This just in from NPR (and thanks to Jenn for sending it).
Round One: Monsanto rolls out the herbicide Round-Up. Farmers cheer loudly and stop plowing fields. Not plowing fields is generally a good thing–less energy used, soil preserved, more carbon sequestration, happy earthworms, etc. What’s not to like?
Round Two: Round-Up resistant crops! Even better! Plant your soybeans, keep on spraying! Awesome!
Round Three: Oooops. If Monsanto can genetically engineer a plant to resist Round-Up, turns out Mother Nature can, too. Now horsetail shrugs it off. Monsanto’s response? Not to worry! We’re working on it! Just keep spraying!
The best part is that this chemical is so safe and so wonderful that even NPR likes it. It’s way better, they point out, than other, more harmful chemicals, which appear to be the only alternative. Thanks, NPR! That totally cheers us up! Why, it doesn’t hurt a fly! Look, it’s hardly killing the weeds–how’s it going to kill a person?
We were feeling so much better about the whole situation until we remembered–oh, yeah. Nonselective spraying is killing endangered plants and destroying habitats. The surfactant mixed with glyphosate turns out to travel pretty well in water. And–uh–maybe it does disrupt human hormones, too. But who knows? Monsanto seems to think it’s pretty safe, so that must be right.
The French seem to be a little worked up over Round-Up, but you know the French. Always overreacting.
French court condemns the agrochemical giant Monsanto
for misleading publicity
The environmental organisation Eaux
et Rivieres de Bretagne (ERB) won a complaint against the misleading publicity of Roundup (glyphosate), the herbicide with the highest worldwide sales. According to the ruling of the Lyon Court, Monsanto
France will have to pay a fine of 15,000 euro. The distributor of Roundup, Scotts France, was also condemned to pay 15,000 euro. The Court also ordered the publication of the judgement results in the
daily newspaper Le Monde and the magazine Maison et Jardin.
ERB started the legal process in 2001, appalled by the advertisements
of Monsanto identifying Roundup as “biodegradable” and
“respecting the environment”. These claims were made in 2000 in an aggressive television publicity campaign. ERB successfully
proved that glyphosate is present in many rivers in Bretagne and
is a product dangerous for the environment and human health. According
to the European Commission, products containing glyphosate have
to be labelled as “dangerous for the aquatic environment”
and “responsible for long-term effects on the environment”.
With this misleading publicity, Monsanto was conveying the message
that the product was not dangerous and targeting amateur users.
But according to ERB, as many as 55% of all rivers in Bretagne are
contaminated by glyphosate above levels permitted for human consumption.
Source: Liberation, S 27 January
2007, Eliane PATRIARCA