GMO Monsanto kills butterfly’s

Study ties GMO corn, soybeans to butterfly losses:

monsanto kills

Monsanto kills

Genetically engineered corn and soybeans make it easy for farmers to eradicate weeds, including the long-lived and unruly milkweed.  But they might be putting the monarch butterfly in peril.  The rapid spread of herbicide-resistant crops has coincided with — and may explain — the dramatic decline in monarch numbers that has troubled some naturalists over the past decade, according to a new study by researchers at the University of Minnesota and Iowa State University.  Between 1999 and 2010, the same period in which so-called GMO crops became the norm for farmers, the number of monarch eggs declined by an estimated 81 percent across the Midwest, the researchers say. That’s because milkweed — the host plant for the eggs and caterpillars produced by one of one of the most gaudy and widely recognized of all North American butterflies — has nearly disappeared from farm fields, they found.  It is one of the clearest examples yet of unintended consequences from the widespread use of genetically modified seeds, said John Pleasants, a monarch researcher from Iowa State in Ames, Iowa.  “When we put something out there, we don’t know always what the consequences are,” he said.  Pleasants and Karen Oberhauser, of the University of Minnesota, published their findings online last week in the journal Insect Conservation and Diversity.  “It is quite an extraordinary paper,” said Chip Taylor, an insect ecologist at the University of Kansas and the director of research at Monarch Watch, a conservation group. He noted that Oberhauser and Pleasants were able to tie the loss of habitat to a decline in numbers across the country.  But the evidence they present — estimates of the number of milkweed plants across the Corn Belt and a decade’s worth of butterfly egg counts by an army of volunteer citizens — is indirect, say others.  “It does not resolve the debate,” said Leslie Ries, a University of Maryland professor who studies monarchs.  The orange and black butterflies migrate every year to the mountains of Mexico, where they collect in fluttering clouds in trees, an extraordinary event that has inspired festivals and tourism.  But for reasons that are not well understood, the number of butterflies that make it to Mexico — half of which comes from the Midwest — has been on the decline. This year, according to a report released Thursday, the butterflies occupied seven acres of trees in their refuge west of Mexico City — 28 percent less than last year and a fraction of the 45 acres they occupied in 1996, a peak year.  Experts said last year’s drought probably had a serious effect on the insects. Others say damage to the wintering grounds from logging and development are also playing a part, and that the number that make it to Mexico does not necessarily reflect the health of the species.  But some scientists have for years wondered whether the use of genetically modified crops is affecting the spring and summer reproduction in this country.  Earlier studies suggested that monarch caterpillars would die if they ate milkweed dusted with pollen from another kind of engineered seed known as BT corn. It contains a gene that produces a toxin that kills corn-eating pests.  That theory was disproved, but it led scientists to take a hard look at milkweed plants in corn and soybean fields, said Pleasants. “Surprisingly, monarchs use those milkweeds more heavily than milkweed outside [farm fields],” he said. The butterflies lay nearly four times as many eggs on farm field plants as on those in pastures or on roadsides, the researchers said.  More important, they also found “that milkweed in the fields was disappearing,” he said. That’s because more farmers are using a new kind of genetically modified seed developed by Monsanto, Roundup-ready corn and soybeans, that contain a gene allowing the plants to withstand Roundup, or glyphosate. That allows farmers to spray their fields without harming the crop.  Monsanto, which did not respond to a request for comment, says on its website the seeds help farmers increase yield. Today, it’s used by 94 percent of soybean farmers and 72 percent of corn farmers, according to federal data.  Assessing the effect on milkweed plants both in and out of farm fields, was difficult, researchers said — never mind the challenge of counting butterfly eggs.  Pleasants said he used data on the change in milkweed density in Iowa, and extrapolated those numbers to landscape use data across the Midwest. That showed an estimated 58 percent decline in milkweed plants throughout the Corn Belt, primarily on agricultural lands.  Oberhauser supplied data she has been collecting for years through the Monarch Larva Monitoring Project. Every week during the monarch breeding season, volunteers across the country go to the same patches of non-agricultural milkweed in their communities and count all the eggs they can find. That showed two things: Butterflies were not flocking to breed on plants outside agricultural fields; those numbers remained the same. And overall production, measured in eggs, declined 81 percent between 1999 and 2010.  Taylor said the new study should help make the case that increasing monarch habitat along roads in pastures, gardens and on conservation lands must become a national priority because the milkweed will never come back to farm fields, he said.  “The scale of the loss of habitat is so big that unless we compensate for it in some way, the population will decline to the point where it will disappear,” he said.

Monsanto’s Purchases Blackwater

Monsanto Now Owns Blackwater:

Monsanto's, Blackwater

Monsanto's, Blackwater

A report by Jeremy Scahill in The Nation (Blackwater’s Black Ops, 9/15/2010) revealed that the largest mercenary army in the world, Blackwater (now called Xe Services) clandestine intelligence services was sold to the multinational Monsanto. Blackwater was renamed in 2009 after becoming famous in the world with numerous reports of abuses in Iraq, including massacres of civilians. It remains the largest private contractor of the U.S. Department of State “security services,” that practices state terrorism by giving the government the opportunity to deny it.  Many military and former CIA officers work for Blackwater or related companies created to divert attention from their bad reputation and make more profit selling their nefarious services-ranging from information and intelligence to infiltration, political lobbying and paramilitary training – for other governments, banks and multinational corporations. According to Scahill, business with multinationals, like Monsanto, Chevron, and financial giants such as Barclays and Deutsche Bank, are channeled through two companies owned by Erik Prince, owner of Blackwater: Total Intelligence Solutions and Terrorism Research Center. These officers and directors share Blackwater.  One of them, Cofer Black, known for his brutality as one of the directors of the CIA, was the one who made contact with Monsanto in 2008 as director of Total Intelligence, entering into the contract with the company to spy on and infiltrate organizations of animal rights activists, anti-GM and other dirty activities of the Biotech giant.  Contacted by Scahill, the Monsanto executive Kevin Wilson declined to comment, but later confirmed to The Nation that they had hired Total Intelligence in 2008 and 2009, according to Monsanto only to keep track of “public disclosure” of its opponents. He also said that Total Intelligence was a “totally separate entity from Blackwater.”  However, Scahill has copies of emails from Cofer Black after the meeting with Wilson for Monsanto, where he explains to other former CIA agents, using their Blackwater e-mails, that the discussion with Wilson was that Total Intelligence had become “Monsanto’s intelligence arm,” spying on activists and other actions, including “our people to legally integrate these groups.” Total Intelligence Monsanto paid $ 127,000 in 2008 and $ 105,000 in 2009.  No wonder that a company engaged in the “science of death” as Monsanto, which has been dedicated from the outset to produce toxic poisons spilling from Agent Orange to PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls), pesticides, hormones and genetically modified seeds, is associated with another company of thugs.  Almost simultaneously with the publication of this article in The Nation, the Via Campesina reported the purchase of 500,000 shares of Monsanto, for more than $23 million by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which with this action completed the outing of the mask of “philanthropy.” Another association that is not surprising.  It is a marriage between the two most brutal monopolies in the history of industrialism: Bill Gates controls more than 90 percent of the market share of proprietary computing and Monsanto about 90 percent of the global transgenic seed market and most global commercial seed. There does not exist in any other industrial sector monopolies so vast, whose very existence is a negation of the vaunted principle of “market competition” of capitalism. Both Gates and Monsanto are very aggressive in defending their ill-gotten monopolies.  Although Bill Gates might try to say that the Foundation is not linked to his business, all it proves is the opposite: most of their donations end up favoring the commercial investments of the tycoon, not really “donating” anything, but instead of paying taxes to the state coffers, he invests his profits in where it is favorable to him economically, including propaganda from their supposed good intentions. On the contrary, their “donations” finance projects as destructive as geoengineering or replacement of natural community medicines for high-tech patented medicines in the poorest areas of the world. What a coincidence, former Secretary of Health Julio Frenk and Ernesto Zedillo are advisers of the Foundation.  Like Monsanto, Gates is also engaged in trying to destroy rural farming worldwide, mainly through the “Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa” (AGRA). It works as a Trojan horse to deprive poor African farmers of their traditional seeds, replacing them with the seeds of their companies first, finally by genetically modified (GM). To this end, the Foundation hired Robert Horsch in 2006, the director of Monsanto. Now Gates, airing major profits, went straight to the source.  Blackwater, Monsanto and Gates are three sides of the same figure: the war machine on the planet and most people who inhabit it, are peasants, indigenous communities, people who want to share information and knowledge or any other who does not want to be in the aegis of profit and the destructiveness of capitalism.

Monsanto’s Poisons France!

Monsanto found liable for weedkiller poisoning in France:

monsanto

monsanto

Update: Monsanto spokesman Tom Helscher says the company does not think there is “sufficient data” to demonstrate a link between the use of Lasso herbicide and the symptoms Francois reported.  “We do not agree any injury was accidentally caused nor did the company intentionally permit injury,” Helscher said, saying Monsanto is planning to appeal the verdict. “Lasso herbicide was… successfully used by farmers on millions of hectares around the world.”

A protest against Monsanto, unrelated to Francois’s case, takes place at the company’s headquarters in France in January. (Robert Pratta – Reuters) French farmer Paul Francois says he suffered all three neurological problems after inhaling a weedkiller made by biotech giant Monsanto in 2004. On Monday, a French court found Monsanto legally responsible for poisoning Francois and ordered the company to compensate him “entirely,” Agence France-Presse reports.  The decision could affect more than just Francois; it marks the first time a farmer has successfully sued the company over claims of the health problems caused by pesticides.  Francois, who is 47, told Reuters that he was pleased with the decision but said many other farmers have already been affected. “I am alive today, but part of the farming population is going to be sacrificed and is going to die because of this,” he told Reuters.  Monsanto’s lawyer had argued that poisoning couldn’t be proved because Francois’s symptoms didn’t appear until months after the inhalation.  Since 1996, 200 farmers have reported health problems to the agricultural branch of the French social security system that potentially are a result of pesticides.  But prior cases by farmers against Monsanto have been less successful, as they tried to argue about health problems accumulated over time.  “It’s like lying on a bed of thorns and trying to say which one cut you,” a farmer who recovered from prostate cancer and asked not to be named told Reuters.  Francois’s suit accuses Monsanto of not providing adequate health warnings on the label of the weedkiller, Lasso, as well as keeping the product on the French market even though it had been banned in Canada, Britain and Belgium.  The world’s largest pesticide producer said it has not decided whether to appeal the verdict.  Monsanto has been at the center of dozens of protests over the years, most often over health problems possibly associated with genetically modified foods it has produced, including soybean, corn, rice and eggplant.  Last month, a two-year-old appointment of a former Monsanto vice president to the Food and Drug Administration sparked an online petition for his removal.