Monsanto Isn't Feeding the World—It's Killing Our Children


Two new reports add to the growing body of evidence that Monsanto's pursuit of naked capitalism isn't making the world better, but rather adding to the bodies left behind.



The first report, courtesy the World Health Organization, notes that the cost of a polluted environment adds up to the deaths of 1.7 million children every year.




The second report, courtesy the Special Rapporteur and presented to the United Nations Human Rights Council, focused more narrowly on agricultural chemicals. The UN report states unequivocally that the storyline perpetuated by companies like Monsanto—the one that says we need pesticides to feed the world—is a myth. And a catastrophic myth at that.

First, the good news: These reports made headlines in varied mainstream outlets such as the Washington Post and Guardian.

The bad news? Nothing's yet changed as a result.

Ever since Rachel Carson, in her book Silent Spring, first warned us of the insanity of poisoning our environment, rational minds have argued we ought to at least practice the precautionary principle when it comes to unleashing chemicals on our world.

Yet, in 2017 - 55 years after Silent Spring was first published - we're left with the quagmire of a world polluted by poisons and an administration in Washington that appears to be the most corporate-friendly in history, as they busily tear down the few environmental protections that had been passed into law.

The very resources upon which we all depend for life - our soils, water, air, wildlife - are threatened by the rampant poisoning to which the government will know be forced to turn an increasingly blind eye.

I can hear you whispering that the EPA never had much power to begin with. Sure - but consider these words from writer E.G. Vallianatos' work, Poison Spring: The Secret History of Pollution and the EPA, who worked for the EPA for 25 years:
It is simply not possible to understand why the EPA behaves the way it does without appreciating the enormous power of American’s industrial farmers and their allies in the chemical pesticide industries, which currently do about $40 billion per in year business. For decades, industry lobbyists have preached the gospel of unregulated capitalism, and Americans have bought it. Today, it seems the entire government is at the service of the private interests of America’s corporate class.

Those words were written three years ago, during what may have been the most environmentally friendly administration in American history thus far. The current administration is the exact opposite - making it more important than ever that we make our voices heard.

In response to the recent UN report, the lobbying group Crop Protection Association fired back to claim pesticides "play a key role in ensuring we have access to a healthy, safe, affordable and reliable food supply."

As the author of the report, Hilal Elver, told the Guardian, however:
It is a myth. Using more pesticides is nothing to do with getting rid of hunger. According to the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), we are able to feed 9 billion people today. Production is definitely increasing, but the problem is poverty, inequality and distribution.

Of course, we know this already - pesticides are a problem, not an answer, and the real problem isn't production, but rather those three prongs Elver mentioned: poverty, inequality, distribution.

We can’t let our lack of surprise translate into complacency! In an op-ed published recently in The Hill, Devra Lee Davis, president of the Environmental Health Trust, and author of The Secret History of the War on Cancer, notes the parallel between our failure to regulate the tobacco industry and our failure to regulate chemicals today, as they're largely responsible for two sad statistics:

  1. one in two of us will be diagnosed with cancer in our lifetimes; and
  2. the rate of childhood cancer has increased by 50 percent since President Nixon declared a war on cancer, 40 years ago. 

As Davis notes, we're focusing on "“the wrong enemies, with the wrong weapons.” Instead, we should ask ourselves:
Why did we wait until nearly forty years after tobacco was understood to cause cancer and other diseases before mounting a major effort to curtail its production and use? What took us so long to reduce the amount of benzene in gasoline or toxic flame retardants in our waters, food, furniture, bedding, fabrics and breast milk?

Unfortunately, we know why—corporate control of our regulatory system. Perhaps the better question is why haven't we, with our voices and our votes, reminded Congress that they work not for the lobbyists but for us, the people? Now is not the time to watch passively as our world falls apart.







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