Subtitles section Play video Print subtitles Farming is hard work. And just like Farming's smaller cousin, Gardening, the biggest pain in the arse are the weeds. Now in your garden at home, with enough motivation you could pull them all out by hand. But on a 300 acre farm? ...not so much. So you use chemicals. And nothing kills those bloody weeds better than RoundUp from Monsanto - the famous makers of Joni Mitchell’s favourite DDT, Agent Orange - which aside from the occasional birth defect, did a great job of destroying the rice fields during the Vietnam War; the cow-swelling Bovine growth Hormone, and PCB - everyone’s favourite carcinogenic environmental pollutant. But with the revolutionary key ingredient in RoundUp - glyphosate - the folks at Monsanto have added not just enormous profits to their bottom line, but also the word ‘probably’ in front of the word ‘carcinogenic’. Monsanto – making the definite probable since 1901. But two pesky questions still remain - how do you spray your crops to kill weeds without killing the crops as well? And how does a company with a terrible health and environmental track record but also one of the biggest patents in the history of agriculture keep the profits rolling in when the patent runs out? Easy - take all that hard earned experience making poisons that kill things, and start making food for people to eat! Throughout the 90s, Monsanto began modifying the DNA of basic staple crops to make them resistant to RoundUp. Now we’ll save the much needed discussion on the dangers of messing with the DNA of something you put in your mouth and feed to your cattle for another episode. And we should point out that this technology doesn’t give the plant a magic force field that deflects the RoundUp. It still absorbs just as much poison as the weeds - it just somehow...survives. And Monsanto more than survived. Thanks to this 'nature tweak' they now control in the US market 80% of corn & 93% of soy. And as Bill Murray and Jason Schwartzman are to Wes Anderson films, so are corn & soy to modern food processing...they’re in everything. At this point you might be wondering, 'how is this allowed to happen, how can farmers be okay with this?' Two things real quick. Market forces and political influence. I know, I know. You’re about to switch off - ‘come on Dan, big business controls politics - tell us something we don’t know!’ But the example I’m about to give you is an absolute doozy. Remember back in 2013 when the US government faced total shutdown? Well just before the legislation they needed to keep the lights on was passed, Missouri Senator and The Joker disguised as a human - Roy Blunt, secretly attached an unrelated amendment, which the good folks at Monsanto helped to write, It gave very open-ended powers to prevent the US Judiciary from banning or limiting the sale of Monsanto products even if adverse health effects were revealed. The legislation was passed but expired later through a sunset clause in September 2013 Even still, this raises a veritable cornucopia of WTFs. First, the wording of the amendment suggests that Monsanto knew adverse health effects were inevitable - it’s the legislative equivalent of Bill Clinton spraying Monica’s dress with Scotch Guard 'Always be prepared' Second, for an amendment that strange, irrelevant and largely unprecedented to pass, would require at least 50% of US senators to either agree with the legislation or be too lazy to read it - ok so that’s less of a WTF and more of an NSS? And third, how are we in a situation where the provider of a huge slice of the world’s food bowl is synonymous with adverse health effects? That takes us back to the farm. Since 1996 Monsanto and four other huge agro-chemical businesses have quietly bought up almost every small seed manufacturer around the globe. And with their unprecedented control over the seed supply, they have fought to stop a natural process as old as time - farmers saving seed from their current crop to be used in the next harvest. Going to the extraordinary lengths of suing individual farmers for patent infringement. Take Indian farmers, for example. They aren’t protected by government subsidies and have to take out loans just to afford seeds, and can have entire entire crops wiped out by unpredictable weather. but Monsanto prevents them from saving seeds as an insurance policy against the weather. The Indian government directly links to the introduction and spread of GM cotton to a significant rise in the suicide rate of farmers. Farmers in Australia have lost their organic certification when GM seeds have blown onto their properties from neighbouring farms. And these are farmers attempting the increasingly difficult task of sourcing and growing non-GMO seeds. And let’s hope more farmers join them in light of recent revelations. Sure, Monsanto rejected the World Health Organisations findings which wasn't surprising. But what was interesting was some of the major studies used to discredit those findings were authored by scientists who have acted as paid consultants to Monsanto. Because that’s how the biggest agribusiness in the world rolls. Using vast reserves of cash and influence to distract us all from the key question - Why are we all being fed by a poison expert?