(Editor’s note: Following are questions Justin Avery posed to a representative to Monsanto this weekend, after he attended the widely attended Bayfront protest Saturday. This questionnaire is an accompaniment to his written piece on the anti-GMO political movement, which will appear in the upcoming print edition with Alan McNarie’s synopsis of the March Against Monsanto event. Avery is a resident of Hilo where he works as an independent writer and consultant. He was involved in the organization of the Monsanto protest, and is generally active with Global Hope.)
Thank you for getting back in touch with me. Below are a few questions for The Big Island Chronicle. My deadline is Sunday, March 17th at 12 noon. Please call or email for any clarification on the questions.
Here are a few questions:
1. What is Monsanto’s response to the March in March to Evict Monsanto, the march and rally taking part on 5 Hawaiian islands during the month of March?
Our number one concern is for the safety of everyone involved, including that of drivers passing by on the highway, pedestrians, employees and protesters. We’re cooperating with the police and doing what we can to help.
We respect everyone’s right to voice their opinion. Unfortunately, we’ve heard many misleading and factually incorrect statements made about genetically engineered foods.
We realize the topic is complex, and that people have questions. We are committed to transparency and are happy to have an open, respectful dialogue with anyone genuinely interesting in taking the time to learn more about who we are and what we do.
2. I have read a 2009 report about Hawaii’s Seed Crop Industry by Thomas Loudat PhD and Prahlad Kasturi PhD. I was wondering how many full and part time employees work for Monsanto in the State of Hawai’i?
Currently, Monsanto employs approximately full-time 680 employees on Maui, Molokai and Oahu.
3. I read that the Seed Crop Industry brings in over $212 million dollars in sales. How is that calculated when Hawai’i lands are mainly used for R&D and maintaining “parent lines” by the seed industry?
This figure you quote represents Hawaii seed industry’s operating expenditures.
4. What are Monsanto’s overall contributions to Hawaii social programs? How do you choose the correct beneficiary?
The community efforts that Monsanto’s supports are primarily at the recommendation of our employees. Occasionally Monsanto’s significant monetary contributions to charitable entities are augmented by our generous employees.
5. Is the Seed Industry expected to grow here in the next 5-10 Years? What is the projected rate of growth?
6. Is Monsanto working to create proprietary seed for drought tolerant or increased nutritional profile? How many years will it take to create these types of plants?
7. How does Monsanto address the problem of Superweeds on Molokai and Kauai?
8. How is Monsanto addressing the problem of soil erosion (into the reef or airborne soil dust storms) on the Island of Molokai?
Top soil is an extremely valuable resource to farmers, and Monsanto currently uses several best management practices to protect against soil loss from its fields. The company has resource conservation plans in place at all of its farms in Hawaii to help prevent soil erosion from wind (dust) or water (runoff).
Some of the company’s best management practices include: cross slope grass plantings, diversion terraces, cover crops, grass barrier strips, windbreaks, spraying water on dirt roads, and as the company is able to, laying gravel on high traffic roads. Under excessive wind conditions, Monsanto halts all tillage activity until weather conditions improve.
Monsanto has also been working to incorporate strip tilling at its local farms. Strip tilling is a soil management practice that reduces the number of passes a tractor needs to make across a field in order to prepare an area for planting. This, in turn, reduces dust and fuel consumption. When it’s time to replant a field, specialized equipment is used to till only the strips of soil where the rows of corn will be planted. The spaces in between rows are left intact.
Monsanto has planted windbreaks at its Molokai farm, including Cook pines, kukui trees and a native hardwood shrub `a`ali`i. As these plants mature, they will offer additional protection from the wind.
The severe drought, limited rainfall and very windy conditions that have impacted the islands for months have made the situation exceptionally difficult.
Monsanto is committed to addressing this issue.
9. When does Monsanto expect to begin operations on Hawai’i Island.
At this time, Monsanto does not have plans to operate on the Hawaii Island.
and this article
1. Currently, Monsanto’s GMO products tested and grown in Hawaii are intended to maximize the effect of Roundup and other glyphosphate products, isn’t that correct?
2. Isn’t it true that recent scientific studies show that glyphosphate is contaminating aquifers, wells and springs nationwide and worldwide?
3. Isn’t it true that glyphosate actually doesn’t break down rapidly in the environment, and is continuously building up in concerning quantities?
4. Isn’t it true that although glyphosate is the mostly widely used herbicide in the world, we know very little about its long term effects to the environment?