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The war on Monsanto

available here
available here

The seeds of life are not what they once were
Mother Nature and God don’t own them anymore

So belts out the veteran singer songwriter Neil Young with Promise of the Real on their title track from his latest album, The Monsanto years. What is the old protest rocker raging about? Monsanto and the war on weeds.

What are the weeds? According to the National Invasive Species Council of the USA weeds are “an alien species whose introduction does or is likely to cause economic or environmental harm or harm to human health.” Spearheaded by good intentioned nativists, the war is declared all over the world, on weeds. But are we as qualified as mother nature or god to decide what plants should grow, while others are declared noxious and exterminated?

Assuming that we have a moral authority to pick and choose the arrangement of nature, can we the humans really ‘eradicate’ the invasive aliens? What with? Gallons of glyphosate? Is killing the plants with glyphosate more harmful than  any harm ‘weeds’ do to us? And who makes glyphosate? According to the article Andrew Cockburn wrote for Harper’s magazine, “last year, the federal government (of the US) spent more than $2 billion to fight the alien invasion, up to half of which was budgeted for glyphosate and other poisons.”

shop_beyond_the_war_800sIntriguing stuff. All these questions were recently discussed on Australia’s ABC radio’s Late Night Live program. Taking part in discussion was Andrew Cockburn and David Holmgren.

Environmentalists used to fight against chain saws, bulldozers and poisons. Now they’re fighting ‘invasive’ species of plants and animals – with the help of chain saws, bulldozers and poisons. Who benefits? Mainly the company that was once their sworn enemy – Monsanto.

You can hear the program on ABC‘s website. Cockburn’s poignant piece on Harper’s magazine.
Holmgren’s articles and other writings on weeds are found here, especially recommended for reading are foreword to Beyond the WAR on invasive species by Tao Orion and Weeds or wild nature.

Neil Young also has made a mini doco on the story of Michael White vs Monsanto, Seeding Fear:


3 thoughts on “The war on Monsanto”

  1. Hmmm…it was an interesting discussion and commendable for innovation in its lateral take on this issue, but slightly perverse for all that.
    The vast majority of the herbicide used on the planet is used in broad acre cropping. The idea that Monsanto are waging a propaganda war to overstate the threat of weeds ignores the basic fundamentals of current food production.
    By all means champion an alternate food production system but lets not start seeing phantoms all over the place.
    Closer to home I must say I still grieve for the frogs and tadpoles that once populated the roadside drains in my childhood now routinely blitzed with Glyphosate by local councils.

    1. I don’t know Patrick, mainstream farmers have always hated weeds, so where’s the surprise herbicides have entered the food system like they have? The fact they’ve gotten a wave through the die-hard conservationist movements, which have a record of head-butting corporate interest, over protecting the environment – well that’s the kind of skilful PR, which causes the champions against degradation to become the instruments of it instead.
      Once they got the conservationists on side, it cemented the message, some forms of chemical interference in nature are absolutely necessary. They just have to lead the conversation on what’s necessary – or what is life an death, according to their PR machine. Farmers always hated weeds, now conservationists do too. The platform of opposition is virtually non existent.

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