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Monsanto's Harvest of Fear 517

Posted by kdawson
from the good-business-to-sue-your-customers-boy-howdy dept.
Cognitive Dissident writes "Intellectual property thuggery is not restricted to the IT and entertainment industries. The May 2008 edition of Vanity Fair carries a major feature article on the mafiaa-like tactics of Monsanto in its pursuit of total domination of various facets of agribusiness. First in GM seeds with its 'Roundup Ready' crops designed to sell more of its Roundup herbicide, and more recently in milk production with rBGH designed to squeeze more milk out of individual cows, Monsanto has been resorting to increasingly over-the-top tactics to prevent what it sees as infringement or misrepresentation of its biotechnology. As with other forms of IP tyranny, the point is not really to help the public but to consolidate corporate power. Quotes: 'Some compare Monsanto's hard-line approach to Microsoft's zealous efforts to protect its software from pirates. At least with Microsoft the buyer of a program can use it over and over again. But farmers who buy Monsanto's seeds can't even do that.' and '"I don't know of a company that chooses to sue its own customer base," says Joseph Mendelson, of the Center for Food Safety. "It's a very bizarre business strategy." But it's one that Monsanto manages to get away with, because increasingly it's the dominant vendor in town.' Sound familiar?"
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Monsanto's Harvest of Fear

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  • Pure Evil (Score:5, Interesting)

    by EdIII (1114411) * on Monday April 14, 2008 @08:12AM (#23061608)
    I so rarely encourage violence, being an intellectual pacifist, but there are times when it is appropriate. As harsh as this may sound, I think somebody needs to physically grab a hold of each and every Monsanto executive and employee and firmly, not figuratively either, wedge their entire foot up these people's asses. If they were assassinated, I might actually smile.

    How could I possibly make such "raving mad" statements?

    Monsanto truly is among the most evil group of people this planet has ever seen. Truly. There is a lot that goes on this little twirling ball that gives me reason to lose hope and be fearful of the future, but not many more then this company and their actions.

    These people are the REAL LIFE Umbrella Corporation from Resident Evil. I don't say that to add hyperbole to my post either. They ARE. This company is messing around with the very code of life itself. We're talking genetics here. The field as a whole has promise, great promise for us all, when the individuals in it pursue the knowledge in a responsible way. NOTHING the Monsanto corporation does could be considered responsible from a scientific or social viewpoint.

    Remember the Monarch Butterflies? This company pursued research out in the open, without any environmental safeguards, and killed a large portion of the Monarch Butterfly population in recent years.

    This same company pursues it's genetic research not in a "pursuit-of-knowledge-at-all-cost","we are benefiting humanity", and a "nothing-could-go-wrong" approach. It is motivated purely by the pursuit of profit at the expense of all else.

    For those not aware, Monsanto has been avidly continuing to research ways to ensure that crops will die and not reproduce. As I said before, these people mess with the very code of life, and are deliberately researching ways to END IT . To modify an organism to die and remove it's ability to reproduce is an incredibly serious action. One cannot understate this fact. To even discuss doing so requires an enormous responsibility and dedication towards the preservation of life, all life. There has to be an incredible purpose to doing this. An example might be getting rid of Dengue Fever, or the elimination of Malaria, etc. The discussions surrounding it need to involve the entire scientific community, as the ramifications of such an act, the ethical and moral implications, NEED to be discussed.

    To do it for Profit? How is that not evil? How is that different from the medical experiments at Auschwitz or any of the other Nazi Concentration camps?

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by someone1234 (830754)
      Well, they apparently don't make zombies or raving monsters, yet. So they are not the Resident Evil.
      Quite close, though, maybe in a few decades.
      • by EdIII (1114411) *
        LOL. Yeah, but I don't think the Umbrella Corporation actually set out to create Zombies first. It was unrelated line of research that later turned into something else by accident.

        I was trying to compare the companies attitudes about profit and control versus the public good and just plain human decency.
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Culture20 (968837)
        They made Zombie Monarch Butterflies, though. RTFGP! Zombie Butterflies are worse than human zombies; they can fly!
      • by Minwee (522556) <dcr@neverwhen.org> on Monday April 14, 2008 @10:49AM (#23063440) Homepage

        When... er... If they did I don't think they would issue a press release about it.

        Then again we are talking about Monsanto. They might not only brag about it but also try to sue the families of the zombies for theft of their patented 'Under Ground Ready" embalming fluids.

    • Re:Pure Evil (Score:5, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 14, 2008 @08:25AM (#23061700)
      http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-842180934463681887 [google.com]

      please take the time to watch this video.
      What everyone should know about monsanto and the ill will they do to our world.
    • Re:Pure Evil (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Missing_dc (1074809) on Monday April 14, 2008 @08:46AM (#23061866)
      The parent post is not troll, just because someone feels passionately about something does not make them wrong. Those who would suppress others free speech in this manner are just a bunch of pussies. The world today is based on greed and violence. The Monsanto guys have more money and power than we can ever hope to attain through non-evil means that the only other option to stop them would appear to be the quick and easy violence method.

      Most of the things Monsanto does are vile, like sueing farmers who have never touched their products for having GMO grain when mother nature took the liberty of cross pollinating from another field.

      I am open to disccussion on this.

      I was in almost complete agreeance with the parent post until the last line. What the Nazis did was on a different level; a very different level, and to the best of my knowledge, was not motivated by greed.
      • Re:Pure Evil (Score:5, Informative)

        by vil3nr0b (930195) on Monday April 14, 2008 @08:54AM (#23061924)
        Agreed. Obviously the parent did not have parents who had a farm. There are very few small farmers left. By this I am talking about those farming less than 2,000 acres. The number one rule for small farmers is not to get in bed with these fucks and any other person trying to sell magic products. They control seed prices with a strong arm and the same goes for farmers stuck selling chickens to Tyson.
        • What I've learned (Score:5, Interesting)

          by BCGlorfindel (256775) <klassenk@nOsPaM.brandonu.ca> on Monday April 14, 2008 @11:07AM (#23063754) Journal
          By this I am talking about those farming less than 2,000 acres. The number one rule for small farmers is not to get in bed with these fucks

          I heard a lot about the things Monsanto was doing, and growing up on a small farm(well under 2k acres) I was pretty upset. The next time I was back home to talk with my dad I asked him what he thought of the nasty things they did. He usually doesn't hesitate to criticize big entities that are hurting farmers like himself, so I expected an ear full. Much to my surprise the earful I got was about all the people protesting against companies like Monsanto on the grounds of them hurting small farmers. He reminded me that if farmers couldn't make more money with Monsanto's seeds they wouldn't use them. My mind immediately started forming all the usual rebuttals like massive input costs and price control and stopped when I remembered that guys farming small farms are just as smart as me. It reminded me the reason I brought the whole thing up with my dad was to get a more informed opinion. Intelligent farmers, with excellent business skills and a more complete understanding of the economics of farming make decisions that are good for their bottom line. For better or worse, Monsanto's round-up ready varieties are a very profitable product for farmers, large and small alike. There are other reasons to criticize Monsanto, but crushing small farms isn't one of them.
      • by bhima (46039) *
        Maybe you should look into the wide scale looting the Germans perpetrated during the second world war. Not all the people that participated in the violence, destruction, and looting that went on in the war were rabid Jew hating sociopaths. Otherwise I agree with you statements⦠the post wasnâ(TM)t a troll.
    • Re:Pure Evil (Score:5, Informative)

      by mh1997 (1065630) on Monday April 14, 2008 @09:25AM (#23062308)

      Remember the Monarch Butterflies? This company pursued research out in the open, without any environmental safeguards, and killed a large portion of the Monarch Butterfly population in recent years.
      Wrong! The monarch caterpillers eat milkweed and only milkweed. Monarch butterflies only lay eggs on milkweed. (http://www.gpnc.org/monarch.htm) If anyone is killing the monarch butterfly, it is the average person that mows their lawn and pulls the weeds in that lawn. Monsanto modified corn to kill pests of various kinds and the monarch butterfly was reported incorrectly by the media to be one of those pests. The only pests that would be killed were those that ate the gm corn. Or I guess we could back the environmentally friendly crop dusting that has a tendency to kill birds, dogs, cats, mice, bugs, people, etc. that happen to be under the plane while it is dropping chemicals that drift with the wind. Are there problems with gm corn, I don't have all the answers, but the killing of monarch butterflies is not one of the problems.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by gardenermike (942420)
        Milkweed grows in weedy areas, such as fencerows around farms. Monsanto engineered corn to be toxic to insects by splicing in DNA for a toxin from a bacterium known as Bacillus thuringiensis [wikipedia.org]. The pollen in the corn also happens to be toxic, and since corn is wind-pollinated, that pollen ends up all over everything around, including said milkweeds in fencerows. It's been doing a number on butterfly populations. The grandparent is correct, and the parent is just ignorant of the cause of the problem.
        • by mh1997 (1065630)

          ...the parent is just ignorant of the cause of the problem.

          New York Times: Monday, April 14, 2008

          Genetically modified corn poses a ''negligible'' risk to monarch butterflies, according to a package of six papers that will soon be published in a scientific journal.

          The papers, the most comprehensive peer-reviewed publications on this issue, could lay to rest one of the biggest controversies over genetically modified crops.

          ''I don't think there's a need to consider monarchs at risk due to this technolo

      • Re:Pure Evil (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Jewfro_Macabbi (1000217) on Monday April 14, 2008 @01:28PM (#23066314) Homepage
        "Or I guess we could back the environmentally friendly crop dusting that has a tendency to kill birds, dogs, cats, mice, bugs, people, etc. that happen to be under the plane while it is dropping chemicals that drift with the wind."

        We don't need that - and we don't need Monsanto. We don't need any pesticides. I farm also - successfully and without pesticides. The supposed need for these chemicals relates to POOR farming technique. Planting an entire two acre field with one crop is poor farming. If any pest or disease has a harsh effect on that crop the farmer is wiped out (see Irish potato famine). The correct method is planting twenty types of plant in that one field. Then even if pests and disease wipe out five of your corn varieties - you still successfully harvest the other fifteen.

        It's really quite simple. The best and most successful farming methods do not scale well into large corporate uni-crop farms.
    • Re:Pure Evil (Score:4, Informative)

      by crashfrog (126007) <crashfrog@gmailHORSE.com minus herbivore> on Monday April 14, 2008 @09:31AM (#23062370) Homepage
      The problem is, the parts of your post that aren't just your opinion simply aren't true. The business about monarch butterflies is a myth, an urban legend.

      It doesn't even make ecological sense. Butterflies weren't exposed to the bT toxin in corn pollen because they don't eat corn pollen, it's well-known that milkweed is the food source for monarchs.

      There's not a single serious entomologist - crop or otherwise - who puts any credence in the "Monsanto is killing teh butterflies!" nonsense. It's been universally discredited.

      For those not aware, Monsanto has been avidly continuing to research ways to ensure that crops will die and not reproduce.

      Right - as a safety protocol. I mean, it's amazing - the very same post where you complain about the possibilities and dangers of GM genes entering the wild, and Monsanto comes up with a way to allay that concern - and to you, that's just more evidence that they're "evil."

      This company is messing around with the very code of life itself.

      And so were the meso-American farmers who originally created corn, 7500 years ago. You don't seem to bat an eye when pre-industrial peoples are doing it for profit - or maybe you're just, as is indicated, completely ignorant about the history of crop husbandry and genetics - but the minute modern people are doing it for profit, suddenly that's "evil."

      You're a reactionary, ignorant luddite.

      An example might be getting rid of Dengue Fever, or the elimination of Malaria, etc.

      How about feeding people? Starvation is the root cause of the top five causes of death, worldwide. It kills far, far more people than those two diseases. Combined.

      We're talking genetics here.

      Well, I am. God only knows what the fuck you're on about, but it certainly has no basis in scientific, genetic reality.
      • Re:Pure Evil (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Mr. Slippery (47854) <tms@infOPENBSDamous.net minus bsd> on Monday April 14, 2008 @10:39AM (#23063308) Homepage

        Butterflies weren't exposed to the bT toxin in corn pollen because they don't eat corn pollen, it's well-known that milkweed is the food source for monarchs.

        And of course corn pollen conveniently stays on corn plants, and never blows through the air to land milkweed.

        Does it do so often enough to present a hazard to monarchs? I don't know. But your contention that it "doesn't even make ecological sense" is unwarranted.

        Right - as a safety protocol.

        A "safety" protocol that threatens to wipe out neighboring crops. Here I am growing organic corn, saving seed, doing things the wholesome old-fashioned way, when a bunch of Terminator pollen blows from your field across mine. Next season all those seeds I saved, don't sprout.

        Yeah, that's safety.

        GM crops should simply not be grown in the open air. You want to grow 'em, fine, so long as you manage to keep the pollen contained under biohazard protocols in a greenhouse

        And so were the meso-American farmers who originally created corn, 7500 years ago

        Completely different. Selective breeding does not introduce new information into a species' genome.

        And I'll note that all that selective breeding took place without patents.

        The mendacity of Monsanto, et. al. is evident from their differing stories about how unique GM crops are. When safety concerns come up, it's "hey, this is just corn! Nothing special, shouldn't even be specially labeled. We produced it by means not significantly different than the selective breeding used for all of history."

        But when it's time to apply for patents, it's "this is our invention! Nothing like it has ever existed before! It it so unique and precious that the federal government should use force to prevent anyone else from using it without our permission!"

        How about feeding people?

        Great idea. Best way to do that is to let developing nations grow native crops for local consumption. The solution to hunger requires food sovereignty [foodfirst.org], not patented GM crops of questionable safety grown for the profit of agribusiness giants.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by drinkypoo (153816)

        How about feeding people? Starvation is the root cause of the top five causes of death, worldwide. It kills far, far more people than those two diseases. Combined.

        There is far more than enough food in the world to feed people already.

        If Monsanto wanted to feed the world, they could do that more effectively by producing crops that didn't have built-in problems.

        What Monsanto wants is to sell roundup and steal people's land. That's pretty much the major goals (apparently.) Monsanto is actually not the only company making the stuff but they are the largest. They produce roundup-ready crops and then sell the pesticide to go with it. Once you're using chemical fertiliz

    • by witherstaff (713820) on Monday April 14, 2008 @09:52AM (#23062648) Homepage

      Some reporters at fox news found strong evidence that the Monsanto BGH hormone to make cow's produce more milk was pushed through too quickly. They tried to report on it, Monsanto threatened to sue. Fox pulled the report before the air and set about having their reporters change the story. Finally the reporters were told to lie outright, they refused. Hilarity followed with the courts ruling that corporate media has no legal obligation to tell the truth.

      There has been ongoing lawsuit coverage [foxbghsuit.com] and other related issues.

      Monsanto reminds me of the Ag firm in the Clooney movie Michael Clayton .

  • by Rogerborg (306625) on Monday April 14, 2008 @08:19AM (#23061662) Homepage
    Darth Cheney will pwn your country and make you buy [grain.org].
  • You mean like the RIAA/MPAA?
  • Hire me (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 14, 2008 @08:23AM (#23061686)
    Although I do think modifying crops to prevent offspring is not a nice thing to do, I do think nothing forbids the
    farmers from hiring me to "crack the copy protection" (male sterility [in plants] isn't that hard to circumvent these days). Now if they offer me a better job compared to the current situation in research (shouldn't be to hard), I am all in for it.

    waiting for your offers,

    a biotechnologist.
  • by canUbeleiveIT (787307) on Monday April 14, 2008 @08:27AM (#23061716)
    I suggest checking out the documentary "King Corn."

    The problem is mostly farm policy, which--like Social Security--seems to be too complicated a problem for our legislators to do anything about.
    • by bhima (46039) *
      Last week's Bill Moyer's Journal also touched on this⦠more than $15 billion in "wasteful, unnecessary, or redundant expenditures" that have flowed from Washington to America's agribusinesses.
  • by filesiteguy (695431) <kai@perfectreign.com> on Monday April 14, 2008 @08:29AM (#23061726) Homepage
    I often wondered why it is that a milk manufacturer who doesn't use BST (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bovine_somatotropin) in their product has to put a label that states something to the effect of "there's no scientific difference between cows treated with BST and those who aren't").

    The fact that a company can force a manufacturer to put a disclaimer on their product for NOT using the drug is really scary.

  • 'Some compare Monsanto's hard-line approach to Microsoft's zealous efforts to protect its software from pirates. At least with Microsoft the buyer of a program can use it over and over again. But farmers who buy Monsanto's seeds can't even do that.'

    Microsoft's approach has been far from zealous. If anything it is deliberately lax. The whole "One of your employees has installed unlicensed Microsoft software. Sign a long term contract with yearly fees and we'll forgive you." thing needs people who are used to
  • by Anonymous Coward
    See The World according to Monsanto [google.com], an excellent French documentary (in English) for another in-depth look.
  • Castle Law (Score:5, Funny)

    by Space (13455) on Monday April 14, 2008 @08:44AM (#23061852)
    Texas has the "Castle Law" stating that a person can defend their home, vehicle, or workplace with deadly force if they feel threatened. I wonder if Texas farmers can shoot lawyers on sight based on this law? ...seriously officer he came right at me with a briefcase...
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 14, 2008 @08:47AM (#23061868)
    This has been reported in several newspapers over the last few years.

    An important financial aspect that is very much overlooked with this Monasanto thug, is the thousands of dollars Monsanto expects famrers to pay when say a neighbouring field contaminates the fields of another farmer. Monsanto demands the contaminated farmer pay for the removal of these GM plants, even though the farmer is not at fault for these invading plants into his own land.

    How is this for an equivalent example?: What company forceably installs it's software onto your computer network and then demands you pay to remove it form all areas of that same network or they will sue you. They don't even tell you were all portions of the software is located in your network but if they inspect, without warrant, and find any remaining portions they will sue you.
  • by neutrino38 (1037806) on Monday April 14, 2008 @08:52AM (#23061912) Homepage Journal

    There is a French Journalist Marie Monique ROBIN who wrote a book [amazon.fr] on Monsanto and its GMO Products. There was a TV documentary done by the same person. I watched it.

    I must say that if I am rather favorable to controlled GMO use, the way monsanto designs their product and their method are frightening. Even if the documentary has a strong anti-GMO bias, the objection (on food safety law and on incomplete studies) are more than troubling.

    This is much worse than Microsoft. It may be necessary to investagate deeply in Monsanto's practices and sanction the abuse in order to save the very GMO technology. These guys are defnitly bad.

  • F.Y.I.: (Score:4, Informative)

    by TripMaster Monkey (862126) on Monday April 14, 2008 @08:54AM (#23061938)
    An excellent resource documenting the myriad evils of Monsanto can be found here [aye.net].
  • The problem with suing copyright violators is that copyrights last too long. Patents are issued for 3 years. They can be extended over and over for maybe 18 years. Usually they expire much sooner. They hardly prevent the innovation in research the way copyrights prevent innovation in arts. This is knee-jerk. And it's the first time in 10 years that I am considering switching my home page from Slashdot to something else. Maybe some site with news on it.
  • 1. company invests billions in developing a wheat strain that grows in the desert, or orange rice with vitamin a in it, etc.

    2. poor people get a hold of the crop, and grow it to feed themselves, but don't repay the company

    do you force them to pay, and they starve? or do let your investment fizzle? how do you pour money into a venture which has a moral hazard attached to it?

    the answer is simple, and taken straight form medical research: you only invest in research which guarantees a return. what do i mean? you spent trillions on heart attack medication, because most people having heart attacks (and are willing to treat them) are overfed overpaid rich people. meanwhile, you completely ignore malaria, which kills millions every year, because the only people who die from that are poor

    so monsanto will invest billions in wheat, because wheat is primarily grown in rich northern climes, and will completely ignore tropical foods, as those crops are grown in poor countries

    sorry africa, so gm yams for you

    compare the prevalence of various diseases according to socioeconomic status, and you will find a direct correlation to the amount of money that goes into medical research into those diseases

    now compare the prevalance of various food crops according to the GDP of the countries they are grown in. you will also find a direct correlation to the amount of $ into the biotech research in those food crops

    this is the world we live in. morals and money don't mix. for those of you involved in medical or biotech research, please notice where your progress actually falls in the grand scheme of things. you serve filthy lucre, not the progress of mankind. the poor, the ones who can benefit the most from medical and food crop research, are served last, and can only hope for trickle down progress after many generations

    in such a way, we are allowed to look very poorly on ip lawyers. yes, progress is served by the ip they protect, but progress only for the rich who can afford to pay for those expensive fruits (literally) of progress. but frankly, shaming people will not reverse this truth about the world we live in. a sense of high and mighty moral superiority does not pay the bills

    however, it does make you immortal in terms the fame one achieves if one could find a way to serve the poor instead of serving the rich. we remember martin luther king, and mahatma gandhi. we don't remember the peers of those great men in the 20th century who served filthy lucre instead. i didn't say the way was easy, or cheap. but whoever can find a way to make it work, and give us wheat that grows in the desert, or rice with vitamin a in it, for free, for the poor, without any ip strings attached, will earn the accolades of the ages, if not a fancy BMW in the driveway

    in 100 years, your nice house in the suburbs and your fancy bmw will be rust and rotting floorboards, and you will be a bunch of ash or bones. all that will live on is your name. what will you do with your time, who will you serve?
  • by throatmonster (147275) on Monday April 14, 2008 @10:20AM (#23063042)
    There is currently a bill in the Missouri (USA) house, obviously written by Monsanto lobbyists, and brought to the floor by their bought-off legislators. The bill specifically prohibits organic milk producers from being able to label their product as BGH-Free, but fails to force any BGH-based milk from labeling their products as being produced with this substance.

    Sorry, but that's evil. As a consumer, regardless of whether I like BGH or hate it, I have a right to know. There are enough people concerned about the possible effects of BGH that they want to steer clear. But if Monsanto gets their way with this bill, how will a Missouri consumer be able to know?

    This is just one example of Monsanto's evil-ness. There are similar bills in other states in the US that are written by Monsanto lobbyists as well. It needs to be stopped. Yes, I've written my house representatives and told them I am against the bill.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by will_die (586523)
      Problem with that is that BGH, Bolvine growth hormone, is a nature product found in all cow milk. There is no way to make BGH-free milk.
      Now if they are talking about rBGH, recombinant BGH, which is injected in cattle to increase milk rate the reason for the law is to prevent consumer fear based on ignorance. If I put two glasses of milk in front of you, with from cows with rBGH injections and one without there is no way you can scientifically tell the difference.
      The reason for the laws are that people

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