Monday, May 17, 2010

In Defense of Monsanto

Let me throw this disclaimer out right off the bat. I do not work for Monsanto, I do not own stock in Monsanto and I really don't have any interest in Monsanto. Having said that I am writing this blog, as a farmer, in support of Monsanto.

Too often I see things written about the big, bad bully called Monsanto. Yes, they are the multi-national corporation that developed Round-up Ready soybeans and corn. For those of you not involved in agriculture, Round-up Ready soybeans and corn were a major technological break through in agriculture. Monsanto developed a gene in corn and soybeans that allowed us to spray the chemical Round-up on those crops without killing them. Round-up is a herbicide that attacks green plant material. Yes, it is the same herbicide you spray on the cracks in your sidewalk.

This advancement allowed us to adopt environmentally friendly farming practices like no-till and has drastically reduced soil loss and fuel use on farms. It has also allowed us to use fewer herbicides on our crops. In short, Round-up technology allows us to grow more food, with less fertilizer, fewer chemicals and less fuel. All-the-while preserving our land in an environmentally friendly manner.

Sounds great doesn't it. Well, there are many "environmental"groups that would muddy the waters and spread false information. They point toward Monsanto's patent on this technology and theorize that they are trying to monopolize the market on the very seed we use to grow your food. That is just not true. Yes, Monsanto is a for profit company and last time I checked this was the United States and we believed in the free market. Monsanto developed this technology and spent millions doing so, they have the right to make money. We farmers have the right not to buy their seed and I suspect in the near future we will have the right to buy the next, better innovation in farming technology. Do you think anyone will feel sorry for Monsanto?

As far as the idea they are cornering the market on seed. I want someone to prove it to me. No, I don't mean in shadowy Internet terms, I mean in real life, solid source terms. It's a conspiracy theory meant to cast doubt over modern farming practices.

Finally, the same shadowy, conspiracy theorists will claim that genetically modified organisms (GMOs) like Round-up Ready products will cause health problems in the future. First, what doesn't cause health problems and second, prove it. I have not seen one shred of credible evidence of any health risk from this technology.

So, I applaud Monsanto and their innovation. They have allowed me to grow more food and save the environment. If you want to go back to farming with heirloom vegetables and organic practices, then more power to you. It is a free country (for now) and we can all run our business as we see fit. Which is all I am really asking for. So if you don't mind I will continue to grow my Round-up Ready soybeans and corn and be a proud producer of the food we all eat.


  1. Glenn, Thank you so much for putting your thoughts down on your blog. I also support the choices of other farmers to grow things organically or through other practices. I work for Monsanto and frequently hear this from farmers but it's different to see it in your own terms where I can also show a few folks -- in fact I was just talking about some of this with someone on twitter so its great timing.

  2. This is very well-put, well-said. I had a similar conversation with someone the other day who had never set foot on a farm. He asked if the farm I'm involved with uses them. When I answered "yes" he seemed shocked and appalled that someone he knows would dabble in such an atrocious thing!

    ...needless to say he's re-evaluating what he believes from the Internet, after talking to me :)

  3. I have been researching this topic for a while, and actually just published an article on pretty much the same thing you did.

    Its good to see that there are other people out there who area actually interested in the truth instead of just mudslinging. Keep up the good work.