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:::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::: Have You Ingested an Adequate Serving Size of Propaganda Today? ::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

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Introduction:

Corporate biotechnology / agriculture giant, Monsanto, has planted its seeds - literally - in almost everything available in the modern American food market. They seem to have a daunting air of confidence about the whole situation, though, consistently promoting and pushing their genetically engineered herbicides and crops to the waning small-town farming population originally responsible for providing the public with wholesome, nutritious, and pure foods. Over the years, multiple atrocious stories have appeared which deem the corporation as somewhat of a strong-arming bully. Their personal agenda as a company is apparent through their monopolistic hold on the multiple markets they do business in.

History:


Monsanto, who started out as a chemical company in 1901 has introduced dozens of modern conveniences into our society, many of which we take for granted - including;
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  • Saccharin, Aspartame (artificial sweeteners)
  • Caffeine
  • Vanillin
  • Asprin
  • Rubber
  • Sulfuric Acid
  • Plastics (Polymers)
  • synthetic fibers
  • DDT
  • "Agent Orange"
  • Polyurethanes
  • Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs)

The introduction of the pesticide "Roundup," in 1973 by the conglomerate proved to be a very successful venture. The product sold well enough in its first couple of years to become one of the firm's staple products, ultimately gaining them recognition and stature in the public eye. They were once viewed as a sort of respected and well known establishment which provided useful products to their customers; usually farming communities, and suburbanite residents who were in need of lawn care products. Conversely, the domineering powerhouse which we have grown to "love to hate," in the past few decades took a turn for the worse (as it relates to their customers, not themselves) in 1982, when Monsanto employees triumphantly changed the molecular structure of a plant cell for the first time in history. And so, the term 'genetic engineering' comes into fruition - using their abundant scientific knowledge in order to produce crops that would change the business of agriculture forever. These 'roundup-ready' crops played on the very important fact that Roundup was already a huge household name/national brand, used by the masses - they were manufactured to be resilient to the chemical Roundup itself (as the name implies), to ensure that a majority, at least, would be coming around season after season to purchase both 'necessary' items. Monsanto was extremely pleased, as was their customers, i am sure, at least for the brief early stages of their relationship(s).

Public Relations:

Long past the 'good 'ol days' that may have been had by Monsanto and customers alike, much strife has erupted from the public figures who have some sort of exposure to their business' practices. "Confidential contracts detailing Monsanto Co.'s business practices reveal how the world's biggest seed developer is squeezing competitors, controlling smaller seed companies and protecting its dominance over the multibillion-dollar market for genetically altered crops, an Associated Press investigation has found" (AP, 2009). Not only is (as a vague, nondescript example) the humble farmer-Joe down in Virginia pissed off at the company, but the media outlets and government organizations have also began to take notice in the situation manifest. There has been a sort of game that Monsanto plays with its 'valued' customers in the recent years. Since their products overtook the market in the mid-1990's, they have done everything physically and legally possible in order to insure their dominance over similar companies and especially the consumers who rely so heavily upon their products like Roundup, and any of their numerous Roundup-ready seeds.

Monsanto employed a five million dollar advertising campaign in 1998, in which they declare, "we believe that food is so fundamentally important, everyone should know all they want about it." They then went as far as posting billboards depicting the phone numbers of groups who were in opposition to biotechnology (Zimmerman, 1999). Other officious practices used by Monsanto include their constant struggle to shut up those who speak out against their company. They seek "Food, Health, Hope," but seem to have a backwards business model structure in order to do so correctly. For example, the book, Against the Grain: Biotechnology and the Corporate Takeover of Your Food, had its contract revoked by the publisher, after they had received a threatening letter from Monsanto - warning them not to publish a book that would tarnish their 'good' name. A similar story is that of the publication of September/October 1998 issue of The Ecologist, which focused heavily on the conglomerate's 'misdeeds,' being dropped by its publisher, but only after
also receiving a threatening letter from, you guessed it, Monsanto!monsanto5.jpg

Throughout the past few years, Monsanto has exploited many farmers, providing them with great deals and incentives to buy and use their roundup-ready products - only to immediatley revoke most of these previously stated deals whenever 'farmer-Joe' signs the dotted line. Monsanto truly embodies most of everything that is wrong in the world today. They seem to thrive on the whole concept that not only their customers, but their own employees as well, are a liability, as opposed to being a company asset - especially if you were to say the wrong thing about them. They have always had a sort of creepy vibe about their sales representatives and commercial advertisements, giving us the impression they are not only bigger and better than the others, but are most definitely above us... They have, however, been somewhat genius in the way they go about doing their transactions, which is obviously not to say that they are correct in doing so, but, all in all, at least they know how to make a dollar - something directly evidenced by their one-hundred ten year existence. Throughout the age of their existence, they have relied heavily upon strong public figures to promote their products. One great example of this is Monsanto's utilization of people like former President, nuclear engineer, and agribusiness executive; Jimmy Carter. Furthermore, Monsanto appears to have a knack for going after the poorest of the poor on our planet. In various allegations brought against the company, a common theme seems to ring throughout; Monsanto has tried (with not so flattering results) to take advantage of these poor farmers. "They now use the image of poor farmers in their PR materials. In a recent report entitled "Growing Partnerships," Monsanto continues to use the pictures of poor, small-holder farmer to justify its influence in the global food system" (Patel, 2005). And if this is not a blaring example of propaganda in the twenty-first century, then there is no such thing that could be qualified as so - the true greediness of a few head executives keeps them at the top of their food chain, crushing anyone in their way, leaving us in a wake of genetically modified garbage - food that has been reconstituted and/or changed so much at the basic levels, that the human body cannot anymore recognize the nutrients and proteins within, discarding them as waste. It is a problem not only to our wallets, but most importantly to our health! - Why do you think the United States has one of the worst track records when it comes to disease? - Its the food we put into our bodies that is actually killing us, whether overnight or a slow painful death, the fact is that this 'food' is really just a replacement of the territory which it aims to imitate.

Well, what the does all of this talk of a multi-faceted monopoly have to do with me, you might ask, whats the true significance, the importance of everything aforementioned? Everything! Obtaining such a large portion of the food market is great for them, but absolutely dreadful for the consumers, because we all need to eat, don't we? The patenting of altered seeds, which are now used in 95% of every seed variation that the countries market uses, is of public concern on a grand scale - depending on how much one wants to uncover. Combining that fact with the idea that Monsanto has the technical prowess and monetary stability to propagate its ungodly existence is a seriously concerning issue to anyone who shops in a supermarket for their groceries, the large majority of the populace. Monsanto in largely responsible for the dramatic change in the modern human diet within the past fifty years - a time in which our caloritic intake and overall food consumption has grown exponentially as compared to the relatively unchanging previous diets of the past ten thousand years! (Food, Inc.) Whatever Monsanto sees as 'fit' for food, whether it is for "Food-Health-Hope," as their new slogan proclaims, or for the capitalistic benefit producing these conveniently-cheap whole food knock-offs provides the company, is irrelevant. The fact of the matter is that they are near monopolistic in their market status, and will continue to supply the general public with copyrighted grain, filled with additives, substitutes and other things of the sort, not the idealistic source of nutrition our desperately overweight, disease-infested society has munched ourselves (with the help of Monsanto, of course) into.
  • The idea of using Monsanto's copyrighted material (genetically altered food products) for our own personal processes (survival) seems to be an ironic one - which is to say that copyrighted material may be used by someone other than the original author as long as the new author adds some sort of artistic merit, etc. to that given product, making it (more) useful to the general public - if the product which runs the entire system is intrinsically non-nutritional and/or unhealthy to begin with (after genetic modification), why should a company such as Monsanto be given the right to patent these very products and hereditary fabrications?
  • The embedded video below comes from the opening credits of a documentary called Food, Inc. which I believe gives a good demonstration of how rampant and omnipresent the situation as a whole really is:




  • This next video (below, to right) is a video news release, done by the same people whose program we had watched when learning about the concept of video news releases, 'Creative Commons.' While the reporter in this piece is obviously bias against Monsanto, citing multiple examples as to why this would be so, I still believe they do a fantastic job in getting across some of the main points of the argument against the conglomerate:








This video (right) shows field expert, former Monsanto employees who spoke out against the company, and a brainwashed Monsanto spokesperson:

“We live in the most ecologically-illiterate civilization that has ever existed”





Conclusion:

In light of everything I have read, I am disgusted easily put. I understand that Monsanto is a business founded on the economic principles of capitalistic wealth – but the subjugation they use in order to meet the ends does most certainly not justify the means they use in order to do so. I am now at least more conscious of the 'food' that plagues our grocery-store aisles, and will think more and more about the foods I am constantly ingesting. Sure french fries, synthetic-hormone treated beef, candied apples, and any other “franken-foods” of the sort taste great, that is their only purpose! Monsanto has played off of the human desire for hedonistic enjoyment, focusing on the aspect of food and eating in American households, and have done a damn good job at securing most of the market. We need to be educated about this madness, above all, before anything of real significance can be set into motion.
"Control the food supply, and you control the people."

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