For several decades now, St. Louis-based biotech seed/crop protection product manufacturer Monsanto Co. has served something of a “whipping boy” for anti-biotech crop activists. No matter how hard the company has tried to defend the benefits of its agricultural technology, opponents have accused Monsanto of holding back (or downright lying about) the impact its products might have on the general public. In some cases, groups have actively tried to outright destroy the company’s financial footing.
Such as now. On Friday, May 9, members of the anti-biotech organization Food Democracy Now! staged protests outside the offices of several financial institutions as part of a campaign called Divest Monsanto Now! The purpose of this action was to get individuals who might have Monsanto shares in their mutual funds to put their money elsewhere.
“We want people to understand that where they invest their money is just as important as where they get their food,” said David Murphy, founder and CEO of Food Democracy Now! “Owning Monsanto is not an option.” Murphy added that since the Divest Monsanto Now! campaign began, he has heard from “hundreds” of people anxious to sell their Monsanto stock.
Based upon information from most financial sources, Monsanto currently has more than $60 billion worth of stock out in the marketplace. Approximately 15% of this is owned by three banks – Vanguard, Fidelity and State Street.
But will this high-profile campaign against Monsanto have any lasting impact? Probably not. As most financial advisors have been quick to point out, Monsanto stock “has been the darling of Wall Street for many years.” As stock becomes available, investors more interested in strong returns than the biotech crop debate will undoubtedly step up with “buy” offers.
Nonetheless, it is interesting to see how anti-biotech crop groups are now changing their attack tactics when it comes to the industry’s biggest players. As always, it at least bears some watching on our part . . .