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Swanson writes: "Monsanto is responsible for environmental disasters that have destroyed entire towns, and a driving force behind the international waves of suicides among farmers whose lives it has helped ruin - has monopolized our food system largely by taking over regulatory agencies like the U.S. Department of Agriculture."

(illustration: Rock the Stove)
(illustration: Rock the Stove)

Monsanto Has Taken Over the USDA

By David Swanson, Nation of Change

11 May 13


he U.S. Department of Agriculture has been taken over by an outside organization.  RootsAction has launched a campaign demanding a Congressional investigation.

The organization is called Monsanto.

Monsanto is, of course, the world's largest biotech corporation.  These are the people who brought us Roundup weed killer and the resulting superweeds and superbugs, along with growth hormones for cows, genetically engineered and patented seeds, PCBs, and Agent Orange - which Monsanto now wants us to use as herbicide on genetically engineered corn and soybeans. 

This chemical company - responsible for environmental disasters that have destroyed entire towns, and a driving force behind the international waves of suicides among farmers whose lives it has helped ruin - has monopolized our food system largely by taking over regulatory agencies like the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

recent study links Roundup to autism, Parkinson's, and Alzheimer's.

While Hungary has just destroyed all Monsanto genetically engineered corn fields, the USDA takes a slightly different approach toward the chemical giant.  The USDA has, in fact, never denied a single application from Monsanto for new genetically engineered crops.  Not one.  Not ever.

The takeover has been thorough.  Monsanto's growth hormones for cows have been approved by Michael Taylor, a former Monsanto lobbyist turned USDA administrator and FDA deputy commissioner.  This was after Margaret Miller, a former Monsanto employee, oversaw a report on the hormones' safety and then took a job at the FDA where she approved her own report.

Islam Siddiqui, a former Monsanto lobbyist, wrote the USDA's food standards, allowing corporations to label irradiated and genetically engineered foods as "organic."

The recently passed and signed law nicknamed the Monsanto Protection Act strips federal courts of the power to halt the sale and planting of genetically engineered crops during a legal appeals process.  The origin of this act can be found in the USDA's deregulation of Roundup Ready sugar beets in violation of a court order.  The USDA argued that any delay would have caused a sugar shortage, since Monsanto holds 95% of the market.

The revolving door keeps revolving.  Monsanto's board members have worked for the EPA, advised the USDA, and served on President Obama's Advisory Committee for Trade Policy and Negotiations.

Clearly, an investigation of large-scale government corruption by this singularly destructive corporation is long overdue.  RootsAction is asking everyone concerned, wherever you are in the world, to join in demanding the opening of that investigation right now.

And then get ready to join Nation of Change and organizations and individuals around the world in a March Against Monsanto on May 25. your social media marketing partner


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+81 # Barbara K 2013-05-11 11:40
It is time to do something big-time to stop Monsanto's poisoning of us, the citizens of this country. Investigate them and the USDA, find out why USDA isn't stopping this bunch of crooks. It should never have gotten this far. Time to take Monsanto down any way we can. We cannot let them continue to kill us with their poisons, our lives are on the line.

+40 # Gogojoe 2013-05-11 14:14
Yeah, write your congressman! (hahaha, read in evil genius laughter).
They own the congress, lock,stock,and barrel.
+14 # kochadoodledoo 2013-05-12 04:46
You laugh about writing your congressman, so let me tell you about Edward Bok, a Danish immigrant in the 1800s, who became editor of "The Ladies Home Journal" and lead it to become the first American periodical with a million subscribers. Bok encouraged his readers to write their congressmen protesting the killing of birds in Florida for their feathers which were becoming fashionable. Those congressmen were INUNDATED with letters, real letters, not emails, and a law was passed against the killing of the birds. You are right, however, it does seem that "they own the congress, lock, stock, and barrel" as long as we the people allow it.
+61 # zornorff 2013-05-11 12:00
With cretins like Clarence Thomas in it's pocket what do you expect?
+34 # James Marcus 2013-05-11 13:07
Chicken and Egg. Actually, 'The Big Money' runs them both! ...and the banks, politicians, many other corporations, and their Regulatory Agencies; and, don't forget, The Major Media, as well!
Ducks-In-A-Row. ...
-41 # diacad 2013-05-11 13:20
David Swanson claims that Monsanto is "a driving force behind the international waves of suicides among farmers whose lives it has helped ruin", presumably due to its promotion of GMO crops.

This article sheds doubt on the suicide claim as well as other ipse dixits by Swanson and others:

GMO rice has been grown in the Philippines for generations, and though there are problems (falling rate of profit for poor farmers), the tripling of crop yields due to hybrid seed assures the Philippines, with their burgeoning population, will not likely go backwards. See

Monsanto. a prime example of monopoly capital, may very well be causing a lot of trouble and extension of patents on hybrid seeds should be denied, but I for one will be looking into these GMO claims a little closer in the future. Spreading easily refuted falsehoods is not in the end a service to progress, either political or agricultural.
+24 # Nebulastardust 2013-05-11 15:14
It not the modifications that are the danger here so far as we know. It's a couple of indirect aspects of using Monsanto GMAs along with the extra usage of pesticides and with the higher costs of production killing farmers in many third world countries.

Farmers in the USA are losing their farms too due to complications and expenses directly related to Monsanto.

These are the cruel aspects of Monsanto that are leading to hardship, losses and suicides.
+29 # Nebulastardust 2013-05-11 15:28
Philippine rice farmers are not happy with GMO's taking over from the wide variety of rice modified over many hundreds of years. A wide range of variance which provides protection from a mono-culture of poison dependant plants.

As with Mexico, the farmers who have many varieties of corn at their disposal to protect from blight, from drought and from too much rain and have prohibited GMOs.

Mono-cultures dependant upon expensive poisons is danger and can lead quickly into devastation with even one super bug. This can then lead to vast starvations in our world.

Monsanto has proved itself a very demanding company willing to have people die in their effort to see their products. Poisons and poison resistant plants. They are a danger and the USA backing this renegade company are acting rogue as usual.

Africa, take note: Hillary Clinton said don't trust China. I'd advise that you trust the USA even less.
+15 # kochadoodledoo 2013-05-12 04:53
Somebody ought to Round Up Monsanto and do some modification.
+3 # Nebulastardust 2013-05-11 15:54
Scientific American is fairly non-Scientific in this piece. Though I've heard of suicides in India related to GMO's I've not seen the huge tallies that the article suggests were claimed of Monsanto.

I've seen journalistic views looking at a few suicides being blamed on the Monsanto aggression and the inability of farmers to pay for seed, to keep seed for next planting etc and then losing their farms continuing into suicide because of the loss of taking care of themselves and their families.

Scientific American's broad strokes don't even attempt to get into much of the issues with GMO's and Monsanto specifically.

It seems, too, that broad strokes of negligible science in this article demand too much leeway for Monsanto.

Instead of taking on some of the huge accusations that always perk up in these issues the Science of understanding the suicides, the reasons for suicides, the numbers of farmers that lost their livelihoods ought to have been addressed and they were not.

A pretty shoddy article from Scientific American.
+22 # Polar Bear 2013-05-11 20:49
Scientific American is for Junior high students..Read Vandana Shiva's "Soil,Not Oil"..Farmers have since the beginning of agriculture,sav ed seeds to plant for next year..Monsanto actively steals the seeds and farmers are dependent on buying the genitically modified seeds...they write the laws giving them patents on the DNA of many crops..
+23 # Polar Bear 2013-05-11 20:38
You need to read the great Vandana Shiva who lives in India...She can name many of the thousands who have killed have Mexican farmers..Vandan a Shiva is a scientist and her sister a physician for the poor and THEY,not a person who defends Monsanto,know the real story
+6 # karenvista 2013-05-12 20:18
Polar Bear-Here's how Vandana Shiva explains the problem on HufPo:

The region in India with the highest level of farmers suicides is the Vidharbha region in Maharashtra -- 4000 suicides per year, 10 per day. This is also the region with the highest acreage of Monsanto's GMO Bt cotton. Monsanto's GM seeds create a suicide economy by transforming seed from a renewable resource to a non-renewable input which must be bought every year at high prices. Cotton seed used to cost Rs 7/kg. Bt-cotton seeds were sold at Rs 17,000/kg. Indigenous cotton varieties can be intercropped with food crops. Bt-cotton can only be grown as a monoculture. Indigenous cotton is rain fed. Bt-cotton needs irrigation. Indigenous varieties are pest resistant. Bt-cotton, even though promoted as resistant to the boll worm, has created new pests, and to control these new pests, farmers are using 13 times more pesticides then they were using prior to introduction of Bt-cotton. And finally, Monsanto sells its GMO seeds on fraudulent claims of yields of 1500/kg/year when farmers harvest 300-400 kg/year on an average. High costs and unreliable output make for a debt trap, and a suicide economy.
+6 # RnR 2013-05-13 06:30
Vandana Shiva is a truly great person, and there aren't many of those :)
+10 # dovelane1 2013-05-12 01:38
It was the reliance on one variety of potato that caused the Famine in Ireland in the mid 1800's. Perhaps you should read about the death and misery that caused, and rethink your position.

Those who do not remember and understand the past, etc...
+4 # Nominae 2013-05-12 21:05
Quoting dovelane1:
It was the reliance on one variety of potato that caused the Famine in Ireland in the mid 1800's. Perhaps you should read about the death and misery that caused, and rethink your position.

Those who do not remember and understand the past, etc...

This argument is a classic failure of logic due to drawing an egregiously false equivalency.

Mixing NATURAL varieties of Potatoes had and *has* NOTHING to do with Genetically Modified Spuds and "superbug" and "superweed" producing chemicals.
0 # Nebulastardust 2013-06-01 13:04
Yes, the relationship is very close. With Monsanto farmers are being forced more into monocultures of Monsanto design.

Monocultures inherently lead to failure and in large country wide failures to famine.

Monsanto crops are leading in this direction very quickly and the true science corruption by Monsanto may lead to many famines and it may lead to huge famines.

The company is, in every way, determined to great as much money for itself as it can as quickly as it can.

Sorry but Scientific American is out to lunch on this or Scientific American has been compromised in some way.

The direction of Monsanto is clear and the direction to back and promote Monsanto by the American government is just one more proof that the USA does not give a tinker's damn about people in its own country or in other countries.

As a matter of fact the USA's position that Mexico must by 'live seeds' of Monsanto corn for consumer use rather than to allow its prohibition as are Monsanto corn seeds for planting in Mexico being banned.

It's not just inconsiderate to use the free trade treaty in such a manner its cruel.

Just one more reason to not trust the USA at any time about anything. One will be abused.
+1 # kochadoodledoo 2013-05-12 04:50
I think Monsanto is EVIL, but I appreciate your looking into both sides of this very serious issue.
+2 # Douglas Jack 2013-05-12 12:40
Understanding Monsanto's larger mistake? 'Agriculture' (Latin 'ager' = 'field') ploughing for 2-dimensional crop is a 1st mistake. Indian & worldwide 'indigenous' (L 'self-generatin g') Polyculture Orchard P.O. food production traditions cultivate tall, medium & small trees, vines, bushes, shrubs, herbs, vegetable, mushrooms etc. Plant seeds every 250 years to achieve perpetual harvest. Primate orchard keepers nourish trees by gathering leaves, fecal & urine for biodigestion in root systems. PO photosynthesize s 92 - 98% of solar energy converted into abundant food, material, energy & water cycle. Cold continental POs attract warm moist ocean winds inland. 60% of H20 transfer from ocean to continent is by condensation upon leaf surfaces with only 40% falling as rain. Tree roots descend 10s of metres into earth substrates to pump water, mine minerals, & develop nutrient colonies. Agriculture photosynthesize s 2 - 8% of solar, energy, roots descend short centimetres & reflected solar energy pushes winds from continent to sea. Modern measures of Indigenous PO, Agro-forestry, permaculture, forest-gardens show 100 times (10,000%) more food, material, energy & water-cycle production perpetually with less than 10% labour inputs than agriculture. Rivers flow, sun is moderated, wind is harvested by tree-branches into ATP production, species abound & humans enjoy abundance.
+3 # karenvista 2013-05-12 20:06
Are you aware that a "hybrid seed" is not the same thing as a "GMO seed?" Apparently not.
-1 # avocadotree 2013-05-29 10:15
Would agree. Monsanto is not the monster some would like to claim it is. When you think about it, GMO seeds have enabled a great deal of increased food production in the world. Many people rush to judgment and are not aware of the benefits.
0 # Nebulastardust 2013-06-01 13:10
Oh, no?

It's promoting a giant failure. Also, a lot of claims about this are Monsanto claims. Nutritional value is down in many crops and not up as claimed.

The failures are already being noted and this is a true Frankenstein type problem. And, not a nice Frankenstein at all.
0 # Nebulastardust 2013-06-01 12:46
I agree with your point of view to a point. I do not agree with Scientific American in this case. The position of SA was poorly formed and not very scientific in nature. I've looked at numerous articles about the aggressive nature of Monsanto and it is a very, very aggressive company that knows no limits to its hurt for people.

Now, that it owns Xe, Blackwater or whatever its called now I truly feel that its aggressive nate, already out of control, will be even more damning toward farmers and their livelihoods as its backed by the might of the USA already giving Monsanto exceptional protections in American law.

In my view some things are very, very wrong and it's not too far, I believe, that Monsanto will be aide and abetted by the out of control USA military all round our globe.
+29 # Eliza D 2013-05-11 13:21
Let's get out and march on May 25. Show 'em we're mad as hell and we're not going to take it! Tell as many people as you can.
+9 # cafetomo 2013-05-11 13:25
Well, you certainly deserve a round of sarcastic applause for having noticed.

Monsanto is the poster child for a society wanting both an end to corruption, and more opportunity to participate in it. Food, medicine, shelter, all legislated to the outer reaches of affordability. Did they miss anything? Shill it to them as opportunity, and make a killing. It's the American way, after all.

Good on you, though. The start to making the world a better place is by ending what profits needlessly through exploitation of its' weaker neighbors.

But let's don't ask the rest of the world what it thinks of good ol' USA, just yet.
+8 # cordleycoit 2013-05-11 13:26
Thank the President at you next round with cancer doctors. He being where the "Buck stops," is due all praise for turning the
white House into a whore house for lobbyists. We get to pay the Chicago Machine gets to play. The truth in America is most uncomfortable know.
+11 # kochadoodledoo 2013-05-12 05:00
For god's sake, the White House was a whore house for lobbyists long before a black man was elected president. Ever heard of congress, supreme court, checks and balances, obstruction?
+10 # Douglas Jack 2013-05-11 13:49
Monsanto is only a linear reflection of 2-dimensional 'agriculture' (Latin 'ager' = 'field'). They falsely believe that; their 2-D agri-worldview is the only one capable of feeding the world. Typical linear thinking means that Monsanto can't consider any information/ evidence/realit y outside of their professional-in stitutional box. Monsanto is the perfect consequence of our 'exogenous' (Latin 'other-generate d') colonial heritage moving from disaster to disaster.

Humanity's worldwide universal 'Indigenous' (L 'self-generatin g') 3-D polyculture orchards were in their integrity, 'too-much' for our colonial ancestor invaders to understand as we cut down the seeds of hundreds of years planting & 10s of 1000s of years of cultural knowledge. Colonials are willing slaves hierarchal feudal control systems.

1st Nation 3-D orchards as our own Celtic European, African, Asian, Australian & worldwide were producing 100 times (10,000%) more food such as Protein & starch from nuts & seed, greens, fruit etc than 2-D agriculture. In mostly peaceful welcome, 1st Nations could only offer dialogue then tears & exasperation. 1st Nations called for dialogues, rejected by our colonial ancestors, which our linear minds to this day have been unable to engage in. It isn't possible to transform Monsanto until we understand the falsehoods within us which support them.
+10 # dovelane1 2013-05-12 01:21
When you have a country-wide, cultural system based on competition rather than cooperation, based on winners and losers, and based on dysfunctional and addictive norms, what else could possibly happen, but what is happening now.

As most, if not all the people who deal with dysfunctional and addictive systems, and people, on a professional basis will tell you, the main symptoms of addictive behaviors are denial and blame. We deny there is a problem, or we blame someone else for the problem.

Nothing changes until we change the system(s) we are trying to survive in. It is difficult to change the systems when we are, at the same time, dependent on them for our survival.

At some point in time, it will become apparent that our survival as a species will take precedence over our survival as a group, or as an individual. Hopefully we will reach that point of awareness when we can still do something about it. If not, well...
0 # Douglas Jack 2013-05-12 12:42
Dovelane, Thanks for your comment, "When you have a country-wide, cultural system based on competition rather than cooperation, based on winners and losers, and based on dysfunctional and addictive norms, what else could possibly happen," Its good to see that you can see deeper than the paradigm which we impose on ourselves. This is the particular, Indigene Community is focusing on through humanity's 'indigenous' (Latin 'self-generatin g') heritage of positive economic livelihood practices.
+28 # Ladidah 2013-05-11 13:51
"The USDA argued that any delay would have caused a sugar shortage, since Monsanto holds 95% of the market." Well wouldn't that be terrible! As if we didn't eat enough sugar and suffer from obesity and diabetes in this country. Of all the lame excuses this has got to be the most inane.
+4 # karenvista 2013-05-12 20:22
Quoting Ladidah:
"The USDA argued that any delay would have caused a sugar shortage, since Monsanto holds 95% of the market." Well wouldn't that be terrible! As if we didn't eat enough sugar and suffer from obesity and diabetes in this country. Of all the lame excuses this has got to be the most inane.

And if we wanted for sugar we could import it from CUBA!
0 # Nebulastardust 2013-06-01 13:14
The subsidization of corn to produce sugar is just inane.

Yes, by it from Cuba. Not far to travel and it's cheap and its a better sugar, health wise, than is the devil corn sugar.
+20 # pamelawy 2013-05-11 14:00
On May 25th everywhere there are marches against Monsanto - The power we have is in numbers and dollars. What we can do right now is turn out in HUGE numbers, the HUGE numbers that represent what all the polls show to be against Monsanto taking over our food supply and owning our government agencies.
+16 # larrypayne 2013-05-11 15:54
I'm sure Monsanto didn't realize that their attempted control over world food supply would cause many people who have never had a garden before to start one.

City dwellers are signing up for community gardens as never before.

I built a greenhouse with temperature control to make it usable all year-round.
I'm growing corn outside and plan to save the non-GMO seeds.

The grocery industry might get behind the stop Monsanto movement if they lose enough business to home gardens.
+9 # dovelane1 2013-05-12 01:26
Much as I applaud your attempt to go in the right direction, if we don't gain control of the amount of carbon emissions going into the atmosphere, none of this will matter in the long run. As even giant Monsanto, and the arrogant cretins who run it, will discover, Mother Nature bats last.
0 # Nebulastardust 2013-06-01 13:15
The rich will survive. As usual.
+5 # kochadoodledoo 2013-05-12 05:05
Better not let Monsanto know you are saving seeds. Isn't that one of the things they put farmers out of business for?
0 # Nebulastardust 2013-06-01 13:16
Shhhhh! Be quiet!
+15 # m... 2013-05-11 20:52
My line remains the same about many of the very good articles like this one published and linked to this site.
For me, there is a bottom line to these articles that links them and I believe Americans need to focus on this link the most because it lies at the heart of our problems.
The bottom line link in this Article about Monsanto I talk of is its link to the direct outcome 30 years on from the so-called Reagan Revolution.
I like to use Reagan's Famous Comment declaring 'Government IS the Problem' as the day the Corporate Conservative Hounds were released and became a plague upon the land. It was a monumental moment. Its the moment when Our Government OF, BY and FOR Ourselves was amputated from us, leaned against an execution wall, pointed at and declared an evil thing separate from us. We were told from that day on that it needed to be torn apart and forever and ever made Smaller!
The vague, knee jerk Conservative TalkingPoint was born-- 'SMALLER GOVERNMENT' (= Forever-Less Government through never ending Deregulation, De-taxation and Government Privatization Schemes on behalf of the Super Wealthy as Formulated BY THEM!)
'Smaller Government' was deliberately steered and has evolved into what its become-- The American Corporatocracy, a political-cultu ral-economic model now exported to the world.
Its a non-debated Flim Flam that is either called out and stopped or BIG Business Lobbies will literally rule the world.
+8 # kochadoodledoo 2013-05-12 05:09
Really! The only reason "conservatives" want less government regulation is because regulation requires a semblance of behaving ethically thereby cutting their profits.
+1 # m... 2013-05-13 01:15
They want it all as if never ending... Their legal mandate and first and foremost responsibility is their Shareholders and increasing shareholder wealth before all else. If they can 'legally'(?) do that through lobby-manipulat ion of government--- legislation, deregulation, de-taxation and using taxpayers as their cash cows in Privatization Schemes, then that is what they will do, have been doing and intend to do for as long as they can get away with it regardless of consequences outside their own bottom line-- AND THAT KIND OF 'SMALLER GOVERNMENT' is the camouflaged, whitewashed actuality, not the 'Smaller Government' many millions of voters have been conned into believing is the road to Less 'Intrusive' Government in their lives.
We of course know different. Its all a Flim Flam. Government is bigger, more intrusive and more expensive than ever, but now, mostly as an impotent, big business/corpor ate cash cow paid for by 99% of Americans in more ways than 1.
Many many voters have been led to think that a Privatized Government run by Corporations, one beholden first and foremost to their (GLOBAL?) Shareholder interests is somehow the road to greater Liberty, Freedom and Prosperity for All in the face of what now amounts to 2 decades of historical/econ omic facts which prove otherwise, and right in their face if only they would stop listening to Corporate Media Rhetoric, look around and pause to think for themselves about it..
+1 # Douglas Jack 2013-05-12 12:56
Government is supposed to be a popular mechanism for ethical stewardship of corporations. Missing from today's 'capitalism' (Latin 'cap' = 'mind' or 'wisdom') is the ongoing recognition for the contributions, experience, expertise & decision-making acumen of all stakeholders. Today's corporations such as Monsanto typically are owned & governed only by the ignorance of those who have inherited money & stocks to govern for self-serving reasons of consumer addictions. The universities & research laboratories from which Monsanto adopted its false technologies also have a knowledge problem with no debate nor other mechanisms for weighing relative pro & cons of technology.

Our 'indigenous' (Latin 'self-generatin g') ancestors cultivated balance by having all stakeholders recognized for contributions, with time-based human resource accounting within systems of progressive ownership over the course of one's lifetime.
+3 # jwb110 2013-05-12 11:48
Anybody here remember Benito Mussolini's "Corporatocracy".
Sounds familiar doesn't it?
+3 # RnR 2013-05-13 06:29
Considering the number of deaths that can be directly related to the activities of Monsanto, and that the corporations so vigorously defend their classification as "persons" I think Monsanto should be charged with deliberate first degree murders. After the first thousand or so deaths, any "person" would have noticed the cause and effect.

As far as taking over the USDA, I think the situation is far more serious than that. The WTO rules in favor of Monsanto. This entire program of control of the worlds food supply could not be successfully implemented without the assistance of government...ou rs and others...and I *do* mean the cute little alphabet agencies.

Research, reveal, revamp :)
+4 # cleolee 2013-05-13 15:19
USDA is completely owned by the commercial agriculture industry including the dairy, poultry, beef,horse meat and every commercial plant industry group. The USDA does not write agriculture regulations, members of the regulated industries and lobbying groups write the regulations. Why do you think the US allows more chemicals in the meat produced here than any other country allows in its meat. Consumer be damned industry first last and forever.

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