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Monsanto Executive Wins World Food Prize 271

Posted by samzenpus
from the best-of-brand dept.
sfcrazy writes "A top Monsanto executive has won the prestigious World Food Prize. Secretary of State John Kerry announced the award where Robert T. Fraley, the executive vice president and CTO of Monsanto, won the prize along with two other scientists from Belgium and the US. The award was given for devising a method to insert genes from another organism into plant cells, which could produce new genetic lines with highly favorable traits."
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Monsanto Executive Wins World Food Prize

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 19, 2013 @08:06PM (#44055809)

    Last week, Monsanto's leak of genetically modified wheat polluted countless acres of US wheat leading to countries around the world banning the import of all US wheat. Today, Monsanto wins the World Food Prize!

    Good job Monsanto. Thank goodness no media outlets carried that story. Oh. Except Reuters. http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/05/31/us-wheat-korea-idUSBRE94U0KW20130531

  • Just like the Nobel (Score:5, Informative)

    by aNonnyMouseCowered (2693969) on Wednesday June 19, 2013 @08:42PM (#44056045)

    There appears coincidentally to be a connection between the Nobel and this so-called World Food Prize. The Nobel awards were started by the man who invented dynamite. The Food Prize, according to the NY Times, "was started in 1987 by Norman E. Borlaug, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1970 for bringing about the Green Revolution, which vastly increased grain output, and who thought there should be a Nobel Prize for agriculture". One may well argue that dynamite contributed to world peace in the same way the Green Revolution, with its focus on massive crop monocultures, contributed to global food production.

    A Monsanto executive winning this award shouldn't be surprising, even without the allegations of financial "compensation". The Green Revolution was all about increasing the supply of food, never mind the quality, or the ecological or social side effects. At who knows what cost, there's no question Monsanto technology helps increase food output.

  • by drinkypoo (153816) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Wednesday June 19, 2013 @09:06PM (#44056255) Homepage Journal

    http://artsandsciences.colorado.edu/magazine/2010/06/green-revolutions-dark-side-effect-disease/ [colorado.edu]
    http://newsdesk.org/2008/08/dark_side_of_th/ [newsdesk.org]
    http://www.hrw.org/news/2005/09/04/dark-side-ethiopia-s-green-revolution [hrw.org]

    etc etc

    At "best" the "Green Revolution" postponed the inevitable and meanwhile increased the number of people who would eventually inevitably die from starvation as the land becomes unable to support farming due to depletion and destruction of soil diversity inherent to these methods.

    HTH, HAND

  • Re:gmo (Score:5, Informative)

    by Will.Woodhull (1038600) <wwoodhull@gmail.com> on Wednesday June 19, 2013 @09:34PM (#44056437) Homepage Journal

    Those "highly favorable traits" are resistance to the herbicides that Monsanto also sells. For every USA acre sown with their GMO corn they can be sure of selling an appropriate amount of Round Up to treat that acreage at least a couple of times.

    The foreign markets will be more lucrative, though. Many countries in South America, Africa, and elsewhere do not have the regulatory mechanisms to assure that no more than a certain amount of Round Up is applied, and that it is only applied when the weather is good for keeping it on the cultivated fields. That means that Monsanto will be able to sell much more Round Up per acre to these foreign users, who can splash it around like holy water. If the morning's dose gets washed into the streams by the afternoon's rains, what the heck, it doesn't cost that much to just spray the fields again the next day.

    Of course the ecosystem does not have the genes to protect itself from Round Up. But since the effects of poisoning it will not show up until after the fatter end of year bonuses to the Monsanto's executives, there is no reason for this company not to push their GMO products AND their wonderful herbicides.

    There is a whiff of corruption about the USA State Department now. I am really surprised and disappointed that John Kerry is involved in this. I thought he had more sense.

  • by J053 (673094) <J053&shangri-la,cx> on Wednesday June 19, 2013 @09:57PM (#44056581) Homepage Journal

    Using roundup ready GMO means roundup is used on the plant, and you get roundup in you food. Using BT-producing GMO means there is botulism toxin on your food. Are you sure about the consequences?

    Uhh... Bt-producing GMO plants have a gene from Bacillus thuringiensis in their DNA. Bt has been used for years as an alternative to more-harmful pesticides, and can even be used on certified organic crops. It has nothing whatever to do with botulism (from Clostridium botulinum).

    You really should make sure you know what you're talking about before you make outrageous and trivially refutable statements. Just sayin'

  • by the eric conspiracy (20178) on Wednesday June 19, 2013 @10:15PM (#44056713)

    The Green Revolution saved billions from famine and disease. As scientific understanding of the process and technology improve leading to improved sustainability. Current systems are very wasteful; some 30-40% of all food ends up not being consumed. RIGHT NOW we produce enough for estimated stable long term population levels of the planet.

    http://www.un.org/esa/dsd/dsd_sd21st/21_pdf/agriculture_and_food_the_future_of_sustainability_web.pdf [un.org]

    In the meantime birth rates in human populations are declining due to the overall economic improvements. Some areas are even experiencing sub replacement birth rates.

    http://www.un.org/esa/population/publications/longrange2/WorldPop2300final.pdf [un.org]

  • by the eric conspiracy (20178) on Wednesday June 19, 2013 @10:22PM (#44056757)

    Um no, they found one plot and told us about it.

    http://news.yahoo.com/usda-modified-wheat-appears-isolated-205944372.html [yahoo.com]

    No other cases have been found.

  • by Camael (1048726) on Wednesday June 19, 2013 @11:08PM (#44057013)

    If you look at the website [worldfoodprize.org] of the World Food Prize org, you will find :-

    The World Food Prize sincerely thanks the following sponsors for supporting its annual programs: ...
    The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation DuPont Pioneer John Deere Foundation
    The Mathile Institute for the Advancement of Human Nutrition Monsanto DuPont Pioneer
    Ruan Transportation Management Systems Claudia and Paul Schickler....

    So, Monsanto is one of the sponsors of WFP. A pretty important one too, as shown by this link which used to exist on the Monsanto website [googleusercontent.com].

    The World Food Prize Foundation on Friday accepted a $5 million contribution from Monsanto Company to ensure the continuation of the annual World Food Prize International Symposium -- now known as the "Borlaug Dialogue." The funds support a renewed fundraising campaign to transform the historic Des Moines Public Library building into a public museum to honor Dr. Norman Borlaug and the work of the World Food Prize Laureates.

    When you look up the WFP website [worldfoodprize.org] , you will find that "The World Food Prize is sponsored by businessman and philanthropist John Ruan and is located in Des Moines, Iowa."

    Not in itself damning, until you realise that :-

    Monsanto has more facilities in Iowa than in any other state in the country [monsanto.com]

    Monsanto has made substantial investments in Iowa [wqad.com]

    Monsanto actively lobbies to change laws in Iowa [grist.org]

    I think its fair to say that Monsanto has a lot of influence in Iowa.

    I question the integrity of this "prize".

  • Re:gmo (Score:5, Informative)

    by Will.Woodhull (1038600) <wwoodhull@gmail.com> on Wednesday June 19, 2013 @11:18PM (#44057083) Homepage Journal

    Monsanto is developing drought resistant rice through selective breeding, which will compete with 4 or 5 other drought resistant strains of rice already developed in other countries. There are no stories about Monsanto doing any drought resistant GM rice. If it was happening, Monsanto would be blowing its horn about it. So parent post is factually wrong on this one.

    Monsanto has gained approval to market a drought resistant GMO corn. The only thing is, it is not any better than strains of drought resistant corn already on the market, developed at agricultural colleges to meet the specific conditions of various areas. The Monsanto GMO corn is not as good a solution as the strains that have been bred for each region. Monsanto's long term goal is to probably combine "Round Up Ready" GMO corn with GMO drought resistant corn and drive all other strains out of the market. That will ensure an increase in the flow of Round Up, which is one of Monsanto's biggest revenue streams. (What Round Up can do to a trout streams is something else again.)

    There has been a noticeable increase in Bt resistant pests in areas where Monsanto GM Bt crops have been grown. Perhaps it should not be a surprise that not much research on this "aberration" is being funded.

    Aren't you the little Monsanto fanboi. But your post does provide a convenient place to air some of the other problems that are associated with Monsanto's exploitive business practices.

  • Re:Proofreading? (Score:5, Informative)

    by ChromeAeonium (1026952) on Wednesday June 19, 2013 @11:21PM (#44057107)

    And then ream everyone in court who tries to keep some seed and use it to replant.

    There's always the option of not buying them and going with open pollinated seed. If you get sued for violating a contract you signed, then that is on you. And before you bring up the inevitable claim of suing for cross pollination, wrong. [npr.org]

    lobby for legislation which requires food aid from the US to be GMO crops

    That's new on me. Point me to that specific legislation, because that sounds an awful lot like a load of made up bullshit that someone pulled out of the usual place. Yeah, for some crops like corn and soy, most of the aid is genetically engineered, because most of the crop is genetically engineered. This isn't a conspiracy; it's just how supply chains work.

  • Re:Proofreading? (Score:4, Informative)

    by ChromeAeonium (1026952) on Wednesday June 19, 2013 @11:59PM (#44057349)

    I think it would be more like giving a health prize to a pharmaceutical company for vaccine manufacturing. Sure, despite the public controversy concerning whether or not they cause autism, it would be true that the company has produced good things that have combated disease, although giving it to a corporate suit is still kind of bullshit. That's how I feel about it. Even if their seeds are helping people (for example, this [forbesindia.com] just popped up in the news), giving the prize to executives doesn't seem right. Perhaps individual scientists or teams, but corporate executives? I don't like it.

    As a side not, the Frankenstein thing is pretty silly. No one calls it Frankenstein when someone picks out a somatic mutant of a fruit tree and grafts it to another tree, no one calls it Frankenstein when you chemically double the chromosomes of a plant either to cross it with a non-doubled one to get a triploid or to produce a plant with homozygous alleles from a pollen cell, no one calls it Frankenstein when you cross two plants that can't produce viable offspring and then remove the embryo before it dies to culture it into a hybrid that could never exist in nature, no one calls it Frankenstein when you blast a culture of cells with radiation or apply mutagenic chemicals to create all sorts of random mutations, and no one calls it Frankenstein when you select random mutation after random mutation in the form of artificial selection, a process that has caused such great genetic shifts as to create corn from teosinte [wikipedia.org] and broccoli, kale, kohlrabi, cabbage,and cauliflower (all the same species by the way) from wild mustard. Yet now this is Frankenstein? I mean, I suppose you could go the appeal to nature route and argue that everything else is just manipulating natural forces in a beneficial way, but of course, one could point to horizontal gene transfer and say the same of genetic engineering, not that the argument means much anyway.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 20, 2013 @12:06AM (#44057403)

    Surprise! Monsanto has been paying the WFP

    It's no surprise at all, because it's been revealed that Monsanto has been using this same tactic for years to corrupt academic journals to ensure that no contrary research gets published.

    Take a look at The Goodman Affair: Monsanto Targets the Heart of Science [independen...cenews.org]. It's enough to make you weep for the biomedical and horticultural sciences.

    This is very likely to be why Monsanto shills so often dismiss contrary research with "It's not published in a top peer-reviewed journal." They known damn well that they control those "prestigious scientific journals" and nothing harmful to their interests will get published in them.

    "Prestigious journals" my foot. They're only prestigious to those who aren't aware of the endemic corruption.

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