[From Mother Jones - September 8th 2011
By Todd Philpott]
As the summer growing season draws to a close, 2011 is emerging as the year of the superinsect—the year pests officially developed resistance to Monsanto’s genetically engineered (ostensibly) bug-killing corn.
While the revelation has given rise to alarming headlines, neither Monsanto nor the EPA, which regulates pesticides and pesticide-infused crops, can credibly claim surprise. Scientists have been warning that the EPA’s rules for planting the crop were too lax to prevent resistance since before the agency approved the crop in 2003. And in 2008, research funded by Monsanto itself showed that resistance was an obvious danger.
And now those unheeded warnings are proving prescient. In late July, as I reported recently, scientists in Iowa documented the existence of corn rootworms (a ravenous pest that attacks the roots of corn plants) that can happily devour corn plants that were genetically tweaked specifically to kill them. Monsanto’s corn, engineered to express a toxic gene from a bacterial insecticide called Bt, now accounts for 65 percent of the corn planted in the US.
The superinsect scourge has also arisen in Illinois and Minnesota. “Monsanto Co. (MON)’s insect-killing corn is toppling over in northwestern Illinois fields, a sign that rootworms outside of Iowa may have developed resistance to the genetically modified crop,” reports Bloomberg. In southern Minnesota, adds Minnesota Public Radio, an entomologist has found corn rootworms thriving, Bt corn plants drooping, in fields.
Monsanto & Frankenstein
In my English class we read Marry Shelley’s original version of ‘Frankenstein.’ Common knowledge about Frankenstein suggests that the monster is a green, dumb, zombie [named Frankenstein] with a wacky old doctor in a castle with lightning bolts in the rain. ‘It’s alive!’ and all that. While the rain, darkness, and exclamation following the monster’s creation exist in the novel, the rest is the result of a cultural bias created by 1930’s Hollywood.
In the original story, the doctor himself is named Dr. Victor Frankenstein. He is an attractive young college student with a deep knowledge in the sciences, alchemy and the dark arts. He learns many things from a professor of these subjects and soon develops the twisted desire assemble life itself by creating the perfect man. In secret, he assembles pieces of the dead, and stitches together a giant form composed of corpses dug up in the local graveyard.
At first, Victor is pleased and excited about his creation. But the moment he gives it life and looks into his gruesome face, he is horrified and realized he has committed an autrocity upon mankind. Victor flees the house and tries to forget the demon seed he has planted upon the Earth. The monster wants to be a part of humanity and studies the traits of society closely.
Sadly, he cannot assimilate because of his horrible features. He is an ‘abortion’ of creation, a bad crop. After abandoning him, Victor believes he has lost him for good…but the monster follows him. The monster is not a bumbling idiot, but a man of superhuman strength and agility. He leaps across glaciers of ice and all of Mont Blanc to seek revenge upon Victor.
The monster begins killing everyone that Victor loves. This includes his baby brother, a sweet teenage maidservant, his best ‘college-buddy,’ and worst of all, his beloved wife on their wedding night [and sister, just thought I’d throw that in there]. The monster is so agile he does not even have to ‘try’ to murder them. He can do so with a single strangling hand.
Despite this, the demon creation never murders Victor with his own hand. Instead, he forces him to chase him to the end of the Earth. Frankenstein dies of starvation amongst the glaciers because even he could not destroy his own creation.
The entire time we have been reading this in class, I have been thinking about Monsanto. Whatever man, in whatever laboratory, which first conceived these deathly seeds will also face the madness of Victor. He will likely watch his family starve, or at least doom his children’s futures as a result of his ‘monster’ corn which is now wilting all around him. It is no longer drug resistant. It was so powerful that now, like the exhausted demon-monster at the end of the novel…it is going to die. 65% of the corn planted in the U.S.to date, to be precise [according to the USDA’s website].
So Happy Halloween, Monsanto man. I hope you are ready to outrun one hell of a monster.