In a book that won the 2009 Rachel Carson Prize, French journalist and documentary filmmaker Robin rakes agribusiness behemoth Monsanto across the coals.
It’s a wonder, if not a mystery, how the company has managed to sustain business, given its lengthy list of products that have been proven to be deleterious to life on earth: DDT, PCBs, dioxin, Agent Orange, bovine-growth hormones and more. Appalled that Monsanto still reports billions in profits, the author charts its self-serving product testing, its collusion with governmental agencies—“they are prepared to finance a study to improve the straws used for in vitro fertilization of pigs, but not one on the toxic effects of the most widely sold herbicide in the world”—its bullying of whistle-blowers, its veiled threats to advertisers and its thuggish patent-law litigation. As the world’s leading producer of genetically modified organisms, the company has now positioned itself as the savior from world hunger. Of course, their seeds produce only sterile offspring, and the herbicide of choice—actually, no choice—is of their own making. Robin’s outrage is well supported by wide-ranging scientific evidence, though a snarky tone undermines objectivity. A familiarity with endocrinology or molecular biology would be helpful to sift through the claims of Monsanto and its adversaries. Regardless, even lay readers are prodded to wise up and increase their awareness of what has become a serious threat. “After tracking the company for four years,” writes the author, “I am in a position to state that we can no longer say we didn’t know, and that it would be irresponsible to allow the food of humanity to fall into Monsanto’s hands.”
Unblinkingly partisan, which by no means dilutes its highly disconcerting message.