Monsanto Maui classrooms

When you talk to Maui schoolteachers there is no doubt that Monsanto has found their way into the classrooms. From K-12 there is a genetic engineering curriculum for all, available free from Monsanto. There are free coloring and activity books for our six year olds, a “Discovering Farmlands”, lesson plans and materials for 9-12, as well an honors course in “Biotechnology” for grade 12. In a day when the schools have precious few resources all this “free” material is a boon, but at what cost to the truth?

Let’s look at a few of the statements Monsanto use to explain to our elementary students why they should like genetically engineered (GE) foods:

– Don’t you like variety and choice? It’s no different then natural breeding.

– GE foods are strictly regulated and tested for safety.

– It increases the world food supply.

– A GE crop can use fewer pesticides because the plant itself kills insects as they eat it.

– GE foods help small farmers make more money.

Now let’s look at a few statements that show why these claims to our young children can be disputed:

– Natural breeding is called “hybridization”. Nothing artificial or from a lab needs to be used. Genetic Engineering uses the laboratory to split genes of plants and insert genes from animals (fish) or bacterium (e.coli) to make the changes that they desire.

– GE foods are not regulated or tested for safety by Federal regulators. Actually the tests are done by Monsanto themselves. For example, on Maui the EPA stated that they do not regulate Monsanto’s crops or test fields.

– Since the introduction of GE foods the food supply has actually decreased.

– GE crops have increased our use of pesticides as they require pesticides to grow.

  In reality farmers around the world have gone bankrupt from switching to GE crops. The seeds are “terminal”, the plants will not produce seeds, and so the farmer has to buy more from Monsanto, or they have been sued when their crops have become contaminated with GE pollen.

These two opposing lists of statements at least provide a conversation and at most they stop blind indoctrination. So is it a good thing or a bad thing that Monsanto wants to be in our schools? The executive director of the non-profit “Campaign for a Commercial Free Childhood”, Josh Golin states “Anytime you have an interest that has a financial stake in impressing students we should not allow them in schools. That is not education that’s propaganda!”

Image Credit: www.mauigmomoratoriumnews.org

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