Do you remember Monsanto's exhibit at Disneyland? "Without chemicals, life itself would be impossible," struck me, a teenager with some knowledge of chemistry, as a bit excessive. Public Relations at work! Plastics were Monsanto's main products and plastic is made of chemicals. But what connection did Monsanto have to the stuff of life, from babies to butterflies? In the succeeding decades, as the chemical giant grew into a political powerhouse, Monsanto answered that question. Baby formulas are laden with GMOs. Monarch butterflies are threatened by Roundup which kills the milkweed they feed on.
Over the weekend I heard a broadcast on KPCC with conventional, GMO and organic farmers. During the entire discussion, which I estimate lasted five minutes, Monsanto was not mentioned once, not by the guests not by the host. Typical NPR since they never know what potential "underwriter" might be listening. "Underwriting" is the polite public radio equivalent of corporate sponsor. With sponsorship come hidden leashes of control.
The broadcast called to mind a Neil Young song I heard recently. "Monsanto" struck me as an odd topic for a song, but I remembered it because of how it was pronounced. The "a" in English would sound like "sand" but it Spanish it would sound like "Sangria." The latter is how a Spanish-speaking friend of mine pronounced it. She was concerned because she considers GMOs (genetically modified organisms) dangerous to her children's health. On Saturday I found Neil Young's tune on YouTube and listened to it several times. I discovered that it's his theme song in his battle against Monsanto, its ally Starbucks and efforts to stifle public opinion.
California tried to pass a GMO labeling act but it was defeated. Monsanto was one of the main contributors to the $37 million opposition campaign. When GMO seed found its way to land of a farmer who didn't want it, Monsanto sued. The new slogan of "feeding the world" carries the battle onward.
Around the time that the funny round Monsanto exhibit was popular at Disneyland the Beatles song, "Strawberry Fields Forever" was released. John Lennon wrote it because he remembered passing a Salvation Army Home for children when he was living in Liverpool. Maybe an inspired songwriter could write a Monsanto knockoff. That's another story.
Have you ever hummed the tune GMOs Forever? Please email email@example.com.