"Imagine a world
which preserves nature, the air, the rivers. Where we can produce more with
fewer pesticides, without destroying the forests. Imagine a world with more
food, with more nutritious food, and people with better health. Can you imagine
it? Ah, but you never imagined that GMO's could help us do this. Have you
ever thought of a better world? You should think like we do. A Monsanto initiative
with the support of the Associação Brasileira de Nutrologia."
From a Monsanto ad campaign
The Campaign for a Brazil
Free of GMO's now publicly manifests its opposition to the propaganda Monsanto
has produced on Brazilian TV, radio and press regarding GMO's. With emotional
appeal, Monsanto is trying to form public opinion based on a nonexistent relationship
between transgenic production and the conservation of the environment. The
commercial tries to get the consumer to believe that transgenic production
promotes food and environmental security, citing the benefits that biotechnology
Let us analyze a few points
of the advertising.
1. The commercial implies
that transgenic production can help to "preserve nature, the air, the
rivers." It is important to establish that there are two types of transgenic
plants that are being produced commercially today. The first class makes up
75 percent of all transgenic plants. These plants are herbicide-resistant.
In other words, with proper care, the farmer can spray as much herbicides
over the fields as he needs, and all the plants except those that are transgenic
will die. It is important to note here that Monsanto, which produces the seeds
for these plants, also produces the herbicide to which these plants are resistant.
The second type makes
up 17 percent of transgenic plants. These plants receive genes from a bacteria
in the soil and then produce toxic insecticides. An insect eats part of the
plant, then dies. The other 8 percent are a combination of these two technologies.
Up until now, no tests
have shown that GMO's benefit nature, air or water. Quite the contrary. These
plants tend to need a greater quantity of herbicides, thus contaminating even
more nature. The second type of GMO's also kills beneficial insects, thus
disturbing the balance of nature.
2. The propaganda goes
on to insinuate that transgenics can produce more with less chemicals. According
to studies done in the US, genetically modified soy beans produce 5-10 percent
less than conventional soybeans. Concerning other types of plants, production
has been less or at most equal to that of conventional crops.
As noted above, there
has been no less use of chemicals in transgenic production. It is also relevant
to note that the use of glyphosate (the main component of Monsanto's herbicide
Round-Up) has tripled in the state of Rio Grande do Sulexactly during
the period when the cultivation of these illegal transgenic plants began to
It is equally unacceptable
to say that transgenic plants help to prevent deforestation. Most cultivation
of GMO's (soy, corn and cotton) are export commodities and require vast areas
of land. Large farmers continue to buy forest lands throughout Brazil in order
to increase their production of soy.
3. The commercial implies
that GMO's make for healthier food and healthier people. Concerning this claim,
no country in the world has properly evaluated the effects of GMO's on people's
As if this were not enough,
Monsanto is soliciting Anvisa (the Brazilian Food and Safety department) to
increase by 50 percent the Maximum Limit of Residues (MLR) of glyphosate on
its soybeans. In addition, Monsanto has refused to do environmental impact
studies since 1998 when the Justice Department ordered the company to do so.
At the same time, Monsanto is fighting against a law which would require companies
to label products which contain GMO's.
If Monsanto is so sure
about the safety of transgenic plants, why do they refuse to do impact studies
to evaluate the risks. Why are they trying to change Brazilian laws without
doing any evaluations?
Good for Babies
4. We find it disturbing
that in their TV ads Monsanto presents images of pregnant women and children,
implying that GMO's are good for mothers and infants. In 2002, the Studies
of the Royal Society of the United Kingdom recommended that special attention
be given to transgenic food destined for babies because of the risks GMO's
have: "Babies fed with a bottle might become undernourished if they are
fed infant formula made with GMO's as there is inadequate regulation and regimented
tests for transgenic foods" (Daily Telegraph, February 5, 2002)
5. Besides being deceitful,
Monsanto is producing propaganda for products prohibited in the country. In
spite of Provisionary Measures 113 and 131 which authorized the commercialization
of transgenic soy, the sale of transgenic seeds continues to be prohibited
by the Justice Department.
All this being the case,
we urge the Brazilian authorities to suspend Monsanto's deceitful advertising
and oblige the company to pay for ads which will correct their misinformation
and present clearly the facts concerning transgenics.
was written by activists from Campanha por um Brasil Livre de Transgênicos
and supplied by Sejup, which has its own Internet site: http://www.oneworld.net/sejup