Saturday, April 6

Monsanto...the Evil Empire

It's a big kick in the gut to reckon with corporate bullies most adept at leading us to believe that we are truly free to choose, that they don't actually use every resource to benefit their bottom line, and that they really are concerned with our best interests. And multinational seed and chemical corporation, Monsanto, doesn't mind if you have no choice. They believe they've got the tools to solve the world's food, fuel and fiber problems with GMOs, and that's all you need to know--not that nearly 80 percent of all processed foods sold in the U.S. contain unlabeled genetically modified organisms (most bearing Monsanto patents on corn, soy, canola and cotton), or that favors from industry groups, politicians and fellow corporations are paramount to the proliferation of Monsanto's main seed: Corporate Greed. Think that's about to change anytime soon? Not after you see who sits on Monsanto's board of directors.

A board of directors is a body of elected or appointed members who oversee the activities of a company or organization. In most cases it can require very little involvement in the day-to-day functioning of the governed entity, but it is typically always staffed with individuals vested in the best interest of the company or organization. In Monsanto's case, several members of its board of directors aid in the proliferation of genetically modified seeds through their daily livelihood, continuing to insure that no regulations or transparency requirements be allowed in the U.S. on foods or household products containing genetically modified ingredients, which would not only affect Monsanto's success, but that of their other corporate interests as well.

Monsanto was not on mailing list used by U.S. Rep. Louise Slaughter to ask food businesses about their policies on antibiotics in food, presumably because the St. Louis company does not have anything to do with antibiotic use in meat and poultry.

Out of sheer curiosity, Food Safety News decided to pull Monsanto’s lobbying disclosure forms. From an upper floor of a building just a couple blocks northeast of the White House, Monsanto runs a well-greased lobbying shop. At a cost of $1.21 million last quarter, the effort is not lacking in people power for its work in the nation’s capitol. Monsanto’s Washington D.C. office is headed by Mcihael Dykes, vice president of government affairs. He’s got a six-pack of registered staff lobbyists on call including Katherine Emerson, Jeremy Stump, Scott Kuschmider, James Travis, Michael Parrish and Michael Holland.

The Monsanto lobby does not want for things to do. It’s always working on the legal and regulatory environment that will keep its Roundup Ready products viable in the market. Its lobbying crew was also working on anti-terrorism restrictions on chemical facilities, the American Invents Act, and regulatory reform. Its interests also run from biofuels to mineral licensing and royalty issues to tax and trade policies.

Monsanto, a global agricultural products company, generates endless controversy for its genetically engineered seeds. It was in the news again Monday when a federal judge in New York dismissed a lawsuit against Monsanto brought by the Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association. The court said the organic interests has engaged in a “transparent effect to create a controversy where non exists.”

All totaled, the contract help cost Monsanto $285,000 a quarter. Like many corporations, Monsanto is not afraid to spend money to fill in for any inadequacies that may exist within its bullpen of staff lobbyists.


Janice L. Fields is president of McDonald’s USA. Elected to the Monsanto board in April 2008, her term expires in 2015. McDonald's, like most other fast food restaurants, uses genetically modified ingredients (corn, soy and canola) in virtually all of their menu items. As the largest fast-food chain in the world, its food reaches nearly 70 million people every day.

C. Steven McMillan is a retired chairman of the board and chief executive officer of Sara Lee Corporation. He has served as a director on the Monsanto board since June 2000. His term expires in 2015. Sara Lee is a global consumer packaged goods company with more than 40 brand category leaders in frozen meals, snacks, meat products and beverages including Sara Lee, Hillshire Farm and Jimmy Dean, found in virtually every supermarket in the country.

Jon R. Moeller is Proctor & Gamble's chief financial officer. Mr. Moeller was elected to the Monsanto board in August 2011 and his term expires in 2013. The Procter & Gamble Company is one of the world’s leading consumer products companies. Sales in 2011 reached $82.6 billion dollars from more than 40 household brands including Tide, Crest, Pampers, Cover Girl and Iams pet food. The brand is notoriously criticized for its rampant use of animal testing on a number of products, and items like diapers and feminine care products can often contain genetically modified cotton, while household items can contain not only alcohol derived from GMO corn, but also toxic chemicals with known health risks.

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