Quantcast

Neil Young and Monsanto Reignite War Over GMOs Since Release of 'Seeding Fear'

Food

Neil Young and Monsanto are once again trading barbs over genetically modified organisms (GMOs). This time, it's over Young's new documentary, "Seeding Fear," the story of Alabama farmers Michael White and his father who were sued by the agrochemical giant in 2003 for patent infringement of its GM soybeans.

Lyrics from Neil Young's song, "The Monsanto Years": "The farmer knows he's got to grow what he can sell, Monsanto, Monsanto / So he signs a deal for GMOs that makes life hell with Monsanto, Monsanto / Every year he buys the patented seeds / Poison-ready they're what the corporation needs, Monsanto."
Photo credit: Flickr

The lawsuit between the Whites and Monsanto was settled in 2006 out of court.

"Even after the lawsuit was over, I couldn't make him believe it was over. He would cry and keep saying, 'Oh, they're going to come back and sue me again,'" Michael says in the documentary. "It destroyed him. It destroyed his life. He went to his grave—this grave—still afraid of [Monsanto]."

Young, a co-executive producer of the film, wrote on Facebook, which has more than 3 million likes, "Monsanto is a corporation with great wealth, now controlling over 90 percent of soybean and corn growth in America. Family farms have been replaced by giant agri corp farms across this great vast country we call home. Farm aid and other organizations have been fighting the losing battle against this for 30 years now."

"The film I would like you to see tells the story of a farming family in America, but the same thing is happening around the world," Young added. "It is a story that takes 10 minutes of your time to see. It is a simple human one, telling the heartbreaking story of one man who fought the corporate behemoth Monsanto, and it illustrates why I was moved to write 'The Monsanto Years,'" referring to the "Rockin' in the Free World" singer's latest album that attacks the corporation.

The documentary was also timed to bring attention to a House of Representatives bill dubbed the Deny Americans the Right to Know, or DARK Act, to block states from requiring GMO labels on food. The bill passed on Thursday.

Read page 1

Following the release of the short, Rolling Stone reached out to Monsanto for a statement.

"Mr. White is not transparent in describing his actions or the situation," a representative told the publication. "He actually admitted to knowingly planting, producing, saving, cleaning and selling Roundup Ready soybeans illegally. All of this information is available in court documents."

"Protecting patents and copyrights can be difficult in any business—including the entertainment industry," the rep continued to Rolling Stone. "Mr. White's actions are equivalent to pirating an album, producing thousands of copies and selling bootleg copies—all while knowing what you're doing is illegal and that it will result in criminal charges if caught."

"Although they have tended to get a lot of attention, lawsuits between us and farmers who plant seeds without paying for them are actually very rare," the rep concluded. "Every year, hundreds of thousands of farmers plant our seeds. Since 1997, when we started trying to protect the patents on our seeds, we have gone to trial with a fraction of one percent of those customers. In addition, all of the proceeds we receive from any settlement—including Mr. White's settlement—are donated to youth leadership initiatives and to support the local communities in which farmers live and work."

Monsanto's rep also pointed out a recent LinkedIn blog post from Monsanto's chief technology officer Robb Fraley that invited Young to "establish a dialogue" and to visit the company.

Fraley, a big fan of the Canadian singer/songwriter, also wrote: "If you listen to [Young's] new album, you’ll hear a rehash of many of the myths we’ve long heard about our company. Unfortunately, some of these myths are now so well-established in some circles that people don’t even question them. Young suggests, for example, that our company is making life more difficult for farmers, that we bully them with lawsuits, and that we're all about greed. None of this is accurate."

Monsanto also wrote a blog post, "Correcting 'The Monsanto Years,'" that addresses Young's album directly: "Unfortunately, the depiction of agriculture in his lyrics is inaccurate, and the album fails to reflect our strong beliefs in what we do every day to help make agriculture more sustainable."

Young declined to reply to Monsanto's latest statement to Rolling Stone.

Incidentally, Bill Nye the Science Guy, who now has a favorable opinion of GMOs, spoke about GM-seeds being planted by farmers during a recent appearance on StarTalk Radio.

“[In the] infamous cases, where when people claim they got canola growing that flew into their fields accidentally and started growing, there’s substantial evidence that those cultivars were carefully cultivated," Nye said. "That is to say, one guy claimed that these seeds flew into his field, but they really didn’t—he really planted them.”

Whose side are you on?

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

House Passes DARK Act, Banning States From Requiring GMO Labels on Food

The Monsanto Years: Neil Young Plays Jones Beach, Rev. Billy Opens the Show

Neil Young Ups the Ante in GMO Food Fight in Vermont

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Justin Trudeau delivers remarks during an election rally in Markham, Ontario, Canada, on Sept. 15. Creative Touch Imaging Ltd. / NurPhoto via Getty Images

By Chloe Farand for Climate Home News

Canadians are voting on Monday in an election observers say will define the country's climate future.

Read More Show Less
Activists Greta Thunberg (2ndL), Iris Duquesne(C), and Alexandria Villaseñor (3rd R) attend a press conference where 16 children present their official human rights complaint on the climate crisis to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child at the UNICEF Building on Sept. 23 in NYC. KENA BETANCUR / AFP / Getty Images

By Jessica Taft

Fifteen kids from a dozen countries, including Swedish activist Greta Thunberg, recently brought a formal complaint to the United Nations. They're arguing that climate change violates children's rights as guaranteed by the Convention on the Rights of the Child, a global agreement.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Cleanup costs for abandoned oil and gas wells once the producers have moved on could fall heavily on the public.
Susan Vineyard / iStock / Getty Images Plus

By Justin Mikulka

Increasingly, U.S. shale firms appear unable to pay back investors for the money borrowed to fuel the last decade of the fracking boom. In a similar vein, those companies also seem poised to stiff the public on cleanup costs for abandoned oil and gas wells once the producers have moved on.

Read More Show Less
Blue tarps given out by FEMA cover several roofs two years after Hurricane Maria affected the island in San Juan, Puerto Rico, Sept. 18. RICARDO ARDUENGO / AFP / Getty Images

Top officials at the Department of Housing and Urban Development confirmed to lawmakers last week that they knowingly — and illegally — stalled hurricane aid to Puerto Rico.

Read More Show Less
Actress Jane Fonda (C) and actor Sam Waterston (L) participate in a protest in front of the U.S. Capitol during a "Fire Drill Fridays" climate change protest and rally on Capitol Hill, Oct. 18. Mark Wilson / Getty Images News

It appears Jane Fonda is good for her word. The actress and political activist said she would hold demonstrations on Capitol Hill every Friday through January to demand action on the climate crisis. Sure enough, Fonda was arrested for demonstrating a second Friday in a row Oct. 18, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Only this time, her Grace and Frankie co-star Sam Waterston joined her.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Visitors look at the Aletsch glacier above Bettmeralp, in the Swiss Alps, on Oct. 1. The mighty Aletsch — the largest glacier in the Alps — could completely disappear by the end of this century if nothing is done to rein in climate change, a study showed on Sept. 12. FABRICE COFFRINI / AFP via Getty Images

Switzerland's two Green parties made historic gains in the country's parliamentary elections Sunday, according to projections based on preliminary results reported by The New York Times.

Read More Show Less
A mural in Richwood, West Virginia, a once booming Appalachia coal town, honors the community's history. Jeff Greenberg / Universal Images Group / Getty Images

By Jeff Turrentine

The coal industry is dying. But we can't allow the communities that have been dependent on coal to die along with it.

Read More Show Less
ThitareeSarmkasat / iStock / Getty Images

by Jillian Kubala, MS, RD

Every fruit lover has their go-to favorites. Bananas, apples, and melons are popular choices worldwide and can be purchased almost anywhere.

Read More Show Less