EnviroWeekly | License to till | The Triangle

EnviroWeekly | License to till

The immunity with which the safety of our planet and our bodies may be compromised as of late is sickening. The sheer quantity of transgressions that corporate giant Monsanto Co. is responsible for would be comical if it were not so dire. With every new facet of this corporation that I become aware of, my animosity grows.

I do recognize that the primary goal of a corporation is to make money, so I am empathetic when coming across quotes by Monsanto officials who display their blatant disregard for health and safety. Regulation for these biotech companies should come from the government, and extensive testing should take place before any genetically modified food is allowed to be grown or distributed. Being a proponent of science, I can safely say that if enough research is conducted and scientists can unanimously declare that a certain modified organism is safe for the planet and the human body, I will have no qualms with it being used. I shall not, however, blindly accept the implementation of a potentially devastating culture of natural degradation, regardless of its short-term positive effects. Therein lies the issue, the reason for the thousands of people marching against Monsanto, the reason for eight of the EU’s member states banning genetically modified organisms, and the reason for Russia’s outrage and warnings of war. The government cannot effectively moderate Monsanto because so many key people in the government have interests in the success of the corporation.

Our government, though markedly less so than many other nations’ governments, is an unreliable stew of corruption, partisan bickering, and conflicts of interest. Fortunately, concerned scientists and research firms take it upon themselves to raise awareness about the detrimental effects of GMO crops. Quite unfortunately, though, Monsanto has the financial means to combat those firms. A recent example emerged when concerns began to rise about the rapid decline of bee populations, which could lead to a catastrophic collapse of the world ecosystem. Any guess as to how Monsanto responded? They bought out the leading bee research firm.

I feel almost foolish now when I do further research because I know that I am going to find nothing to my liking, and what I do find will surely detract from any positive news in my day. Regardless, I update myself regularly on new developments and occasionally any old ones that I may have missed. As of a few months ago, my nerves had calmed, my fervent disdain for Monsanto had subsided, and I resolved simply to accept what was happening. I told myself that I could help when I graduated from college and that no amount of attending marches or rallies would make even a slight difference. That respite was welcome, but I was doomed to relapse, and so relapse I did. Section 735 of a recent bill (H.R.933), which President Obama signed into law, has come to be known as the “Monsanto Protection Act.” This act effectively makes the United States government unable to immediately cease the production and distribution of GMO seeds even if adverse effects of them are discovered. Livid does not even begin to describe my emotional state when I read that section of the bill.

It may turn out that GMO crops are not as harmful as current studies would imply, but that is not a risk that any human or collective of humans should have the power to take. Betting the habitability and health of our planet and all its organisms for the purpose of profit is not wise, and until responsible regulation and legislation is implemented, I will stand adamantly with millions of others worldwide in opposition to Monsanto.

Matt Gentry is a member of the Drexel Sierra Club. He can be contacted at op-ed@dev.thetriangle.org.