Biting the hand that feeds you

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Photo by Reuters. In the creeping corners of organic vegetable stands and the shadows of specialty stores lurks a very disturbing creature. Willowy in form with daunting pale skin, it sniffs and picks through an assortment of produce, eyeing each one like a hawk.

“Monsanto,” someone murmurs.

Just a whisper of the company’s name is enough to send the sallow, beady-eyed creatures to the darkest corners of the organic produce section. “Monsatan,” they hiss back, clinging to a GMO-free bag of lentils in efforts to ward off evil.

Sound melodramatic? Take a stroll through social media sites the crop technology company has a presence on and your faith in humanity will quickly be diminished.

Death threats, personal attacks, vulgar language, rants, uncited statistics, and mutant-horror stories grace the comment section of each post – and they’re all irrational. Together these trolls hide behind their computer screens and social media handles in swarms. Thousands more band together in national marches. They “March Against Monsanto” in the hallucination of their versions of health, environment, sustainability and safety – leading a crusade of hate and harassment on an entire company.

“HELL NO, GMO’s,” they wail and scream at the top of their exasperated lungs while clenching posters plastered with diminishing messages and propaganda against the company.

This rage they spew is directed at a company they benefit from when relying on having enough food to put on their table, because even in a perfect world, organic farming could never fully support the growing population.

Still, it isn’t surprising the agricultural company landed third from the bottom of America’s top 60 most visible companies – barely above BP and Bank of America. Ironically, their hipster antithesis marketer, Whole Foods, is sitting high at eighth from the top.

Harris Poll, which utilized The Reputation Quotient Research Instrument by The Nielsen Company, measured:

  • Social Responsibly – Supports good causes, environmental responsibility, community responsibility
  • Emotional Appeal – Feel good about, admire and respect, trust
  • Vision and Leadership – Market opportunities, excellent leadership, clear vision for the future
  • Financial Performance – Outperforms competitors, record of profitability, low risk investment, growth prospects
  • Workplace Environment Products and Service – Rewards employees fairly, good place to work, good employees

If you want to get technical, that sits Monsanto in the third most hated hot seat.

And for what?

click image to zoom For working towards a goal of doubling crop yields throughout the world from 2008-2030. Hitting 9 to 25 percent yield increases in key soybean production areas like Brazil, Canada and the U.S, and upping corn production 33 to even 96 percent in countries like Brazil, Canada and Russia.

To everyone tired of hearing the same lecture on agriculture having to feed 9 billion people by 2050 on limited water and land resources, you’re in luck – soon the lecture is going to increase and intensify in numbers of mouths to feed. And it won’t be yours and your neighbor’s backyard gardens getting the job done. It will be companies like Monsanto, DuPont, Syngenta and Pioneer are working, and yes, earning a profit, to help farmers grow enough food for the world population. Utilizing sophisticated technology to create crops that are resistant to destructive insects and other pests, reducing the amount of spray used significantly, while maximizing the yield – just as they do today.

Instead of shunning, fighting and propelling hate towards them, shouldn’t we be applauding a company that has contributed greatly to solving the world’s most pressing issue of hunger?

And while every company has its flaws, it’s time, as a nation, to stop biting the hand that feeds us. It’s time to support all – from the farmer down the road and your neighbor who has a container garden to Monsanto and every other individual and company – who are working to put food on your table and mine.


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dan    
MI  |  July, 10, 2014 at 04:47 PM

Yes Laura. These "pale skinned creatures", these "trolls" should stop "propelling hatred." Well said. Appreciate the open mind and thoughtful contribution to the dialogue.

Doug    
mo  |  July, 10, 2014 at 11:47 PM

I'm sick of reading about GMO food on here. I thought it was a cattle site. I'll get my market news else where.doug

itgranny    
minnesota  |  July, 11, 2014 at 08:20 AM

This works both ways. I have seen and heard more than a few farmers/agri-people flip out when somebody asks how we raise our pigs, what they eat, how they get slaughtered. These people have a right to know and when you accuse them of being pale skinned trolls that are propelling hatred rather than selling your product as a wholesome food, you're the one with the problem. I am on your side, believe me,but we need to stop attacking people when they ask questions about their food supply. We also need to sell our products as the wholesome products we know they are. This will mean getting past advertizing in the farm magazines and getting into the more general media. The general population has not kept up with modern farm practices. Think of this not as dumb, but similar to you not keeping up with the latest cancer research or computer technology. Consumers want to know how their food is being raised and its up to us to inform them. I see no room for your high handed attack on them.

Ryan    
CA  |  July, 11, 2014 at 08:35 AM

The whole food industry is connected, if you don't like the headline don't click it. The more you know...

Thom Katt    
Midwest  |  July, 11, 2014 at 08:39 AM

Laura, your points are well taken but you light may be hid under a bushel. You are preaching to the choir when you use this forum. Can you tell us if you editorial will be picked up in other print and online media outlets? The people who need this information, the average consumer who wants more information about the food chain, doesn't read Drover's Journal or PorkNetwork or the other Vance Publishing ag media. So, how is you message going to get in front of the people who need it most?

Frank    
July, 11, 2014 at 08:49 AM

Doug, what kind of corn do you think majority of the cattle in the U.S. are fed? GMOs and policy relating to them are a huge concern/interest for cattle producers. Go to another cattle industry website and I guarantee you'll continue to see GMO related information.

Laura Mushrush    
Kansas City  |  July, 11, 2014 at 09:55 AM

Dan, itgranny - The above description is not about the average consumer, it's to paint an image about the small, but very present activists who are too irrational to even hold a civil conversation with. Read through the comments of this link http://instagram.com/p/nIgh1cBdHn/?modal=true, which happens to be one of the more pleasant ones.

Karenh    
Colo  |  July, 11, 2014 at 10:59 AM

Unless they're living under a rock, these activists have surely noticed the huge advances in medicine, technology, autos, etc, but proper farming, in their opinion, should be relegated to 40 acres and a mule.

Greg    
Nc  |  July, 11, 2014 at 11:31 AM

Get over it. Organic can and will feed the world. Get your yea out of Monsanto's rectum and try things they way they used to be done, before chemicals were the norm. It used to feed the world; it still can!

Sko    
Kansas  |  July, 11, 2014 at 11:38 AM

While you may disagree with their opinions, your characterization of them as trolls is no more helpful than their fear mongering about GMOs. The point of such columns should be to educate your readers, who will then hopefully go out and educate others without demonizing the opposition.

Keith    
NC  |  July, 11, 2014 at 12:03 PM

Greg you are right, organic once feed everyone 100 years ago. Back then one farmer fed 3, now one feeds 155. Organic will not feed everyone now because 152 of that 155 will not leave their air conditioned office to hoe weeds and pick bugs off plants. If organic was so "sustainable" why is not all of farming still organic?

itgranny    
minnesota  |  July, 11, 2014 at 12:51 PM

Nice Keith! Instead of asking the organic farmers where their pigs are this hot day, because ours are in a temperature controlled barn, you managed to call all your customers who aren't farmers lazy. That's good public relations! (BTW, most of the crop farmers that are around here work long hard hours about 3 months out of the year. Also, some of the largest hog and poultry producers never leave their air conditioned office either. )

Wrusssr    
Texas  |  July, 11, 2014 at 12:53 PM

Here you go Laura. Here's a few more lilly white hands you can slap. http://www.gmwatch.org/ http://gmo.mercola.com/ http://www.greenmedinfo.com/search/gmi/GMO

Keith Long    
Kansas  |  July, 11, 2014 at 02:57 PM

A simple google search for 'can organic farming feed the world' returns a long list of studies that says it can. Here a just a couple links: http://www.worldwatch.org/node/4060 http://agroeco.org/doc/organic_feed_world.pdf There are plenty more. A similar google search also casts doubt that GMO crops yield more than conventional. Did you check any of these references prior to writing that article? I don't really care about Monsanto one way or the other, but I do appreciate a well researched article.

Bob    
iowa  |  July, 11, 2014 at 03:24 PM

OK bob because something can be googled does not make the theory fact. Hybrids & GMO has raised corn yields far beyond the old "bumper yield" of 100 bushels to the acre. There was a reason those old plants needed to be planted 3 feet apart, they had to draw on a tremendous amount of nutrients and water. Todays modern hybrids start to dry when they mature, regardless of rainfall thereby increasing yield. In the old days luck & mother nature were huge factors in boom or bust.

Bob    
iowa  |  July, 11, 2014 at 03:37 PM

@IT granny. There is a huge difference between people who want information about their food and the people who are trolls on social media. They define the very word troll, they post constant mis-information basically to just stir the pot. I worked in Hollywood for years and i can tell you that there alot of these people and they love the control that their computer gives them. Before computers i remember these same people putting out vicious rumors. I remember some of them saying that vaccines contained large amounts of rat poison and cow urine. And that vaccines caused autism. Years of progress in curtailing diseases such as whooping cough were jeopordized by these people who just relished feeding people misinformation. Now these people have turned to social media to attack agriculture, because they don't like it. They resent animals being used for food and perpetrate myths such as "factory farms" and a handful of multinational corporations controlling our food supply with their only concern being sinful levels of profit. I can tell you the opposite is true. My family has been farming cattle for decades on a small farm in iowa. With the drought hay was hard to come by last winter One of these "huge heartless corporations" actually dug into their own pocket and gave us enough feed from their warehouse to keep us going. No charge we just paid the trucking. These people are good neighbors and i have had it up to here with a bunch of people only interested in spreading lies.

Jack Lavelle    
Phoenix  |  July, 11, 2014 at 07:02 PM

So Monsanto has become the Dow Chemical of the 21st Century.

HCJoe    
Ok  |  July, 11, 2014 at 07:11 PM

That is the most ridiculous thing I have heard all day.

FormerGIJoe    
Arizona  |  July, 11, 2014 at 07:40 PM

As a botanist, I am concerned about the health effects of GMOs. Wheat, for example, currently bears no resemblance to the wheat encountered by the settlers crossing the great prairie region. GMOs are not required to meet safety standards, nor are they tested for safety beyond whether they resemble the source plant. I want to be convinced that these foodstuffs are indeed safe. But no data exists, or at least none is publicly released, to demonstrate their safety. I'm no organic food nut, but I do have concerns based on lack of public information based upon nutrition and biochemistry. Show me the science!

Wrusssr    
Texas  |  July, 11, 2014 at 09:13 PM

GM seed manufacturers trumpet: "We have a billion hectares now under GM cultivation!" Which is roughly 3.86 million square miles. Or 2.47 million acres. Or 10 percent of the world's arable farmland. There's a reason other nations are fighting to keep a stiff-arm in these demons’ faces. But not the United States. Where gratuities for elected seals climb quickly toward six figures when critical votes for things like, say, food safety for humanity come up. Why do you think the chemical companies–Dow, Monsanto, Syngenta. DuPont—BigAgra, and the Grocery Manufacturers Asso., et al, spent $47 million to defeat Proposition 37 in California? Know what Prop. 37 even was? It was to put in food container labels’ fine print that it contained genetically modified ingredient. That’s all. Know what a Monsanto exec said about that? “. . . we might as well put skull and crossbones on our products if we do that.” Why would anyone object to labeling containing genetically modified food if it was safe? Did you know these same wonderful folk are suing Vermont for passing a state law to so label their food? Are building a doomsday seed vault in the Arctic? What, pray tell, are they afraid of? Here’s what they’re afraid of: Genetic Fallacy: How Monsanto Silences Scientific Dissent, http://youtu.be/ShJTcIlTna0 GMO Soy Repeatedly Linked to Sterility and Infant Mortality http://naturalsociety.com/genetically-modified-soy-linked-to-sterility-and-infant-mortality/ Doomsday Seed Vault Being Built in the Arctic http://www.globalresearch.ca/doomsday-seed-vault-in-the-arctic-2/23503

W. E.    
July, 12, 2014 at 09:36 AM

Well said itgranny! In our view, one of the main problems with modern agriculture is that farmers have become so exclusive. Why, in a country with major unemployment, do we insist that only about one percent of the population be actively growing food? Where is the efficiency in that approach? And why should one farmer be in charge of producing food on 15,000 or 20,000 acres of farmland? And what is efficient about the enormous gullies that form on rolling land that has been row-cropped instead of in pasture for far too many years? And why do farmers who raise row-crops think that raising cattle on pasture is too much work? And how long will they be able to justify taking whatever big corporations will pay them, and spending whatever the corporations can get by with charging them for the products and seed they use to produce all of those acres? A younger neighbor who farms land for well over thirty different absentee landowners said that he recently lost nearly $40,000 of profit on his wheat crop because the company he had contracted with claimed he had a new kind of mold on his grain. The grain looked clean and the test weight was pretty good. Our neighbor had to pay for the corporate-owned seed, the artificial nitrogen, big planters and tractors, spray-rig and chemicals, the combine, and the labor, plus take all the risk. The corporation made the dock and took the profit. We were afraid our neighbor was going to have a heart attack talking about it. Yet he forged ahead and bought genetically modified soybean seed to plant his no-till soybeans. Sustainable? We do better and bring in more net profit by growing 100% grassfed beef on our land and marketing directly to consumers. It's better for our land and for the future.

Wendy    
Missouri  |  July, 14, 2014 at 03:25 PM

Greg have you seen any 200 bushel/acre organic corn, 60 bushel/acre organic soybeans and 100 bushel/acre organic wheat? If so, I would like that information.

Wendy    
Missouri  |  July, 14, 2014 at 03:25 PM

Greg have you seen any 200 bushel/acre organic corn, 60 bushel/acre organic soybeans and 100 bushel/acre organic wheat? If so, I would like that information.

Wendy    
Missouri  |  July, 14, 2014 at 03:25 PM

Greg have you seen any 200 bushel/acre organic corn, 60 bushel/acre organic soybeans and 100 bushel/acre organic wheat? If so, I would like that information.

Wendy    
Missouri  |  July, 14, 2014 at 03:29 PM

There already is GMO labeling, it is called ORGANIC!! If you don't like GMO then buy organic, why should I as a consumer be required to purchase cans of beans that are labeled GMO's causing higher prices for me, when if I don't like GMO beans, I can simply go to another grocery store and purchase organic beans that aren't GMO's. WHY DOES THE GOVERNMENT NEED TO INTERVENE IN THIS????????????? That is ridiculous, don't want to eat GMO's eat Organic and pay the higher price, stop bugging me and all the rest of the consumers who don't care and want to pay cheaper prices. This is a stupid argument, if you don't want to eat GMO"s BUY ORGANIC! It REALLY is that simple.

Don    
Iowa  |  July, 15, 2014 at 04:28 PM

Wendy, There are organic farmers getting very good yields and there are certainly farmers using conventional crops getting these yields. The GMO traits themselves have not helped yields that much-in fact an article in Feedstuffs magazine last year showed that the increase in yields on corn have slowed since the introduction of BT and Round-up ready corn. Yields are still going up, but at a slower rate than before the introduction of the GMO traits. If you make a plant do one thing-like produce BT toxin-there is less energy to make grain. One big advantage of GMO's was supposed to be being able to use less herbicide and insecticide-which of course was true at first. But the weeds and insects have adapted and herbicide and insecticide use are both going way up again. People at 2 different farm co-ops have told me they are selling as much insecticide as they ever have. And of course now we have to use fungicides on everything-which we hardy ever had to use before. Many people think this is because of glyphosate and it's effect on the immune system of the plant-that's how it kills-by destroying the immune system of susceptible weeds. There is research that shows that the iso-lines (the same variety without the GMO trait) of the GMO varieties have better drought tolerance and yield better than their GMO counterparts. As the old saying goes-there is no free lunch.

John    
Ohio  |  July, 19, 2014 at 11:56 AM

If all farming went back to Organic, who is going to decide which half of the population starves? Will that be you Greg? I was raised in the Organic world because 80 years ago we did not have the crop protection chemicals we have today. Eighty years ago the population of 3 Billion required less food world wide than the projected 9 Billion that is projected by 2050. Our crops and livestock are so much more efficient today that we are producing more food with less resources than ever. Africa has been Organic for centuries. Why do we have to keep sending them food?


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