Science in Society Archive

“Monsanto, Out of China!”

By Chen-I-Wen

On May 25 2013, anti-Monsanto demonstrations took place in 436 cities in 52 countries. With slogans such as “Either mankind will stop Monsanto, or Monsanto will stop mankind,” demonstrators called for the public to be aware of the dangers posed by GMO food. On May 24, 2014, the planet again witnessed anti-Monsanto demonstrations that involved 4 million people. This year, the global anti-Monsanto march will take place on May 23.

Monsanto is a transnational agro-biotech company, widely known for producing GMO seeds. In 1996, the top three seed companies in the world – Monsanto, DuPont and Syngenta –already had 22 per cent of the global seed market. But by 2011, their combine share doubled, reaching 53.4 per cent. Monsanto alone had 26 per cent.  A monopoly by corporations like Monsanto threatens the seed sovereignty of all countries, including China’s.

Roundup is Monsanto’s flagship product, and is a glyphosate herbicide marketed globally, widely used on GM crops such as soybeans and corn. Monsanto has long propagated that glyphosate has a very low acute toxicity, and is unlikely to pose a carcinogenic risk to humans’. But in March 2015, the World Health Organization’s IARC (International Agency for Research on Cancer) had 17 experts from 11 countries produce an evaluation on glyphosate, and they pronounced it to be‘probably carcinogenic to humans (Group 2A)’.WHO’s IARC has a classification of four groups of carcinogens: Group 1, Carcinogenic to humans; Group 2A, Probably carcinogenic to humans; Group 2B, Possibly carcinogenic to humans; Group 3, Not classifiable as to its carcinogenicity to humans; Group 4, Probably not carcinogenic to humans.

Chinese people cannot remain outside the global resistance against Monsanto. In 2014, Beijing citizens sued China’s Ministry of Agriculture, and they demanded to make publicthe animal test report submitted by Monsanto for securing the safety certificate for its Roundup, used to enter Chinese market. Early this year, the court notified the plaintiffs that Monsanto would be added as a party to the case. This case is attracting growing attention among the Chinese public.

According to a recent international report, Monsanto knew in 1981that its flagship product Roundup is carcinogenic. Chinese food safety activists think that Monsanto not only hid the information from the Chinese government and people, but also defrauded the Chinese government and people with fake reports in order to obtain a safety license. Covering up Roundup’s carcinogenicity and the risks posed to human health by Roundup-tolerant GM soybeans and corn, Monsanto misled China to massively import and produce its products. Now China is the largest producer and exporter of glyphosate in the world, including supplies exported to Monsanto for use in the manufacture of Roundup formulations worldwide.

Eighty per cent of the soybeans consumed in China are imported. In effect, they are Monsanto’s GM soybeans. The soybeans have been sprayed with glyphosate, which had caused serious ecologic devastation and health risks to South American producers. Recently, 30, 000 doctors and medical professionals in Argentina demanded that their government prohibit glyphosate. When GM soybeans are dumped on China, it seriously undermines China’s own traditional soybeans, particularly in China’s northeast. Moreover, the glyphosate residue poses incalculable risks to consumers’ health.

Seventeen European and Latin American NGOs recently submitted an open letter to the Chinese people, President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang. The letter emphasized the following: “both Monsanto and the EPA knew of the link between glyphosates and cancer as long ago as 1980, since malignant tumors and other organ damage had been recorded in rat and mouse feeding studies that were, and still are, treated as trade secrets. …After decades of health damage, it must be in the interests of the whole world for these lethal chemicals to be taken immediately out of use before any more harm is done.”

Some citizens concerned about food safety and ecological agriculture from around China recently formed a network called ‘Save Green Association’, and built a ‘Monsanto out of China!’ website (http://www.monsanto-out-of-china.org/). The website showcases global actions against Monsanto and protests by people in China. The ‘Monsanto out of China’ website is a channel for expressing public opinions. It calls for the following: refuse manipulation and deception, protect ecological and sustainable agriculture, resist invasion of our livelihood, and get Monsanto out of China!Its column ‘critical voices’ features statements byrenowned figures in China against Monsanto, GM food and developmentalism, and their calls for enhancing ecological agriculture and food security. This website also displays pictures from around the country of volunteers– from Beijing, Hunan, Sichuan, Fujian, Gansu, Jiangxi, Yunnan, and Hong Kong – protesting against Monsanto and GM foods. There are also pictures from American citizens and Chinese students studying in the US.

In order for netizens to take part, this website has specially set up a section for supporting anti-Monsanto, inviting netizens to click on the virtual fist to express their protest. Every click on the fist will be counted by the website, to demonstrate a growing strength in unity. In addition, the website also has a space called ‘I also want to say’ for netizens to state their opinions.

The establishment of this website and the ‘Save Green Association’ is a result of a growing awakening of Chinese people to the monopoly by transnational agro-businesses such as Monsanto. It is initiated by concerned citizens and is a part of the global anti-Monsanto action. As stated by the website, anti-Monsanto is for the health of mankind, for sustainable development, and for remaking of our food system!

Article first published 21/05/15



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There are 3 comments on this article so far. Add your comment above.

jocelyn braddell Comment left 21st May 2015 19:07:03
wonderful news - this will have a huge enthusiastic response from Ireland and many many Europeans.

vera Sywak Comment left 23rd May 2015 06:06:28
Wonderful.... We all need to kick out the killer seed companies..... WAY TO GO CHINA....

Mary Saunders Comment left 23rd May 2015 19:07:56
Famed herbalist Stephen Harrod Buhner answered a question at a public forum in Portland, Oregon, by saying the the Chinese herbal data base, at that time, in 2014, is one he uses. The U.S. data base, compiled by James A. Duke, is stale and hard to use. I post this because China has records that go back thousand of years with substances that are trialed on humans with minimal adverse events. Patented substances from western corporations do not have this, and the harmful effects are hard to document, though The Endocrine Disruption Exchange is working on that.

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