breton village, monsanto’s lies continue, beckett and nancy

Breton Village

Breton Village, c1890, oil on canvas. Odilon Redon.

For those who have not read about the issues before, Monsanto has a patent on crop foods like corn and wheat that are resistant to its herbicide RoundUp. What happens, and who would have thought, is that the pollen from the fields where their crops are planted blows into neighboring fields. Those seeds then have patented Monsanto genes in them. If a farmer goes to sell crops from the seeds from last year’s crops which have Monsanto’s genes, Monsanto says the farmer has to pay them or they sue. Monsanto has sued lots of farmers. That would seem fairly nightmarish to many people. Monsanto has made many claims in its defense of it’s ever growing ownership of the nation’s food supply. And no that is not an exaggeration. What corn and wheat we do not eat directly ( including the corn syrup that is in the majority of packaged products like cereal) is consumed by livestock like cows, pigs and chickens. One of the claims that Monsanto has made is that they have increased crop yields dramatically. So this being the case they should be left alone because they are producing food people need and keeping retail prices lower. Turns out that is not true. Research Shows that Monsanto’s Big Claims for GMO Food Are Probably Wrong

Collier “made the offhand remark during his talk that because Europe has shunned GMOs [genetically modified organisms], it’s lost productivity compared to the US,” Heinemann recalls. “That seemed odd to me. So while he was talking, I went to the FAO [UN Food and Agriculture Organization] database and I had a look at yields for corn. And over the short term, from 1995 to 2010, the US and Western Europe were neck and neck, there was no difference at all. So his assertion that lack of GMOs was causing Europe to fall behind didn’t seem true.”

[  ]…Heinemann’s group found that between 1985 and 2010, Western Europe has experienced yield gains at a faster rate than North America for all three crops measured. That means that the U.S., which grows mostly GE corn, and Canada, which grows mostly GE canola, are not doing as well as Europe, which grows non-GE corn and canola. The increases in corn yields in the U.S. have remained relatively consistent both before and after the introduction of GE corn. Furthermore, Western Europe is experiencing faster yield gains than America for non-GE wheat.

What does this mean? “There’s no evidence that [GE crops] have given us higher yields,” says Heinemann. “The evidence points exclusively to breeding as the input that has increased yields over time. And there is evidence that it is constraining yields in the North American agroecosystem.” He offers two potential reasons why. First, he says, “By making the germplasm so much narrower, the average yield goes down because the low yields are so low.”

Europe has not adopted GM seeds.

This is a cartoon panel by American cartoonist Ernie Bushmiller in the 1950s for his long running newspaper series Nancy. What does Ernie and Sluggo (pictured) have to do with the modernist Irish-French playwright- novelist Samuel Beckett? The Beckett/Bushmiller Letters

What then are we to make of the trove of letters found recently among Ernie Bushmiller’s personal papers, as his estate was being cataloged for auction? That the successful syndicated cartoonist of an immensely popular daily comic strip known for its appeal to lowbrow readers and children was corresponding for some months in the 1950s with Samuel Beckett, the austere modernist poet who authored plays and novels still considered forbidding and impenetrable, can’t but strike us as unlikely. Certainly it seems strange. Yet a correspondence between the all-American cartoonist and the Irish-French Nobel laureate does exist.

There are more panels along with some of the correspondence between Bushmiller and Beckett. Having read some Beckett and some Nancy, I can see where they had a lot in common.

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