Attacks on Monsanto uninformed and unfair


Monsanto may not be a perfect company, but it sure doesn’t deserve the constant hammering by the anti GMO-crowd. The lack of basic biologic understanding, and the willingness to accept the lies, the pseudoscience, and the bad science perpetrated on the Internet and “expert” journalists amazes me.

A letter writer on Oct. 15 implied that the oranges she purchased and which never molded, decayed, or lost their fresh, delicious taste in over three months could have done only if they were genetically modified. Problem is, there are no GMO oranges. She just had excellent storage conditions.

A letter writer on Oct. 23 claims that “Roundup is not biodegradable and remains in the soil indefinitely.” Totally wrong. The biodegration of Roundup in plants and in the soil is well-researched and documented. The Roundup molecule is composed of carbon, oxygen, hydrogen, nitrogen and phosphorous. When Roundup is applied to a plant, the plant immediately begins tearing the molecule apart.

If the application rate is sublethal, this process wins and the plant recovers. The byproducts of this degradation are carbon dioxide, ammonia and phosphate. The latter two are plant nutrients and end up in plant tissue, so the end result is a slight fertilization of the plant.

The plant cares not where its nitrogen and phosphorus come from — be it manure, a bag, or a degraded herbicide. Research has shown that this process is complete in 50 days or less.

So if you eat one of Monsanto’s “Roundup Ready” plants 50 days after the Roundup application, no residue will enter your body. So how does Roundup sometimes show up in food samples? Mainly due to preharvest desiccation applications after which little degradation occurs. And that is a legal application to many crops, GMO or not.

Soil degradation of Roundup follows the same path. Bacteria break it into carbon dioxide and a weak organic acid, which is then divided into more carbon dioxide, ammonia and phosphate — once again, plant nutrients. This process is accomplished in a few weeks to several months depending on soil moisture and temperature.

Roundup kills green plants, and only green plants, by disrupting an enzyme that catalyzes the production of amino acids necessary for chlorophyll production. The plant starves to death. To counter this effect, Monsanto scientists transferred a gene from a soil bacteria that uses the same enzyme for the same purpose. The enzyme resulting from this gene, however, is slightly different. It ignores the Roundup molecule, allowing chlorophyll production to proceed. Meanwhile, the plant machinery dismantles the Roundup.

Vote “no” on Initiative 522.

Jack DeWitt




thrifty says...

A very well written letter by a person who knows what he is talking about.

Posted 29 October 2013, 10 a.m. Suggest removal

PearlY says...

This is a fact-based discussion of a superstition-driven controversy. Unfortunately, facts are poor weapons against superstition. But thank you for trying.

Posted 29 October 2013, 10:06 a.m. Suggest removal

thrifty says...

Superstition or ignorance?

Posted 29 October 2013, 2:14 p.m. Suggest removal

PearlY says...

Superstition may just be ignorance that is too satisfying emotionally to be overcome by fact.

Posted 29 October 2013, 4:39 p.m. Suggest removal

downhillracer says...

"Facts"? Like "there are no GMO oranges"?

Posted 29 October 2013, 5:39 p.m. Suggest removal

carcrazy says...

Exactly, there are no GMO oranges in production. Your link only talks about trials that were conducted, none of which were approved for production.

Posted 29 October 2013, 6:35 p.m. Suggest removal

Igor says...

Hey, dowhhillracer? Where'd you learn 'bout that? Thank you so much for sharing. I'll bet you've been eatin' GMO corn since you were a youngster. How has it affected your brain? Can you tell? Maybe you've been eatin' it for so long you no longer have any perspective on much of anything. Sorry. Why don't you try advancing some solid, scientifically backed arguments for once? Just askin. Name callin' without facts doesn't help to proved a point.

Posted 30 October 2013, 12:30 a.m. Suggest removal

downhillracer says...

Awesome - a condescending commentary urging facts without name calling. Not untypical for the folks shilling for corporate farming (or a host of other right-wing shrieking displays).

More to the point: Why shouldn't consumers have the right to be informed as to the presence or use of chemicals or bio-engineering? What problem does it create by ensuring transparency to the consumer? My link was to show the claim "there are no GMO oranges" is inaccurate.

Posted 30 October 2013, 9:42 a.m. Suggest removal

kfarrens says...

The problem is that this Initiative does not solve the problem. Out of state Special Interest groups wrote it and got a lot of sheeple to go along with it. I am not a big corporate farm, far from one. If you bought a product that I produced and thought that it should have the labeling I would have to pay to prove that it does not require the labeling. After I proved it I would still have to pay the court cost. Not you. This is a trial Lawyers Dream Initiative.

Posted 30 October 2013, 10:42 a.m. Suggest removal

PearlY says...

The letter Mr. DeWitt quoted claimed that oranges already in the possession of a consumer were GMO. He countered that there are no GMO oranges, and the article you linked to makes it clear that there are no GMO oranges in the possession of a consumer, and doesn't even establish that there are GMO oranges in development, only that there is research in that direction.

Consumers have a right to not buy anything that is not labeled to their own satisfaction.

You ask what problem it creates to "ensure transparency" to the consumer. The problem is in who gets to decide what is "transparent" and how much of it gets on the label. I would argue that the producer has a right to decide what goes on its label, unless SCIENCE conclusively establishes that safety REQUIRES something more. Science is not decided by majority vote of people most of whom still believe the world's age is measured in the thousands of years and astrology charts are useful reference materials.

And by the way, if it could be proven GMOs are unsafe, our litigation system would already have driven them out of the market - no other government action required.

Posted 30 October 2013, 11:40 a.m. Suggest removal

tpeacock says...

'The commercial utilisation (sic) of genetically modified citrus fruits cannot be expected in the short or long-term future.'
This was at the very top of the page you cited, but as many of the 'Internet-based Experts', you skipped over this littler nugget because it throws your argument straight to the curb.

Posted 4 November 2013, 10:04 a.m. Suggest removal

kfarrens says...

Great letter! Thank you Mr. DeWitt.

Posted 29 October 2013, 8:47 p.m. Suggest removal

jennybuggs says...

Vote Yes on I-522. I like knowing what is in my food. That's what ingredient lists are for. Food that is Kosher is labeled. Food that is organic is labeled. Every food (I am not counting alcohol as a food) has nutrition and ingredient labels. (Gosh, that must have been soooooo expensive, I can't believe there is even still food in groceries stores. All of that nutrition and ingredient labeling must have bankrupted the universe!) Fruit has labels that tell the purchaser where the product was grown. There are labels about ingredients or manufacturing process which cause contamination and are a risk for common food allergy sufferers. I am not allergic to eggs or peanuts or dairy and do not begrudge those that are that labeling on food packaging.
Knowledge is not bad. I would like to know what food I eat contains, and that included GMO ingredients. My family is from Delaware which is the home of DuPont. Family and friends of mine are employed by them. Dupont is one of the top 3 for genetically modified crop seed. I am not trying to shut them down. I simply want to know what my food is made of.
And please don't call me ignorant or uninformed since I worked for USDA with the very turkey breed that was so selectively bread that it cannot walk or mate b/c it grows so big and ungainly. It is the very turkey breed that you probably eat for Thanksgiving. Science can do plenty of awful things without the aid of genetic engineering.

Posted 30 October 2013, 12:11 p.m. Suggest removal

tpeacock says...

FYI, bread is what we use to put in the turkey (dressing), bred would be the past tense of breed.

Posted 4 November 2013, 10:08 a.m. Suggest removal

barracuda says...

***What ever side you are on, please scroll down on the UB "home" page and vote on the currant poll. Are you for or against Initiative 522.***

Posted 30 October 2013, 4:40 p.m. Suggest removal

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