The big surprise was that Roundup has an effect on cell division. We saw very quickly that roundup affected a key process in cell division. Not the cell division mechanisms themselves, but those which control cell division. You have to understand how cells become cancerous. In the beginning all cells are benign. And then at a certain point modifications take place in the cells that make them unstable from a genetic point of view. This is the first malfunction we observed with Roundup. It is for that reason that we consider that Roundup provokes the first stages that lead to cancer. We’re careful not to say it provokes cancer, because we won’t see that cancers develop for 30 or 40 years.
It was immediately clear how important these findings were for product users especially since the tested doses were well below those which people normally use, and we said to ourselves ‘gosh we really have to let the public know about the dangers as quickly as we can. And I thought the best way to do that was to talk to my administration, but there I was shocked… very shocked, because I was told, ordered rather, not to communicate our findings due to the GMO question lurking in the background.
It seems Monsanto’s new wonder has what it takes to entice farmers, but how does it work? How can the soybean plant survive being sprayed with Roundup?
This is a soybean cell. The core of the cell contains its DNA in which the beans genetic structure is encoded. In order to create its GMOs, Monsanto breaks the species barrier using a Roundup resistant gene harvested from a bacterium. This gene is placed on microscopic particles of gold, which are fired into the soybean cells with a gene gun. The gene penetrates the DNA and creates a protein making the plant resistant to Roundup. When the herbicide is sprayed on the crop it kills all the weeds leaving the soybean plants intact. One must admit that the process is an incredible technological feat, but these soybeans engineered to withstand such a powerful herbicide are destined for our dinner plates.
Exceptional news footage actually shows George Bush Sr. visiting Monsanto’s research facility nine years before Roundup ready soybeans first sold. When George Bush Sr. toured the company’s headquarters, he was Ronald Reagan’s Vice President, and deregulation was this public administration’s watch word. The intention was to boost industry by eliminating what White House hardliners called bureaucratic hurdles, like health and environmental safety testing, which were Monsanto’s key problems. In 1988 when George Bush Sr. was elected President of the United States, Dan Quayle became the new Vice President. Four years later, he announced the American policy concerning GMOs, drafted just as Monsanto had wanted.
“We are taking this step as part of the President’s regulatory relief initiative now in its second phase. The United States is already the world leader in biotechnology, and we want to keep it that way. In 1991 alone it was a $4 billion industry. It should reach at least $50 billion by the year 2000. As long as we resist the spread of unnecessary regulation.” -Dan Quayle
He (Michael Taylor) moved over to the FDA of July, 1991. Up until that time he was at a law firm called King & Spalding. His personal clients included, not only Monsanto, but the International Food and Biotechnology Council. And he had drafted for them a proposal for how they would like to see genetically engineered foods regulated. And if you look at the proposal that was written for IFBC that was Michael Taylor’s with the final one that was published, it looks very similar.
It’s a transgenic hormone that’s injected into cows increasing dairy production by 20%. It would be an understatement to say that it had critics. Called rBGH for recombinant bovine growth hormone, Monsanto began selling it to dairy farmers in 1994 under the brand name Polilac. In 1985, Monsanto submitted Posilac to the FDA for market approval. The experts at the FDA’s Center for Veterinary Medicine reviewed the studies that the company had carried out on experimental herds. At the FDA, the veterinarian in charge of reviewing the data was Richard Burroughs. In an interview he stated that agency officials had suppressed and manipulated data.
After ten years on the market, Roundup ready soybeans account for 90% of all the soybeans grown in the U.S. In fact 70% of the food in American stores contains bioengineered elements. Unlike Europe, consumers cannot make an informed decision because GM labeling is forbidden. A direct consequence of the principle of substantial equivalence.
To preserve its corn’s diversity, Mexico has banned genetically modified crops. However due to the NAFTA free trade agreement it signed with the United States and Canada, Mexico cannot stop the massive importation of American corn, 40% of which is genetically modified. This industrial corn, as it’s called in Mexico, is highly subsidized by the U.S. government. So on local markets it costs have as much as traditional Mexican corn.