is already feeding on transgenic corn, as recent research shows ( bugs-resistance-gmo-corn-25032014 /? utm_source = feedburner & utm_medium = email & utm_campaign = Feed% 3A + zmescience +% 28 ZME + Science% 29). That a simple beetle has already developed resistance, not only to one type of transgenic corn, but to two, Cry3Bb1 and mCry3A, shows that Nature cannot be trifled with and, much less, “patent”, as Monsanto has claimed . Nor their dirty legaloid practices of "suing" those who plant their transgenic soy "without permission" or that if their crops had become contaminated with pollen from it and they did not report it, as happened with a Canadian farmer, it prevented them from already, as I pointed out. , a beetle has become resistant and is encroaching on GM corn crops (“Food Inc.” shows Monsanto's tough action against US farmers replanting GM soy: .com / watch? v = mrUrQIwOCO4. See my cited article).

In addition, recent experiments, carried out with rats, which were fed a diet equivalent to what a person would eat, including transgenic corn, showed that in a few months these rats developed terrible tumors.

Despite this, many "scientists" despise such experiments, especially Monsanto, calling them lacking in seriousness, unethical and having carried them out under unreliable practices ( / 29 / notorious-seralini-gmo-cancer-rat-study-retracted-ugly-legal-battle-looms / 2 /).

However, this has greatly discredited Monsanto, which is why it has lately tried to go "organic", as we will see.

It seeks to do it with the manipulation of vegetables, but, according to its managers, in an "organic" way, it does not insert genes, as it did with its corn, but "natural". In fact, he tried a few years ago to put a genetically modified tomato on the market to make it last longer, before it grew too ripe. The so-called Flavr Savr was manipulated so that it produced less quantity of an enzyme called polygalacturonase, which is the cause that the tomato ripens too soon and therefore it must be harvested while still green. But with the manipulation done by Monsanto, it took longer to ripen and rot. And not only that, but its flavor was also manipulated, in order to make it more "crunchy". In fact, the vegetable manipulation tasted more like potatoes than tomatoes. Calgene was the division of Monsanto in charge of carrying out this modification (it was an independent biogenetic company that worked just in the manipulation of the tomato and that Monsanto bought in the mid-nineties).

However, the Flavr Savr was not accepted, especially in Europe, where they opposed planting and consuming such a monstrosity, since it is not possible to determine what damage a vegetable that has been manipulated so as not to rot so soon can cause. In addition, since it was very expensive for Monsanto to produce said transgenic tomato, it did not hesitate to terminate the project, as well as Calgene, in 2001.

So Monsanto decided to change tack. The executive in charge of Calgene, Mr. David Stark, a molecular biologist, was reassigned to another project, which consisted of accelerated "crossing" using special machines and computerized models of vegetables, to obtain, thus, types of such vegetables that represented an optimal in terms of texture, but above all in terms of flavor.

Above all in flavor, Monsanto has sought the "improvements" by making its creations sweeter, especially fruits, as I point out later. These are four vegetables: lettuce, onion, broccoli and peppers, and one fruit: melon, but Monsanto maintains that it has improved them with "traditional" techniques, without resorting to genetic alteration, as it did with transgenic corn or soybeans.

As mentioned above, using machines and computerized models, Monsanto selects the best species of what it wants to improve, certain characteristics, such as consistency, flavor, texture. These phenotypes come from genotypes, that is, the genes responsible for their being generated in the desired way. Thus, samples of those plants, the best, are taken and inserted into a machine that can read up to 200 thousand such samples per week. It also has another machine called a "seed sprayer" with which it can analyze the germ plasm of a plant. With these techniques the best characteristics of a plant are identified, which will make it, let's say, unique. Stark says it is as if millions of crosses and grafts were made, which would naturally take a thousand years, but “thanks” to Monsanto, that is done in years. "In fact, the probability that a single plant possesses 20 desired characteristics, naturally, is one in two trillion," Stark boasts.

Once the vegetable with the desired characteristics is obtained, it is put to the test, sowing it and as it grows and is harvested, tastings are made among all kinds of people, from farmers, to chefs, as long as they give their approval or rejection of the new creation.

And, indeed, the vegetables mentioned above have been very popular, since each one has certain characteristics that make it more attractive. For example, broccoli, dubbed Beneforte, which was first released in the fall of 2010, and is available year-round. This cross contains three times more glucoraphanin, a compound that increases antioxidant levels in the body, which was obtained by crossing normal broccoli with a unique wild species that grows in northern Italy. It is currently planted in Arizona, California and in Mexico! And just, these are the news that one finds out when doing research like this one, that only then is it known what no authority in the country has revealed, that this vegetable is already being planted in the country. It will be necessary to wonder if the pollen of the Beneforte can contaminate the normal broccoli and give it its characteristics and, if so, if Monsanto will act "legally" against the farmers who grow normal broccoli, that they do not give notice, in case their crops are they will become contaminated, as long as that "precious patented vegetable" is not obtained by other means, other than by the seeds legally sold by Monsanto.

Another vegetable is a bell pepper called BellaFina (what a name!), The one that saw the light in the fall of 2011, which is available all year round. This pepper, which, like Beneforte, Monsanto claims is "organic", without genetic modification (although obtained, as I said, by accelerated computerized methods, so it does not seem as organic), are one third the size of a pepper. normal, depending on so that they are not wasted so much and are better used when cooking (I do not see much advantage in that). It was obtained by successively crossing smaller and smaller plants. It is grown in California, Florida, and North Carolina.

A third highly promoted "organic" vegetable is a purple onion, dubbed EverMild. Launched in the fall of 2010, it is available from September to March. It's softer and sweeter than normal, plus it reduces the whining in the eyes, says Stark. It was obtained by selecting plants with lower levels of pyruvate, which determines the itchiness and the tear effect caused by normal onion (which has nothing wrong, since it is even a good antiseptic for the eyes). It is grown in the northwestern region of the United States.

Frescada, lettuce, is another of the vegetables highly prized by Monsanto, especially for its very sweet taste and for having a crunchier consistency than normal (Stark says that it can even be used as a snack). They also claim that it lasts longer (it doesn't rot as soon) and that it contains 146 percent more folate and 74 percent more vitamin C, making it "more nutritious." It was obtained by crossing two species of lettuce, romaine and orejona (in the US they call it iceberg). Available all year round and is grown in Arizona (a desert state, where will they get so much water that is required to grow vegetables?) And California.

And the star of all is a fruit, the Melorange, a variation of the melon. It was obtained from crossing cantaloupes with European melons that contain a gene responsible for citron, which gives it a more fruity and floral aroma. According to Stark, it has nothing to do with the normal melon, since this one “is as if you ate a supercharged melon”, he boasts. For him, normal melon is passable and that's it, but with Melorange “you'll always ask for more!”. What a comparison, it is as if a normal cow is compared to a very fine Hertford cow.

But all that alleged organicism has its price. Indeed, these vegetables and fruit are more expensive. The grafted broccoli costs $ 2.50 dollars per half kilo, that is, about 35 pesos, when the price of normal broccoli fluctuates around five pesos. The peppers cost $ 1.50 dollars a bag with three, about 21 pesos, while a kilo of normals costs between eight and ten pesos, which is about five normal peppers. The melon costs $ 3.00 dollars each, 42 pesos, when the normal one costs about ten pesos per kilo (I mean seasonal prices). The onion costs $ 2.00 dollars per half kilo, 24 pesos, while the normal one costs about four pesos. Finally, Monsanto's lettuce is worth $ 2.50 per half kilo, 35 pesos, while a normal lettuce is worth 5 to 10 pesos. As can be seen, in almost all cases, the prices are more than six times those of normal vegetables. Of course, if Monsanto succeeds in making its "organic" vegetables and fruits prevail over conventional ones, through its monopolists, cheating practices, its profits would increase even more, despite being so expensive, without waiting for the price to drop in the future, because in fact food costs continue to increase, due to the monopolistic practices of Monsanto and other agro-industrial giants, such as Cargill, Perdue Farms, Conagra, Tyson, General Foods, among others (they control more than 80% of world production agroindustrial), in addition to shortages due to diminishing returns from agricultural land, and due to droughts and climate change (see my article: -thickening-y_01.html).

Anyway, the sale of those vegetables already netted him $ 821 million in 2013, which for a company with annual revenues of $ 14,000 million, says Stark, "is not bad at all."

And in fact, already several American supermarket chains distribute their vegetables. For the same reason, Monsanto plans to continue creating more crosses. To do this, in 2005, it bought the Seminis company, dedicated to selling germ plasm in large quantities (this is precisely what Monsanto was able to experience with the different crosses of its vegetables). Monsanto also owns a large greenhouse in the mountains of Guatemala, where the hot, dry air allows up to four harvests per year, very good for research, he says. Likewise, it acquired De Ruiter, one of the largest companies that produces greenhouse seeds. And in 2013, it bought the Climate Corporation, a company that analyzes the climate by managing millions of data, and that can give reliable reports on what kinds of plants are required to survive global warming in a certain region (in fact, global warming is already becoming very lucrative (see my article:ón-global.html).

What Monsanto also insists on is making its fruits more “tasty”, especially sweeter, because that is its idea of ​​“improving” the taste. His philosophy is "make the fruit tastier and people will eat much more." "That's good for society and, let's be frank, very good for business," says Stark boastfully. Of course, at the end of the day, in effect, it is about winning and winning, even if fruits are made sweeter and, therefore, with more calories, which is not exactly good for health. No one has ever manipulated sugar levels the way Monsanto is doing before. "It's just an experiment," says Robert Lustig, a pediatric endocrinologist and president of the Institute for Responsible Nutrition. "The only outcome Monsanto expects is profit."

And for this reason, despite presenting itself as “very organic”, Monsanto does not abandon its monopolistic practices. The company imposes severe clauses on farmers who buy its vegetable seeds, just as it does with its transgenic soybeans or corn, most notably a strict ban on such farmers replanting their seeds (absurd measure!). Although it makes some concessions, if the harvests are not achieved as expected, of course, as long as all the measures that it demands have been complied with so that its vegetables are sown. All this provided that the vegetables mentioned, and those that continue to be produced, are recognized by consumers, trust them, get used to buying them and no longer change them for anything, as Stark says. "That is what I really want, for sales to grow and grow."

In short, as can be seen, nothing is disinterested within savage capitalism, which will appear to stop being savage capitalism, in order to achieve its profitable objectives.

Video: Oshkosh Sustainability Board 8519 (May 2022).


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