Monsanto, the US multinational chemical corporation once voted “the most evil corporation in the world” no longer exists, as a result of its acquisition by the German chemical giant Bayer.
However, Monsanto’s legacy lives on.
One of the corporations most successful products is glyphosate, a key component in weedkillers. It was described by the World Health Organisation in 2015 as “probably carcinogenic to human beings”. Since then, a growing number of countries have introduced bans on the product, including Saudi Arabia, Argentina, Malawi and Kuwait.
The most recent country expected to join their ranks is Thailand, which in October this year announced it would ban glyphosate with effect from 1 December.
The Thai government’s decision had been influenced by research showing that the chemical not only posed a risk to agricultural workers but also to the wider population through its ability to persist in foodstuffs grown using the product.
The response of the United States administration to the Thai government’s announcement was furious and aggressive. The Trump administration immediately warned its Thai counterpart that their decision will have consequences in terms of the loss of lucrative trade deals, and in particular would “severely impact” the ability of Thailand to import soybeans and wheat from the USA.
These threats paid off. In a dramatic about-turn just a week before the ban was due to come into force, the Thai government suddenly announced it was lifting the ban on glyphosate, and would now allow its continued use.
The agrochemical industry spends tens of millions of dollars each year funding and lobbying politicians. In the USA it donates huge amounts to the Republican Party but also gives a sizeable amount to the Democrats, no doubt in order to hedge its bets.
The intervention of the Trump administration over the Thai government’s response to the health threat posed by glyphosate illustrates how effective that investment is.
In a stroke, the Trump administration’s bullying, interventionist behaviour reveals how quickly unfit for purpose our democracies become when corruptible politicians accept money from organisations in exchange for protecting and promoting their interests.
Mulligatawny is a hearty soup which is believed to have originated in Tamil Nadu, South India. The word mulligatawny translates as “chilli water”. The recipe was later adapted by the British during the colonial period, who added meat and vegetables to the original vegan recipe.
This seasonal variation restores it to its vegan status but it remains hearty and nourishing, perfect for a cold winter’s day.
sweet potato mulligatawny soup
1 onion, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 organic sweet potato, approx. 300 g, peeled and finely diced
1 organic carrot, approx. 75 g, peeled and finely diced
1 organic celery stalk, peeled and finely diced
1 440 ml can organic chickpeas, drained and rinsed
250 g cooked basmati rice
1 can organic coconut milk
1 litre vegetable stock
2 tbsp good quality curry powder
1 tsp garam masala
1 tsp ground turmeric
½ tsp sea salt
1 tbsp ground nut oil
1 tbsp fresh coriander, chopped
1. Pour the groundnut oil into a large pan and place over a medium heat. Once the oil is hot, add the onion, sweet potato, carrot and celery. Stir and cook for 6-7 minutes or until the vegetables have softened. Add the garlic and cook for another two minutes then stir in the chickpeas, cooked rice, curry powder, garam masala, turmeric and sea salt.
2. Pour in the vegetable stock and the coconut milk and stir well to combine the ingredients. Bring to a simmer then reduce the heat low enough to maintain a very gentle simmer. Place the lid on the pan and simmer for a 15 minutes, stirring every so often.
3. Serve The soup hot, accompanied by bread or Indian flatbreads.