The Monsanto Haters Culture

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Monsanto sign

Working at a media company, I am used to seeing negative or critical comments come across my desk or appear in my e-mail in-box. As the old saying goes, “it goes with the territory.”

Yet I am somewhat amazed at the amount of online venom that exists for agricultural giant Monsanto. Just the mere mention of the words “Monsanto” or “glyphosate/Roundup” in an online article will inevitably see a host of e-mailers denouncing the company for its “evil ways.” At times, this hatred borders on the ridiculous, such as when e-mailers blamed the company for some recent bee deaths in Oregon or the fertilizer plant disaster in West, TX. (For the record, Monsanto doesn’t produce either the kinds of crop protection products suspected in the bee incident or fertilizer.)

Given these facts, I’ve often wondered why there exists an entire haters culture toward Monsanto compared with other agricultural companies. And I’m apparently not alone. Recently, I ran across an online article that asked this exact same question.

“I find it very interesting that Monsanto is one of the most hated companies on the planet, with the Internet and social media full of stories and passed-around memes that declare it to be one of the worst companies in the world,” said the article’s author. “And yet, DuPont is just as big in genetically-modified seeds and agricultural chemicals and pursues largely the same policies as Monsanto with respect to pricing, Intellectual Property enforcement and so on. So it merits the question – why is Monsanto evil but DuPont isn’t?”

In the course of this article, the author pointed to three reasons why Monsanto seems to be so universally disliked:

  1. It made dangerous chemicals such as Agent Orange.
  2. It has “bought” the U.S. government and regulatory agencies off through lobbying efforts to sell its products such as Roundup Ready crops to an unsuspecting public.
  3. It has supposedly ruthlessly prosecuted growers for unknowingly growing its products in their fields.

In the end, the author pokes serious holes in each and every one of these arguments. “I suspect that Monsanto is a victim of its own success,” he concludes. “All they do is crop science. Likewise, they’ve been very good at what they do.”

I tend to agree. If Monsanto were just another player in the agricultural field rather than the leader it is, the company would probably have a few more online fans as opposed to its numerous foes.

Sfiligoj is the Editor for both CropLife and CropLife IRON magazines. He travels regularly to cover industry events and has been dedicated to the ag retail industry since he joined the staff in 2000.
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12 comments on “The Monsanto Haters Culture

  1. Mark

    Allison, To me it seems your ignorance frightens You. Become more educated before making This type of comment.

  2. Dan F

    Who knows what these haters think? Why do they not try raising there own crops to feed the world with zero,fertilizer, zero pesticides and zero technology.

  3. Theresa

    The original article: http://www.investopedia.com/articles/investing/061913/why-monsanto-evil-dupont-isnt.asp Stated at the bottom "Disclosure – As of the time of writing, the author owns shares of Monsanto."

  4. Jr. Whitlow

    As a crop consultant hearing both sides Monsanto would have been farther ahead not standing in front of growers basically bragging that since they caused a certain yield response they wanted their half first and the grower still had other production variables to deal with before they saw any reward. The fact that seed prices jumped very fast just gave growers indegestion and therfore an immediate bad taste that continues to cause disatisfaction.

  5. JB

    Monsanto's history is widely available for anyone to research. If you have difficulties understanding people's anger towards this company, then you haven't looked hard enough. Transgenics quitely added to the food supply without consumer consent, buying out seed suppliers and attempting a monopoly on seed reserves, corporate capture of elected officials and regulatory agencies, using the State Department as their personal lobbying crew for international relations, etc. And don't expect their reputation to be changing anytime soon.

  6. GR

    Stop for a second and think— what other company has brought as much technology to the farmer– no one

  7. Roger

    Without the developments of Monsanto and other agriculture companies advancing ag-tech, many more millions would be dying of starvation. Every single fruit, vegetable, fowl, and type of livestock has been genetically modified for desirable traits. Consider that.

  8. Phil

    The worst part is that the farming community for the most part views their relationship with Monsanto in an adversarial context. If Monsanto had handled grower relations better during the initial introductions of its products, it is possible that they would have strong support from their customer base, which IMO they currently lack.

  9. Sam

    As a farmer I will not allow Monsanto products on my farm. The company is ruthless and has no regards for the health of the end user. With less Monsanto and Du Ponts in the world we would have had more farmers left in stead of massive corporation farms. It is shocking to see how they openly force more traditional farmers off their land!

  10. Biff Blendon

    We farm, both crops and livestock, and stopped using ALL commercial / chemical fertilizers and weed control products in 2007. We literally quit, cold-turkey. However, we spent the previous 2-3 years doing a tremendous amount of research and planning before coming off our "chemical dependency" (there should be an AA-style 10-Step program for farmers with chemical addiction). Naturally, we were very concerned about the impact it would have on our already razor-thin "profits." The first year off chemicals was the most labor-intensive, which we knew going in and were relatively prepared for. There was NO drop in yield, and our livestock (mostly Angus and Charolais cattle) actually saw an almost immediate INCREASE in live births. Every year since we've seen nearly a complete elimination of miscarriages, still births, sick calves, and not a single prolapse. Crops are now heartier, and being off chemicals has increased our profitability dramatically, as those entire line-items have come off our expense sheet. The diesel and man-hours needed to apply them are also gone. We buy seed from who we want, and are no longer held hostage to Liberty and others, and now use mostly heirloom, and reserve some of our crops for seed. Labor output, even after the elimination of the aforementioned hours, is up about 15% over the hours we previously required to get to harvest, but yields are as high or higher, and we have a larger pool of buyers since we're now "all natural" and pesticide / herbicide (and Monsanto / Dow Ag) FREE! It's the best move anyone could make, if done right and all the cards are on the table before you make the move. The liberty of not being chained to chemicals of any kind, and knowing that you are no longer destroying your soil, makes for a comfortable pillow to sleep on come sundown.