“Genetically Engineered Terror”: Monsanto and the “Social Cost” of GMOs

Friday, May 23, 2014
By Paul Martin

By Dr. Paul Craig Roberts
Global Research
May 23, 2014

Ecological economists such as Herman Daly write that the more full the world becomes, the higher are the social or external costs of production.

Social or external costs are costs of production that are not captured in the price of the products. For example, dead zones in the Gulf of Mexico that result from chemicals used in agriculture are not included as costs in agricultural production. The price of food does not include the damage to the Gulf.

Food production is a source of large social costs. Indeed, it seems that the more food producers are able to lower the measured cost of food production, the higher the social costs imposed on society.

Consider the factory farming of animals. The density of operations results in a concentration of germs and in animals being fed antibiotics. Lowering the cost of food in this way contributes to the rise of antibiotic resistant superbugs that will impose costs on society that will more than offset the savings from lower food prices.

Monsanto has reduced the measured cost of food production by producing genetically modified seeds that result in plants that are pest and herbicide resistant. The result is increased yields and lower measured costs of production. However, there is evidence that the social or external costs of this approach to farming more than offsets the lower measured cost. For example, there are toxic affects on microorganisms in the soil, a decline in soil fertility and nutritional value of food, and animal and human infertility.

When Purdue University plant pathologist and soil microbiologist Don Huber pointed out these unintended consequences of GMOs, other scientists were hesitant to support him, because their careers are dependent on research grants from agribusiness. In other words, Monsanto essentially controls the research on its own products.

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