GMO Food: A Threat to Crop Diversity and Farmers: “Le monde selon Monsanto” (Marie-Monique Robin)

I wrote this article in Japanese and translated it into English using ChatGPT. I also used ChatGPT to create the English article title. I did my best to correct any translation mistakes, but please let me know if you find any errors. By the way, I did not use ChatGPT when writing the Japanese article. The entire article was written from scratch by me, Saikawa Goto.



Movies and books covered in this article

I will write an article about this movie/book

Three takeaways from this article

  1. Problems with “Genetically Modified Organisms” sold with their own herbicides.
  2. Crop diversity on the planet will be lost and dominated by Monsanto Company’s crop genes.
  3. Possibility of collusion with the state and hiding the dangers.

This will be an opportunity for us to understand clearly what we are being fed.

Self-introduction article

Please refer to the self-introduction article above to learn about the person writing this article. Be sure to check out the Kindle book linked below as well.

Published Kindle books(Free on Kindle Unlimited)

“The genius Einstein: An easy-to-understand book about interesting science advances that is not too simple based on his life and discoveries: Theory of Relativity, Cosmology and Quantum Theory”

“Why is “lack of imagination” called “communication skills”?: Japanese-specific”negative” communication”

The quotes used in this article are based on notes taken at the movie theater from movies in Japanese and are not direct quotes from the foreign language original movies, even if they exist.

How the Global Biotech Company is Trying to Control the World’s “Food”

The Biotech Company Called “Monsanto Company”

The biotech company featured in this movie is called “Monsanto Company”. Founded in 1901, the company was originally a chemical company, and its flagship product “Roundup” has been selling for over 50 years as a well-known herbicide.

People speak about companies like that, saying things like:

“It’s like a quiet war.” – Farmer from Ecuador

“They’re trying to dominate the world even more powerfully than bombs or armies.” – Scientist from India

If you watch the movie, you’ll understand what these words mean.

The reason for the success of Monsanto Company was the development of “Roundup Ready Crops”. They used genetically modified (GM) technology to create crops that wouldn’t wither even if sprayed with a herbicide called Roundup.

What’s so good about that? Let’s imagine a farmer’s job.

The hardest part of a farmer’s job is removing weeds. Normally, they have to spray only the weeds with a herbicide and avoid getting it on the crops they’re growing. However, with “Roundup Ready Crops”, the crops won’t wither even if sprayed with “Roundup”. In other words, even if they spray “Roundup” randomly on the farm, only the weeds will wither and the crops they’re growing (Roundup Ready Crops) will continue to grow as usual.

This is convenient, so it’s understandable that farmers would jump at the chance.

This crop, created by genetic modification, is called a “GM organism.” While “GM organism” itself is not a patented invention of the Monsanto Company, in this article, unless otherwise specified, it means “Roundup Ready Crops.”

While this “GM organism” is very convenient for farmers, there are also issues that have been pointed out.

The Problems With “GM Organisms”

The first problem is the “loss of diversity.” For example, apples grown in Washington State and apples grown in California should have different genes. This means that having different genes even within the same species increases the chances of survival if the global environment undergoes a drastic change.

However, for example all of “GM apple” (assuming it exists) has the same genes. This means that if all apples on earth became “GM apples,” even a small change in the environment could cause the species “apple” to become extinct.

By introducing “GM organisms” aggressively for the sake of convenience, there is a risk of losing the diversity of plants on earth.

In addition to the problems with “GM organism”, there is a more serious issue for farmers. That is, they have to buy Monsanto Company’s “GM organism” seeds every year.

Monsanto Company has obtained a patent for the genetically modified seeds. In other words, it is not possible to cultivate “GM organism” without permission from Monsanto Company. Of course, once “GM organism” is grown, the seeds can be collected the following year. However, Monsanto Company prohibits seed collection. Every year, farmers are required to sign a contract to buy seeds from Monsanto Company.

It’s not just about the seeds. Fertilizers and herbicides are also included in the set with the seeds, and they are very expensive. As a result, farmers are in crisis.

In India, Monsanto Company’s “BT cotton” (one of the GM organisms) has taken over, to the point where “non-BT cotton seeds cannot be collected.” So, if they want to grow cotton in India, they have no choice but to buy seeds from Monsanto Company. However, BT cotton seeds cost four times as much as conventional seeds.

Even if they work hard to buy and cultivate the seeds, there may be poor harvests. To cultivate cotton the following year, farmers have no choice but to borrow money. Driven to the brink, over 600 cotton farmers in India take their own lives each year.

Furthermore, Monsanto Company hires spies called “gene police” to check for any illegal activities, such as farmers storing seeds from GM organisms. In the movie, many farmers who had planted crops according to the contract were unreasonably sued.

Farmers claim their innocence, but they are up against a huge corporation. Even if they know they are not guilty, they will have to pay a huge breach-of-contract penalty if they lose the lawsuit. That’s why they end up choosing to settle. However, even if they settle, it’s a tough road ahead. More than 100 farmers have gone bankrupt after being sued by Monsanto Company.

Furthermore, it’s said that Monsanto Company is buying up seed companies all over the world. In other words, there’s a worst-case scenario where “Monsanto Company sells all the plant seeds on earth.”

You can understand that it is by no means unrelated to us although Monsanto Company is an American company.

Relationship Between Monsanto Company and America

Although it happened a long time ago, there was a time when genetically modified soybeans were in the news. There was probably even less understanding of the technology of “genetic modification” than there is now, and there was a debate over whether genetically modified foods were safe or not.

In Japan, there was a debate on whether to label soybean products such as tofu that use genetic modification. The rules were eventually established, and it seems that labeling “Genetically Modified Organism used” is necessary in Japan.

Now, surprisingly, in the film, it was mentioned that “the notation ‘using Genetically Modified Organism’ was banned.” It is not “if you use it, you must write it” but “even if you use it, you must not write it.” This would be quite an unusual decision.

Researching online, it appears that there has been a movement to make labeling mandatory in the US in recent years, but at least at the time of making this movie, it was a situation where the government “forbade labeling.”

Why did this happen? It’s because a company called Monsanto Company has a deep connection with the US government.

In the US, there is a public agency called FDA that reviews the safety of food. FDA evaluated the safety of Genetically Modified Organisms using the term “substantial equivalence,” which means that “both the crops that have been genetically modified and those that have not are essentially the same.”

Since they are the same, FDA does not create standards to regulate the safety of GMOs nor does it conduct inspections.

Many American citizens were suspicious of this judgment, and it would be understandable. It seems like FDA is trying to quickly bring Monsanto Company’s GM organisms to the market.

If you knew the following fact, you’d be more surprised. The person who led the policy on safety standards for Genetically Modified Organisms at the FDA used to be a lawyer for Monsanto Company. It’s more than just a matter of collusion. Some people think that America is favoring Monsanto Company in order to dominate the world in the biotech industry.

How do Scientists Evaluate This?

Safety should be judged scientifically, not politically. However, it seems that the mouths of scientists who belonged to Monsanto Company were silenced. Many scientists were skeptical of GM organisms, as evidenced by the leaked internal documents of Monsanto Company.

However, the top scientists at Monsanto Company ultimately evaluated that “GM organisms are safe.” When asked how they could be so sure about the safety, he responded as follows:

It is based on the experimental data submitted by Monsanto Company. FDA reviewed and evaluated the data to be safe. There is no reason for a company to manipulate the data. They have nothing to gain from doing so.

However, various pollution incidents have occurred in Japan in the past, and we know the history of companies falsifying data. This film also uncovers past issues with Monsanto Company. When employees at their factories showed symptoms of dioxin poisoning, a raw material for the herbicides they produced, Monsanto Company manipulated the data to announce a false conclusion. Given Monsanto Company’s history, it wouldn’t be surprising if they falsified data again.

Monsanto Company has many scientists wrapped around its finger.

A scientist from a British research institute was commissioned by the UK government to thoroughly investigate American GM organisms before importation. He fulfilled his duties and found several concerning points, criticizing on a TV show that “importing GM organisms is the same as using British citizens as guinea pigs.” The next day, he was fired. In fact, the research institute had received funding from Monsanto Company.

In Canada, three scientists stood up to stop the use of “Posilac,” a growth hormone for cows. It was the world-first food to use genetic modification and was approved in the US but banned in Canada and subsequently Europe. The scientists testified in court that they were offered large bribes from Monsanto Company. Later, they were fired for violating the employment regulations.

A veterinarian who worked for the FDA and a former Secretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture also appeared and testified to the effect that there was a backlash against actions that would hinder the introduction of Genetically Modified Organism. It is apparent that big business and the state are teaming up to promote Genetically Modified Organism as a national policy.

“Genetically Modified Organism” is Not a Problem If it is Safe…

If Genetically Modified Organisms are truly safe, then it may not be a big problem even if the government and big corporations collude. The problems of plant diversity and financial burden on farmers will not disappear, but if the perspective of “food safety” is clear, it would be better.

Regarding this point, a clear conclusion was not reached at the time of the movie production, but research on “genetic contamination” had been conducted. “Contamination” refers to the mixing of genes from genetically modified organisms into native plants. And the “GM organism” has a strong contamination power.

For example, in Mexico, where the import of GM organisms is prohibited, GM genes were found in corn that had not been interbred with other species for over 10,000 years. The paper that announced this fact had a tremendous impact around the world, revealing the powerful ability of GM organisms to “contaminate” other crops.

There are experiments being conducted to see what happens to plants that have been “contaminated” with GM organisms. It has been found that various deformities can be created depending on where the GM organism genes enter the plant.

At present, the impact on the human body cannot be said for sure. Personally, I feel that the phenomenon of “genetic modification” is something that nature has been doing all along, so I don’t feel that there will be a major impact on the human body just because it is done artificially.

However, I feel that there are significant issues beyond just “food safety” concerns. Losing plant diversity and forcing farmers to purchase expensive seeds are major problems.

In the not-too-distant future, our “food” could be dominated by a single corporation, such as Monsanto Company. I believe we should be alarmed by this possibility.


As I mentioned earlier, I am more concerned about how the spread of GM organisms will affect human “food” rather than whether they are safe for human consumption.

Electricity, gas, gasoline, and so on are all products of human scientific and technological development, so it is inevitable that we must rely on corporations. However, “agriculture” is, in a sense, a collection of human wisdom and knowledge, and it is an area that should not need to depend on corporations. While mechanization and efficiency are desirable, I still feel that there should be an option to “do it alone without relying on corporations.”

However, if the Monsanto Company were to gain “food hegemony,” that hope would be dashed.

It was a work that made me feel such fear.

Published Kindle books(Free on Kindle Unlimited)

“The genius Einstein: An easy-to-understand book about interesting science advances that is not too simple based on his life and discoveries: Theory of Relativity, Cosmology and Quantum Theory”

“Why is “lack of imagination” called “communication skills”?: Japanese-specific”negative” communication”

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