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10 Years Of GM Watch – Quiztime: The Questions And Answers Oktoobar 2, 2008

Posted by spiritualphilantropy in Informative Videos, News in English.

We’ve recently launched a series of GM Watch quizzes. Here are the answers to the first two, both of which drew a great response so thanks to all who entered.

QUIZ 1: So Who’s designing your food?

This first quiz came about as a fun way to celebrate 10 years of GM Watch but there is a more serious side. Most people if asked to nominate the greatest calamities of the 20th Century, would place the holocaust and the development of nuclear weapons right at the top of their lists. As our quiz makes clear, the corporations now designing our food played a significant role in both. They also, of course, helped bring the world a toxic legacy that includes napalm, agent orange, dioxin, and PCBs. As for their standards of business ethics…

1. Which biotech corporation was involved in research on uranium for the Manhattan Project and operated a nuclear facility for the US government until the late 1980s?

ANSWER: Monsanto

People Description: In 1901, John F. Queeny borrowed $5,000 to start a manufacturing plant to produce saccharin. He named the company after his wife, whose maiden name was Olga Mendez Monsanto. In 1903 and 1905, the entire production of saccharin was sent to a new company in Georgia called Coca-Cola. In the early 1900s, vanilla and caffeine were also produced. In 1917, the company started producing aspirin. During WWI, Monsanto could no longer import its raw materials from Europe, so it started making its own, which was a major turning point for the company.

Monsanto’s Greatest Hits .. As industrial and chemical innovations of the 20th century came and went, Monsanto was there

2. Name two biotech corporations that were once part of the German chemical firm at the financial core of the Nazi regime and which supplied Zyklon-B during the extermination phase of the Holocaust?

ANSWER: Bayer and BASF

Britannica Concise Encyclopedia: IG Farben

IG Farben (short for Interessen-Gemeinschaft Farbenindustrie AG, “syndicate of dyestuff corporations”

3. Which biotech firm other than Monsanto was a major supplier of Agent Orange, as well as manufacturing napalm?


Don’t be fooled by Dow’s warm and fuzzy propaganda: its lust for profit can been measured in the cancers, deformations, lost lives and ruined dreams its products have caused. How many Bhopals has this company created? Read more about them below

Monsanto, Agent Orange and Dioxins

4. In relation to which Alabama town, where the undertaker who lived across the street from the Monsanto plant said he always thought he was burying too many children, was the company found guilty of conduct “so outrageous in character and extreme in degree as to go beyond all possible bounds of decency so as to be regarded as atrocious and utterly intolerable in civilized society”?

ANSWER: Anniston

Monsanto’s Global Pollution Legacy

5. What happened on October 21 2007 to Valmir Mota de Oliveira, also known as Keno, during a protest at an experimental GMO farm owned by Syngenta?

ANSWER: He was killed with two shots to the chest at point-blank range by militiamen employed by Syngenta. (The company denies responsibility) Syngenta’s Stormtroopers

6. In 2005 the Bollywood star, Nana Patekar toured India’s main cotton growing area of Maharashtra, promoting Monsanto’s Bt cotton to farmers. What made him announce the following year that he would no longer support Monsanto or promote its Bollgard Bt cotton?

ANSWER: Two reasons were given in press reports: the large scale losses caused to cotton farmers across the state and the impact of Bt Cotton cultivation on farmer suicides.

Bt Cotton Performance in Maharashtra – Kharif 2005- Report of the Monitoring & Evaluation Committee [MEC]

7. Monsanto says, “Integrity is the foundation for all that we do”. How many current and former Indonesian government officials and their family members are known to have received illicit payments on the company’s behalf?

ANSWER: At least 140, according to the US Securities & Exchange Commission.


8. Who was in overall charge of business operations in Indonesia when the bribes scandal got underway?

ANSWER: Hugh Grant, Monsanto’s current Chairman, Chief Executive Officer and President. He was managing director of Monsanto’s Asia Pacific division.

Eco sounding

9. Which country has a bilateral agreement with the US for the development of its agriculture, including the promotion of GMOs, overseen by a board that includes Monsanto, ADM and Wal-Mart?

ANSWER: India (Knowledge Initiative on Agriculture)

Ripping up the rulebook Bilateral and unilateral deals are the new avatars of ‘free trade’ and guarantors of corporate rule

10. Which Health Canada scientist told a Canadian Senate committee of being in a meeting where officials from Monsanto made an offer of between $1-2 million to the scientists from Health Canada — an offer that she told the senators could only have been interpreted as a bribe. Additionally, she also recounted how notes and files critical of scientific data provided by Monsanto were stolen from a locked filing cabinet in her office.

ANSWER: Dr. Margaret Haydon

Monsanto Accused of Attempt to Bribe Health Canada for rBGH (Posilac) Approval

QUIZ 2: Farming in a GM wonderland

We’re off to see the biotech equivalent of the Wizard of Oz…

1. Many pro-GM commentators hail the technology as the solution to the current food crisis because of its ability to reduce fertilizer use and help farmers cope with problems like drought, salinity or flooding. After 20 years of GM research, how many GM drought tolerant, or salt tolerant, or flood tolerant, or fertilizer-reducing crops are there on the market worldwide?


NOTES/SOURCES: See, for instance, the commentary by former EPA biotech specialist Dr. Doug Gurian-Sherman, Genetic engineering – a crop of hyperbole, San Diego Union Tribune, 18 June 2008 Genetic engineering – a crop of hyperbole

2. There have been tens of thousands of articles in the world’s media about ‘miracle’ crops genetically engineered for enhanced appearance, flavour, nutrition, or to be allergen-free, or to combat problems like obesity or to contain edible vaccines that protect against major diseases like cancer. How many of these GM crops are there on the market worldwide?


NOTES/SOURCES: In his book Genetically Modified Language, Prof. Guy Cook notes how a study he conducted of UK press coverage of GM found that largely uncritical stories about speculative GM solutions to intractable problems (e.g. GM allergy-free peanuts, GM apples to fight tooth decay) were widely published in all types of newspapers, even those with editorial lines skeptical of GM. Genetically Modified Language – Professor Bullsh*t unspun!

3. When published in April 2008, which appraisal of global agriculture, sponsored by the World Bank and the U.N., and undertaken on a scale comparable to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, concluded that GM crops have at best variable impacts on yields and would not play a substantial role in addressing climate change, loss of biodiversity, hunger or poverty?

ANSWER: IAASTD – International Assessment of Agricultural knowledge, Science and Technology for Development

NOTES/SOURCES: For a good short summary see, IAASTD: Overhaul of agriculture systems needed, GM crops not the solution, by Lim Li Ching, Sustainable Food Monitor, 2007.

4. More than 50% of the GM crops grown worldwide are farmed in the United States, and by far the most widely grown crop is herbicide-tolerant soyabeans. Based on U.S. Department of Agriculture trend data and numerous field studies, by roughly how much has GM soya increased yield for U.S. farmers compared to conventional (non-GM) varieties?

ANSWER: Zero – it may even have decreased yields compared to non-GM varieties.

NOTES/SOURCES: See, for instance, the commentary by Dr. Doug Gurian-Sherman, Genetic engineering – a crop of hyperbole, San Diego Union Tribune, 18 June 2008 Genetic engineering – a crop of hyperbole

5. Who said the following about GM crops when promoting them as a solution to the food crisis? “We’ve been using them for 10 years in the United States and they have a proven effectiveness in increasing yields, in lowering the use of fertilizer, in providing better water and soil management and also increasing taste and appearance. So, you know, those are all good things.”

ANSWER: U.S. Agriculture Secretary Ed Schafer.

NOTES/SOURCES: See: At UN summit, US offers three-prong approach to food crisis, Voice of America, 3 June 2008

6. What word did Prof. Dennis Murphy – the head of biotechnology at the University of Glamorgan, recently use to describe claims about GM crops solving the problem of drought or feeding the world?

ANSWER: “Bullshit”.

NOTES/SOURCES: Prof. Murphy is quoted in this strongly pro-GM article, GM: it’s safe, but it’s not a saviour, Spiked, 7 July 2008

7. Monsanto and its supporters claim that GM crops have been widely adopted in countries like the United States because of their economic benefits for farmers. Which organization in its review of GM crop cultivation in the U.S. commented, “Perhaps the biggest issue raised by these results is how to explain the rapid adoption of [GM] crops when farm financial impacts appear to be mixed or even negative”?

ANSWER: USDA – United States department for Agriculture (USDA/ERS)

NOTES/SOURCES: Jorge Fernandez-Cornejo and William D. McBride, Adoption of Bioengineered Crops, Agricultural Economic Report No. AER810, May 2002

8. The Director of Corporate Affairs for Monsanto India says the increase in GM cotton acres there “bear testimony to the success of this technology and the benefit that farmers derive from it.” According to Washington University researcher Glenn Stone’s multi-year study of the behaviour of cotton farmers in a key cotton growing area of India, what underlay the rapid spread of GM cotton there?

ANSWER: Seed fads.

NOTES/SOURCES: Stone argues that far from farmers carefully assessing the technology before adopting it more widely, the process is more like a “craze”. He argues that GM cotton has contributed to a disruption of farmers’ process of learning, as they rely less on experimentation and observation and more on advertising and a kind of herd mentality where everybody copies everyone else, leading to blind adoption. See: Glenn Davis Stone, Agricultural Deskilling and the Spread of Genetically Modified Cotton in Warangal, Current Anthropology, Volume 48, Number 1, February 2007

Agricultural Deskilling and the Spread of Genetically Modified Cotton in Warangal

Articles about this research here Cotton seed confusion in poor countries

9. The wife of which South African farmer who has been flown around the world by Monsanto to preach the benefits of GM cotton and detail how it has transformed his family’s life, admitted on camera that they made no profit from the crop?

ANSWER: TJ Buthelezi

NOTES/SOURCES: See the film, A Disaster in Search of Success: Bt Cotton in Global South

For a profile of TJ Buthelezi South African farmer, Thembitshe Joseph Buthelezi, has a long established relationship with Monsanto and the biotech industry. With their assistance he has been brought to Washington, Brussels, Pretoria, St Louis, London, Johannesburg, and Philadelphia to help promote GM foods.

10. What was surprising about the posters that appeared in many places in Madhya Pradesh, India, featuring a man who said he’d gained great benefits from growing GM cotton and urging others to do the same?

ANSWER: He was not a farmer.

NOTES/SOURCES: He was found on investigation to be a paan shop owner – a roadside vendor of betel leaves and cigarettes. See: New report – Farmers lied to and lured into Bt cotton

11. Why was Gary Rinehart surprised to be publicly harassed over violating Monsanto’s patent on GM soybeans, and subsequently to have the company file a federal lawsuit against him?

ANSWER: He was not a farmer.

NOTES/SOURCES: “Rinehart wasn’t a farmer. He wasn’t a seed dealer. He hadn’t planted any seeds or sold any seeds. He owned a small – a really small – country store…”, Donald L. Barlett and James B. Steele, Investigation: Monsanto’s Harvest of Fear, Vanity Fair, May 2008

12. What is the annual budget that Monsanto devotes to harassing, intimidating, suing – and in some cases bankrupting – American farmers over alleged improper use of its patented seeds?

ANSWER: 10 million dollars.

NOTES/SOURCES: See p.6 of the report, Monsanto vs US farmers, The Center for Food Safety, 2005




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