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Monsanto abuses farmers in the Missouri Bootheel (the far southest corner of Missouri)

Barbara Chicherio

Living in St. Louis, MO does have its advantage if there is interest in following the local news related to Monsanto. St. Louis is Monsanto’s world headquarters so the local newspaper, The St. Louis Post Dispatch, often prints stories about Monsanto that may not make it into the national media.

One such article ran in the August 5th Business section that peeked my interest. The first line of this article stated that “Farmers of soybeans and other crops in southeast MO, western Tennessee and northeastern Arkansas are facing widespread crop damage believed to be the result of the illegal spraying of dicamba, an older herbicide that is finding new life as tool to battle glyphosate-resistant weeds”. For those who may not know, Dicamba contains 2,4-D one of the ingredients in Agent Orange and is Monsanto’s answer to the super weeds that have become resistant to their cash cow product RoundUp. The article went on to explain that there had been over 100 complaints of pesticide drift in the Missouri Bootheel an area that primarily produces soybeans and cotton. The number of complaints was disturbingly higher than ever recorded in the past and Monsanto blamed the problem on selfish and irresponsible farmers.

In response I wrote the following letter to the editor of the Post Dispatch that was printed the following week. One of the most concerning aspects to this story is that none of the affected farmers received any compensation for their losses that were considerable. The affected crops were non-GMO and Monsanto’s solution is that all of the Bootheel farmers should just go with GMOs. This came as no surprise,

Here is my response letter:

August 12, 2016

Monsanto is blaming farmers for the misuse of pesticides as the company focuses on their profits at the expense of farmers and the environment. An article in the Aug. 5 St. Louis Post Dispatch described how the problems associated with the 100 complaints of pesticide drift were caused by a few ‘bad actor’ farmers. The article characterizes these farmers as being selfish and irresponsible. If there is an irresponsible party involved in this horrific event it is Monsanto. Monsanto has sold RoundUp as its patented herbicide to accompany their RoundUp ready GM (genetically modified) soybean and cottonseeds. RoundUp has provided Monsanto with huge profits and is responsible for super weeds resistant to glyphosate, the main ingredient in RoundUp.

To combat the super weeds, Monsanto recently sold a new version of GM seeds resistant to a new herbicide, dicamba. Dicamba has not been approved by the EPA and could not be sold with the GM seeds. Desperate farmers began spraying with other forms of dicamba that drifted onto non-GM soybean fields causing extensive damage. Monsanto characterizes itself as blameless. The farmer’s who lost their crops currently have no legal recourse for compensation.

Monsanto continues with a business plan that maximizes profits and externalizes expenses. This means, it takes the money and leaves the costs of environmental damage, negative health effects and cleanup with we the people. People will be sickened for years by glyphosate, a chemical that the WHO (World Health Organization) believes to be carcinogenic. Monsanto needs to stop all production of chemical herbicides and pesticides, apologize to the Bootheel farmers and provide monetary compensation to the effected farmers.

Barbara Chicherio

Since August 5 the bigger story with Monsanto is the likely buyout of the company by Bayer. Bayer and BASF (another German chemical company that has partnered with Monsanto) both became part of the infamous I. G. Farbin Industries during World War II. Farbin/BASF/Bayer actively cooperated with the Nazis and created poison gases such as “Zyklon-B” used in the gas chambers of the concentration camps. As I write this it feels like I am writing Science Fiction. Sadly this is not fiction and these companies are now consolidating to control our seeds and agriculture. The one bright spot is that there have already been large demonstrations protesting the merger in Germany and a recent poll reflected that 70% of Germans do not want to eat GMO foods. The world is growing smaller for multinational corporations but it is also growing smaller for activists. Our grassroots will grow stronger and must now reach around the world.

For background and concerns regarding the Bayer and Monsanto merger go to: http://www.globalresearch.ca/bayer-and-monsanto-two-destructive-corporate-conglomerates-become-one/5548248

Barbara Chicherio is a member of the Gateway Green Alliance and Greens/Green Party USA since 1990.  Barbara has actively resisted biotechnology for decades and participated in and helped to organize mutiple actions at Monsanto. She has coordinated workshops and programs focusing on GMOs, industrial agriculture and sensible alternatives to Big Ag.