Monsanto is the dominant company in genetically modified (GMO) crops and is the biggest seed company in the world.
A sustainable system would produce an adequate supply of food, safeguard the environment, and protect farmers’ bottom lines at the same time. Monsanto fails this three-pronged test.
"In reality, the company is producing more engineered seeds and herbicides and improving its bottom line, but at the expense of conservation and long-term sustainability," says Doug
Gurian-Sherman, senior scientist with Union of Concerned Scientists’s Food and Environment Program.
On its new website, Union of Concerned Scientists explores eight ways Monsanto undermines efforts to promote sustainability:
1. Fostering weed and insect resistance. Monsanto’s
RoundupReady and Bt technologies lead to resistant weeds and insects that can make farming more difficult and reduce sustainability.
2. Increasing herbicide use. Roundup resistance has led
farmers to use more herbicides, which threatens biodiversity, sustainability and human health.
3. Spreading gene contamination. Engineered genes have a bad habit of turning up in non-genetically engineered crops. When that happens, sustainable farmers-and their customers-pay a high price.
4. Expanding monocultures. Monsanto’s focus on a few
commodity crops contributes to reduced biodiversity and, as a consequence, to more pesticide use and fertilizer pollution.
5. Marginalizing alternatives. Monsanto single-minded focus
on genetic engineering fixes comes at the expense of cheaper, more effective solutions, such as classical crop breeding and ecological farming methods.
6. Lobbying and advertising: Monsanto spends more than other
agribusiness companies to persuade Congress and the general public to support industrial agriculture.
Monsanto spent $8 million lobbying members of Congress and federal officials in 2010, for example, and more than $400,000 more in political contributions in that year’s election cycle. At the same time, it spent $120 million in advertising.
7. Suppressing research. Monsanto thwarts independent
research on its products, making it more difficult for farmers and policymakers to make informed decisions that could foster more sustainable agriculture.
8. Falling short on feeding the world. Monsanto’s genetically
engineered crops have done little to increase crop yields. Regardless, the company stands in the way of proven, scientifically defensible solutions.
"The undue influence of companies like Monsanto result in food policies that encourage less diversity, and an over-reliance on herbicides and insecticides," says Karen Perry Stillerman, senior analyst with the Union of Concerned Scientists Food and Environment Program. "As the farm bill is currently being debated in Congress, now is the time to prioritize sustainable agriculture alternatives to genetically engineered crops in our food policies."
Read about the growing counter-movement of people returning to family farming to grow organic food. And read about the massive lawsuit against Monsanto.
Visit the website for details on the eight ways Monsanto undermines efforts to promote sustainability: