Sunday, February 13, 2011

Monsanto

I have a favorite "Eeevil" corporation ("Eeevil" must always be said with a pinky finger touching the side of your mouth). They are so evil, that they come up as the number two answer when searching google for "evil corporation" (The number one answer was "15 evil corporations in science fiction", which doesn't count, does it?)


The first product Monsanto  made was saccharin for Coca Cola in 1901. They also supplied all the caffeine for the coke company, which at the time was being trialled as a substitute for cocaine.

In 1907 It was one of the first things investigated by the pure food and drug act by researcher Harvey Wiley, who stated  
"Everyone who ate that sweet corn was deceived. He thought he was eating sugar, when in point of fact he was eating a coal tar product totally devoid of food value and extremely injurious to health."  
Unfortunately for Wiley,  he said it to Teddy Roosevelt, who happened to like saccharin and the man's career went down the drain.


The company then expanded to make all kinds of chemicals, like rubber, sulphuric acid, and aspirin.  By the 1940s they were into plastics and synthetic fibers, and had grown to be one of the top ten chemical companies in the US.


By the Vietnam war, they were the main suppliers of DDT and Agent Orange as well as Nutrasweet, various other herbicides, and Bovine Growth Hormone. They also were the main supplier for early LED  devices.




Then in 1982 they genetically modified their first plant cell. Five years later, they were testing entire crops. 


Around 2002 they sold off most of the non-agricultural elements of the company, and reinvented themselves as a biotech company.... An "Eeevil" biotech company.


Their main product at this point is various pesticides, roundup and genetically modified crops that are roundup resistant. Using this combination, they can grow a hell of a lot more crops with a hell of a lot less loss due to pests or weeds. Which, absolutely to their credit, allows farmers to make a hell of a lot more money, and feed a hell of a lot more people, but people are getting worried it might be bringing a bit of hell on earth as well.


You see, their genetically modified crops have little DNA tags in them, letting Monsanto agents know for sure whether the crop originally came from their lab. And they've got a patent on this. So if your buying a lot of roundup for your crops, Monsanto feels that you had better have bought your seeds from them.  


So they start suing any farmers they catch with "their" DNA in their fields, who don't have a Monsanto contract. regardless of whether the farmers kept the seeds from the last crop, or whether the crops cross pollinated with the field across the street.


And the farmers for some reason do not like this. Not one bit.


But wait, it gets worse! Not satisfied with crops, they begin modifying pigs!


As of February 2005, Monsanto has patent claims on breeding techniques for pigs which would grant them ownership of any pigs born of such techniques and their related herds. Greenpeace claims Monsanto is trying to claim ownership on ordinary breeding techniques.[12] Monsanto claims that the patent is a defensive measure to track animals from its system. They furthermore claim their patented method uses a specialized insemination device that requires less sperm than is typically needed. (source)




Someone in the company starts to notice that despite all their donations to The World of Tomorrow in Disneyland,  people just don't like them. So they try do a little image repair with "Golden Rice" which is genetically modified to be more nutritious or something.

That kinda works a little, but now bovine growth hormone becomes a huge problem for them again.

I think at some point the company just threw up its hands and said "Fine... you call me evil, I'll show you evil" And every board member grabs an opera cape, a stovepipe hat and a monocle, and starts to out compete each other on who can be the most diabolical.

Now we got Terminator seeds, huge environmental disasters, Orbital Mind Control lasers....

Ok, I'm kidding about the lasers... but still, for the last several years, I occasionally do a search for what newest bit of "Eeevil" Monsanto has been up to, and so far I have not been disappointed. Aghast, check... Appalled, check.... Disappointed, nope.