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October 1, 2012

Mitt Romney and Monsanto, 35 years of Mutual Help

October 1, 2012. Boston. A look into Mitt Romney’s past reveals a secret he’d rather not discuss – 35 years worth of ties and mutual assistance between the Republican Presidential nominee and one of the most notorious and despised multi-national corporations on Earth - Mosanto. According to investigators, Mitt Romney and Bain not only saved Monsanto from going out of business, he personally orchestrated the corporation’s push to alter the world’s food supply, and then patent it.

Mitt Romney during his early days at Bain.

Monsanto makes its billions in profits from its monopoly on the world’s food. That monopoly doesn’t come from having a store in every neighborhood or buying-out every competitor in the industry. Instead, Monsanto is changing the genetic structure of the Earth’s food so that it’s no longer food, but Monsanto trademarked, lab-created, food-like products.

Between its genetically altered agricultural seeds, its deadly pesticides and its over-priced fertilizer, Monsanto has become one of, if not thee, most hated corporations in the world. Hundreds of thousands of farmers each year commit suicide, most notably in India and Brazil, due to the corporation’s iron grip on the globe’s agriculture and its exponentially higher prices. But like a deadly street gang, once you’re in Monsanto’s clutches, there is no way out, as demonstrated by the millions of farmer suicides over the past decade.

Some of the criticisms of Monsanto and its products

  • Its genetically modified seeds are dominant over natural food seeds. Therefore, once a farmer tries Monsanto seeds, it’s impossible to ever switch back.
  • Monsanto seeds are being spread by wind and animals into non-Monsanto farms, where the laboratory-created dominant seeds overpower natural seeds for survival and take over non-Monsanto farms.
  • Monsanto then sues those non-Monsanto farms for stealing and using their patented seeds. The corporation almost always wins due to its connections with global governments, forcing the non-Monsanto farms to pay astronomical prices to Monsanto for the seeds they didn’t want or use in the first place.
  • Monsanto food seeds have been genetically altered to be immune to the most deadly poisons known to man. The corporation’s herbicides and pesticides are popular and successful because they kill everything except Monsanto-branded, genetically-modified plants. The plants are genetically altered to be immune to the Monsanto-branded super-poisons. American consumers then eat those deadly pesticides.
  • Monsanto has already taken-over roughly 90% of America’s farms that grow corn, soybeans and cotton.

Monsanto’s early days – Merchant of Death

As detailed by the report from Mother Jones, ‘Monsanto is a relatively new player in the Big Ag game. While fellow ag giants like ADM, Cargill, Bunge, and BASF have been in the game for a century or more, as recently as the late 1970s Monsanto was known mostly as a chemical company; herbicides were a relatively small sideline, and genetically modified seeds were just the gleam in the eye of a few scientists in the R&D department.’

At that time, Monsanto had one of the worst reputations of any corporation in the world. If Enron, BP, Union Carbide and Goldman Sachs think they had PR problems, it was nothing compared to what Monsanto was going through in the 1970s.

In 1972, the US banned one of Monsanto’s biggest products - the deadly pesticide DDT. The company also had a monopoly on supplying America with the ‘highly toxic industrial coolant PCB’. When PCB was banned in 1976, Monsanto had been shown to be lieing about and covering-up its deadly effects. At the same time, Monsanto truly earned its title of ‘merchant of death’ by supplying the US military with the notorious chemical weapon Agent Orange.

Mitt Romney and Bain to the rescue

It was with that PR nightmare of a setting, and countless lawsuits against the company, that Monsanto hired a just-opened Boston consultancy firm named Bain to help save the corporation. Mother Jones cites an investigative report from The Nation which details Mitt Romney and Bain’s involvement in saving Monsanto and setting it on a course for world domination.

In 1973, the firm Bain was opened by Bill Bain. Immediately, Monsanto became one of, if not thee, first client. When a young man named Mitt Romney joined Bain in 1977, with his incredible connections to wealth and government power, Monsanto became his main client.

As referenced in The Nation piece, the Boston Globe investigated the Romney-Bain-Monsanto history and quoted Monsanto’s then CEO John W. Hanley as saying of Mitt, ‘“Romney learned the technical aspects of the chemical business so thoroughly that he sounded as if he had gone to engineering school instead of business school,” and that Monsanto executives soon began “bypassing” him to go directly to Romney.’

The Monsanto turn-around

It was reportedly Bain and Mitt Romney that devised Monsanto’s plan to exit the deadly, lawsuit-attracting, chemicals industry and concentrate on something more PR-friendly, like life-sustaining agricultural products.

Investigators cite 1979 as the year Monsanto made the jump to agriculture – two years after Mitt Romney joined the team. With Bain firmly involved and Monsanto sold on the strategy, the corporation began hiring biologists and investing millions into research and development. By 1981, it had gambled everything on the future of growth hormones and the bioengineering of food seeds.

As detailed in The Nation, ‘The first Monsanto biotech product, bovine growth hormone, became another headache for the firm - crippling cows, alarming parents concerned about the health effect on kids, meeting with rejection among developed countries outside the United States and sparking bans by American retailers from Starbucks to Walmart. Monsanto announced it invented the hormone in 1981, midway through the Bain period, but didn’t get FDA clearance for it until 1993.’

The report goes on to reveal, ‘Now the king of GM corn, soybean, alfalfa and other seeds, engineered to resist Roundup and increase yield, Monsanto is awash in global disputes, having lost two recent, at least $2 billion, court decisions in Brazil, for example, where 5 million soy farmers sued them.’

While Monsanto has spent the last 20 years taking-over 90% of America’s corn, soybean and cotton farms, the corporation has not forgotten its long-time ties to Mitt Romney. And as revealed in the The Nation, Mitt Romney certainly hasn’t forgotten his friends at Monsanto.

Mitt Romney’s Agricultural Advisory Committee

When Mitt Romney became the frontrunner for the Republican nomination for President earlier this year, he announced the formation of an 11-member Agricultural Advisory Committee. According to investigators, the group is packed with individuals with close ties to Monsanto. Some are directly connected, either working for Monsanto or being paid by them for various services.

Some of the members of Mitt Romney’s advisory committee (from The Nation):

  • Randy Russell: Monsanto’s principal Washington lobbyist, having been paid over $2.4 million by the corporation since 1998.
  • Chris Policinski: Land O’ Lakes CEO and fellow client of Monsanto lobbyist Randy Russell. Also, partnered with Monsanto and the NCFC in the push for genetically modified alfalfa. Policinski is an NCFC director.
  • Chuck Conner: Head of the National Council of Farmer Cooperatives (NCFC). Partnered with Monsanto and Chris Policinski to push for genetically modified alfalfa.
  • Tom Nassif: Head of the Western Growers Association, which receives an annual grant from Monsanto.
  • A.G. Kawamura: Former Agriculture Secretary of California and long-time champion of Monsanto’s genetically modified products.
  • Katie Smith: Former Director of Missouri’s Agriculture Department - ground zero and home to Monsanto itself. She was also an aide to former Missouri GOP US Senator and supporter of Monsanto Jim Talent. Smith is now a Director at Osborn and Barr, a Missouri PR firm founded by Monsanto with the corporation being its first client.
  • Mike Johanns: Nebraska Senator and recipient of $9,500 in Monsanto-related contributions. As former US Agriculture Secretary in the George W. Bush administration, Johanns often criticized European nations for banning GMO products and requiring their labeling. Under Johanns, the USDA approved Monsanto’s genetically modified alfalfa and sugar beats without the government-mandated environmental studies.

While Mitt Romney’s Agriculture Advisory Committee is packed with activists for genetic engineering and Monsanto, his ‘Farmers and Ranchers for Romney Coalition’ is even worse. The Coalition is made up of all 11 members of Romney’s Agriculture Advisory Committee, plus a number of Monsanto-funded Congressmen and federal officials, some of whom have worked for Monsanto as far back as the 1980s.

As one past executive from Monsanto has said, ‘Monsanto’s relationship with Bain was in place before Bain even existed’. And as a net result of Romney and Bain’s involvement, Monsanto has gone from a company employing 64,000 Americans in 1979 to one that employs just 20,000 today. Ironically, Monsanto shed two-thirds of its workers while growing into the largest agri-business monopoly in the world.

The company’s record of covering up its harmful pesticides, its Agent Orange product, its history of destroying jobs and the world’s food supply, all while fleecing the American farmer, has made Monsanto one of the most despised multi-national corporations in the world. And for that, it’s no wonder Mitt Romney keeps his 35-year, multi-million dollar relationship with them secret.

For more information, read the Mother Jones report, ‘How Mitt Romney helped Monsanto take over the World’ and the article from The Nation, ‘Mitt Romney, Monsanto Man’.

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