Regardless of how you feel about GMOs, Monsanto has come to represent everything that’s wrong with capitalism. Through bullying, intimidation and lawsuits, they have all but eliminated small, independent farmers.
Not only is Monsanto famous for genetically modifying foods, they have taken the first step toward patenting life itself. They hold the patent on many, many seeds. If those seeds happen to blow into a local farmer’s field and take root, Monsanto will sue the farmer out of business for patent infringement. Most farmers just give in before they are sued and buy Monsanto seeds.
Monsanto goes after farmers, farmers’ co-ops, seed dealers—anyone it suspects may have infringed its patents of genetically modified seeds. As interviews and reams of court documents reveal, Monsanto relies on a shadowy army of private investigators and agents in the American heartland to strike fear into farm country. They fan out into fields and farm towns, where they secretly videotape and photograph farmers, store owners, and co-ops; infiltrate community meetings; and gather information from informants about farming activities. Farmers say that some Monsanto agents pretend to be surveyors. Others confront farmers on their land and try to pressure them to sign papers giving Monsanto access to their private records. Farmers call them the “seed police” and use words such as “Gestapo” and “Mafia” to describe their tactics.
Source: Vanity Fair
Monsanto also genetically modifies the seeds so they will not reproduce. That means that farmers have to pay for new seeds each year when in previous generations, farmers would reseed from their previous crops. Seeds are a major cost to farmers.
Oh, but it’s worse.
Most Americans know Monsanto because of what it sells to put on our lawns— the ubiquitous weed killer Roundup. What they may not know is that the company now profoundly influences—and one day may virtually control—what we put on our tables. For most of its history Monsanto was a chemical giant, producing some of the most toxic substances ever created, residues from which have left us with some of the most polluted sites on earth. Yet in a little more than a decade, the company has sought to shed its polluted past and morph into something much different and more far-reaching—an “agricultural company” dedicated to making the world “a better place for future generations.” Still, more than one Web log claims to see similarities between Monsanto and the fictional company “U-North” in the movie Michael Clayton, an agribusiness giant accused in a multibillion-dollar lawsuit of selling an herbicide that causes cancer.
Read the Vanity Fair article to get a more complete picture of all that Monsanto does.
Canadian rocker Neil Young has long been a political activist and Monsanto is his latest cause. His latest album is all about them. In fact, it’s called The Monsanto Years. He sings about the plight of the farmer and the uphill battle they have staying in business while Monsanto has its corporate hands around their necks.
On the title track, Young sings: “The farmer knows he’s got to grow what he can sell, Monsanto, Monsanto/ So he signs a deal for GMOs that makes life hell with Monsanto, Monsanto/ Every year he buys the patented seeds/ Poison-ready, they’re what the corporation needs, Monsanto.”
Here’s a snippet of what you can expect on the album:
Featured image via Wikipedia.