Monsanto running U.S. agriculture into crisis

Posted on June 30th, 2011 Dan

This came to me in an email from a family member who works in environmental health.

According to renowned plant pathologist Don Huber of Purdue University, Monsanto’s GMO Roundup Ready corn and soybean feeds have been linked to shocking 20% rates of infertility in cattle and hogs, and up to 45% spontaneous abortion rates in cattle and dairy operations, putting many farmers out of business. The cause appears to be associated with increased corn and soybean plant infection rates from a tiny soil-dwelling organism Fusarium oxysporum that can only be seen under an electron microscope. Dr. Huber is leading a charge to put a stop to sale and planting of Roundup Ready alfalfa that was recently approved by USDA head Tom Vilsack.

This news is hardly surprising, given the countless of warnings from ecologists that Monsanto’s rash practices would put our crops at increased risk for a disease. Ecological risk is something often overlooked or underrated in the industry, to the benefit of sheer financial gain. Unfortunately for us all, Monsanto literally owns 93% of soybeans, 82% of corn in the U.S., which quite likely means it is (and we are) recklessly blundering into an epic food crisis.

At the crux of this crisis is a soil organism Fusarium oxysporum that decreases manganese (a micro-nutrient) uptake in plants – and manganese deficiency leads to infertility and spontaneous abortion in livestock. The organism has been consistently isolated from the feed in operations plagued with fertility problems. In addition to a generally lower plant nutritional value, Roundup (glyphosate) use is linked to increased infection rates of Fusarium oxysporum, which causes sudden death syndrome in soybeans.

Despite these ominous findings, Secretary of Agriculture and Obama appointee Tom Vilsack certified Monsanto’s new genetically-modified organism (GMO) “Roundup-Ready” alfalfa earlier this year, after 6 years of lawsuits from farmers concerned with contamination in their fields of the plant due to inevitable cross-pollination. This decision legalizes the sale and planting of the Roundup Ready alfalfa, which will dominate the market within 5 years on the same scale as Monsanto corn and soybeans under business as usual. Because alfalfa is the nation’s staple feed crop, any similar pattern of Fusarium oxysporum infection in alfalfa would leave the beef and dairy industry in shambles.

Dr. Huber is so alarmed with the ramifications of Roundup Ready alfalfa on our agricultural system that he is publicly calling for president Obama to halt the sale and planting of the crops (sign the petition!). He’s putting his long, prestigious career on the line in favor of swift action that is not possible in the inherently slow, arduous debates of peer-reviewed journals. Not to mention, he is sticking out his neck in the line of fire of corporate behemoth Monsanto, who has already started a smear campaign against him.

Whenever crop production is turned to a field of clones, as is the case with Roundup-Ready systems, there is an inherent vulnerability to disease. The use of glyphosate, the herbicidal ingredient of Roundup, causes a shift in the types of organisms that are represented in the soil microbial populations. Some important species’ functions become absent, such as those that promote plant uptake of nutrients including Mn, or those that are effective biological control against plant diseases. As a result, plants may become less nutritious and more vulnerable to massive crop failures.

Here are two PDF’s of articles on the link between glyphosates and crop micronutrient deficiencies:

http://www.agweb.com/assets/import/files/58P20-22.pdf

http://www.btny.purdue.edu/weedscience/2010/GlyphosateMn.pdf


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