Could One Man Bring Monsanto To Its Knees?

That seems to be a claim of of few linked articles which I have recently come across. The link trail started though a Truthdig newsletter link to this story, which then links off to this piece from the progressive radio network, which links off to this article on a website called “Earth. We Are One”.

What the articles are raving about appears to be a new form of mushroom (or fungi) patented by a man named Paul Stamets. This fungi apparently has the ability to consume pesky crop-attacking insects without releasing spores (thus avoiding problems related to mass self propagation). It is said to control over 200,000 different species of insects. I am currently unsure if having this plant nearby, or if having it in a pesticide solution, is the application method. Nor am I sure if it also harms the bees, the species that Monsanto is most notorious for killing with their products.

An except from the article:

If there’s anything you read – or share – let this be it. The content of this article has potential to radically shift the world in a variety of positive ways.

And as Monsanto would love for this article to not go viral, all we can ask is that youshare, share, share the information being presented so that it can reach as many people as possible.

Well that didn’t take long. Barley into the article and the persecution complex shows itself.

But moving on . . .

In 2006, a patent was granted to a man named Paul Stamets. Though Paul is the world’s leading mycologist, his patent has received very little attention and exposure. Why is that? Stated by executives in the pesticide industry, this patent represents “the most disruptive technology we have ever witnessed.” And when the executives say disruptive, they are referring to it being disruptive to the chemical pesticides industry.

What has Paul discovered? The mycologist has figured out how to use mother nature’s own creations to keep insects from destroying crops. It’s what is being called SMART pesticides. These pesticides provide safe & nearly permanent solution for controlling over 200,000 species of insects – and all thanks to the ‘magic’ of mushrooms.

Paul does this by taking entomopathogenic Fungi (fungi that destroys insects) and morphs it so it does not produce spores. In turn, this actually attracts the insects who then eat and turn into fungi from the inside out!

The first paragraph has a few bold claims right off the bat. But we will go into those a little later. I am curious to learn more about this SMART pesticide. Namely, if bees are outside of the 200,000 species its apparently suitable against.

This patent has potential to revolutionize the way humans grow crops – if it can be allowed to reach mass exposure.

To tolerate the use of pesticides in modern agriculture is to deny evidence proving its detrimental effects against the environment. Such ignorance really can no longer be tolerated. For example, can you imagine a world without bees? Monsanto’s chemical concoctions which are being sprayed all over farmers’ fields around the world are attributed to the large-scale bee die off. While a growing number of countries are banning Monsanto, it’s still being used in  in nations who should  be aware of its dangers. To say that  new methods  need to be implemented before it is too late is an understatement.

Monsanto presently generates $16 billion dollars per year (as reported in 2014), therefore you can be certain they do not want anything interrupting that flow of revenue. Such income gives them nearly limitless resources and abilities to suppress information that may be damaging their reputation.

Well that was unsatisfying. Get me going with information about this new and exciting innovation, then destroy the climax by not telling me about it.

But by becoming educated on the benefits of growing sustainable, organic, and bio-dynamic food, sharing articles like this, and boycotting GMO & herbicide-sprayed crops, the corporate demon may soon get the message.

Seeing this under a picture of a dead and upside-down bee pretty much exposes the bias of this page. But lets do out own research.

http://www.academia.edu/7287836/Entomopathogenic_Fungi_as_Effective_Insect_Pest_Management_Tactic_A_Review

Having searched the term Entomopathogenic Fungi, this was one of the results. People have already been looking into this.

Many insect pathogenic fungus based bio-insecticides have been produced and commercially manufactured so far.Though, a number of studies have been done for the improvements in production, pesticide formulation and practical application, even then many improvements are required to search and study, and implementation.Improvement in strains by the use of guides and selections will be a best strategy in the future. The use of microbialinsecticides should be a contribution towards all fields of agriculture, sustainable agriculture, forestry andhorticulture. It should be cared that the Entomopathogenic fungus should not destroy beneficial natural fauna in theenvironment. Strategies should be made at small and large levels for the mass production of conidia. Use of insect pathogenic fungus is unavoidable as it is an integral part of integrated pest management programs in manyecological zones.

So its a field that needs more study, but it has potential. Understandable. However, “Many insect pathogenic fungus based bio-insecticides have been produced and commercially manufactured so far” seems to indicate some dishonesty in the previous progressive sourced articles I checked. Can’t say I am all that surprised.

http://www.doiserbia.nb.rs/img/doi/0354-4664/2012/0354-46641201021S.pdf

And here are the conclusions of another academically sourced pdf on the subject. Though it seems to be sourced from the same study, it goes a bit more in depth then then previous. Including telling us that direct comparison to chemical herbicides is inappropriate.

CONCLUSIONS

The application of entomopathogenic fungi in biological control is increasing largely because of greater environmental awareness, food safety concerns and the failure of conventional chemicals due to an increasing number of insecticide resistant species. In determining whether the use of entomopathogenic fungi has been successful in pest management, it is necessary to consider each case individually, and direct comparisons with chemical insecticides are usually inappropriate. Gelernter and Lomer (2000) concluded that for any microbial control agent to be successful, technical efficacy was essential but had to be combined with at least two other criteria from the following: practical efficacy (easy and cheap uptake), commercial viability (profitability), sustainability (long-term control) and/or public benefit (safety). The safety of entomopathogenic fungi for humans, the environment and non-target organisms is clearly an important criterion for consideration and each insect–fungus system must again be considered on a case-by-case basis. However, existing research suggests that there are minimal effects of entomopathogenic fungi on non-targets, and they offer a safer alternative for use in integrated pest management (IPM) than chemical insecticides (Goettel and Hajek, 2000; Pell et al., 2001). Successes with these fungi are often based on considerable, multidisciplinary financial investments in research and development from industry, aid agencies and governments. When commercial interests are absent, especially in the development of classical, inoculative and conservation strategies, then long-term government support is essential (Gelernter and Lomer, 2000). Most entomopathogenic fungi are best used when total eradication of a pest is not required; instead, insect populations are controlled below an economic threshold, with some crop damage considered as acceptable. In addition, entomopathogenic fungi have an essential role in IPM if they can be used in conjunction with other strategies for sustainable pest control.

Judging by this, again, we conclude that the research has a ways to go. Though not directly comparable to typical chemical pesticides, there is evidence of less toxicity on other biological targets when compared to chemical pesticides.

But work needs to be done for further targeting of certain insect species, as well as on efficiency (these types of pesticides are more for pest control then pest elimination, though they can be combined with other methods).

I think I have seen enough when it comes to the field of research to know that this is a fairly well researched area (Entomopathogenic Fungi). Enough to know that this Paul Stamets is not the only one looking into it. Though that was not explicitly stated, it seemed to be implied.
Which brings me to the question, who is this fellow?
The initial article calls him the worlds leading micologist. But I am curious for more.

It appears that he has done a TED talk some time ago.

The video seems to focus more on his work repairing the worlds collapsing bee presence, but its a good starting point.
When it comes to the pesticide thing, Stamets does appear to hold a number of patents pertaining to various areas of his work. However, its the first time that I had really ever heard of any of them (with the exception of 2). Those 2 being:

Application number: 20080046277
Abstract: Compositions, methods and business applications of using new and recycled cardboard infused with a plurality of saprophytic (including endophytic) and mycorrhizal fungi matched with seeds of plants (including trees, vegetables, herbs and grasses) whereby the cardboard can be sprouted by end-users to start ecosystems. Such containers may have carbon-credit value for companies and consumers when planted and grown as a carbon sink or carbon offset for the photosynthetic and mycelial sequestration of carbon dioxide. The relative weight of the Life Box’s added seeds and spores does not significantly affect the total weight of the infused cardboard, thus not increasing transportation costs.
Type: Application
Filed: September 6, 2007
Issued: February 21, 2008
Inventor: Paul Stamets
Application number: 20080005046
Abstract: Compositions, methods and business applications of using new and recycled cardboard infused with a plurality of saprophytic (including endophytic) and mycorrhizal fungi matched with seeds of plants (including trees, vegetables, herbs and grasses) whereby the cardboard can be sprouted by end-users to start ecosystems. Such containers may have carbon-credit value for companies and consumers when planted and grown as a carbon sink or carbon offset for the photosynthetic and mycelial sequestration of carbon dioxide. The relative weight of the Life Box’s added seeds and spores does not significantly affect the total weight of the infused cardboard, thus not increasing transportation costs.
Type: Application
Filed: September 6, 2007
Issued: January 3, 2008
Inventor: Paul Stamets

I recall this from a few years back because I thought it was hardly a good invention. That was because I seen that it mostly utilized in fast food paper coffee (and other beverage) cups. Sure, they will “contribute” to the ecosystem if planted (or littered). But its overlooking the whole problem of there being so many cups to dispose of in the first place. A bit like the 30% planet based planet bottle utilized by a certain multi-national distributer of bottled water. Its not only still an extra piece of waste, but also one with all the proprieties of plastic. Throw it into an oceanic gyre, and it will photo degrade like any other petroleum based PET bottle.

As for the patents that would appear to coincide with  usage in a pesticide formulation, they were registered as early as 2011 and issued around a year later. Though around for awhile, apparently not well promoted by Paul.
But to his credit, it does not seem to be him that is pushing the whole “Monsanto persecution” thing (or at least I cant seem to find him saying it anywhere).
There are many different variations on the theme of the headlines ,”The Invention That Monsanto Does Not Want You To Know About!” and “This Could Destroy Monsanto!” being the most common. But most of the published articles themselves (including the initial piece) appear to be pretty much carbon copies of one another. Some of them do not even bother using original text, instead just copying from another source (the initial piece seeming to be the “original”).

When it comes to the science behind the whole claim, it would appear to be verified. Though patented by Stamets, its verification appears to have come out of a university in Pakistan, by a team which may or may not have had any communication or relationship with Stemets.

As for the recent resurgence of the idea and the whole Monsanto persecution thing, I am unsure if Stemets is even voluntarily a part of it. If I had to guess, I would assume that those headlines and additions to the narrative were added just for extra click bait.
I even searched “the most disruptive technology we have ever witnessed” (allegedly spoken by executives of Monsanto, or another Bio-tech Firm). A query that brought up pretty much the same results as “Paul Stamets – Monsanto“. Can’t say im all that surprised.

So at the end of all this, I can say that there is something to this field of study. But I have my doubts that evil Big Ag is out to get Paul Stamets or any of his mycelium based innovations of various varieties. Show me some evidence of trickery and I may have a different opinion.

One thing that makes me curious however, is the whole “patents” thing. Since a patented product or technology can not be used without consent, it seems a bit hypocritical for the alternative media to come out against Big Biotech for with accusations of censorship. Even if they wanted to do anything with any of his formulations, they can’t, legally.
And if Stamets is holding on to the invention in the name of profit, how is that any better then what many accuse Big Biotech of currently doing?
I am not saying that this is Paul’s Agenda. I am just telling all the Monsanto haters to get their story straight.

When it comes to a similar situation, Tesla comes to mind. They came up with a product with a lot of future green potential. But rather then hold on to it (and all its profits), they opened up the patent to anyone who wants to (in good faith) work with it.

I am unsure of the situation here (as pertaining to Paul).

However, it would seem to me that reaching out for a partnership is more productive then just holding out in the shadows. After all, if the innovation is as provable as many seem to think, it be against Big Biotech’s  own interests to NOT to get on board.

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