Is Putin Right to Call Monsanto a Terrorist Organization and Ban GMOs?

Russia has high hopes for organic farming -- maybe a little too high. Source: Hajhouse/ Wikimedia Commons.

Sometime before wrestling bears and after hunting tigers, Russian President Vladimir Putin found a few minutes to denounce the use of genetically modified crops (again). While Russia was widely believed to allow the use of biotech crops shortly after joining the World Trade Organization, the country believes it has found a way to remain GMO-free without violating its obligations as a member nation. A new bill introduced to the Russian parliament would treat producers of biotech crops from companies such as Monsanto (NYSE: MON  ) , The Dow Chemical Company (NYSE: DOW  ) , and Syngenta (NYSE: SYT  ) as criminals -- with fines comparable to terrorism. As co-author of the bill Kirill Cherkasov told RT:

When a terrorist act is committed, only several people are usually hurt. But GMOs may hurt dozens and hundreds. The consequences are much worse. And punishment should be proportionate to the crime.

If the proposed bill becomes law, punishment could range from 15 years to life. That seems a bit harsh to me and, when coupled with numerous anti-science quotes and ideologies from the bill and its supporters, I just don't see how a policy could be sustainable scientifically or economically (what Russia really cares about) speaking. Additionally, most crops grown in Russia today (wheat, barley, sunflower, oats, potatoes) don't have GM varieties. That's good news for Monsanto and Syngenta shareholders, but Russia claims that it can grow enough organic food to never need biotech crops. Are those bold claims actually true?

Can Russia farm without engineered crops?
Russia is free to ban biotech crops, but it should do so with more accurately worded proposals. I'd start by scrapping the proposed bill or amending it to a point where it is generally unrecognizable from its initial submission. Then, Russia should insert language that speaks to (1) its concerns that GMOs are not sufficiently tested and (2) its belief that organic farming practices can sustain the country on their own.

After doing that, Russia must come to grips with reality.

Despite being nearly twice as large as the United States, Russia has substantially less arable land, irrigated land, and land dedicated to permanent crops. Consider the following land area comparison between Russia and the United States:

 

Russia

United States

Total Land (sq. km)

17,098,242

9,826,675

Arable Land (sq. km)

1,215,685

1,600,765

Irrigated Land (sq. km)

43,460

266,440

Permanent Crops (sq. km)

17,098

25,549

2013 figures. Source: CIA World Factbook.

The United States is simply more efficient with its land and enjoys better geography than Russia, which suffers from a lack of proper soils and climates (too cold or too dry) for productive agriculture despite its size. Russian farmland is also threatened by "soil contamination from improper application of agricultural chemicals, groundwater contamination from toxic waste, and abandoned stocks of obsolete pesticides," according to the CIA World Factbook. Sounds pretty organic to me.

Russia intends to feed Europe with the majority of its organic food needs within the next decade, but it's far from being a global organic powerhouse. A recent Bloomberg analysis of 165 countries ranked by organic farmland failed to place the country in the top 20. That means Russia ranks behind the Czech Republic, Greece, and all eight (yes, eight) farmers and ranchers in Falkland Islands when it comes to organic farmland for raising livestock or cultivating crops. Indeed, a 2011 report from the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements estimated the value of Russia's organic products at only $60 million-$80 million.  

Additionally, Russia simply doesn't support its farmers as well as its European counterparts. While traditional farming is subsidized to the tune of $410-$545 per hectare in the European Union, organic farming captures federal support of nearly $1,230 per hectare. The Russian Ministry of Agriculture offers domestic farmers just $200 per hectare for producing organic foods. Subsidies may be relative to the economics of each country, but Russia isn't doing much to compete with European organic farmers.  

While the United States smoking Russia in terms of agricultural efficiency is bad enough, it gets worse when you consider that the Russian economy is substantially more reliant on agriculture. Consider the following economic comparison between Russia and the United States:

 

Russia

United States

GDP

$2.553 trillion

$16.72 trillion

GDP From Agriculture

$110 billion

$180 billion

Total Labor Force

75.29 million people

155.4 million people

Labor Force Dedicated to Agriculture

7.3 million

1.09 million

2013 figures. Source: CIA World Factbook.

How is the United States so efficient with its agricultural land? There's strong support for farmers through various government policies, and there has been strong and constant investment in next-generation technologies. Like it or not, some of those next-generation technologies include biotech crops, which alone accounted for 0.9% of American GDP in 2012.

Russia will regret banning biotech crops
Putin and other political leaders can say whatever they want about the atrocities of biotech crops sold by Monsanto and Syngenta, but a quick investigation into the economics doesn't support claims that organic food is ready to supply the nation's food, not to mention the food for other countries. There may very well be a European market for Russia's future organic food products, but it's difficult to imagine the Russian economy enjoying much of a boost from organic farming anytime soon, if ever, given its dire state today.

At a time when Russia should be investing heavily in next-generation agricultural technologies such as biotech crops to catch up to leading nations, it seems to be taking a step backwards with old-world beliefs. I don't see agricultural policies in Russia having much, if any, material effect on biotech seed producers. Monsanto, Syngenta, and Dow Chemical shareholders have no reason to worry about Putin.

GM crops could pay dividends for Russia
Russia calling out Monsanto, Syngenta, and The Dow Chemical Company won't disrupt their sustainable dividends. The smartest investors know that dividend stocks simply crush their non-dividend paying counterparts over the long term. That's beyond dispute. They also know that a well-constructed dividend portfolio creates wealth steadily, while still allowing you to sleep like a baby. Knowing how valuable such a portfolio might be, our top analysts put together a report on a group of high-yielding stocks that should be in any income investor's portfolio. To see our free report on these stocks, just click here now.

 


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  • Report this Comment On May 25, 2014, at 6:49 PM, Sneetch wrote:

    On account of GMO crops have only been in our food supply since 1996, I would say yes they most likely know how to feed themselves with out biotech's help.

  • Report this Comment On May 25, 2014, at 6:54 PM, immoveable wrote:

    Putin has it right with respect to Monsanto and GMOs. In this country, where the almighty dollar holds sway over the welfare of the public, Monsanto and friends can buy influence and obfuscate the issues relative to the efficacy and safety of the cultivation of GMOs. I, for one, will not consume GMOs.

  • Report this Comment On May 25, 2014, at 7:15 PM, mark636 wrote:

    Yes he is right. Liberal attack oil because the media knows its a campaign donor.

    Monsanto has done more environmental damage to our water supply than ANYTHING

  • Report this Comment On May 25, 2014, at 7:18 PM, torun1 wrote:

    I do not know if Monsanto is a terrorist organization, but I am definitely suspicious of genetically modified foods. I know that EU is very uneasy about GMO. I think, very soon Germany will bar GMO and probably some EU countries will do the same.

  • Report this Comment On May 25, 2014, at 7:18 PM, yenh wrote:

    Putin may be a frustrated dictator, but he has it exactly right on Monsanto. Russia and eastern Europe know how to farm without faking it. Russia has an seed bank which would blow you away.

    Frankenfood is really about monopolizing food just like Wall Street has monopolized every other necessity in life and corporate bloodsuckers like Monsanto need to be put back into the closet. If farmers weren't so damned conditioned to follow federal programs like seagulls after a garbage barge, perhaps they'd start being better farmers and less like welfare recipients.

    Count the growing list of countries banning GMO's. Soon Monsanto will need to get back into producing Agent Orange 2.0. Russia and China, soon Ukraine, countless other countries. Consumers have the power once they learn the truth of corporate manipulations.

  • Report this Comment On May 25, 2014, at 7:41 PM, tarchon wrote:

    Obviously this is just protectionism for Putin. I'm not sure how anyone could seriously believe he's concerned about safety. I mean... it's Russia. "Safety culture" isn't the first phrase that comes to mind, you know?

    As far as biotech goes, well, people are always scared of new stuff. There are some cultural things that make fear of transgenics especially prominent, but really, I've talked to hundreds of anti GMO activists, like many of these commenters, and most of them really don't even know what GMO is. They just don't have arguments that are solid enough to influence real decision makers. At worst, the anti GMO movement will pass some labeling laws and it will be forgotten about in 20 years. Russia might keep it out for a while, but market forces will eventually make them cave. What anti GMOists don't get is that the US and Europe are rich enough that we could afford to have inefficient agriculture to humor the nutbar lobby, but most of the world can't. In some countries, a 1% increase in grain prices means people die. In the US, it means they have to wait an extra month to buy a new Xbox. That's basically why a grain-fed college liberal in the US has no problem with the idea that food prices might go up a couple percent to satisfy their weird food mythology. It's not like it's going to hurt them.

  • Report this Comment On May 25, 2014, at 7:49 PM, DezertDawg wrote:

    Vote Putin in 2016!!!! About time someone of power speaks the truth!

  • Report this Comment On May 25, 2014, at 8:12 PM, rcc wrote:

    To simply answer the title question -yes. Use common sense. Just let plants grow the way they are supposed to grow.

  • Report this Comment On May 25, 2014, at 8:38 PM, eyeforeye42 wrote:

    Monsanto, the company they manufactured 98% of the PCB's found in rivers and streams let alone any EPA superfund site where PCB's have been discovered. Pared of the company and with insufficient funds to keep it solvent so now the government and taxpayers are funding the cleanups. No one from Monsanto went to jail for this.

  • Report this Comment On May 25, 2014, at 9:07 PM, unbound wrote:

    It looks more and more like the Fool has a stock portfolio consisting of Monsanto. This is the Umpteenth article they have done in support of them

  • Report this Comment On May 25, 2014, at 9:09 PM, GeorgePolitico02 wrote:

    Genetic engineering is like mechanical, chemical, and electrical engineering: whether the products are dangerous depends entirely on their composition and on how they are used.

    One example that deserves to be marketed is AquaBounty's genetically engineered salmon (with which I have no personal connection). The fish would be grown far from the ocean and its oil spills, mercury contamination and radionuclides from Fukushima. There would be no by-catch (non-target fish killed by the fishing process), which with traditional fishing often far exceeds the catch of target fish. Fish would be left in the sea for the dolphins to eat, and AquaBounty will never drown a dolphin in its fishnets.

    It is surprising that so many people are terrified of this supposed genetic witchcraft. A closer look at the possibilities would show that if GMOs are introduced thoughtfully, the environment stands to gain from them.

  • Report this Comment On May 25, 2014, at 9:14 PM, rav55 wrote:

    Just say NO to GMO.

  • Report this Comment On May 25, 2014, at 9:18 PM, rav55 wrote:

    Ownership of genes can not be granted by any court or controlled by patents. Genes are "building blocks".

    That could likened to putting a patent on a structure that was put together with Legos.

  • Report this Comment On May 25, 2014, at 9:57 PM, TMFBlacknGold wrote:

    @GeorgePolitico02

    I wrote about AquaBounty's AquAdvantage Salmon earlier this month:

    http://www.fool.com/investing/general/2014/05/04/politicians...

    Thanks for your thoughtful comment.

    Maxxwell

  • Report this Comment On May 25, 2014, at 10:00 PM, TMFBlacknGold wrote:

    @rav55

    "Genes are "building blocks". That could likened to putting a patent on a structure that was put together with Legos."

    Why, then, are companies allowed to patent novel polymers and materials? They're simply using the "building blocks" of the physical world in ways that don't exist in our solar system.

    Maxxwell

  • Report this Comment On May 25, 2014, at 10:04 PM, TMFBlacknGold wrote:

    @unbound

    "It looks more and more like the Fool has a stock portfolio consisting of Monsanto."

    From the disclosure: "The Motley Fool has no position in any of the stocks mentioned.'

    Maxxwell

  • Report this Comment On May 25, 2014, at 10:09 PM, harryhaff wrote:

    Bio tech food companies are not the way to go. By introducing foreign DNA into existing crops. these companies are in effect creating new life forms. There has not been sufficient research over a longer period of time to demonstrate that these Frankencrops are safe or not. At least 100-200 years should be spent on multi-generational studies to get a handle on the effects of these crops before they are released into the environment. Big money does not equate with quality of research or honesty. It equates with big profits and campaign contributions.

  • Report this Comment On May 25, 2014, at 10:14 PM, TMFBlacknGold wrote:

    @harryhaff

    "By introducing foreign DNA into existing crops. these companies are in effect creating new life forms."

    Changing a handful of genes out of tens of thousands does not equate to a new life form. Many more genes are changed through conventional breeding.

    "At least 100-200 years should be spent on multi-generational studies to get a handle on the effects of these crops before they are released into the environment. "

    Plants live quite a bit shorter lives than humans. As such, multi-generational studies have been conducted for each crop that is approved for commercial production by our nation's regulatory bodies.

    If anti-GMOers cannot trust the institutions that exist for the sole purpose of protecting consumers, then I don't think any amount of safety data will help alleviate their concerns.

    Maxxwell

  • Report this Comment On May 25, 2014, at 10:14 PM, cytogenes wrote:

    The obvious corrupt Big Agriculture (egregious culture)

    Lets STOP subsidizing Big Egregious Culture demand to use to plant fruits, vegetables , and nuts on all public land . 17 million children are starving in USA NOW . they are not a commodity. FREAK FOOLS

    "$260 billion the government spent subsidizing agriculture went to just four common food addititives: corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup, corn starch and soy oils. By comparison, the government spent just $261 million subsidizing apples, and far less still supporting fruits and vegetables, like spinach, broccoli and blueberries"

    According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), 15.9 million children under 18 in the United States live in households where they are unable to consistently access enough nutritious food necessary for a healthy life.

    15.9 million children lived in food insecure households in 2012.[ii]

  • Report this Comment On May 25, 2014, at 10:18 PM, Parsley wrote:

    The anti-GMO movement is an anti-science movement no different that those who deny climate science. We now live in a world where propaganda is no longer distinguishable from knowledge.

  • Report this Comment On May 25, 2014, at 10:21 PM, TMFBlacknGold wrote:

    @cytogenes

    "...By comparison, the government spent just $261 million subsidizing apples, and far less still supporting fruits and vegetables, like spinach, broccoli and blueberries"

    Hang tight -- we're working on that problem. Ever heard of Arctic Apples?

    Maxxwell

  • Report this Comment On May 25, 2014, at 11:19 PM, fredjohnson55343 wrote:

    lol. Putin isn't doing this because he gives a crap about health. He's doing it in retribution to the US sanctions Obama put on him for invading Ukraine. He's trying everything he can to hurt American business because Obama hurt him.

  • Report this Comment On May 25, 2014, at 11:36 PM, betterthanhoney wrote:

    To me its not about the changeing of genes, its the poisons they are spreading all over the world thats seeping into our water supplies. They change the genes so the plants don't die from pesticides. these pesticides are whats gonna kill us. and the government is in it for the money. just like their killing us with sugar products that are in everything that we eat. If anything they should be Taxing these products like tobacco.

  • Report this Comment On May 26, 2014, at 12:05 AM, VOAfarmer wrote:

    @TMFBlacknGold

    "Changing a handful of genes out of tens of thousands does not equate to a new life form. Many more genes are changed through conventional breeding."

    That is an opinion, and the genes spliced for GMO's are from different plants and animals, and is impossible with conventional breeding.

    "Plants live quite a bit shorter lives than humans. As such, multi-generational studies have been conducted for each crop that is approved for commercial production by our nation's regulatory bodies."

    Humans consume the plants, and for Human safety concerns the studies should be multi-generational for humans, so 100-200 years would be appropriate.

    "If anti-GMOers cannot trust the institutions that exist for the sole purpose of protecting consumers, then I don't think any amount of safety data will help alleviate their concerns."

    There are very few independent safety studies on this, and quite a few that have been done raise concerns over the safety of GMO's. Most of the studies that claim the safety of GMO's are conducted and/or paid for by the companies producing and profiting from the GMO's, and therefore should not be used to evaluate the safety, due to the conflict of interest.

  • Report this Comment On May 26, 2014, at 12:11 AM, VOAfarmer wrote:

    @GeorgePolitico02

    The same thing you are talking about can be done with non-GMO fish. The are currently inland fish farms that do exactly what you wrote without GMO's.

  • Report this Comment On May 26, 2014, at 12:19 AM, TMFBlacknGold wrote:

    @VOAfarmer

    Thanks for your comment.

    "That is an opinion, and the genes spliced for GMO's are from different plants and animals, and is impossible with conventional breeding."

    That's not an opinion, that's how a species' placement on a phylogenetic tree is determined. Corn is still corn whether is GM or not.

    Also, GM doesn't imply cross-species gene transfer. Some varieties simply knockout a gene or strengthen the expression of a protein that is already present. I wrote about this misconception:

    http://www.fool.com/investing/general/2014/05/04/you-arent-a...

    "Humans consume the plants, and for Human safety concerns the studies should be multi-generational for humans, so 100-200 years would be appropriate."

    The problem with conducting long-term studies of any kind is differentiating what you're looking for from all of the noise. Suppose I conduct a 30-year study on GM food consumption. How can I be sure the participants aren't being influenced by other factors (smoking, air pollution, carcinogens from everyday life)? Perhaps GM food is keeping my participants alive longer. You would probably never be able to tell one way or the other.

    Also, nothing about GM implies a health risk. There's no plausible reason to suspect that changing a gene or two or ten would have health risks. People just misunderstand biotechnology and file it under the "too hard" category and fear it instead of trying to learn more about it. It's easier.

    "There are very few independent safety studies..."

    No, I mean if multiple international regulatory bodies (US, Europe, Canada, Australia, ....) say GM food is safe, then why should consumers reject that decision? These institutions are in place to protect one group: the consumer. Playing the conspiracy card every time you don't like the answer or the facts as presented doesn't advance the discussion.

    Maxxwell

  • Report this Comment On May 26, 2014, at 12:47 AM, Freddyfreebe1 wrote:

    Anytime a business can create seeds that can only bare one time, it is not in the best interest of this country are the world. The world needs laws to protect this planet from companies like Monsanto and GMOs.

  • Report this Comment On May 26, 2014, at 1:18 AM, brett40000 wrote:

    Hey, how many countries have banned GMO's. A bunch!! He has every right to call them terrorists. The stuff is garbage and killing people. Even the animals won't touch GMO foods. Think they know something we don't? Wake up America and ban this crap!!!

  • Report this Comment On May 26, 2014, at 3:42 AM, DevonShire123 wrote:

    Every day Putin gets more awesome, while every day Obama sucks harder and harder. Today I'm ashamed to be American.

  • Report this Comment On May 26, 2014, at 4:06 AM, HibernationOver wrote:

    I am sure that Putin is not becoming awesome, but Russia's need for GMO is without merit.

    The article is flawed on many fronts, here are but a few:

    - The land is the US is rapidly become contaminated and depleted as well from fertilizer abuse, groundwater contamination, etc. etc. Just take a look at our breadbasket in Central California.

    - 7 million Russian laborers in agriculture vs. 1.09 million is the US, according to the CIA Fact Book. Sure... what about over four million undocumented and illegal laborers in California working the fields and the Midwest/South of the US working in food processing plants?

    - Chatsko claims that we are so efficient in the US because of our farm support programs across the board. True, but it's skewed massively towards mono crops and supporting the little-known-fact that California grows over 75% of America's fruits and vegetables. A strategic disaster just waiting to happen (drought? terrorism?, name others).

    The article reads like a Monsanto PR piece and has little relevance for a sophisticated audience like the readership of the Fools.

  • Report this Comment On May 26, 2014, at 4:35 AM, Ceciliapedler wrote:

    Mr. Maxx Chatsko and any nonbelievers please view this extensive study done on GMO's and then tell me that Putin is wrong? after viewing this all will realize that Putin cares not about money but about people. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Njd0RugGjAg Thanks for taking the time to watch this. I hope now you can write a new article Maxx, that can use scientific research to back up your claims. It's all here black and white. Cheers!

  • Report this Comment On May 26, 2014, at 5:42 AM, donlargo wrote:

    I don't know about terrorist, but I am certainly terrified by what they have unleashed upon us in the form of FrankenWheat and other GMOs.

    While not a Putin fan, I must agree about GMOs. It may also be worth noting that Russia will not be alone and that even our best "friend," Japan, won't touch them.

    If not terrorist, Monsato and its marketing tactics are distinctly evil and all humans will pay eventually pay for Monsato's unbridled greed and hybris.

  • Report this Comment On May 26, 2014, at 6:49 AM, hoodat wrote:

    God knows I'm no fan of Russia nor "legend in his own mind" Putin but he is right in calling Monsanto a terrorist organization. What else would you call a corporation which does everything it can to destroy the carreers of scientists that conduct studies critical of them?

    That being said however, a leader who sends subversives into a neighboring country has a lot of hutzpah calling anyone else a terrorist.

  • Report this Comment On May 26, 2014, at 11:35 AM, TMFBlacknGold wrote:

    @Ceciliapedler

    That video is propaganda, not science. As I wrote in a previous article about tumors and rats:

    "The Seralini study was flawed for several reasons that anyone can understand. First, the breed of rat used in the study, Sprague-Dawley, is widely known to be susceptible to cancer with age and an unrestricted diet. Previous studies using the same breed have shown that 45% of rats spontaneously developed tumors after 18 months. Seralini kept his animals alive for 24 months. Second, the study used only 10 rats of each sex for each experimental group. That is simply not a large enough population to rule out random chance of tumor occurrence. And lastly, some of Seralini's conclusions didn't agree with his own data. Male rats seemed to be protected from cancer by consuming GMOs"

    http://www.fool.com/investing/general/2013/12/07/does-this-r...

    Not so "black and white".

    Maxxwell

  • Report this Comment On May 26, 2014, at 2:23 PM, drixnot wrote:

    Monsanto products kill bacteria... including the good bacteria that is supposed to live in our guts.

    When we don't have the right kinds of bacteria in our guts we develop digestive disorders as well as allergies. Allergies are linked to asthma and even autism. All these diseases are on the rise .... obesity might even be linked. One might argue that people are just sitting on their butts more ... but what if that is just another symptom?

    So yes, I would call Monsanto a terrorist organization.

  • Report this Comment On May 26, 2014, at 2:58 PM, chironfletcher11 wrote:

    Monsanto's shady past will lead people to believe it is a sinister organization , just look up Monsanto and PCBs, DDT , AGENT ORANGE and even the Manhattan project.

    It seems to me that Monsanto is an enemy to this very planet we all share

  • Report this Comment On May 26, 2014, at 4:53 PM, spitzerone wrote:

    I agree with Putin.

  • Report this Comment On June 05, 2014, at 9:59 AM, ETFsRule wrote:

    Good move by Russia. As your data shows they have 75% as much arable land as the US, with less than 50% of our population.

    They'll be fine, especially with advances in irrigation technology, fertilizer, urban agriculture, etc. It's refreshing to see Putin get something right for a change.

  • Report this Comment On June 05, 2014, at 10:22 AM, madinga wrote:

    Making roundup ready crops to be resistant to the herbicide, Roundup, in order to use more herbicide is a bad idea! Cash grab and very polluting. If their products are so good how come they are afraid to label them as such?

  • Report this Comment On June 05, 2014, at 10:45 AM, CluckChicken wrote:

    @ETFsRule

    Russia has issues with feeding its people now. They do have a lot of land but their farming tech and methods are clearly outdated. Just look at how poor their yield numbers are to most of the world:

    http://apps.fas.usda.gov/psdonline/circulars/production.pdf

  • Report this Comment On June 05, 2014, at 10:54 AM, treefarmer44 wrote:

    You are being ignorant if you do not realize that it takes gazillions of dollars of research to put a GMO (or a pesticide) on the market that works and jumps all of the safety hurdles required by our government. Much of this research is done at the country's ag schools and in conjunction with the companies. To say that Monsanto is a terrorist organization is ridiculous.

    Let Putin ban them. Just keep in mind no country has more productive agriculture than the USA and Monsanto is one of many companies that has had a hand making us the world leader.

  • Report this Comment On June 05, 2014, at 11:04 AM, ETFsRule wrote:

    Their wheat yields are 10% higher than Australia's - so why aren't you complaining about Australia's farming methods being outdated?

    This article also shows that Russia has low subsidies compared to other countries, which means they have plenty of room for improvement - and these low subsidies could be a major reason for their relatively low yields.

    Again, there is no evidence that Russia is having problems feeding their people. Plenty of countries have already banned some or all of Monsanto's products and it did not lead to any food shortages.

  • Report this Comment On June 05, 2014, at 11:09 AM, Zinj wrote:

    This has nothing to do with Monsanto. If the leading GMO firms were South African, for instance, rather than American, I doubt Putin would issue a pronouncement at all regarding bio-seeds.

    He would have to find something else identifiably American to criticize (regardless of whether that criticism has any justification)

  • Report this Comment On June 05, 2014, at 11:35 AM, sparksinchitown wrote:

    Once reduced to only crops grown by hippie's, what are people going to eat? Ever here of Malthusian theory?

    But ya gotta love Putin!

    "when the people see a weak horse and a strong horse, they naturally like the strong horse" - OSB.

    Which horse do you think is BHO and which is putin?

  • Report this Comment On June 05, 2014, at 12:10 PM, jwiest wrote:

    Hate to agree with Putin on anything, but he's right about Monsanto. Suing farmers for accidental pollination and demanding recompense for "acts of nature", like, wind, is financial terrorism.

  • Report this Comment On June 05, 2014, at 12:51 PM, hbofbyu wrote:

    Monsanto is the world's largest seed company and is one of the world's largest pesticide companies. The behemoth dominates world proprietary seed market, a market worth almost $40 billion.

    The agribusiness giant is renowned for its aggressive marketing and sometimes-illegal maneuvers, which include creating a potential worldwide monopoly by buying up all competitors, bribes, infiltration of farmers' associations through the use of mercenaries and countless lawsuits against farmers.

    Monsanto has earned the ire of tens of thousands of farmers, including organic farmers and others working for food safety, is the target of many campaigns, like "Millions Against Monsanto," Via Campesina's international anti-multinational day, and of a damning documentary – The World According to Monsanto – that builds a strong case against Monsanto for it actions worldwide.

    Monsanto has control over as much as 90 percent of seed genetics.

    Next time you bite into a bright, shiny, perfect tomato and you wonder why it is watery and flavorless, remember that someone in a self-regulated industry designed that tomato to maximize their bottom line - period.

    I wonder what John Mackey thinks of Monsanto.

  • Report this Comment On June 05, 2014, at 12:57 PM, ifool100 wrote:

    Man - he got that right!

  • Report this Comment On June 05, 2014, at 1:40 PM, TMFBlacknGold wrote:

    @ETFsRule

    "Again, there is no evidence that Russia is having problems feeding their people. Plenty of countries have already banned some or all of Monsanto's products and it did not lead to any food shortages."

    That was never stated, but you should consider that most of Russia's food is actually imported. So the country isn't exactly feeding itself.

    Another thing to consider is that half of the countries that have banned the planting of biotech crops are in the European Union (one body, one vote). I imagine the outcome would be much different if countries could decide on their own and, in fact, the UK and Spain are planting biotech seeds in 2014 (so that number just shrunk by 2). Meanwhile, most other countries that ban the planting of biotech crops are either (1) heavily dependent on domestic agriculture production or (2) heavily dependent on imported food, including GM varieties.

    It's not as black and white as you stated above.

    Maxxwell

  • Report this Comment On June 05, 2014, at 3:13 PM, AmcnFndrs wrote:

    Yes...they are running our land, our DNA and creating an ag economy of Frankenfood supply that is hard to rectify...shame on us...shame...

  • Report this Comment On June 05, 2014, at 3:21 PM, Grandepiacere wrote:

    Using genetically modified crops is said to be safe by its supporters. They claim to have done thorough testing. However, nature is a complex web and there is simply no way to know the ramifications of gene splicing until it is too late. Consider for a moment that our grasp of this complex web has failed to allow us to grow a single Truffle in artificial conditions despite some very bright and well funded attempts. Ya, we know what we are doing.... Once these crops release their pollen into the air and cross pollinate non genetically modified crops you cannot put the genie back in the bottle. Go ahead play god. The meek shall inherit the earth.

  • Report this Comment On June 05, 2014, at 3:33 PM, Origin97 wrote:

    Massachusetts is about to move on a bill that will require GMO labeling. if your in MA, write your congressman, if you're outside MA, Do it NOW!

  • Report this Comment On June 05, 2014, at 11:42 PM, VOAfarmer wrote:

    @TMFBlacknGold

    Thank you for responding to my comment. I have a few responses to yours:

    You stated "GM doesn't imply cross-species gene transfer."

    It does not imply that, but that is what GM is used for. The genes for roundup-ready plants were done with cross species gene transfer.

    "The problem with conducting long-term studies of any kind is differentiating what you're looking for from all of the noise. Suppose I conduct a 30-year study on GM food consumption. How can I be sure the participants aren't being influenced by other factors (smoking, air pollution, carcinogens from everyday life)? Perhaps GM food is keeping my participants alive longer. You would probably never be able to tell one way or the other."

    Long-term studies are not easy, but they should still be done. The problems you stated are also present in short-term studies, so by your logic there are no valid studies at all because there are outside influences. the longer the study, the more clearly trends can be recognized. A lot of health problems do not show up in only a few years. It took more than a year or two to find health problems with cigarettes, but after more time they found the health problems, it just took more time and long term studies.

    "Also, nothing about GM implies a health risk. There's no plausible reason to suspect that changing a gene or two or ten would have health risks. People just misunderstand biotechnology and file it under the "too hard" category and fear it instead of trying to learn more about it. It's easier."

    The risks may not be implied, but they are definitely there. There is no plausible reason to just assume there are no health risks. It's filed under "too hard" to try to prove safe and easier to just market it and use it for the biotech companies and supporters

    "No, I mean if multiple international regulatory bodies (US, Europe, Canada, Australia, ....) say GM food is safe, then why should consumers reject that decision? These institutions are in place to protect one group: the consumer. Playing the conspiracy card every time you don't like the answer or the facts as presented doesn't advance the discussion. "

    There are a lot of countries that have banned GM food, and they have reasons and data for the bans. There are also studies that show health problems with GM foods, and more studies need to be done, especially long-term studies. Consumers should reject the government approval of GM food because they can think for themselves and have valid concerns about GM food. Government agencies do make mistakes, make compromises, take bribes, etc., so I do not blindly trust the government to make decisions for me, especially when I have a lot of information to go off of. The government 'protecting the consumer' is also protecting the Biotech companies, and the biotech companies put a lot into lobbying government officials.

    Lastly, I did not play the conspiracy card. My positions and statements are backed by information, not fear. Claiming the Conspiracy card was played when you don't like answers, responses or facts does not advance the discussion either.

  • Report this Comment On June 06, 2014, at 11:21 AM, TMFBlacknGold wrote:

    @VOAfarmer

    "It does not imply that, but that is what GM is used for. The genes for roundup-ready plants were done with cross species gene transfer."

    And? This happens everyday in nature. Some of the DNA your cells replicate is from bacteria and was acquired after you were born. In fact, you share 76% of your genes with zebrafish, 51% with fruit flies, and 26% with thale cress (a type of weed). Tell me, again, how swapping genes across kingdoms violates the laws of nature?

    "There are a lot of countries that have banned GM food, and they have reasons and data for the bans."

    False. No countries that have banned GM food have data supporting their bans. The EU, for instance, has routinely deemed it safe but banned it from cultivation.

    "There are also studies that show health problems with GM foods"

    False. Studies are published in low-ranking journals that are not supported by the scientific community. They are almost always unable to be replicated.

    "Consumers should reject the government approval of GM food because they can think for themselves"

    No.

    Being suspicious of government decisions because they "take bribes" is playing the conspiracy card.

    Maxxwell

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