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 . . .