The World According to Monsanto seeks to report on various controversies regarding the use and promotion of its products. Monsanto became the pioneer of genetically modified foods when, in 1983, created a tobacco plant that was resistant to antibiotics. Around 5 years later, it also became the first bioagricultural company to conduct field tests of genetically modified crops. Monsanto is also well known for its herbicide product commercially available under the brand name “Roundup”. The films director, who researched the company and the effects of its products worldwide for over 3 years, makes the claim that Monsanto, in collusion with various government entities, sought to suppress and manipulate the scientific data regarding its products. They are also recognized as developing rBST (recombinant bovine growth hormone) for use in dairy cows which increases milk production by 11-16%. The film makes the point that rBST leads to decreased health for dairy cows, often causing mastitis requiring antibiotics which then leach into the cows milk, ultimately consumed by humans.
The film definitely has some points worth considering regarding the mega corporation Monsanto. Being the largest seed producer in the world and with over 70% of the American food supply containing Monsanto’s genetically modified crops, Monsanto is a powerful lobbyist that can wield its influence to push products that may or may not be detrimental not only to humans, but to the environment as well.
In St. Louis, Missouri, Monsanto is spending $400M to renovate and upgrade its research facility in Chesterfield. This, according to economists, will help further St. Louis’ rise in agricultural science. For the passed ten years, the region has been trying to expand its food science sector, and not just with help from Monsanto. Many people in the Missouri biotech industry are lauding the move by Monsanto, saying that the research is top-notch and will “help attract world-class talent to St. Louis.”
The focus on innovation in the agricultural sphere also could have economic impacts for the region. Monsanto deciding to stake itself down in Chesterfield essentially could read as a vote of confidence in the region that could very well lead to more companies moving in as well.
This news article doesn’t mention any of the controversial aspects of the Monsanto Corporation. When read about simply as a Job Creator, they don’t seem like anything more than just a friendly research company that’s helping create more jobs in an area that has seen better days. It’s an interesting read, especially after some of the more negative press.
The “Monsanto Protection Act” is what is becoming the colloquial term for HR 933, a spending bill signed in March of 2013 that has what this article lists as five specific dangers. One, that the federal judiciary will not be able to halt the sale or planting of GMOs, no matter what health issues could crop up in the future. Two, apparently the law was written with help from Monsanto’s legal department as well. Must be a fair amount of campaign donations flying around. Three, HR 933 actually was a bill aimed at averting a government shutdown, and this “Monsanto Protection Act” language actually comes into the bill as a rider, essentially. According to the author, many members of Congress had no idea this language was present. The article also worries that even with protesters present, President Obama signed the bill anyway. The last thing worried about is that this kind of corporate protection will set a dangerous precedent: that to get around goverment regulation, all a company has to do is buy off some legislators and write up a new law of their own.
Of all of the reasons listed in this article, the precedent concerning corporate interests gaining legislative ability is without a doubt the most concerning. With Citizens United, corporations can funnel however much money they want to into a cause or candidate that suits them, and now with this legal precedent, this could become a slippery slope of various interests buying protective legislation whenever they want.