If GMO's are so safe why doesn't Monsanto use GMO Foods in it's own cafeterias, I hear they only serve organic?
If GMO's are so safe, why fight labeling initiatives in EU and after losing run another campaign saying consumers have a right to know?
How does Agent Orange get inserted into the genes of plants to be grown?
Just a few of my questions.
Submitted by: tpcassc
Expert response from Chelsey Robinson
Former Global Preparedness Content Manager, Monsanto Company
Thursday, 04/12/2014 23:24
It’s clear you have a lot of concerns and questions, and we appreciate your taking the time to explore GMOAnswers.com to gain some clarity. It’s apparent that ag companies like Monsanto really must take the time to engage in conversation and work to earn your trust. Actually, that is one of the main reasons we are engaging in this initiative and taking the time to answer questions like yours.
Oftentimes I think some of the confusion comes from the changes that Monsanto has undergone since its establishment. For more than 15 years, Monsanto has been 100 percent focused on agriculture. However, we still get questions about, and in some cases maintain responsibility for, products that were once part of the former Monsanto. I suggest visiting discover.monsanto.com to learn more about us. You can also take a look at our Pledge and our 2012 Corporate Social Responsibility and Sustainability Report to better understand who we are and what we are focused on as a business each and every day.
I want to apologize in advance for the length of my response, but I do want to be sure I address all of your concerns. To directly respond to your individual questions, I have responded briefly below but have also included some links so that you can read further on each topic.
- Our cafeterias serve all types of foods, including foods with ingredients from GM crops; in fact, we occasionally have special menu items that feature our products, such as our GM sweet corn, and even have held a farmers’ market to offer employees the chance to buy their own GM sweet corn for their families.
Personally, I find it unsettling that the assumption here is that we Monsanto employees would knowingly “protect” ourselves at work from something “unsafe” but would allow our family and friends not at Monsanto to be served something “unsafe.” I believe in the safety of our products and the safety of GM crops overall, and this is why I not only eat foods with ingredients from GM crops myself but also do not worry about my family and friends eating food derived from GM crops. You can find more information on this topic in a previously answered question on GMOAnswers.com: GmoAnswers.com Monsanto Cafeteria.
- It’s important to note that Monsanto fully supports voluntary marketing labels — such as the “organic” labeling that already exists in most countries — for consumers who want to have a choice of foods that don’t contain GM ingredients. We do not support mandatory labeling of products with GM ingredients in the absence of any demonstrated risks. Such mandatory labeling could be understood to imply that food products containing GM ingredients are somehow inferior to their conventional or organic counterparts, which is untrue. You can read more about this in another GMOAnswers.com question: Monsanto and Labeling in the UK.
- There is a lot of confusion around Agent Orange, but the short answer to your question is that it does not get inserted into the genes of plants to be grown.
Agent Orange specifically was one of the defoliants used by the US military during the Vietnam War, and Monsanto was one of nine wartime government contractors that manufactured Agent Orange for the US government. The government set the specifications for making Agent Orange and determined when, where and how it was used. Agent Orange was produced only for, and used only by, the government. It has not been produced by Monsanto since 1969; in fact, no company is producing Agent Orange anymore. You can learn more about Monsanto and Agent Orange on our website, Agent Orange: Background on Monsanto’s Involvement.
In regard to your question about gene insertion, gene insertion is used in biotechnology to confer resistance to things like herbicides, viruses or insects. When a gene is inserted into a plant, it will allow the plant to produce a protein that will help the plant be resistant to the specific target, such as a specific herbicide or insect. The herbicide, insect or virus that gene insertion protects against is never actually inserted into the plant.
Oftentimes I believe this misunderstanding comes from a popular myth that activists have perpetuated by calling certain biotechnology products “Agent Orange corn.” I think that this relates to a product that Dow will soon have available, which is its Enlist corn seed. This product has a gene inserted into it that allows it to be resistant to the herbicide 2,4-D. While 2,4-D was one of the ingredients in Agent Orange, it is not by itself Agent Orange and in fact has a long history of safe use among farmers; you might even have used it on your own front lawn. The only distinction is that now certain crops will have resistance to this herbicide, and so this gives farmers more choice when they want to choose herbicides for weed protection in their fields. Additional choice of herbicides for farmers will help to cut down on herbicide-resistant weeds and thus adds to the sustainability and durability of the system as a whole.
I recognize that you likely have further questions about Monsanto and its products, and I would encourage you to continue to reach out either via GMOAnswers.com or by visiting discover.monsanto.com. It is important that we at Monsanto take the time to earn your trust, every day. We recognize that we must act with integrity, treat others with respect, be transparent and engage in dialogue. These are the commitments Monsanto lives by today.
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