Then they sell the farmers the seeds and the herbicides. Moreover, "More than 80% of US corn and more than 90% of soybeans planted each year are attributable to Monsanto and monopoly comes to mind."
They also "control 95 percent of the market for insect and herbicide resistant cotton traits."
Also, Roundup is no longer under patent protections (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roundup_(herbicide)), so farmers can buy roundup from a variety of sources.
> their patented plants
Levering patent law to deny farmers the right to manage their own seed corn is akin to privatizing water tables or charging for oxygen. Sure, it's a great business model, but it's also immoral, evil and hard to see as something that brings us as a global collective to a better place.
From the letter:
> Humans have genetically engineered seeds for 11,000 years, primarily through seed breeding, where we “got rid of” the traits we didn’t want and introduced the traits we did.
That doesn't mean that it's a good idea to do so, without a lot of thought towards the common good. We're down a few hundred species of corns that can be used to make flour -- and among the problems resulting for that is that we don't have as many hardy species that can grow in subarctic regions. Another problem of this "natural" monoculture is vulnerability to insects, pests and diseases.
GMO, in and of itself, isn't evil -- it may be dangerous (messing with biotopes is a risky business) -- and leaving it up to a for-profit multinational seems like an extraordinarily bad idea.
I'm not sure what you're trying to say, I suspect a typo? (I gather the
gist is that there used to be roughly three species of grain in the US,
in the past 50 years -- down from what was introduced with the
colonization some four hundred years ago (note, I'm not being snarky
about the colonization, but AFAIK there didn't "use" to be any grain
grown in most of what is the US today (not sure about California (old
Note, I said corn in my original post (which I gather means the same in
Scottish English, as it does in the Norwegian (almost) homonym) -- I
> The amount of seed diversity that have been introduced by this breeding is actually substantial,
I thought Monsato generally sold Roundup. Are you saying they've
increased the variety of corn (or grain) that is grown in the US
substantially (and how much of that is patent encumbered)?
> Monsanto is more or less combing the earth for diverse varieties of corn.
Sure they are. And they patent it (which is a failing on so many
governmental and international levels I find it painful to think about --
I'm all for cataloguing species and genes, but granting patent on
something you literally found -- that's even worse than software
Now, if all they did was donate some to the world seed bank, and
allow everyone to share in their (non gmo) discoveries -- I'd have no
problem. But the idea that you might be committing a felony by planting a
carrot you bought at the market is revolting.
Sorry, late night! That first line was supposed to say:
> Relatively recently, almost all of the corn grown in the US was from about of 3 the common "immortal" varieties (~40/50 years ago.)
Not 3 types of grain, 3 types of corn. People have been aggressively breeding seed for a long time. Monsanto has offices all over the world and tries to bring the best varieties of corn and breed them into a number of different high performing lines. I know Monsanto breeders feel like the genetic diversity argument is a little silly because they think they introduce a lot of genetic diversity.
>Sure they are. And they patent it (which is a failing on so many governmental and international levels I find it painful to think about -- I'm all for cataloguing species and genes, but granting patent on something you literally found -- that's even worse than software patents).
Typically what's patented is the GMOs, not the corn that is bred traditionally (which is where > 50% of Monsanto's R&D budget goes to.)
>Now, if all they did was donate some to the world seed bank, and allow everyone to share in their (non gmo) discoveries -- I'd have no problem. But the idea that you might be committing a felony by planting a carrot you bought at the market is revolting.
I agree. To my knowledge, it's only been farmers who had an agreement with Monsanto and violated that who have been sued. See the Schmeiser/Monsanto case for an example.
The scientists I also talked to mentioned a 30% overall reduction in herbicide used with round up ready plants. That could definitely be propaganda, and if anyone has any hard facts I can ask anonymously at our weekly meeting and hopefully get answers from our executive team.
"In the pipeline" as in "the stuff that they still don't sell." They'll get better, eventually. Until then, they lobby for the laws like:
Commonly referred to as the “Monsanto Protection Act” where "even if a court were to determine that a particular product might be harmful to human beings or harmful to the environment, the Department of Agriculture could not stop the production of that product once it is in the ground."
"If a biotech crop had already been approved (or deregulated) by the USDA and a court reversed that approval, the provision directed the Secretary of Agriculture to grant temporary deregulation status at the request of a grower or seed producer, to allow growers to continue the cultivation of the crop while legal challenges to the safety of those crops would still be underway."
If a farmer has made an investment in a crop, it has had regulatory approval by the USDA, and the Secretary of Agriculture believes that the crop which has been overturned by the lower courts is not actually a threat, then they may continue production during interim court proceedings. That seems reasonable to me.
It is a repeating marketing pattern to claim "scientists" are "pro gmo" - but many scientists are not pro gmo, nor "anti" gmo, they just do some research in this field and some of them come to results that are not validating monsanto or gmo industry claims.
see e.g. http://www.gmwatch.org/index.php/news/archive/2013/15156-ove...
It is not easy nowadays to do independent research, as the gmo companies are controlling the knowledge market heavily and there is a very high chance that you will be attacked and even lose your fundings or your job if your research might be interpreted as beeing "anti-gmo", no matter what your personal intentions about gmo are - this happened several times.
The "gmos are bad / good" discussion, however, becomes irrelevant looking at the business model of gmo companies - it is much easier to judge from that point of view.
Source? I'm not saying you're lying, but this statement seems made up.
To date Monsanto has genetically modified plants to create products that save money for their customers: farmers. GMOs are the fastest agricultural technology adopted in history (by acreage).
Tellingly, the word "glyphosate" does not appear in it. And the part about the Monsanto Protection Act -- yes, I know that's not its official title -- is just a gem:
protecting [farmers] from emerging state propositions that aren’t based on science or research
... because we've assumed the conclusion, that there couldn't be objections to GMOs that are based on science or research.
I understand that GMOs have to be evaluated individually -- GMO technology per se is not necessarily dangerous. That said, I think there's sufficient evidence of the toxicity of glyphosate -- and that it remains in food grown with it -- that I strongly prefer not to eat such foods.
Also -- we're talking about our food supply. Doesn't it stand to reason that the burden of proof should be on those who claim the resulting foods are safe, rather than on those who claim they are dangerous?
I particularly liked the bit where he said "but people called Google evil!". Yeah. Yeah, they did, dude. Still do.
If it's true, we're going to rely on a much smaller gene pool for food production in next decades, which will cause severe genetic information loss and more vulnerability to new crop diseases. Another potato famine disaster but in global scale?
Do we have any measure to protect the gene pool? Do we need something like Gene Tax to curb the genetic convergence? I've no idea how Carbon Tax helps solving the global warming issue, but it seems a good idea to invest some money to protect those 'useless' genes and make all reserved natural seeds open for public access.
For future generations this is a total catastrophe - reducing the available food genpool is is the maximal possible damage you could apply to the human kind.
This is not a theoretical scenario - india has lost big parts of it´s genpool for many food plants since the indian government is pushing gmo company products. The results are a complete disaster today, but this is just a foretaste what will happen on a global scale in a few years. Especially Africa, now beeing invaded by mega-industrial agro-projects backed by hedgefonds, will be hurt massively in the coming years.
Local seeds are of immeasurable value - it is conserved knowledge of hundreds, sometimes thousands of years that is deleted forever, when a variety disappears. This are not "failed experiments of nature" that vanish not able to survive the test of life - instead we are actively eradicating very good functioning and over a very long time optimized varieties, just because of some short-term experiment, that usually fails, and was only motivated by short-term profit-think.
GMOs are not "evil" or "good" - it´s the extremely short-sighted and brutally enforced business-model that translates the totally stupid short-term profit-think into very destructive consequences for global biodiversity.
Okay I'm done here
Honestly, I don't care what this guy does with his company, but it seems like a PR effort to salvage whatever reputation the Climate Company had built up before this acquisition by Monsanto.
It seems like this sort of PR effort might be even more important internally than externally. Presumably there are some portion of employees that are also emotionally invested in the "grand mission" beyond just being a job and interesting work. In that situation, releasing the "internal communication" just a freebie.
Internal communications are always really interesting in that they provide some kind of window into the concerns of leadership — the line about family members ... or _recruiters_ ... reaching out to swipe people away from the "most evil company in the world" stood out to me.
I mean, talking about Monsanto and all, that would be a more apt analogy.
Well, thankfully, that never happened!
On the other hand, that should be proof that no marketing/PR person touched the email, I guess?
Is that correct? Because 1) is a choice (IF 2 is not true that is); for instance I grow my own vegetables and fruit year round with my own seeds (by now) so I don't particularly care about 1) unless it would jump to my plants. I'm not sure what the chance is of that as all my neighbors for miles and miles around use their own seeds.
But if 2) is, even slightly, true then they should just boycot / eradicate this company and all Climate Corp employees should leave this instant imho. That's why I think it cannot be true or at least not the total truth; who would allow that to happen? So I guess it's a media-enhanced dark side which happens but is not common? I cannot really find objective info on that.
I would love to see some references for this.
I know that there is a list of seeds that can be used for commercial purposes. That means that people cannot sell "heritage seeds". One way to work around that is to set up a subscription club. Membership gets you a newsletter and membership of the club. And they send free heritage seeds every month.
Until now the rules have been relaxed for amateur seeds so other places just sell the seed direct. http://www.realseeds.co.uk/
Here's some information about the EU law, and about proposed changes to it. The source is obviously biased. http://www.realseeds.co.uk/seedlaw2.html
If you ask me, projects to preserve seed diversity should be subsidized, rather than being charges the same costs as big commercial seeds.
Edit: I'll be back around tomorrow to answer questions.
Yes, and to some extent I still am unhappy about the acquisition. They have a pretty terrible reputation and that's definitely causes an impact.
> and did you feel differently having read it? If so, or not, why?
No, not really. All of the eng/product people went to Monsanto and got a chance to ask very blunt questions. There are definitely some things they do that I don't agree with (see their lobbying in seattle to oppose the anti-GMO labeling effort,) but overall I'm convinced that they're a vital part of the current food supply.
Seeing as how you replied to my other post "38 minutes" ago, I suspect you're picking and choosing questions to reply to.
I hope I'm wrong, but it looks like it, as these other questions here have been left without comment.
Still around and happy to answer questions.
No, not particularly honestly. He seems like a smart guy, a great salesman/CEO, and really really dedicated. I wouldn't say he has a visionary leader feel to be honest. He already made a good chunk of money w/Google. He's not in it for the money.
> Do you believe the work you are doing is changing the world for the better?
Yes, 40% of the world works in agriculture. In most of the world, bad weather can destroy your entire livelihood. If we can keep farmers from going bankrupt because of bad weather, I'd be okay with that being my life's work. I will likely get to directly improve the life of > a billion people, that's pretty amazing.
Any company based around 'owning' biological progeny into subsequent generations on the basis of parents' genetics is too offensive and bile inducing to have a good side...
If the company is successful I sure can't imagine this turning out any other way than Monsanto holding farmers hostage over the climate and weather just like they do now over seeds.
If you have statistics to the contrary I'd love to bring it up our company meeting and get back to you, personally or here.
Disclosure: I'm a Climate Corp Employee.
When water problems start becoming more widespread, problems with much of the current system will be more obvious, so to be fair this is an amazing hedge for Monsanto.
I'm also conflating to some extent high-yield strains with GM strains, but the overlap is pretty huge so consider it minor.
But again, give me studies and specific questions and I'll have answers from either the CEO or COO by Friday.
It's hard to see how providing more information about weather and corresponding farming best practices (i.e., what Climate does) could be used to hold anybody hostage. If you don't like their products, you can simply not buy them next year. They are certainly not actively manipulating the weather (which is barely effective, anyways).
Disclaimer: I work for Climate.
I hope Friedberg is correct in Climate remaining independent in its operation.
In fact much of these kinds of researches and developments originated in public/land grant universities and were part of a the ROI of public research and were successfully spread and marketed without single entity IP ownership (specialized hybridizing just isn't patentable).
So your comment and claim is pretty much completely false.
It is true that a lot of companies get called "evil" when the reality is a lot more complex and nuanced, but that observation by itself doesn't automatically make Monsanto one of the good guys.
It is interesting that Monsanto apparently got rid of their chemical arm. Does that mean they don't rely on the sale of Roundup anymore?
The claim that we've been using genetic engineering for centuries is one I see a lot, and it's false. As he points out immediately after, we have not been introducing totally new genes that never existed before. We've been breeding existing organisms and selecting for existing traits. It is the fact that it's a much slower process that also makes it safer; we get to see the effects of this breeding on a small scale before they get introduced on a wide scale. Monsanto's GMOs on the other hand often have a lot of unintended and unexpected side effects once released into existing ecosystems. (Like pests developing resistance to pesticides because those pesticides are not permanently available.)
I understands he wants to continue to believe he's a good person while still taking that billion dollars, but I need a bit more evidence before I'm willing to accept Monsanto as a positive influence.
1) GMO or anti-GMO
2) the question of Monsanto's evilness (which has really nothing to do with the science of GMO's but their heavy-handed tactics and lobbying).
Personally, I am on the side of the scientific consensus when it comes to GMO.
But that doesn't mean that that gets Monsanto off the hook for being one of the vilest organizations on the planet right now.
So people arguing about The Climate Corporation joining Monsanto will never agree because they each have their picked samples and there is no "Evil formulae" for determining the overall evilness of a company.
Having said that, the fact that he is being offered $1 Billion before knowing about the company does make one wonder how much research he did into the dark sides of Monsanto of if he avoided / rationalized it to support his bias, even if subconciously. He comes out overall positive it is easy for people to accuse him of not researching the bad things.
if you want to understand better, take some time and dig into http://gmwatch.org
Yeah, that actually never happened and is a persistent urban myth.