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Ecofeminism and Monsanto

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Ecofeminism and Monsanto
There are many different kinds of ecofeminist theories, but most are based on the belief that the patriarchal societies we live in create destruction in their need to dominate humans and nature. Ecofeminism is a belief that all struggles are connected, and are the cause of patriarchy playing “...god by manipulating, controlling and attempting to transcend nature” (Mcguire 4). This is why Ecofeminists are committed to challenging all hierarchies, oppressions, and dualistic thinking that empowers patriarchy, and deems “Otherness” as inferior. It is through this feminist theory I would like to analyze the destructive power of Monsanto, the largest agricultural corporation in the United States, has in the Unites States particularly in the farm industry, the effect they created in the food supply, and their effect as a global corporation.
In order to analyze the impact of Monsanto, a feminist lens of intersectionality is needed to see how the genetically modified seeds created by Monsanto lead to their domination of the nature and humans. According to Kimberle Crenshaw, “...any analysis that does not take intersectionality into account cannot sufficiently address the particular manner” (58). Crenshaw argues that an experience is greater than a sum of two factors, and instead that the experience is unique due to these factors. In the case of Monsanto, I will analyze the unique effects this corporation has created in their quest to maximize their profits.
Capitalism drives our patriarchal society to do what those in charge deem necessary to gain profit. Gloria Anzaldua states, “White America has only attended to the body of the earth in order to exploit it, never to succor it or to be nurtured in it” (90). She shows that the White Americans who are at the head of the patriarchy exploit the land for their own gains to create profit for themselves, and have cut themselves off from their spiritual roots to the earth and neglect to nurture the earth. In turn, Monsanto genetically modifies seed in order to gain profit, and neglects the harm they do with their seed. This capitalism that our patriarchal society is based on is a system used to gain power over those inferior.
Capitalism is a dysfunctional system that takes away power from a certain group in order to gain power and profit. Karen Warren argues, “Dysfunctional systems are often maintained through systematic denial, a failure or inability to see the reality of a situation” (Smith 17). The United Sates is run by these corporations that thrive on capitalism. Capitalism is considered a American value. Due to idolization of capitalism as great American value, capitalism is reenforced as a positive characteristic of the United States, and the harms brought by capitalism are not seen or denied. Hence, Monsanto is seen as a great American corporation, and the majority of the United States, do not see the harm it causes. This capital system originates to the colonialist system of gaining control of the indigenous.
The way colonist gain power over the indigenous is the same ideology Monsanto has in taking control of the farmers in the United States. Colonists used rape as a weapon in their war over the indigenous. By violating women, colonialist were able to take away the power of both indigenous men and women, and eventually their land (Smith). Monsanto in turn takes control of the farmers, and by doing so takes control of the land. Monsanto is able to gain this control through their production of genetically modified seed. Monsanto has created a dependency for farmers to purchase their genetically modified seed. The documentary Food Inc. showcases today's food industry and shows how Monsanto operates and effects small farmers. With their genetically modified seeds, they have modified the crops not to produce seeds making it necessary for farmers to continue to purchase Monsanto seed year after year. They have genetically modified their seeds to create crops that produce huge yield in the amount of food that is grown and the actually size of the fruits and vegetables. In addition, farmers must also purchase special pesticides from Monsanto in order to kill weeds and insects without killing the plants. The plants are modified in a way to resist the pesticides they sell to farmers. This is why Monsanto is able to patent their seeds.
It is due to the patent of the genetically modified seeds, that Monsanto is able to close down small farms. Monsanto purposely targets those who are not using their seed. They bring lawsuits against these small farmers on claims that they are using their seed because the wind had picked up the seed from other farmers using their seed and depositing the seed to the small farmers' lands and they are not authorized to grow the seed due to lack of payment to Monsanto. These lawsuits tie up small farmers in court in cases that can last up to years. Eventually, due to legal costs, small farmers close their farms because they have run out of money to fight their case against such a huge corporation who has limitless resources. The only way for these farms to stay open is if they agree to pay Monsanto and farm Monsanto seed (Food Inc). Once they plant the seed, they are forced to become monoculture farms because the pesticides needed for the genetically modified seed will kill off any other crops they may try to grow. Monsanto uses this power to continue making greater profit gains by repressing the freedom of small farms to exist in the way their past generations have done so in the past.
Monocultures created by Monsanto's genetically modified seed are destroying ecosystems based on biodiversity that are crucial to the preservation of different cultures. In Vandana Shiva's Monocultures of the Mind, she says “diverse ecosystems give rise to diverse life forms and to diverse cultures... Communities everywhere in the world have devolved knowledge and found ways to derive livelihoods from the bounties of nature's diversity” (65). Cultures are created by the environment in which they live. They work with the ecosystems they live in to create food and medicine as their means to survive. This survival is based on the biodiversity of these ecosystems where they are able to gain these resources from many different plants and animals. Their beliefs and ways of living depend on this diversity. The creation of monocultures disrupts this livelihood of different cultures by breaking down the balance of these ecosystems and make it so the diversity of plants are destroyed and only one sort of plant is able to be grown. The largest monoculture in the United States created by Monsanto is the corn industry.
The corn industry is the so large in the United States because it it subsidized by the government. The reason it is subsidized is due to the profits it drives in numerous industries. In Michael Pollan's “The Omnivore's Dilemma”, he shows the impact of the corn industry.
"The growing of grain supports the larger economy: the chemical and biotech industries, the oil industry, Detroit, pharmaceuticals ... agribusiness, and the balance of trade. Growing corn helps drive the very industrial complex that drives it. No wonder the government subsidizes it so lavishly” (Ozersky).
Due to the industrial complex in the United States, the expansion of the use of corn is beyond the utility as a crop for consumption to feed people. The thought that genetically modified corn is beneficial in feeding the United States is false. The large corn industry does not feed people from its corn grower to consumer directly. The majority of the genetically modified corn produced is inedible. The actual corn produced is starchy and has no true flavor resembling corn usually found in the supermarket (King Corn). Though the genetically modified corn is used in multiple industries, the largest users of this product are the processed food and fast food companies.
Due to the relative recent change in our food industry, there are no results yet to determine whether genetically modified foods are impacting our bodies directly in a negative, positive, or neutral way. However, what we do know are the effects of producing a mass amount of subsidized genetically modified corn. In the United States, we are subjected to genetically modified food without any long term research. We are the generation of guinea pigs testing out this new way of producing food. For a long time, we were not aware of this change in our food industry, and no option was given to whether we wanted to be part of this experiment (Pollan). Being exposed to this food supply at a young age creates problems in how people in the United States eat throughout the remainder of their lives. There is an epidemic in diabetes and obesity, and in recent years a earlier onset of diabetes and obesity in children.
The genetically modified corn is primarily used for processing high fructose corn syrup and feed for farm animals. The documentary, King Corn, follows the journey of corn from seed in the agricultural industry to the numerous food industries that benefit from the genetically modified corn. By processing the genetically modified corn into corn syrup to be used in vast amounts by different food industries has helped to create a rise in diabetes and obesity for people in the United States. High fructose corn syrup is a cheap sweetener that is utilized by a majority of different food corporations in the United States in their creation of food products. This is a hidden ingredient is many food products that a consumer would not think that a product would have. If a consumers took a closer look at the ingredients in a majority of food products offered in a standard supermarket, high fructose corn syrup is usually found somewhere along the ingredients list. Corporations choose to add high fructose corn syrup to products to enhance flavor. When adding this hidden sugar to products in addition to products that are known to have sugar like soda and juices, the intake of sugar by consumers in the United States is at an astounding high. People in the United States are secretly being fed the same ingredient and at the same consumption level of genetically modified corn as the meat industry feeds their animals to make them fatter.
The corn industry enables the meat industry to grow which has a consequential impact on the risen rates of heart disease and obesity in the United States. The meat industry utilizes the genetically modified corn in order to feed the animals. In particular, the beef industry capitalizes the most in its use of the corn. It is due to genetically modified corn, that the beef industry has grown from grass fed farms to industrialized feed lots in their production of beef. They are able to feed more cows, and fatten them up quicker when they use the corn as feed instead of grass. Though the corn produces fatter cows to benefit the beef industry, cows have trouble digesting the corn causing them to become ill. Due to this, the cows are given antibiotics and hormones in their feed everyday and additional antibiotics if they still get sick from their consumption of corn. These antibiotics become part of the food chain and part of the consumption of people in the United States. The long term use of this feed would indefinitely kill the cows naturally, but since they fatten quicker, they are killed for meat sooner making the beef industry thrive from beef being consumed for special dinners to beef being part of everyday consumption in the United States. Being able to produce beef at a low cost, has enabled to fast food companies to grow as well (King Corn). They are able to make their products at such a low cost and in turn charge the consumer a low cost for their products. These low prices and convenience that the fast food companies provide are incentives for people to consume their food. It is this way, that the corn industry is feeding the people of the United States.
The propaganda created by these corporations in order to push consumers to change their habits from cooking home cook meals to fast, convenient, processed foods has aided to create more demand for their products and increase their profits. In Michael Pollan's interview on the radio program Forum, he discusses how processed food has been around before World War II, but women were not interested in purchasing these products because of lack of ownership they could have over the food. The corporations figured if they allowed women to crack open an egg into an instant cake mix or add beef to a instant pasta dish, more women were more willing to take ownership of their food. Then in the late 1960s, the corporations started using feminist rhetoric to promote fast food as more women entered the work force. By using these strategies, corporations were able to exert their patriarchal power over women and change the way they fed their families. This change has created a quantity over quality nation, where though we are eating more food than ever, our bodies are becoming deficient in the nutrients that it needs, and overloading in fats and sugars causing heart disease, obesity, and diabetes to be at an all time high.
With the success of these food industry corporations expanding globally, the demand for Monsanto crops grows in the United States and enables them to expand globally as well. Due to the corn industry being the most profitable crop in the United States, the United States is forced to grow food in other countries in order to actually eat edible crops. The seeds provided in these other countries are also Monsanto's genetically modified seed. These countries face the same monoculture farms that disrupt their native biodiversities. Due to this farming technique that has spread to other countries, the world's diversity of different species of crops are dwindling and are becoming extinct at an alarming rate (Boyens 165-168). By killing off the all these different types of species of plants and consequently the animals that feed on these plants, Monsanto is destructing the environment and creating a world that will become more dependent on them to produce food. If this continues, Monsanto will eventually control all the farmers and land in which food is grown.
Monsanto is part of corporate globalization destroying the world in which we live in. In Vandana Shiva's Earth Democracy, she shows the power of destruction of what corporate globalization does. She states:
“Corporate globalization sees the world only as something to be owned and the market as only driven by profits...Globalized free market economy [is] based on plundering and polluting the earth's vital resources, which displaces millions of farmers, craftspeople, and workers communities...Globalization's transformations of all beings and resources into commodities robs diverse species and people of their rightful share of ecological, cultural, economic, and political space” (2).
Corporate globalization influences the cultures and ecosystems in which they invade. They are not a natural presence in these habitats and devastate the areas they go into due to capitalistic greed. In order to maximize their profits they must maximize their influence globally.
In order to combat the movement and strength of these global corporations, like Monsanto, earth democracy needs to be practiced. Vandana Shiva says:
“Earth Democracy evolves from the consciousness that while we are rooted locally, we are also connected to the world as a whole... Earth Democracy protects the ecological processes that maintain life and the fundamental human rights that are the basis of the right to life, including the right to water, the right to food, the right to health, the right to education, and the right to jobs and livelihoods. Earth Democracy is based on the recognition of and respect for the life of all species and all people” (5-8).
This practice of earth democracy is based on commoning the societies we live in where we are all equal and we no longer oppress others in order to gain advantage. There would be peace and respect among societies and cultures working together enabling all to prosper. This respect extends beyond the people but to the environment in which we live in. There must be a harmony between people and the earth in order to sustain all life forms because the destruction of the environment will lead to the destruction of people.
Monsanto's ways of manipulating the environment and the food we eat for the profit gains of their corporation is the reason why we must not support them in order for all cultures to be sustainable around the world. I propose a buycott where we spend our money in ways to support earth democracy in the United States in order to show our disapproval of the actions of Monsanto. Due to the United States being a capitalistic society, the power of the almighty dollar is king. The way we consume controls the supply and demand in this country. We must use the power we do have to show corporations we do care about the actions they take, and will not support them if they continue their ways. I have shown how the Monsanto is connected to closure of small farms, affected our food supply to make the United States unhealthy, and how they reach into other countries to spread their destruction. We need to ignore the propaganda to eat fast food and sugary drinks and reject the processed foods in our supermarket, and reach for food that is better for the environment, our healths, small businesses, and the world. We should as much as possible buy organic food that are free from the genetically modified science of Monsanto. We should buy most of our food grown locally to support small farmers who are in the quest not to be slaves of the vicious cycle of using Monsanto seed. The choices we make to spend our money will drive the demand for Monsanto and all the other industries that depend on Monsanto products down. If we do this, then the chance that the world may become an Earth Democracy where we all may live in harmony can be a reality.

Works Cited
Anzaldúa, Gloria. Borderlands: The New Mestiza = La Frontera. San Francisco: Spinsters/Aunt Lute, 1987. Print.
Boyens, Ingeborg. "The Price of Progress." Unnatural Harvest: How Genetic Engineering Is Altering Our Food. Toronto: Doubleday Canada, 2000.Print.
Crenshaw, Kimberle. "Demarginalizing the Intersection of Race and Sex: A Black Feminist Critique of Antidiscrimination Doctrine, Feminist Theory, and Antiracist Politics." Feminist Legal Theory: Foundations. Ed. D. Kelly. Weisberg. Philadelphia: Temple UP, 1993. Print.
Food, Inc. Documentary. Movie One, 2008.
King Corn. Documentary. 2007.
McGuire, Cathleen, and Colleen McGuire. What Is Ecofeminism Anyway? New York: Ecofeminist Visions Emerging, 1991. Print.
"Michael Pollan's Cooked." Interview. Forum. KQED. San Francisco, California, 16 May 2013. Radio.
Ozersky, Josh Special to Newsday (2006, Apr 30). Newsday. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/280033702?accountid=13802
Shiva, Vandana. "Biodiversity: A Third World Perspective." Monocultures of the Mind: Perspectives on Biodiversity and Biotechnology. London, UK: Zed, 1993. Print.
Shiva, Vandana. Earth Democracy: Justice, Sustainability, and Peace. Cambridge, MA: South End, 2005. Print.
Smith, Andrea. "Sexual Violence as a Tool of Genocide." Conquest: Sexual Violence and American Indian Genocide. Cambridge, MA: South End, 2005. Print.…...

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