The German conglomerate Bayer has agreed to buy the Monsanto seed and pesticide company for $66 billion, putting an end to months of speculation about who would acquire it. Now the speculation has turned to American anti-science groups and how they will continue to demonize a company that isn't part of evil America, but instead is based in the Europe they love to invoke.
Monsanto has been a ready target for those groups, who claim that its products have caused suicides in India, lawsuits against wholesome farmers across North America, and bees to keel over at the mention of the name. One of those groups, the Non-GMO Project, has even made a fortune charging companies to put a label on saying they don't have any GMOs.
So if you want to buy Non-GMO rock salt, you can, and there is a label that will affirm for you that there are no genetically modified organisms in your chunks of salt. If you are so smart you know that rock salt is not an organism and can't be genetically modified, you are not buying stuff at Whole Foods anyway.
Credit and link: MNN and Shea Gunther's friend Jes, who took the picture.
Unlike most of these scaremongers, Non-GMO Project is making way too much money putting on a label - they really need both GMOs and Monsanto to be American if those checks are going to keep rolling in. But GMOs are going off patent right now, which means it won't be just Evil Monsanto selling them, that is why it is a great time to sell for Monsanto and a terrible event for Non-GMO Project.
What do they do when GMOs are old technology and we have RNAi or CRISPR? Are they spooling up Non-RNAi Project? Will they ever put on a Non-Mutagenesis Project label for the genetic modification precursor of GMOs? Of course not, there are thousands of foods that would suddenly be a no-no, many of them considered "organic." So one of their most successful fundraisers is trying to work up some interest in Bayer, telling Fox Business that "This deal is a disturbing step in the corporate consolidation of our global food supply. Monsanto owns approximately a quarter of the world's seed supply and Bayer is one of the world's top 10 chemical companies."
So nine other chemical companies are fine, as are the 75 percent of seeds not sold by Monsanto, included all that legacy radiation-borne mutagenesis being done by BASF in Europe. All of those are okay to Non-GMO Project? Non-GMO Project is looking for a new war to fight because they know their careers are just about over unless they pull a Greenpeace and latch onto something else fast.
I know it may not seem like it to molecular biologists who have the "Food Babe" (® Food Babe LLC) and that Yogic Flying Instructor who is friends with Dr. Oz's wife getting a lot of media attention, but science has already won on this issue. While only 7% of Americans care about GMOs unprompted, groups like Consumer's Union (publisher of Consumer Reports) trot out their push-polls claiming 72 percent of the public wants warning labels on them. As pollsters learned in the last U.S. election, and in events like Brexit, surveys don't equal behavior. Regardless of what they may claim when prompted by polls, Americans have no issue at all with GMO foods and neither would anyone else if science came before politics in less evidence-based regions like Europe. 100 billion cows have eaten GMOs, along with just about every person in America for two decades, and there is no instance of any effect of any kind. GMOs are far safer than eating non-GMO burritos from Chipotle.
You know what the American public really wants to have on labels? Pesticides used. You know who leads the charge in protesting having pesticides listed on labels? Organic Consumers Association and everyone else claiming scientists are trying to hide something. Organic lobbyists and the 300 groups they fund insist their customers don't need to know what pesticides are used on organic food, because the pesticides are certified organic, which is dizzying circular reasoning.
Another reason why science has won is, ironically, because of the power of Monsanto's products. I know that sounds odd, since environmentalists routinely demonize the company and what it makes, but in agriculture Monsanto has fantastic brand recognition and authority because their products work. Bayer does not care what Non-GMO Project or any of the groups paid for by Organic Consumers Association, like U.S. Right To Know, think for the simple reason that they have had no great success with genetic modification and Monsanto has. So, sure, Center for Food Safety and Sourcewatch can continue to insist the public should hate this combination, but Bayer is going to love having Monsanto in their portfolio. And so will farmers in both the developed and developing world.
Bayer have already shown they know how to slough off anti-science hysteria. They make neonicotinoids, which environmental groups are still hoping will kill off bees.