Monsanto, the insurmountably large, global “food” and agricultural biotechnology producer is banned in twenty-six countries and now, four states in the US. Tennessee is the latest addition to the growing list of nations, regions, and states to ban the international agricultural giant.
Like Arkansas, Kansas, and Missouri, Tennessee holds Monsanto responsible for massive environmental harm which the state believes will take enormous time and resources to remedy.
Tennessee farmers have been lodging complaints for years that Monsanto herbicides have drifted outside their intended areas of use and damaged crops on adjacent farms. Many farmers, wary of genetically modified crops have not used them. But when Monsanto herbicides find their ways into the fields where non-Monsanto crops are planted those crops die.
Monsanto uses a chemical called Dicamba. It’s the main ingredient in pesticides produced by the corporation. It is also produced by DuPont and BASF, but Monsanto distributes it more widely than any other company.
Herbicides that are made with this chemical are so potent that crops have to be specially modified at the genetic level in order to withstand it. The idea is that weeds and other unwanted plant life will not have the advantage of genetic manipulation and will not be able to cope with the aggressive poison. Dicamba was approved by the Environmental Protection Agency in 2016 for use against broadleaf weeds.
But southern farmers have been complaining since its use began Dicamba has cost them many thousands of dollars in lost crops as it drifts outside its intended area of use.
Hunter Rafferty, a farmer in Wyatt, Missouri, told Reuters, “We’ve had damage across just about every acre of soybeans we farm in southeast Missouri. In our small town, the azaleas, the ornamentals, people have lost their vegetable gardens. It’s a big problem.”
Rafferty says that between 3,000 and 4,000 acres of soy have been damaged by the herbicide and that the leaves of his plants wither into cup-like shapes and the plants cannot yield a product.
As usual, Monsanto is dismissive of the claims of these farmers. They say the farmers have been misled by conspiracy theories about the corporate agrochemical manufacturer. Monsanto’s Chief Technology Officer, Robb Fraley says, “In almost every technology in the first year there are kinks that you need to work out.”
This, of course, is not a valid argument. The fact remains that what Monsanto is doing is creating a product that makes it very hard for farmers who do not buy it to compete with those who do. Even worse, their product effectively sabotages the production of farmers who do not use both their genetically altered crop seeds and their herbicides as well.
Many have likened it to industrial sabotage. It’s difficult to think of another example where a company’s products not only compete with those of its competitors by creating higher yields for their clients, but by also destroying the ability of their non-partnered customers to do business.
Imagine a tire manufacturer gained the rights to produce and repair roadways in a given state. Suppose that tire manufacturer then began producing roads that damage tires. They then began designing tires that were resistant to the tire damaging new roads and the price of those tires is double what ordinary tires cost.
In our analogy, non-GMO crop plants are like the old non-resistant tires, and Monsanto’s powerful herbicide is like the tire-wrecking new roadways. To make the analogy even more apt you might suppose that the new tires make a vehicle more likely to be in roadway collisions.
This is the predicament Monsanto imposes on farmers who do not want to use GMOs. Everywhere the company and its products have been banned- particularly in Russia and Europe- it has been because genetically modified foods are believed to be linked to cancer and other health deficits.
But it’s a very new and novel problem. This has been a big reason why it has been so difficult for people to address the problems created by Monsanto. There really is no other organization on Earth like it and very little legal precedent on which to base legal decisions.
But the state government in Tennessee has listened to the concerns of their local farmers and taken their plight seriously. They have joined a growing confederation of states who see a need to protect local agriculture from agrochemical giants like Monsanto.
Jai Templeton, the Tennessee Agriculture Commissioner said, “I’m confident we can address this issue as we have in other cases and ensure the safe and effective use of these tools.”
~ Health Scams Exposed