Hating Monsanto – Do Boycotts Work?

I’ve just read yet another another heartfelt comment  from someone who can’t bear to support Monsanto and therefore will not buy seeds produced by any of the companies under its ever-widening corporate umbrella. Yes, I agree completely. Monsanto is an evil behemoth.* The urge to boycott is understandable.

But I do wonder:

If the only problem with the seeds is that they produce revenue which then goes to Monsanto, and the ultimate goal is to have all seed buyers do likewise, it seems like success could backfire.

If successful, a boycott would make growing those seeds unprofitable. If growing them becomes unprofitable, the company that produces them will stop doing so.

Taking it one step farther, if such seeds are that company’s major product, the company itself will be unprofitable and Monsanto will wish to get rid of it. But it can be difficult to sell a company with no market for its products, so there’s a good chance that Monsanto would simply simply shut it down or merge it with another, more compliant outfit.

No matter where the chain stops, end of seeds or end of company, making good seeds unprofitable for Monsanto just results in their producing more GE seeds and less of anything else. Taking one’s dollars elsewhere may be a benefit to the elsewhere – but it’s not likely to hurt Monsanto any.

* Hard to talk about the thing without personifying it, but I try to remind myself Monsanto is not evil. Monsanto is a corporation, with “neither a body to kick nor a soul to lose.” All we have to do to make it change its ways is somehow acquire enough voting stock.

Update/Correction: I went back to find the origin of the quotation and learned:

a) I had it backward, it’s “neither a soul to lose nor a body to kick,” and

b) I thought it was one of those popular quotations that everybody knew, but googling suggests it’s no such thing.

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4 Comments »

  • Anne Said,

    No. Monsanto IS evil. Anyone who bullies small farmers and threatens and destroys their livelihoods because they are falsely accused of stealing Monsanto’s patented seeds knows exactly what they are doing. Just take a little peek at King Corn; or Food,Inc. (dvds) to see just what they are up to.

    Monsanto does NOT need your sympathy. They are fast becoming a monopoly; which at one time was not allowed.Actually, as described in these films, there are about four companies that pretty much own and run everything. It is about time that changed.

  • Tee Riddle Said,

    Monsanto is a heavily disliked corporation in the hearts of farmers and gardeners (and rightfully so), but there is another corporation I dislike very much – ConAgra. ConAgra is also known for trying to wipe out farmers (especially organic farmers) one plot of land at a time. I tried to avoid these two companies like the plague.

    What is funny about that is I love sunflower seeds, and for years I have always bought the David’s brand of sunflower seeds. Well just the other day I was reading the back of the David’s bag when I noticed the ConAgra logo! ACK! I have been cohorting with the devil!

    Needless to say I have found another sunflower seed distributor, but it too is probably owned by another heartless farm-killing corporation. Sigh

  • Matt Anderson Said,

    I just watched Food Inc last week. Monsanto is the evil empire. Yesterday I had lunch out at a local restaurant. I chose salmon served over spinach, thinking that I was making probably the best choice the menu had to offer. I ate it, but i couldn’t get over the likelihood that the salmon was probably fed with corn, grown from seeds, manufactured by Monsanto. Oh, and don’t forget the spinach…

  • Aly Said,

    According to the US government, Monsanto is effectively a person, since corporations have all the rights of individuals, and usually with less liability. I hate hate HATE Monsanto and what it has done to farmers and the environment, but I also don’t think that would have been possible without help (mostly in the form of permissive laws) from the government.

    You’ve got it right, Aly

    especially about the government. Monsanto would be unable to do most of the hateful things it does if the E.P.A. took its title seriously enough to recalibrate its risk/benefit analyses.

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