If you have followed the company Monsanto, you know that they are no strangers to controversy. The company that was purchased for $66 billion has long been in the news for their company-wide practices – specifically targeting their products that contain allegedly cancer-causing ingredients. The German company Bayer just reached a deal with the U.S. to buy Monsanto on April 9.
According to an article entitled “Millions Against Monsanto”, “forty percent of the United States’ cropland is planted in the Monsanto crops.” They are a dominating force in the world of agriculture. At first glance, you might think nothing of this. Another company controls a large portion of the market, and farming doesn’t really affect me directly, right?
Wrong. The problem with Monsanto is not that they own so much of the agriculture market, it is that their products contain harsh chemicals that may be directly linked to diseases such as leukemia, Hodgkin’s disease, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, Parkinson’s disease, and respiratory cancer.
Products that are owned by Monsanto include Jung Seed, Kruger Seeds, The Climate Corporation, and the well-known Roundup.
Monsanto disagrees with the allegations about cancer, especially about Roundup. A new study, released last fall, backs this up.
The seeds that Monsanto creates are genetically modified, too. Farmers say they are at the mercy of this corporation because they basically control the price of seeds. If you want to buy seeds that are not made by Monsanto, you have to be willing to pay the price.
Another issue with the company: they do not allow their farmers to reuse the crops from the previous year, to make new crops. They have a codicil in their contracts that allows them to sue any farmer that reproduces crops from the previous year’s yield. As one writer says, “sustainability obviously is not a big priority in Monsanto’s business plan – but their financial strategies are quite clever.” They know how to keep their farmer’s coming back for more.
What’s even more concerning? The watchful eye they have upon their clients. The internet is overflowing with stories and testimonies of farmers and small country shop owners being threatened. The Monsanto workers disguise themselves as surveyors on the farms. They are known to instill fear in the homes of many farmers as they record and photograph anyone who they suspect might be infringing on the patents that they sign.
One story in particular takes place in the small town of Eagleville, Missouri. The store owner Gary Reinehart was confronted in his own store and accused of planting Monsanto’s seeds in violation with the company. The threats continued as Reinehart showed the mysterious man the door. Gary Reinhart wasn’t even a farmer, nor did he sell seeds in his small shop. He repeatedly told them that they “got the wrong guy”.
Stories like this ring true all throughout small farming communities. The big guys come in and demand to know the day to days of these farmers and store owners – an intimidation tactic that Monsanto does not deny.
What is even more puzzling is that the Monsanto website represents clean, family-oriented farming. They paint the picture of harmony and beauty in their carefully taken photographs and white, neutral website. They are inviting and have a “go-green” look about them.
The list goes on – they make remarks on “Charitable Giving,” “Human Rights,” and Products and Solutions, all while having lists of lawsuits dating back to the Vietnam War.
So, what can be done about this? Really nothing – not right now anyway. The company has been dealing with litigations for years and is still standing tall. It does not seem as if they are going anywhere anytime soon.
However, have we chosen to see what Monsanto is doing for our economy and our world?
Monsanto is known to be a leading contender in the seed industry. They are helping farmers of all sizes grow food more sustainably. They work to protect natural resources whilst giving farmers the tools to provide nourishment to the rest of the world. They recognize the changing climate and other environmental challenges.
Also, they employ over 20,000 people in over 60 countries. They are creating and keeping jobs and families in business. They are even recognized as Glassdoor’s best places to work. Could we really afford to lose such a huge contributor to the economy?
Monsanto is changing with our world. They realize that technology and innovation is the way of the future, so we should jump on board with that. They are changing the genetics of plants to produce seeds that have the best chance of producing.
Another way in which Monsanto is paving the way for farmers is through their crop protection tools. Weeds, pests, and disease are damaging to farmers and their crops – Monsanto has a true solution. Their product Roundup contains glyphosate which is “the primary active ingredient of herbicides”. Monsanto says that it “enables farm practices that reduce erosion and carbon emissions” – they seem to be dedicated to taking care of our environment. They work to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and soil health.
They are committed to a carbon neutral footprint by 2021.
Regardless of your stance, the St. Louis based company has a lot to offer and is something to keep our eye on.