October 12, 2013
There are many who might not know or understand the true business practices of a company named Monsanto – in fact there might be many who have never heard of them at all. Monsanto is a chemical and seed company (simply put) based in the eastern part of Missouri.
It was late April 2008 when my former boss brought to the airwaves a story from Vanity Fair, “Monsanto’s Harvest of Fear.” This was breaking news regarding Monsanto using Gestapo tactics against a Missouri elevator and the local farmers: The elevator is owned by a local co-op, the Pilot Grove Cooperative Elevator, which buys soybeans and corn from farmers in the fall, then ships out the grain over the winter. The co-op has seven full-time employees and four computers. One of the services practiced by the elevator (a long-time practice of farmers across the world) is cleaning seeds.
Monsanto was demanding all the names of those farmers having their seed cleaned. Now, cleaning seeds has been done for decades… but with this procedure it’s more likely (not necessarily) that a person is planning to keep seed back to plant another season. Farmers used to practice this all the time; grow a crop, sell some and save some back. However, with Monsanto’s patent protection, farmers do not own the seed they harvest; Monsanto does.
When this story hit the air my late boss, Derry Brownfield (founder of The Brownfield Network) was approached by his partner. I remember hearing the conversation from Derry’s office as his partner told him, “You have to stop talking about Monsanto.” Derry explained to his then partner, “They are an evil company.” But… the bullying and threats were more than his partner and multi-network company could handle. Monsanto told him to get that Brownfield off the air or they were pulling all their advertising money…. So, we were given 30-days notice and Derry Brownfield and his Common Sense Coalition program were out the door.