This morning a co-worker sent me this article:
In the comments thread, someone pointed out that the author is closely tied to, you guessed it, Monsanto Corporation of Creve Coeur, MO, USA. Instant disregard ensues, of what is otherwise a very reasonable article. Here is my own comment:
This article is carefully and thoughtfully written, and isn’t nearly as invective as some that seek attention by riling the impassioned “eco-foodie” ranks (of which I am a proud and hard-working member). We are so impassioned because we have the luxury to think about what foods we’d like to consume, and about the human species’ deep connection to the land, and what all of this means. We are also impassioned because, unlike Africa, it seems, we do not HAVE this connection to the land. There are very few farmers left in the USA. Granted, the ones who remain are producing a lot of food, though much of it very unhealthy. Basically, food matters, and questions of food justice get people deeply excited. Thank god! There’s still SOMETHING in this society that can get citizens to think about their rights, and demand that they be preserved.
One of the chief “bugaboos” of the “eco-foodie” movement, as I’m sure the author must understand (since he studiously avoided mentioning it’s name) is Monsanto Corporation of Creve Coeur, MO, USA. We get VERY upset about Monsanto, and there are some extremely good reasons to do so, which I’m sure the author and most of the comment-writers are well aware of. I don’t need to go into them because they are so important to the issues in this article that it would take another full article to explain.
Let me just say that the Corporation (Monsanto) has so many immensely troubling practices that the author’s connection to the company makes all of his good points and carefully thought-out lines of reasoning completely unreliable. No self-respecting “eco-foodie” will take a grain of this piece seriously, and that’s truly a shame.
This is not because the “poor” Corporation has gotten a bad rap (that would be an understatement). It is because the Corporation has done a terrible job of corporate citizenship for decades. It profits from practices that are patently unjust (pun intended), and the populace feels this. If we “eco-foodies” got the memo first it’s because we’re educated and well fed enough to pay attention. We understand our privilege enough to wish that all of our fellow creatures get the same benefits from society and the environment that we have enjoyed so much, and that have fed our minds and guided our hearts.
If the Corporation wants us to accept its precise rhetoric and careful logic about international food aid, it will have to do a lot more than encourage one of its stooges to write a nice article for Foreign Policy. It will have to change the way it does business and stop egregiously disrespecting the sanctity of life forms; human, plant, and bacterial.
Start being a better corporate citizen, Monsanto. Demand careful and stringent regulation of GMOs so that you can hope to create some decent ones that don’t destroy all other live in their species. Demand careful research into the safety of GMOs so we stop fearing errant genetic material in the corn, soy, canola and cottonseed in all of the abundant processed commodity crops we are “so fortunate” to get to consume. Stop attacking farmers for the prolificacy of YOUR genetic material. Stop enforcing ridiculous copyright suits that occur because of this prolificacy and hyper-reproductive success. Stop patenting life forms. Stop pretending your pesticides and herbicides are safe. Stop Stop Stop!
And then let’s talk about how to get African farmers fields to be more productive.
Until then, I’m putting my trust in the Slow Food movement, the organic farmer, the permaculturists, all the new gardeners in America, aware eaters everywhere, small farmers everywhere, and in nature itself.
Certainly I’ll trust in these before one, narrowly self-interested, deeply misguided (ASSHOLE!!!!!!) corporation.
(Yes, Monsanto Corporation’s many questionable tactics make me very very very mad.)