Tuesday, May 28, 2013

CNN and Russia Today cover the March Against Monsanto

It looks like I'm not done with the March against Monsanto.  For starters, commenter Nebris retweeted Wizard Gynoid's tweet about CNN's lack of coverage of the event on Saturday.
I guess it should not be surprising that @CNN has no mention of the March Against Monsanto events currently going on all over the world.
Today, CNN finally got around to posting a video of the event on its YouTube channel.

Millions protest genetically modified food

Jake Tapper reports on the controversy that surrounds GMOs and one of the companies that makes them.
Better late than never and with complete statistics--two million protesters in 436 cities in 46 countries.  That partially makes up for not reporting about the event on Saturday, when it was breaking news.  As it is, it's enough for me to add a link to the video on the PowerPoint slide for environmental science that describes the reaction to GMOs as mixed, with mass acceptance on one hand and protests on the other.  This video will make the point far better than the photo of Greenpeace street theater against Frankenfood I have now, which I show below.

Nebris also reposted Wizard Gynoid's tweet to his Facebook timeline, where I responded "Nah, you'll have to watch Russia Today."  Sure enough, RT America, which I used as my primary source for Monsanto wins gene patent case, has been on Monsanto's case for years and hyped Saturday's protest the day before.  They posted a video report about the protest in Los Angeles an hour ahead of CNN.

Southern Californians keep up fight against GMO

A thousand people took over the streets of Los Angeles Saturday to March against Monsanto. The subject of genetically engineered food is especially important in California, where much of the world's fruits and vegetables are grown.
Finally, there is the other side, which the CNN report gave time to and which Bryan Walsh at Time Magazine takes in Modifying the Endless Debate Over Genetically Modified Crops
I’ll admit—I’ve never quite understood the obsession surrounding genetically modified (GM) crops. To environmentalist opponents, GM foods are simply evil, an understudied, possibly harmful tool used by big agribusiness to control global seed markets and crush local farmers. They argue that GM foods have never delivered on their supposed promise, that money spent on GM crops would be better funneled to organic farming and that consumers should be protected with warning labels on any products that contain genetically modified ingredients. To supporters, GM crops are a key part of the effort to sustainably provide food to meet a global population that is growing by the billions. But more than that, supporters see the knee-jerk GM opposition of many environmentalists as fundamentally anti-science, no different than the deniers on the other side of the political spectrum who question the basics of man-made climate change.

For both sides, GM foods seem to act as a symbol: you’re pro-agribusiness or anti-science. But science is exactly what we need more of when it comes to GM foods, which is why I was happy to see the venerable journal Nature devote a special series of articles to the GM food controversy. You can download most of them for free here, and they’re well worth reading. The upshot: while GM crops haven’t yet realized their initial promise and have been dominated by agribusiness, there is reason to continue to use and develop them to help meet the enormous challenge of sustainably feeding a growing planet.

That doesn’t mean GM crops are perfect, or a one sizes fits all solution to global agriculture woes. Nature points out that most of the benefit of GM technology so far has indeed gone to big agribusiness, much of it in the form of herbicide-resistant crops like Monsanto’s Roundup Ready soybeans or cotton.
My take is that the scientific case against GMOs exists, but it's fairly weak.  On the other hand, the social and economic case against their being used by agribusiness to monopolize food is much stronger.

Stay tuned, as this is a story I've been following for years, even if the first time I mentioned Monsanto on this blog was in Food Day News from Overnight News Digest on Daily Kos, where I mention the research that produced the tumor-ridden mice shown in the CNN video.

ETA:  There is another part to CNN's coverage that I missed the first time.

Despite FDA approval, many distrustful of GMOs

New York Times investigative reporter Michael Moore says there are, as yet, no studies linking GMO to health problems.
As I wrote, CNN is making sure to get the other side, even when they have on a reporter who is critical of the food system.


  1. quObama is Monsanto's man. About a year ago I did a web search and found that Monsanto and the FDA have a revolving door employment policy. Rubber stamped by the man in charge.

    * Deputy commissioner of the FDA, Michael Taylor, former vice-president for public policy for Monsanto.

    * As commissioner of the USDA, Iowa governor, Tom Vilsack. Governor of the Year by the Biotechnology Industry Organization, whose membership includes Monsanto.

    * The Agriculture Trade Representative, Islam Siddiqui, a former Monsanto lobbyist.

    * Counsel for the USDA, Ramona Romero, who has been corporate counsel for biotech giant, DuPont.

    * As the new head of the USAID, Rajiv Shah, perviously of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, a major funder of GMO agriculture research.

    * Elena Kagan, Supreme Court Justice who took Monsanto's side against organic farmers in the Roundup Ready alfalfa case.

    The list goes on. The most rudimentary web search can find the connections I just made and many more. (A good assignment for a high school class perhaps.)

    Barack Obama, bringing change to America corporations can believe in.

    One turn of the screw at a time.

    1. "Obama is Monsanto's man."

      Ties to Monsanto are bipartisan. The past four presidents, at least, have been Monsanto's men. For starters, Bush Sr. was responsible for appointing Clarence Thomas, a former Monsanto attorney, to the Supreme Court. Both Clinton and Bush Jr. appointed a lot of Monsanto people to their administrations as well.

      "A good assignment for a high school class perhaps."

      It's a question I ask my college students.

      "27. List at least five government officials who were connected to Monsanto and other food producers. What effect does the narrator think this has had on regulation of food production?"

      Some of the people you list are answers to that question already.

      For more, read On Thanksgiving eve, I present "Food, Inc."