The Crimes of Monsanto: company appears to use devastating floods to subvert European laws.

There is an illegal invasion happening. At the very least it ought to be a crime. In a Revolution and Beer exclusive, we have learned that Monsanto appears to be attempting an end run around European laws and national sovereignty. Their apparent goal is to find any means at all to force Genetically Modified (Europe: GM. US: GMOs) crops onto the European market. In short it is a cynical attempt to take advantage of a horrific situation across southern Europe to market an unnecessary and potentially dangerous product.

Flooding was the worst in more than 150 years, and the scale of the destruction is still far from being assessed.

Flooding was the worst in more than 150 years, and the scale of the destruction is still far from being assessed.

The target appears to be the Balkans, still recovering from devastating flooding this spring. The flooding forced tens of thousands from their homes and killed dozens. More than 100,000 homes were damaged or destroyed and nearly a million were affected after unprecedented rains from a season’s worth of precipitation fell in just a few days. The flooding and resulting landslides devastated farming and farmers across the region. Estimates for damage to agriculture in Serbia alone topped more than three quarters of a billion Dollars.

The effort to force GM foods onto the European market by Monsanto has been a black eye for the company. This week it was reported that Monsanto was donating more than $325,000 worth of GM Dekalb corn seeds to Serbian farmers. Reportedly, another $200,000 worth of these GM seeds were distributed to farmers across neighboring Croatia and Bosnia. Monsanto was said to donate GM tomato, cabbage and cucumber seeds to the region as well.

“We hope that with our help small farmers that lost their crops due to the flooding will be able to plant again within the next two weeks,” said José Manuel Madero, CEO of Monsanto Europe, Middle East and Africa. ”This is the time for us to show up and contribute to helping communities in need.” … a-century/

But the move is not as benevolent as it may seem. Eight European Union countries have banned GM foods, including neighboring Austria, Italy and Hungary. Bulgaria and Greece have also banned GM crops. Bosnia and Croatia both require labeling. Serbia and Albania have less stringent restrictions in place. There are concerns that GM crops will cross pollinate with non-GM crops. Last year there were allegations GM crops may have played a role in a collapse in Bosnia’s been population, and has been cited for their “negative impact on biodiversity.”

While the European Union itself has not imposed a ban on GM crops, member states, including Germany, France and Poland, can and have imposed their own bans. The concern is that the legal mechanism that protects national character throughout the EU may also allow Monsanto leverage to force GM seeds and crops into the market. Last year Monsanto announced that it was abandoning the European market. Public resistance to GM foods has been vociferous. In May hundreds of thousands turned out for marches and protests across Europe against Monsanto and GM foods. Monsanto cites low demand for its seeds by European farmers.

Monsanto spokeswoman Ursula Lüttmer-Ouazane said that the company, “understood that such plants don’t have any broad acceptance in European societies. We haven’t been able to make any progress over the years, and it’s counter-productive to tilt against windmills.”

In the wake of catastrophic floods across southern Europe, a region still struggling from the aftermath of the bloodiest European conflict since the Second World War, the idea that a corporation like Monsanto would take advantage of such a disaster is troubling. The company appears to be attempting an end run around both European citizens who have been vocal and adamant about GM foods, and sovereign governments beleaguered and distracted by historic floods. That ought to be a crime.

WC Turck has more than 20 years experience in the Balkans and as a Balkan observer. His 2008 memoir, “Everything for Love” recounts the war in the Balkans, and offers one of the best firsthand accounts of the 3 ½ year siege of Sarajevo. Turck hosts the Revolution and Beer radio show with friend and partner Brian Murray on Q4 Radio, www.que4,org in Chicago.

*Numerous European sources contributed to this piece.

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