Why We Hate Big Glyphosate

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Driving to work this morning, I was listening to National Public Radio’s continuing coverage of the Gulf oil spill. Besides the environmental disaster unfolding, much of the focus on this topic has shifted to outright anger of the well’s owner, BP, because of its general sloppiness in handling the situation. However, former Shell Oil President John Heifmeister, author of the book “Why We Hate Big Oil,” defended BP and blamed the government for creating this air of negativity.

I disagree. To me, people hate big oil companies because they have us over a barrel – and not just the kind that the oil is shipped in. These companies make a product, gasoline, we need to function in our daily lives. Whatever they charge, we have to pay it. No matter how much complaining we do, in the end, we have no choice but to pony up to the pump.

In agriculture, the parallel to this need/hate relationship is glyphosate. As the world’s most popular crop protection product, glyphosate is the gasoline for many retailers and their grower-customers. However, many folks I’ve spoken with over the years absolutely hate the industry’s main glyphosate provider, Monsanto. Chiefly, they blame the company for holding them hostage with prices and supplies during the years when Monsanto was the sole manufacturer of glyphosate.

But despite this – and the fact that many other crop protection companies have glyphosate alternatives to pick from – most of these same retailers and growers usually have fresh containers of Roundup in their warehouses when I visit. When I’ve asked about this conundrum, most respondents have simply shrugged their shoulders and said: “I may not like them as a company, but they make an important product for my business that I can’t do without.”

The message here is clear. Whether it’s big oil or big glyphosate, the complaining and need/hate relationship will continue.

And so will the sales . . .

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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6 comments on “Why We Hate Big Glyphosate

  1. Anonymous

    There are many suppliers to choose from. But there is only that gives a trait credit for their seed technology when a replant situation occurs. And that is big M. If you can buy chemical and do not need a replant trait guarantee, then you are on your own. Soybean are easier than corn to justify the risk exposure.

  2. Anonymous

    Help me understand…for about $5/acre I can get grass and broadleaf control in my crops with excellent crop safety and no carryover? And you hate big glyphosate? I don’t think I want to know what you like.

  3. Anonymous

    Retailers push high priced Roundup because Monsanto rewards them with some of the large profit margin. American farmers are overcharged to finance this system.

  4. Anonymous

    There are many suppliers to choose from. But there is only that gives a trait credit for their seed technology when a replant situation occurs. And that is big M. If you can buy chemical and do not need a replant trait guarantee, then you are on your own. Soybean are easier than corn to justify the risk exposure.

  5. Anonymous

    Help me understand…for about $5/acre I can get grass and broadleaf control in my crops with excellent crop safety and no carryover? And you hate big glyphosate? I don’t think I want to know what you like.

  6. Anonymous

    Retailers push high priced Roundup because Monsanto rewards them with some of the large profit margin. American farmers are overcharged to finance this system.