Monsanto Trying to Take Over Both Food Supply and Government

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Al Jazeera

Monsanto Trying to Take Over Both Food Supply and Government

On Saturday, hundreds of thousands marched against the US food giant Monsanto, across the globe.

In scenes reminiscent of the protests against US-led wars, both in Vietnam during the 1960s and Iraq in 2003, protesters took to the streets in what organisers said to be 436 cities in 52 countries in a 'March Against Monsanto'.

Monsanto has become the focal point of a global campaign against producers of genetically modified organisms (GMO).

Genetically modified (GM) plants are grown from seeds engineered to resist insecticides and herbicides, add nutritional benefits and improve crop yields. 

Corn, cotton, potatoes and wheat are among many other crops grown in the US that are being genetically modified. Some believe they can lead to health problems and harm the environment. Opponents have pushed for mandatory labelling, though the federal government and many scientists say the technology is safe. Proponents contend that plants grown from GMO seeds allow farmers to grow more food using less resources.

Those who took to the streets wanted to bring awareness to the effects of GMOs, what they are and what effects they are causing to people's health. They also argue that the science underpinning GMOs is untested at best, and harmful at worst, and that it is unwise to allow a few huge corporations to have such control over the earth's food supply.

In Washington, companies including Monsanto have successfully lobbied politicians to insert protections for their business interests, sometimes deep in the small print of unrelated legislation.

Next week, however the Farm Bill is due to be considered in the Senate, and it appears it may prove to be an important battleground in the debate over GMOs.

On Wednesday, the US department of agriculture said a strain of GM wheat was found on a farm in Oregan. The wheat strain was developed by Monsanto and last tested in 2005, but never put into use in the face of worldwide opposition to genetically engineered wheat. 

So why does one US company generate so much ire? And why do the US lawmakers go out of their way to promote its interests? Is there enough control or oversight on GM foods?

Inside Story Americas, with presenter Shihab Rattansi, disscusses with guests: Nick Bernabee, social media director for the March against Monsanto; Tom Philpott, co-founder of Maverick Farm and writer for Mother Jones magazine; Christopher Cook, author of Diet for a Dead Planet: Big Business and the Coming Food Crisis; and Ryan Grim, Washington Bureau Chief for The Huffington Post

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