The company primarily lobbied Congress and the U.S. Department of Agriculture concerning regulations that would affect genetically engineered crops such as the company's Roundup Ready soybeans and alfalfa.
According to CNBC:
"The company also lobbied Congress and USDA on issues surrounding consolidation and antitrust law in agriculture ... The company also lobbied the U.S. Trade Representative and Department of State on issues surrounding foreign regulation and trade of biotech seeds."
If you've ever wondered why the United States leads the world in genetically modified (GM) crop acreage, the above lobbying statistics should give you your answer. Monsanto, the world leader in GM seeds, spends millions of dollars lobbying the U.S. government for favorable legislation that supports the spread of their toxic products.
In the first quarter of 2011 alone, Monsanto spent $1.4 million on lobbying the federal government -- a drop from a year earlier, when they spent $2.5 million during the same quarter. If we all had several million to drop solely on lobbying efforts, suffice to say the world would be a very different place.
Unfortunately, it's primarily multinational corporations like Monsanto that have this type of clout, and they use it to further their power, wealth and control not only in the United States but throughout the entire world.
And the lobbying is only the tip of the iceberg.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), and the U.S. Trade Representative all have a special set of revolving doors leading straight to Monsanto, which has allowed this transnational giant to gain phenomenal authority and influence.
USDA Allows Monsanto to Police Itself
Up to 90 percent of several U.S.-grown crops are grown with genetically engineered seed, and are being used in human and animal foods without any safety testing or labeling. This includes GM corn, soybeans, canola, and sugar beets, which have made their way into approximately 80 percent of current U.S. grocery store items.
Given that you have most certainly already been exposed to GM foods, and most likely a lot of them, you may be interested to know that the U.S. government has given a green light to virtually all of Monsanto's GM crops and related chemicals, despite minimal testing and widespread concern.
Most recently, the USDA approved planting of GM alfalfa, the fourth-largest crop in the United States, without restriction, despite massive opposition and serious concerns that its potential to cross-pollinate and transfer genetic material is very high, if not guaranteed.
Because it's a natural forage for pastured (organically-raised grass-fed) animals, contamination would be disastrous for organic dairy- and cattle farmers as federal organic standards forbid them from using GM crops (not to mention Monsanto's history of suing both conventional and organic farmers for patent infringement should their crops be cross-contaminated).
Adding insult to injury, the USDA is the agency responsible for assessing the environmental impacts of GM crops, but they've not been very efficient in this regard. So, in an "effort" to make the environmental reporting process "more timely, efficient, and cost-effective," they've decided to create a two-year long pilot program that allows biotech companies like Monsanto to conduct their own environmental assessments.
That's right … Monsanto will be allowed to police itself and will therefore have to answer to no one.
The USDA will get "the final say." But honestly, how likely is the USDA to decline approval once an environmental assessment claims the crop poses no threat to the environment? If they can't find the time to do the original assessment, they surely will not find the time to double-check the assessments handed in by Monsanto and other biotech companies.
Monsanto has Many Friends in High Places
Further sweetening Monsanto's hand, Tom Vilsack -- a major supporter of Monsanto and a strong believer in GM pharmaceutical crops, especially pharmaceutical corn -- is the Secretary of the USDA. Vilsack is widely regarded as a shill for biotech giants like Monsanto (he even reportedly often travels in Monsanto's jet).
Then there's Michael Taylor, a former vice president of public policy and chief lobbyist at Monsanto Company, who is now the deputy commissioner for foods at the FDA.
In case you're not familiar with him, Taylor is the person who "oversaw the creation of GMO policy," according to Jeffrey Smith, founder of the Institute for Responsible Technology, an organization whose goal is to end the genetic engineering of our food supply and the outdoor release of GM crops. Smith continued:
"If GMOs are indeed responsible for massive sickness and death, then the individual who oversaw the FDA policy that facilitated their introduction holds a uniquely infamous role in human history. That person is Michael Taylor. He had been Monsanto's attorney before becoming policy chief at the FDA. Soon after, he became Monsanto's vice president and chief lobbyist."
The FDA policy being referred to is the 1992 GMO policy, which stated:
"The agency is not aware of any information showing that foods derived by these new methods [genetic engineering] differ from other foods in any meaningful or uniform way."
In reality, there was major concern among FDA scientists that GM foods were in fact different than natural foods, and that their creation could prompt unknown and unpredictable health problems such as allergies, toxins, new diseases, and nutritional problems. The agency ignored the warnings and allowed GM foods onto the market without any required studies.
There are other less noticeable connections too, such as Sharon Long, a former member of Monsanto's board of directors who was part of Obama's scientific advisory team during the election/campaign. So Monsanto's lobbying certainly appears to be paying off. You can read more about the down and dirty details of Monsanto's unholy alliance with the U.S. government here.
Not to Mention, Bill Gates Supports Monsanto Too
When it comes to garnering powerful allies, Monsanto doesn't restrict itself to the government. Monsanto now also has one of the wealthiest and most influential "philanthropists" supporting its agenda and spreading misleading propaganda, namely Bill Gates, the founder of Microsoft.
In the second quarter of 2010, the Gates Foundation purchased 500,000 shares of Monsanto stock with an estimated worth of $23.1 million, which means they have a hefty interest in the success of Monsanto's initiatives.
As reported by Netline, Monsanto and other biotech companies have collaborated with the Gates Foundation via the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) to inject genetically modified crops into Africa. The Gates Foundation has donated hundreds of millions of dollars to AGRA, and in 2006 Robert Horsch was hired for the AGRA project. Horsch was a Monsanto executive for 25 years.
In a previous Huffington Post article, Eric Holt Gimenez sums it up nicely:
"Under the guise of "sustainability" the [Gates] Foundation has been spearheading a multi-billion dollar effort to transform Africa into a GMO-friendly continent. The public relations flagship for this effort is the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), a massive Green Revolution project."
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is also supporting the push to cultivate Monsanto's golden rice in Asia -- in the form of $20 million toward development. Golden rice has been promoted as a way to alleviate vitamin A deficiency, which is common in developing countries where people don't have regular access to beta-carotene-rich foods, like vegetables and fruits.
But it doesn't take much digging beneath the surface to uncover the true motives of seeking to plant golden rice in the developing world, and they have much more to do with dollars and cents than they do with alleviating nutritional deficiencies. In fact, there's reason to believe that GM golden rice will do little to improve vitamin A levels in the poor -- and may actually make vitamin A deficiency worse.
It would be naive at this point to think that these collaborations are designed to solve any other problem than how to help Monsanto monopolize the world's food supply with expensive GM seeds that have to be purchased each year and require expensive and toxic chemical treatment. After all, if you own the rights to all the food grown everywhere, you literally rule the world ...
You Don't Have to Take Part in This Giant Experiment
It's a sad state of affairs when a government will allow its people to be used as guinea pigs in a massive experiment on the food supply -- and it has all the makings to be a disaster of epic proportions. Although Monsanto insists that GM foods are no different from conventionally grown varieties, the research in existence begs to differ. Here is just a sampling of the unsavory findings associated with GM foods:
GM peas caused lung damage in mice Offspring of rats fed GM soy showed a five-fold increase in mortality, lower birth weights, and the inability to reproduce GM potatoes may cause cancer in rats Male mice fed GM soy had damaged young sperm cells Bacteria in your gut can take up DNA from GM food The embryo offspring of GM soy-fed mice had altered DNA functioning GM foods lead to significant organ disruptions in rats and mice, specifically the kidney, liver, heart and spleen Several US farmers reported sterility or fertility problems among pigs and cows fed on GM corn varieties Bt corn caused a wide variety of immune responses in mice, commonly associated with diseases such as arthritis, Lou Gehrig's disease, osteoporosis, and inflammatory bowel disease Investigators in India have documented fertility problems, abortions, premature births, and other serious health issues, including deaths, among buffaloes fed GM cottonseed products
Social movements around the world are pressuring their governments for a moratorium on unproven GM seeds and foods, yet the United States is giving Monsanto free reign, aiding and abetting their agenda -- even though most Americans do not want GMOs. But even though the U.S. government seems hell-bent on giving biotech giants like Monsanto free reign to destroy the world, we CAN get GM crops banned from the United States.