Monsanto Starting to Reap What They Sow?

By Reid Mukai, CAGJ Co-Chair

Those of us who follow Monsanto in the news might remember when this past January Forbes magazine named them company of the year. At the time, it indeed seem they were poised to take over the world with their dominance of the GMO seed market and promises of new GMO crops such as soybeans containing omega-3 fatty acids (the type contained in flax and fish oils) and a new generation of high-yield corn called SmartStax.

Since then, shares of Monsanto stock have dropped 40% and profits have been cut by nearly half in the past fiscal year from about 2 billion to 1 billion dollars. On October 12, one of the co-authors of the Forbes article wrote a new piece attempting to explain their error. Among many reasons given were the spread of RoundUp resistant “super weeds” (which has become such a huge problem that Monsanto is now seeking help from competitors), loss of herbicide market share to generic Chinese-made products, disappointing performance of previously hyped GMO crops (especially SmartStax), and an ongoing federal investigation of Monsanto’s anti-competitive practices.

All of these are significant factors, but a major one noticeably absent was the collective impact of food activists around the world struggling against Monsanto and calling attention to their numerous crimes against humanity and the planet, much of which was well documented in the film “The World According to Monsanto” (screened by AGRA Watch at Southside Commons on 10/29). An indication of the threat that food activism poses to the company is the fact that Monsanto hired notorious paramilitary contractor Blackwater to spy on activists, as reported by Jeremy Scahill in a recent Nation article. According to Scahill, in 2008 Cofer Black, the chair of Total Intelligence (a Blackwater subsidiary), went to Zurich to meet Kevin Wilson, Monsanto’s security manager. In an internal email he sent out after the meeting, Black said that Total Intelligence “would develop into acting as intel arm of Monsanto” and that Wilson “understands that we can span collection from internet, to reach out, to boots on the ground on legit basis protecting the Monsanto name…. Ahead of the curve info and insight/heads up is what he is looking for.”

Though it’s seemingly a time of weakness for the company, there’s no doubt that executives within the company are still doing extremely well. In late October Monsanto Chief Executive Hugh Grant purchased $1 million worth of his company’s stock, which could be seen as an attempt to slow the decline of the stock’s value and/or a sign of insider knowledge of developments that might boost the value. Another Monsanto executive undoubtedly living large these days is their Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer Carl M. Casale, who is also the director of Nalco, the makers of Corexit (the highly toxic dispersant that BP purchased and poured nearly 2 million gallons of into the Gulf of Mexico to cover up the oil spill. Due to the numerous and severe health problems it causes, Corexit has gained the reputation as the new Agent Orange. Perhaps not coincidentally, Monsanto created the original Agent Orange.

Monsanto is still far from filing for Chapter 11, but with the concerted grassroots efforts of the food justice movement which CAGJ is a part of, we can hopefully keep the stock value of that company (and others like it) on a downward trajectory.


Posted in Agra Watch Blog Posts, Food Justice Blog Posts, Uncategorized.

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