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March Against Monsanto claims victory for creating world’s largest agribusiness company

March Against Monsanto claims victory for creating world’s largest agribusiness company

Pesticide and pharmaceutical giant Bayer announced that it would be acquiring seed giant Monsanto. Now you would think this would make MAM howling mad. You would think that. Instead, they are cheering it and counting it as a victory.

Obviously, we should take a brief pause to celebrate our efforts. One has to assume Monsanto, one of the most powerful corporations in the world, probably wouldn’t have curled up and allowed themselves to be gobbled up by Bayer if it weren’t for the amazing efforts of millions of people all over the globe.

What part of consolidation don’t these dipshits understand? While still not commanding a monopoly of the market, they will control sales of 29 percent of the world’s seeds and 24 percent of its pesticides. It will create the largest agribusiness in the world. Let me repeat that…. Bayer’s acquisition of Monsanto will create the largest agribusiness in the world.  So yeah MAM! Pat yourselves on the back for your victory.

Monsanto held firm on an earlier offer, but Bayer kept upping the ante until Monsanto couldn’t say no. The $66 billion deal (I believe the actual number is $66.6 billion) is all cash. Since Bayer kept upping the ante and wound up paying about $22/share more than Monsanto’s current price, how toxic can they be?

The most surprising aspect of the merger is the fact that Bayer would be willing to take on the global disdain that many hold for Monsanto.

Sure, if it makes them money you idiots. Why would a company pay $66 billion for a company whose annual profits hover around $15 billion? The Wall Street Journal reports

Bayer plans to pay $128 a share for Monsanto in an all-cash transaction, up from its latest offer last week of $127.50 a share, the companies said. The price represents a roughly 5% increase over Bayer’s original offer in May of $122 a share. Including debt, the deal is valued at about $66 billion.

Oh, and check out this idiocy

We have exposed their corruption, we have made them lose millions, we have been the reason a 1/3 of their workforce has been laid off and we are the reason the word “Monsanto” is the equivalent to “toxic poison” for much of the world.

They’ve gone from totally nuts to totally delusional. These fuckers live in their own world. I don’t think they have any concept how the real world works.

The WSJ:

Tensions have escalated further because global crop prices have fallen for three straight years, squeezing profits and forcing the seed and agriculture industries to cut costs and trim their workforces. Monsanto said last year it would lay off 12 percent of its employees, or 2,600 jobs.*

They are also cheering 2,600 people losing their jobs? These people are vile.

Not all antis are as gleeful. Dave Murphy, the executive director of Food Democracy Now! was quoted on the site EcoWatch

Now the most evil company in Europe has absorbed the most evil company in America. Monsanto and Bayer’s new corporate motto should be ‘Killing bees and butterflies for fun and profit.’

And Murphy’s motto should be, “Being an idiot for a living.” 

Murphy’s take is more in line with most anti sentiment. Ronnie Cummins, the anti-vax head knucklehead over at the Organic Consumers Association also weighed in. He said something like, “BIG POISON! BIG POISON! Arrgghhh” as he scratched at his measles.

That said, the deal is not a done deal.  According to the WSJ, they still have a lot of regulatory hurdles to get through in the U.S. and the Europe.

The deal is likely to warrant intense scrutiny from American and German antitrust regulators, who will assess whether the merger would unfairly lead to higher prices for farmers worldwide. The new company would preside over roughly a quarter of the world’s seed and pesticide supplies.

Regulatory crackdowns have busted several high-profile mega-mergers this year, including a $150 billion deal between pharmaceutical giants Pfizer and Allergan.

Justice Department investigators have in recent years launched probes into “possible anticompetitive practices” in America’s Monsanto-led seed industry, though a formal investigation was closed in 2012 without pursuing charges.

The EU opened an investigation into the merger of Dow and DuPont this year and the merger of Swiss seed maker Syngenta and China National Chemical Corp. is also on their radar. The Monsanto/Bayer merger makes it the 5th agricultural merger this year alone. Others have included John Deere/Precision Planting, and Potash Corp./Agrium. All these mergers are coming at a fast past are alarming regulators, not to mention, farmers.

Now, about that John Deere merger. Precision Planting is owned by Monsanto and the Justice Department filed a lawsuit against the merger back in August. Renata Hesse, the head of the antitrust division said, “If this deal were allowed to proceed, Deere would dominate the market for high-speed precision planting systems and be able to raise prices and slow innovation at the expense of American farmers who rely on these systems,

If all these mergers go through, around 75 percent of the global agricultural/pesticide and agricultural services industry could end up in the hands of three companies.  Farmers fear lack of competition would raise prices and that concern is a valid one, especially in a time of flat crop prices cutting into their incomes. The concern is so great that Iowa Republican senator and chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee Charles Grassley has slated a hearing for Sept. 20 to question seed-industry executives and experts.

Grassley said the hearing will focus on the transactions currently being reviewed by antitrust regulators, and the current trend in consolidation of the seed and chemical industries.

The seed and chemical industries are critical to agriculture and the nation’s economy, and Iowans are concerned that this sudden consolidation in the industry could cause rising input costs in an already declining agriculture economy.

And here’s a question. What about the name Monsanto? Good question. Glad you asked. Here we have a bit of confusion. Monsanto says the deal is a merger. Bayer says it’s an acquisition. What’s the difference you ask?

Well a merger is where two companies form a new company. An acquisition is when one firm buys out another and the bought company ceases to exist.

Which will it be? Hmmm. Given Monsanto’s negatives in the PR department, I will go out on a limb, with my limited knowledge, and say this will be an acquisition. Monsanto will be folded into Bayer and Monsanto will cease to exist.


* Here’s what I never got about corporation finances. Look at the above quote. Monsanto didn’t say they were losing money. They said their profits were squeezed. What exactly does that mean? They’re still making money, just not as much as they’d like so, so laying off people seems like a real dick move. In the first quarter of this year their net income was $1.06 billion compared to last year when it was $1.42 billion.  Did they really have to lay off 2,000+ people? Yeah, I know shareholders,  blah, blah blah. But still. This just goes to show that as benign as Monsanto is in relation to other corporations, they’re still a corporation and they act like one when it comes to money. I don’t know this is a fact, but I’m assuming that the execs didn’t take a pay cut during this downturn.

The suits may be nice people, but when it comes to profits, their loyalties lie with the company and not the people who work for it. That’s why I never hopped on the Monsanto bandwagon and bought a shirt or hat etc. as a poke in the eye to the anti-gmo crowd.

Biotech industry files for bankruptcy

Biotech industry files for bankruptcy

Note: This is re-write and update from a 2013 post.

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Days after a group of 107 Nobel Laureates published a letter telling Greenpeace to knock it off with their anti-GMO nonsense, the biotechnology industry filed for bankruptcy, citing their misguided buying everybody off, scheme .

At a hastily called press conference, industry representative and Monsanto CEO Hugh Grant, told assembled reporters

I mean, do you know how many people are in the Nation Academy of Sciences alone? Something like 2,000. So, a few million to a scientific body here and a few million to every independent scientist in the world there, and it begins to add up.” That’s not even including  having to pay those thousands of keyboard jockeys who defend us on internet comment boards. The straw that broke the financial camel’s back were the Nobel laureates. Those bastards didn’t come cheap.”

Anti-gmo activists were left slack-jawed. “We just lost our boogeyman,” one activist lamented. “It’s not fair.”

Asked what was next for the bankrupt industry, Executive VP and CTO, Rob Fraley said it was too early to tell, but excitedly suggested they were thinking of getting into the organic farming business.  “Man, do you know what a cash cow that racket is? I was in Whole Foods the other day and they get like 4 bucks for a freakin’ tomato. Sweet. We’ve gotta get in on that action.”

Hours after the announcement, Organic Consumer’s Association honcho Ronnie Cummins and GM Watch honchette, Claire Robinson had to be talked down off a Maharishi University rooftop after Jeffrey Smith pleaded with them saying, “Cmon guys. We can still make stuff up about beneficial technology.”

In a related story, Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor said she planned to retire from the Court and buy the Bronx.

Guest Post: GMO labels. The purpose is…?

Guest Post: GMO labels. The purpose is…?

Today’s guest “post” comes from friend of the Contrarian, mem-somerville. She’s created a great Storify. As the campaign for labeling heats up,  the true goal of the Right-to-Know labeling crowd is becoming more readily transparent. Through the use of screenshots, she shows the antis in their own words, how their goal is elimination of GMOS and not just a simple label. It’s a beautiful piece of work.

 

What if a corporation isn’t evil incarnate? A progressive’s dilemma.

What if a corporation isn’t evil incarnate? A progressive’s dilemma.

confusedguyIt all used to be so easy. There were the good guys, us, and there were the bad guys, them. Then I meandered into the issue of GMOs. That’s when everything became complicated. I support the use of transgenics for our food supply, simply because I trust the science behind it and because all my research has led me in that direction. What bothers me is the idea that at least tacitly, I find myself in agreement with and sometimes defending corporations.

I hate corporations. They’re greedy, treat their workers like shit and have too much influence in our political system. All in all, aren’t very good citizens. Yet I find myself at times sort of defending corporations like Monsanto. I hate that.

And it gets worse. I agree with opinion pieces written by conservatives and folks from conservative and libertarian think tanks and op-eds by industry trade group representatives. It pains me to agree with a guy like Henry Miller who was a pimp for the tobacco companies, but on this issue he is right.

It all makes me uneasy and I can’t very well forward these articles to friends. They would immediately dismiss them as industry propaganda.

But here’s the thing. The fact that they may be conservative, libertarian and running dog lackeys of the oppressive bourgeoisie, they are actually correct on the issue of GMOs. And I can understand why many people don’t trust them.  If I didn’t know what I know, I wouldn’t trust them either.

These guys may have motives that are less than altruistic, but they are, in a rare instance, using facts and evidence to bolster their case. What are the odds?

I think it’s because the science is the science. It’s solid, it’s known. They don’t have to buy off scientists. They don’t have to spin it. It’s a gift to industry pimps since they don’t have to lie. Of course they don’t lie, but overstate. They overplay their hand as corporations and their apologists do.  New and Improved! This will save the world! It’s called advertising.

But, it still makes me feel queasy.

Yeah, Monsanto has a checkered past. They have since reinvented themselves. As far as evil corporations go, there are worse and more successful with more clout. I mean hell, how bad can they be if they were voted the number one place for LGBT people to work by the Human Rights Campaign? Apparently, it’s a great place to work.

In a blog post over the Real Food blog, Marc Brazeau correctly points out the absurdity of the anti claims about the power of Monsanto.

Let’s put aside the fact that this line of thinking would mean that while fossil fuel behemoths Exxon Mobil (market cap:$394.83B), Chevron (market cap:$215.45B) and BP (market cap:$150.07B) (total: $760.35B) have been completely stymied in their efforts to buy the scientific consensus they desire on climate change, but a medium large company like Monsanto (market cap: $57.43B) has been able to manipulate tens of thousands of scientists performing thousands of studies for three decades with no whistleblowers resulting in a scientific consensus that has been bent completely to their will. 

And that was written by a guy who lives in Portland.

Moving on…

Then there are industry claims labeling will increase costs of food. I’ll admit, I was wary of their claims, my natural reaction to industry claims. Anti-gmo activists claim it’s a minimal cost since it’s just a label. But I have read some non-industry explanations that detail all that is involved for what antis call a simple label. One of the best explanations was this one, a blog written by Jennie Schmidt, a farmer and registered dietician who laid it out in detail on her blog, The Foodie Farmer. It bears out the food industry claims.

Again, it doesn’t seem they are lying.

Can you say cognitive dissidence?

Now, none of this means I’ve fallen in love with corporations. Most are still exploitive and greedy. But sometimes corporations aren’t the epitome of evil. Monsanto seems to be one of those. I’m sure they’ve used what clout they have that isn’t affordable to the average citizen. Do they have lobbyists? Sure, but so does the Organic Industry. But that doesn’t make them completely evil.

A few years back Monsanto was implicated in a bribery scandal in Indonesia. According to the company, take it for what it’s worth, it was the company that brought the bribery to the attention of the feds. The bribery was uncovered in an internal audit. The people involved were fired and Monsanto willingly paid the fine from the SEC.

That doesn’t mean Monsanto is all unicorns and puppies shitting rainbows. But most companies would fight the allegations and try and cover it up.

And this nonsense about wanting to control the seed market. Maybe they do. But what is the organic industry doing by denigrating the conventional and farmers who use gmo crops? They’re trying to gain market share. They want to be the dominant food system. When have you seen companies like Monsanto, et al., denigrate organic farming?

The burning question for us all then becomes how – and how quickly – can we move healthy, organic products from a 4.2% market niche, to the dominant force in American food and farming? The first step is to change our labeling laws. —Ronnie Cummins, Organic Consumers Association

In an age when we are trying to get corporations to become better corporate citizens it seems attacking one that is at least making an attempt to not be completely evil is counterproductive.

Bad behavior is not exclusive to faceless corporations. I wrote about a survey done a few years back by Urban Habitat that found

 in a 2011 survey of 500 organic growers in California found, “only 7.5 percent were in favor of labor standards. Forty-seven percent felt strongly that organic standards should not include labor standards and over 50 percent felt that organic certification should not require growers to provide workers with health insurance, paid sick leave, paid vacation, or the right to unionize.”

Where is the outrage from the anti crowd? Oh, groups like the Organic Consumers Association, one of the leading Monsanto demonizers, pay lip service to improving farm workers’ lives, but where does most of their money go? Certainly not to this issue.

Treatment of farm workers is a real world issue with real victims. The anti-gmo fight is an imaginary one based on imaginary fears built around an imaginary boogeyman. Back in 1951, writer and social commentator Eric Hoffer wrote in True Believer: Thoughts on the Nature of Mass Movement

Mass movements can rise and spread without belief in a God, but never without belief in a devil. Usually the strength of a mass movement is proportionate to the vividness and tangibility of its devil. Like an ideal deity, an ideal devil is omnipotent and omnipresent.

So, maybe I’m getting soft in my old age, or maybe not. I still have an innate distrust of corporations but less knee jerk. The left rightly made fun of Reagan when he made the Freudian slip, “Facts are stupid things,” and correctly recoiled when Karl Rove was quoted as saying  “We create our own reality.” I see the anti-gmo crowd as embracing those very ideas.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Food Democracy and Earth Open Source: Anti-GMO punks

Food Democracy and Earth Open Source: Anti-GMO punks

Last week I followed a little exchange on the Twitter between Biofortified’s Anastasia Bodnar and some punk from the anti-gmo activist group Food Democracy who Bodnar identified as Dave Murphy, the founder and Executive Director of Food Democracy Now!

It all started innocently enough. Bodnar had watched a Kickstarter promo for a documentary The:SEED: The Untold Story. She thought it looked liked a cool doc, but questioned why they included Jeffrey Smith since he didn’t  have any seed saving expertise.

 

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That’s when Murphy responded to her tweet making accusations against her.

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In her Storify post which I suggest you read before reading any further, Bodnar explains she is very open that she’s works for the USDA and is very upfront that her personal Twitter account are own words and not those of her employer, yet this punk was trying to make stir up some controversy where none exists in an attempt to discredit her and get her into trouble with her employer.

She responded by saying

I’m not sure why Dave would think I was speaking for the USDA, since my Twitter profile (and every other social media profile that I have) has a clear disclaimer. So I just pointed out my disclaimer and clarified I wasn’t attacking Jeffery Smith.

I only know Anastasia in a digital sense. In all my interactions with her she has been nothing but the nicest person. In fact, I think my rough and tumble approach to this issue makes her wince, because it’s not her style. Basically, she’s nice and doesn’t want to offend and I’m a longshoreman who’s spoiling for a fight. That’s why I think that Murphy is a punk. Anti-gmo people know who she is, including Nancy Murphy. She doesn’t need me to defend her, she can do that very well on her own, but I feel I need to weigh in.

To make a long story short, if you read her account it looked like he was trying to get her in trouble with her employer by cc:ing  their conversation to the USDA twitter account.

They’re ideological jackals who see niceness and a knowledgeable and reasonable approach to this issue as a weakness.

When Bodnar’s partner at Biofortified, Karl Haro von Mogel, a made up name if there ever was one, came to her defense and suggested Murphy come by Biofortified for a discussion, there were CRICKETS. No response.

And then another punk group, Earth Open Source weighed in

bodnar-clip3It was at this point that I wanted to go longshoreman on these punks. They’re nasty little pricks and really do need to have their asses kicked in person. But I doubt they would have the guts to say such things to Bodnar’s face. They don’t have the science on their side so they go after people and try to discredit them.

But, getting back to Karl’s invitation. It makes sense that Nancy Murphy ignored his invitation to a discussion. That’s the M.O. of the anti-gmo groups. They’re scared of  going toe-to-toe with those who really know their stuff.

Look at what happened earlier this year when floater Jeffrey Smith and the litigious Whiplash Seralini were slated to appear at a CATO Institute debate. As long as they knew it was Karl and Anastasia, they were in. The minute Anastasia had to bow out and was replaced by Kevin Folta, they both cancelled and ran away like scared little girls.

These punks, frauds and charlatans can’t stand the heat and that’s why I am calling them out. If they are so sure of their nonsense, I want them to agree to an online public debate on Google Hangouts with Karl, Kevin and Anastasia, if they are willing. I am calling out Dave “Nancy” Murphy, a representative from Earth Open Source and Claire Robinson from GMWatch to engage in a public, real-time discussion on Google.

We’ll schedule it for sometime in February 2014. That should give me enough time to figure out the Hangout thing. I’ll host and moderate, unless someone else wants to do it.

I don’t think it will happen. These punks don’t have the balls to engage in real time in a public forum.

Jeffrey Smith to broadcast live anti-GMO freakshow on the internet.

Jeffrey Smith to broadcast live anti-GMO freakshow on the internet.

Mark you calendars now. The Yogic flying dancer teacher and self styled gmo expert brings his sideshow act to the internet. October 25-27 .   All your favorite anti-gmo cartoon characters will be  there. Click to play video

 

Norman Borlaug and Vandana Shiva were walking along a beach…

Norman Borlaug and Vandana Shiva were walking along a beach…

Norman Borlaug* and Vandana Shiva were walking along a beach when they came upon a bottle. Borlaug reached down, picked it up and opened it.

A genie appeared and thanked them for releasing him. He was so grateful that he offered to grant the two any wish they wanted.

He turned to Borlaug and asked him what he wanted. Borlaug didn’t miss a beat and said, “I wish there was  a new solution to help agriculture advance and help feed the poor of the world and increase nutrition in areas that lack it.”

The genie winced and said, “Well, I don’t have the power to create the solution,  but I can give you a scientific tool that will help.  It’s called genetically modified organisms.” Borlaug was thrilled, thanked the genie and walked away smiling.

He then turned to Shiva and asked what she wanted. Shiva  furrowed her brow and then perked up and said excitedly,  “My  neighbors get better yields with gmos than my organic farm. I want you to destroy my neighbor’s  farm.”

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