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Monsanto's Harvest of Shame

by Stephen Lendman Sunday, Aug. 25, 2013 at 12:01 AM


Monsanto's Harvest of Shame

by Stephen Lendman

In 1960, Edward R. Murrow hosted CBS Reports. It was television the way it should be. It no longer exists.

It was a feature TV documentary series. They're not shown today. They told viewers what they need to know.

Modern-day Murrows aren't around. They're excluded from TV. They don't get air time. He discussed how American migrant agricultural workers are exploited.

He and colleague Edward P. Morgan covered the issue on CBS Radio. CBS News president Fred Friendly called it natural for Murrow to pursue.

He cared. He supported oppressed workers. It showed in his work. CBS featured what's no longer broadcast.

Harvest of Shame aired in late November 1960. It was right after Thanksgiving Day. Co-producer David Lowe explained, saying:

"We felt (we) could stress the fact that much of the food cooked for Thanksgiving throughout the country was picked by migratory workers."

"We hoped that the pictures of how these people live and work would shock the consciousness of the nation."

Murrow was special. His opening and closing lines struck home. He spoke while migrant worker footage aired. Some were African-Americans.

"This scene is not taking place in the Congo," he said. "It has nothing to do with Johannesburg or Cape Town."

"It is not Nyasaland or Nigeria. This is Florida. These are citizens of the United States, 1960."

"This is a shape-up for migrant workers. The hawkers are chanting the going piece rate at the various fields."

"This is the way the humans who harvest the food for the best-fed people in the world get hired."

"One farmer looked at this and said, 'We used to own our slaves. Now we just rent them.' " Nothing changed. Wage slavery proliferates across America.

It's commonplace in garment factory sweatshops. Conditions for over two million farm workers are horrific. They're exploited. They work for sub-poverty wages without benefits.

Florida workers have been chained to poles, physically beaten, cheated out of pay, and intimidated to stay quiet. Federal and state oversight is lax. Anything goes is policy.

It's not just in Florida. California, Texas, Washington, North Carolina and other state agricultural workers are denied rights.

Murrow closed, saying:

"The migrants have no lobby. Only an enlightened, aroused and perhaps angered public opinion can do anything about the migrants."

"The people you have seen have the strength to harvest your fruit and vegetables."

"They do not have the strength to influence legislation. Maybe we do. Good night, and good luck."

How would Murrow handle today's harvest of shame? How would he address GMO hazards? He'd pull no punches explaining. He'd say what needs to be told.

Murrows aren't on TV today. They're verboten. Corporate and state messages alone are aired. Anti-Murrow types feature them. Managed news misinformation substitutes for truth and full disclosure.

Agribusiness and other corporate giants permit no other way. Monsanto's the world's leading GMO seed producer.

They're hazardous to human health. They should be banned. GMO foods and ingredients are toxic. They're unsafe to eat.

Independent studies prove it. Monsanto and other agribusiness giants want all animal and vegetable life forms patented.

Whatever they want they get. They want worldwide food control.

They proliferate stuff unsafe to eat. They want labeling prohibited. They want reliable science buried. They want issues of food safety ignored. They want critics silenced. They want consumers having no say.

Profits alone matter. Food safety doesn't count. Maybe unwitting consumers won't notice. How can they without legislative protection? Without labeling, how can they know?

Monsanto's the industry giant. It controls 90% of the US GMO seed market. Its Roundup herbicide contaminates hundreds of millions of acres in America, Europe, South America, Australia and South Africa. Its other biopesticides increase contamination.

March 2013 Monsanto Protection Act provisions prohibit courts from halting GMO seed sales. No matter how toxic, they're permitted. No matter now harmful to human health, they're OK.

Monsanto's bottom line alone matters. It buys enough influence to assure it. Staying healthy depends on avoiding harmful substances.

It's not easy with too few other choices. It's harder without labeling. It's nearly impossible in America with Congress waging war on consumers.

In May 2008, investigative journalists Donald L. Barlett and James B. Steele headlined their Vanity Fair article "Monsanto's Harvest of Fear."

It's "frightening tactics" include "ruthless legal battles against  small farmers (and) decades-long history of toxic contamination."

Perhaps no other corporation harms more people worldwide more horrifically. Its products harm human health. It does so on a massive scale. They proliferate painful illnesses and death.

Gary Rinehart's one of Eagleville, MO's "few surviving businesses." He's a Monsanto victim. He recalls a stranger verbally assaulting him.

He claimed proof he planted GMO soybeans in violation of company patents. Come clean and settle, he was told. Otherwise, face consequences.

"Rinehart was incredulous." He knew about Monsanto viciousness. It's terror tactics are well-known. He knows it sues for alleged patent violations.

Rinehart's a country store owner. He's not a farmer. He doesn't sell seeds. Eagleville's a small town. Its population numbers around 350.

He was furious about what happened. "It made me and my business look bad," he said. He told the stranger: "You've got the wrong guy."

He persisted saying: "Monsanto is big. You can't win. We will get you. You will pay."

These type scenes proliferate across America. Monsanto seed police terrorize farmers, farmer co-ops, seed dealers, and anyone it suspects infringe on its patent rights.

"They fan out into fields and farm towns." They spy. They secretly videotape farmers. They photograph them. They monitor store owners, co-ops, and community meetings.

They get information from informants. They confront victims face-to-face. They want access to their records. They pressure them to sign papers granting it.

Farmers call them "seed police," "Gestapo," and "Mafia." They describe their ruthless tactics.

Monsanto won't comment when asked. It "spends more than million a day in research to identify, test, develop and bring to market innovative new seeds and technologies that benefit farmers," it claims.

It protects its patents. It terrorizes victims doing it. It does so besides harming human health on an unprecedented scale.

It menaces humanity unconscionably. It's unapologetic. It wants all life forms patented. It wants total control of nature.

It's making virtually everything Americans eat unsafe. It wants farmers refusing their seeds put out of business.

Farming was unchanged for millennia. Food was safe to eat. Seeds were saved for replanting. Monsanto changed what worked. It turned nature on its head.

In 1980, the Supreme Court "turned seeds into widgets." It permitted dominant agribusiness giants to control world food production.

It granted patent protection for "live human-made microorganism(s)." It wasn't a seed. It was GE's Pseudomonas bacterium. It's used to disperse oil spills.

Doing so set a precedent. Monsanto took full advantage. It became the world's largest GMO seed producer. It won hundreds of seed patents. It's more than other agribusiness giants combined.

Farmers buying Roundup Ready seeds sign agreements. They promise not to replant. They pledge no resales.

They're forced to buy new seeds annually. There's no turning back. They reaped the whirlwind. Monsanto harvests a bonanza. It does so at their expense. And anyone eating foods and ingredients from their seeds.

Some farmers don't understand company terms. Others ignore them. Some have no choice. GMO seeds blown on their lands liable them. At times, birds deposit them. They're stuck either way.

Seed dealers inadvertently mix traditional seeds with GMO ones. They look the same. Laboratory analysis alone can tell.

In 1980, no US GMO crops were grown. They now proliferate nationwide. Thet contaminate around 2.4 billion acres. They're grown worldwide in over two dozen countries.

Monsanto wants them grown everywhere. It claims its seeds represent a giant leap for mankind. Users say otherwise. Company terror tactics made it feared and loathed.

Controlling seeds is no "abstraction," said Barlett and Steele. "Whoever provides the world's seeds controls the world's food supply."

Lawyers representing farmers Monsanto sues say intimidation's part of its strategy. Most victims lose. Some give up and pay.

Litigation costs are enormous. Monsanto can outspend any farmer, co-op, seed dealer, or other small business. No matter how valid a victim's case, winning's nearly impossible. Strong-arm tactics prevent it virtually always.

Resistance makes things worse. Doing so faces full-force company wrath. It reflects no-holds-barred terror. Monsanto's determined to win. Doing so intimidates others not to contest.

According to Center for Food Safety's Joseph Mendelson:

"I don’t know of another company that chooses to sue its own customer base. It's a very bizarre business strategy."

Monsanto does it because it works. It's the industry's dominant company. Legal victories increase its power.

It's history is deplorable. For over 100 years, it produced products harming human health. Some were banned. Others continue to be sold.

Its legacy includes Agent Orange, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), bovine growth hormone (rBHG), saccharin, aspartame, artificial caffeine, industrial fluids, pesticides, polystyrene, DDT, RoundUp (glyphosate) herbicide, and other products causing diseases and death.

Proliferating GMO seeds are worst of all. They contaminate food supplies. Doing so poses an enormous threat to human health and welfare.

Congress permits it. Whatever Monsanto wants it gets. Public safety doesn't matter. It's ignored for profit.

It's hard imagining how many millions end up harmed. Doing so should cause alarm. Authorities should act responsibly.

Instead, they ignore what everyone has a right to know. They permit what demand prohibiting.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is run by agribusiness and Big Pharma interests. Monsanto's well represented.

Michael Taylor serves as Deputy FDA Commissioner for Foods. He's a former Monsanto vice president for public policy.

He's featured in company friendly documentaries. He spent decades representing its interests in Washington. He still does at FDA.

Monsanto buys politicians like toothpaste. Its lobbyists infest Washington. They sell junk science. Independent analysis is verboten.

Contaminated world food supplies proliferate. Monsanto made them unsafe to eat across America. It’s doing so across many other parts of the world.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at

His new book is titled "Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity."

Visit his blog site at

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

It airs Fridays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.

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Corporate Big Shots keep Rolling The Dice with Mother Nature and you'll gets Snake Eyes Corporations Gaming the Nature System Wednesday, Aug. 28, 2013 at 7:57 AM

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