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Friday, October 8, 2010

Monsanto’s Fortunes Are Falling

Last December, Monsanto was named “company of the year” by Forbes Magazine. But just last week, television stock market commentator Jim Cramer proclaimed, “This may be the worst stock of 2010.”

According to the New York Times, company stock has fallen about 42 percent since the beginning of the year and has prompted analysts to question whether its winning streak of creating ever more expensive genetically engineered crops is coming to an end. The latest blow came last week, when early returns from this year’s harvest showed that Monsanto’s newest product, SmartStax corn, which contains eight inserted genes, was providing yields no higher than the company’s less expensive corn, which contains only three foreign genes.

“My personal view is that they overplayed their hand,” William R. Young, managing director of ChemSpeak, a consultant to investors in the chemical industry, said of Monsanto. “They are going to have to demonstrate to the farmer the advantage of their products.”

Last January, the Justice Department had formally requested information on its herbicide-tolerant soybean seed business as part of an investigation into anticompetitive practices.

Dr. Grout’s comment:

The best source I know of for objective, big picture information about genetically modified crops is the Organic Center. They recently published their report from Professor Charles Benbrook. It documents the failed promises of GMO crops after 13 years of experience with them:

1 – GM crops use more toxic chemicals. In 2008, GM crop acres required over 26% more pounds of pesticides per acre than acres planted to conventional varieties.
2 – They spawn weeds that are resistant to the main chemical in Round-up, glyphosate, and this is increasing the cost of farming particularly in the Southeast where some weeds must be cleared by hand.

Common genetically modified food ingredients include corn syrup from GM corn; sugar from GM sugar beets; vegetable oils from GM soy, cotton and canola; and cheese, eggs, milk and meat from animals given GM feed or shot up with GM growth hormones and vaccines.

Many of the foods that contribute to the obesity epidemic are genetically engineered: high fructose corn syrup, trans-fats, fryer grease, chicken nuggets, and bacon cheese burgers.

Latest figures indicate 91 percent of the soybean crop grown in the U.S. is GM. Of all the corn planted, 85 percent is GM and most of that is yellow dent, also called field corn. It is used both for animal feed and for human consumption. Because it is high in starch, it is used to fatten animals. Yellow dent GM corn is the primary corn used by the large food manufacturers in making a myriad of products including cereals, corn oil, corn meal, corn chips, tortillas, taco shells, corn sweeteners, and derivatives.  American cotton is about 88 percent GM. Canola grown in the U.S. and Canada is 80-85 percent GM. And some 90 percent of the sugar beet crop is GM.

1 comment:

  1. Yesterday was GMO Free day - how many of us were aware? And how many actually made sure NOT to purchase any GMO foods?