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23rd Great Green Pesto Feast

on Fri, 08/23/2013 - 12:50pm
09/07/2013 - 6:00pm

A Deep Green Look at Monsanto

Monsanto needs to do more than stop its series of attacks on the environment and human health.The company needs to make reparations for its actions.

On Saturday, September 7, 2013, the 23rd Great Green Pesto Feast will begin with a look at the movement for reparations for slave descendants.Reparations start with an acknowledgement of the horrible crime of slavery and apologizing for it.Only then is it possible to discuss financial and other compensations.Learning from this, we will ask how Monsanto can make reparations for its actions.

Monsanto poisoned the entire city of East St. Louis IL with its production of PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls) at its Krummrich Plant from about 1940 through the time of their ban in 1971.Sauget IL (formerly the town bearing the name “Monsanto”) had been a part of East St. Louis and suffered the same fate from the company’s disposing of toxic PCB waste through the sewer system.Similarly, Monsanto produced PCBs in Anniston, AL from 1929–1971 and contaminated the city by putting them into the air by burning or throwing them into streams and lakes.

In St. Louis MO, Carter Carburetor closed in 1980 after Monsanto’s PCBs left the plant, its workers, and the surrounding community thoroughly contaminated.After Monsanto did nothing for over 30 years, the PCBs have sunk to the bedrock level, making them much harder to clean up. What E. St. Louis, Sauget, Anniston and Carter Carburetor all have in common is that their victims are largely black, suggesting that Monsanto may have the worst legacy of environmental racism of any US corporation.

During the war in Vietnam, tens of thousands of US military personnel and millions of Vietnamese were exposed to dioxin, the most toxic manmade substance to ever exist.Dioxin is a byproduct of the manufacture of both PCBs and Agent Orange, which Monsanto manufactured.

For decades, Monsanto produced pesticides and herbicides which failed to increase crop yield but encouraged monocultures that helped to transform farming into a big business and destroyed family farms.Pesticides sink into the ground, destroying microorganisms essential for soil fertility and are washed into streams, rivers and lakes where they poison aquatic life.As more herbicides are used, superweeds evolve resistance, meaning that still more chemicals must be used, with the cycle of contamination spiraling out of control.

By the second decade of the 21st century, Monsanto had become best known for the production of genetically modified organisms (GMOs), or seeds which have had their genes altered.Though Monsanto falsely claimed that GMOs were used to increase crop yield to “feed the world;” the vast majority of GMOs are used to make plants immune to effects of pesticides and herbicides so that more chemicals can be used.

Since health effects of eating food with GMOs is largely unknown, Monsanto has been more responsible than any other company for contaminating the world’s food supply.When scientists such as Ignacio Chapela or Arpad Pusztai try to research the flow of transgenes or the effects of GMOs on food, allies of Monsanto quickly act to suppress independent scientific inquiry.

In order to control the world’s food supply, Monsanto has aggressively moved to corner the market on seeds.As Monsanto pushes to promote GMOs, farmers who do not want to use them find it difficult or impossible to purchase non-GMO seeds.If they do succeed in finding some to plant, Monsanto agents trespass on their land (with no arrests from local law enforcement) to collect plant samples and sue the farmers for committing the “crime” of being the victim of GMO pollen blowing onto their crops.

To set the stage for grinding farmers into submission, Monsanto has worked with politicians and government agencies to allow massive “Patenting of Life.” This allows the company to treat living organisms as machines.Changing national law does not seem to satisfy Monsanto, as its industrial allies push toward the adoption of the “free trade” agreement, the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).In addition to undermining labor and environmental law, the TPP would allow Monsanto to nullify laws that other countries have written to protect themselves from GMOs.

Monsanto is moving to dominate agriculture throughout Latin America where small farmers are being pushed off their land.This makes it easy for agricultural conglomerates to create mega-farms to produce vast quantities of corn and soy.These crops are not being grown to feed people, but rather to feed animals to produce meat.Monsanto is helping the rapid growth of meat production, which means the horrific suffering of animals in “factory farms,” or CAFOs (confined animal feeding operations). 

Farm animals are not the only species to suffer.Bees and monarch butterflies are just some of the many insects to be threatened by pesticides and GMOs.

In India, thousands of farmers have committed suicide as their lives are ruined by crop failures from Monsanto’s genetically modified cotton.After using their savings to purchase expensive GMO seeds, many farmers kill themselves by drinking the pesticide that Monsanto sells to use with the seeds.

Monsanto is fomenting “land grabs” in Africa, where many European companies purchase land from the government and throw out native inhabitants so they can grow corn, soy and cotton for the global market.Those removed from land that their families have farmed for generations either starve or join the swelling ranks of unemployed in the cities. Military tensions between Egypt and Ethiopia could soon increase as Ethiopia plans to build a dam on the Nile to provide irrigation for GMO crops.This would deprive Egypt of its traditional share of water.

Monsanto has directly and indirectly attacked so many people throughout the world that it is no surprise it employs a small army of lawyers, spies and goons to subdue those who challenge it.Did it truly acquire Blackwater, the mercenary army described as “a virtual extension of the CIA?”

For all of these concerns, the issue is not just what Monsanto did, but how it can make reparations, ethically, financially and socially.Would it be just for the company to continue in its present form once it has admitted and apologized for its actions?Who should make decisions concerning its future behavior?How should it be organized?How can we protect future generations from it?Should financial reparations be paid only by company assets, or, are its crimes so horrendous that personal assets of all those who have sat on its decision-making bodies should be available for compensation of its victims?

The 23rd annual Great Green Pesto Feast will feature guests making brief statements on all of these.But the tentacles of Monsanto have groped so far and its history is so sordid that it is very possible that not every story has been touched on here.Do you have another concern about Monsanto?Would you like to add your voice to the discussion?There will be an open mike for audience participation.Some will cover fun and interesting activities planned for the coming months.

Please join the Pesto Feast discussion at 6:00 pm, Saturday, September 7, 2013 at Brentwood Congregational Church, 2400 South Brentwood Blvd (at Litzsinger/Eulalie).Since 1990, Pesto Feasts of the Gateway Green Alliance have become well known for the wide variety of vegetarian food, including: Great Green Walnut Pesto, Sharp Lemon Pesto, Cinnamon Pesto, Vegan Pesto, No Nut Pesto and Tomato Pesto.Tomato sauce will abound for non-pesto eaters.

The Greens are seeking additional vegetarian donations.Tickets to the Pesto Feast are $20 at the door or $15 advance purchase.To make a donation, purchase an advance ticket, or get more information, call 314-727-8554.Also, see the Greens’ web site:

Issues related to the Pesto Feast discussion will be featured on September Green Time shows.See