Film Review:

Le Monde Selon Monsanto

(The World According to Monsanto)

Graeme Bousada

In June 1980, legal history was made. The court case, commonly known as the Chakrabarty case, saw the US Supreme Court grant a patent to Anada Chakrabarty and the General Electric Company, giving Chakrabarty the legal rights over an oil-eating microrganism. Being granted the rights of a living being, it is this decision that is now touted as the beginnings of a paradigm shift, setting the foundation for the implementation of the Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property (TRIPs) Agreement in 1995. Creating the legal necessities for biotechnology patents to spread around the globe, thus far it appears to be nothing short of a creative means of intervention, taking control of the global food supply.

The World According to Monsanto (Le Monde Selon Monsanto) is a documentary that sheds light on the controversial actions of one of the largest biotech companies in the world, the American multinational corporation, Monsanto. The creator of Round-Up, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), Bovine Growth Hormone (BGH), Agent Orange and most of the world’s genetically modified (GM) seeds, it is Monsanto’s controversial history that is the driving force of the documentary. Created by French journalist Marie-Monique Robin, the film follows Robin in her journey around the world, shedding light on Monsanto’s global injustices. Revealing decades worth of clandestine illegal activities, Robin’s film serves as a exposé on one of the most ruthless multinational corporations in the world.

Exploring the “revolving door of Monsanto” much of the documentary is devoted to sorting out the complex interrelationships between Monsanto, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the American Government. Intervention has unfortunately been the name of the game for several years. Backed by the US government, Monsanto has been a driving force in the systematic implementation of a GM-friendly world. With the use of three case studies in the global South (Mexico, India and Paraguay), the film demonstrates the intricate means of intervention employed solely for the purpose of financial gains, threatening the livelihoods of millions in the developing world.

The film is an excellent introduction to the ethics of international business, questioning how far multinational corporations are willing to go to maintain their bottom line. Describing how the US government plays a critical role in facilitating the process, The World According to Monsanto is a scary exposition on the realities of foreign business.

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