Monsanto And Cargill: The Thugs Of Big Food

Written by Ashley Schaeffer

Topics: Agribusiness

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Just days before the massive global day of action to Occupy our Food Supply, I thought I’d take a look at just who some of these agribusiness thugs really are.

The deeper you dig the more clear it becomes that two corporate giants are responsible for a large part of the poisoning of our food system: Monsanto and Cargill. It’s time we call out these corporate criminals for trashing our food, literally.

Monsanto: Biotechnology giant

Monsanto’s biotech tentacles are strangling our food system. The despicable behavior of this offensive corporation ranges from suing small family farmers like Percy Schmeiser (and bankrupting many through legal processes) to refusing to compensate veterans and families for exposure to Agent Orange where the chemical is estimated to have killed 400,000, deformed another 500,000, and stricken another 2 million with various diseases.

When Monsanto began selling its genetically modified Roundup Ready soybeans in 1996, only 2% of soybeans in the U.S. contained their patented gene. By 2008, over 90% of soybeans in the U.S. contained Monsanto’s gene and now 80 percent of corn seeds used in the United States are sold by Monsanto. This is especially alarming as soybeans account for the largest source of protein feed and the second largest source of vegetable oil in the world (after palm oil).

Among the many things we can thank Monsanto for: artificial sweeteners linked to cancer; oil-based plastics like styrofoam that never biodegrade and release cancer-causing benzene into the environment for a thousand years; Agent Orange (the deadly chemical cocktail that the U.S. Army dumped over Vietman and now ends up in our food); genetically-modified (GMO) seeds, and the nasty Bovine Growth Hormone (BGH), a carcinogenic, artificial growth hormone that is injected into cows (prevalent in the U.S. and banned in all 27 countries of the EU, Canada, New Zealand, and Australia).

From the Millions against Monsanto GMO labeling campaign to the 300,000 farmers that took Monsanto to court last month, no longer able to keep Monsanto’s genetically modified crops from contaminating their organic fields, Monsanto is getting slammed from all angles.

May justice be served.

Cargill, Inc.: Global agricultural commodities trader

Cargill is Monsanto’s evil twin.

With annual revenues of over $119 billion (bigger than the GDP of 70% of the world’s countries ), Cargill is the world’s largest trader of grains, the world’s largest privately held corporation and one of a handful of agribusiness giants that are shaping the increasingly globalized food system to their advantage. Operating in more than 66 countries, Cargill produces, trades, manufactures, and markets all manner of agricultural commodities touching almost every aspect of our food supply. And that’s only the beginning — check this Cargill Fact sheet out and tell me you don’t think it’s time to Occupy Cargill.

From Cargill’s shameful Confined Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs) that are not only inhumane but undermine food safety, to the fact that along with Tyson and JBS it is responsible for processing more than 70 percent of all U.S. beef, Cargill is the shady thug stomping on family farmers to consolidate our food system in the name of profit (did I mention the colossus is owned by the McMillan-Cargill family, making them the richest family in America?).

Without proper supply chain safeguards in place, Cargill continues to purchase, trade and profit from palm oil grown on lands stolen from local communities and palm plantation areas with active ongoing social conflict and human rights violations, including slave labor. Not to mention pushing orangutans towards extinction.

Look at the photos below and ask yourself: Is this the way forward? I stand with Willie Nelson and say hell no.

Industrial agriculture

20 Comments For This Post I'd Love to Hear Yours!

  1. Ben says:

    So basically your point is that Cargill is bad because it’s successful and big, and that it trades palm oil (because the consumers don’t want hydrogenated oils). OK, so what exactly are you hoping to achieve?

  2. Monica says:

    Ben, do some research

  3. @Ben, thank you for your comment. I think the answer to your question depends on how you gauge “success.” If you deem a company successful for making record breaking profits at the expense of irreplaceable natural forests, endangered species and human rights, including slave labor, then you are correct.

    If you listen to the voices of those directly impacted by Cargill’s operations on the ground, I think your perspective may change. For example:

    Paul Sobocinski, a Land Stewardship Project organizer and family farm livestock producer from Wabasso, MN said, “Cargill wants to control the livestock industry, they’d like to turn family farmers into modern day serfs who do their bidding while Cargill walks away with the lion’s share of the profits. Cargill is fully integrated and one of the largest meatpackers and factory farm hog producers in the country. It’s time to hold them accountable. It’s time to take back our food and farming system from corporate agribusiness.”

    Rukaiya Rofiq, Director of the human rights organization Yayasan SETARA Jambi in Indonesia comments: “It is encouraging to see Americans connecting the dots between the food choices they make at a grocery store and the serious impacts those choices have here in Southeast Asia. When an additive like palm oil is used to make cheap crackers and cookies it gives companies a green light to expand palm plantations at all costs which is why we see community member homes bulldozed when they fight expansion, Indigenous land rights ignored, and natural rainforests completely decimated. Invisible companies like Cargill, who are profiting off the backs of Indonesians, must be held accountable in the countries they call home.”

  4. Ben says:

    Clearly you folks have no connection to agriculture. Farmers I know would argue with you, but I will again ask what exactly does “take back our food and farming systems” mean? Good post for you to read about “big ag”:

  5. John Peck says:

    All the farmers I work with can’t stand Cargill (or Monsanto or ADM or Sygenta or Kraft or Deans or….) Why is that? Because farmers deserve a fair price for their hard work and these multinational corporations now have too much monopoly power in the food system, and are basically rigging commodity markets to price gouge farmers and consumers alike. I’ll never forget during the last Farm Bill debate when Cargill and ADM basically threatened to import sugar cane ethanol from Brazil if they were not guaranteed enough taxpayer subsidies to make corn-based ethanol “competitive.” It is a crying shame that so many family farmers are going bankrupt while these corporate welfare cheats run free for lack of anti-trust action by the Dept of Justice at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange/Chicago Board of Trade. One of our farmer members, Jim Goodman, wrote a good oped about why we need to Occupy the Food System – you can read it here:

  6. Ben says:

    Farm incomes are at an all time high.

    Much of the profit (and the control) of the food supply is occurring today at the farmer level.

    Never before have farmers been given more choice in markets, genetics, and methods. A farmer today could plant non-gmo beans to sell (through Cargill) to asian customers while the identity of the crop is preserved. That is revolutionary. A farmer today uses a lot less chemicals to kill bugs due to the advances in, yes, GMO corn. Cargill, like everyone else actually involved in the business is striving to make the food supply safer, more secure, and efficient. The only farmers going bankrupt now are ones that make spectacularly bad business decisions (there are a few out there). However, most of the farmers I deal with directly are more concerned about making sure Uncle Sam doesn’t take too much of their earnings. By the way, most ethanol subsidies went away in Jan.

    To address some of the statements in Jim Goodman’s article: Lending institutions are clamoring to lend money to farmers… problem is, they don’t need it. Banks want to be invested in the only part of the economy that is really thriving. Costs of production are going up, but nitrogen (and generally all macronutrient) costs track corn. Agribusiness profits are not continuing to grow. As a matter of fact some cursory research would show that although earnings have grown in the last five years, the most recent year has been sharply lower for several “big Ag” companies.

    Granted my view is from production grain agriculture, but you can’t just make blanket statements about parts of the economy that you don’t know anything about.

  7. Karen says:

    I want to say that this is a well done article. Industrializing our food systems is what is wrong with the whole of it. It just does not work in reality. As we see. I beleive we can and will change this horrific practice more than less. Big industry and food systems are not good partners. There are better ways to produce food and it systems than the ones in place at this time.

  8. misterbean says:

    From Indymedia portal

    The secrets of Monsanto
    Miguel is very familiar with Monsanto. He worked for the multinational in Latin America for over 25 years. He knows life, death and miracles. The secrets of Monsanto.
    Today Miguel is one of the GMO repented. He wants to do something constructive. Caught by the crisis of conscience has decided to tell who is Monsanto and its plans for Europe (and Italy).
    Monsanto with its brands and the leader leading seed company in the world. Currently working in over 60 countries with over 14,000 employees, has revenues of nearly $ 6 billion investment in research and genomics and biotechnology for over half a billion dollars. After the repenting of TAV (hight rail speed) we ask to the new repented of GMOs: “Miguel…” (unreal name of course), “but why we should be worry about Monsanto? In most European countries the seeds and genetically modified foods are prohibited”. Miguel scratches his head and he replies: “It is true, however, Monsanto now has fielded a powerful lobby in Europe and has also – indeed, and thoroughly convinced – to be able to change things. As has already been done successfully in other areas of the world”. After running away like hell of Monsanto from Europe (because of hostility to GMO crops) has realized that now is the time is right to insist, and to return. Even in a big style I think. Jokingly we can say “go home Lasso” (Lasso is the name of a diabolical chemical produced by Monsanto). In the Mediterranean basin the corporation wants to do what Monsanto is doing in Latin America. In fact in South America the largest holdings, droves of agronomists and large consortia of manufacturers are intensively exploit the territories using only bio-technologies of the American colossus. The absolute monopoly. Once the crops with GMO products were made more or less clandestinely now practice them easily in sunlight. Among the many, is very active the AAPRESID, Argentina Association of Manufacturers in Direct Seeding founded in 1989. It is one of the most important NGO composed of a dense network of innovative producers from all over the Argentine territory , which receives support from science and experience Monsanto and experiments on the field all its new technologiesRight there in the pampas, after decades of brutal exploitation, now is studying the problem of environmental deterioration. The intensive work of coltivation have destroyed the biological and ecological integrity of the soil system. The wind and water erosion (as well as the unscrupulous use of poisons Monsanto) daily continues to cause pollution of water courses, and are phenomena which become increasingly pronounced and constitute a major cause of land degradation. If you read the “Dossier Monsanto Dekalb – Hybrids with high efficiency” (that Miguel, has put kindly available to us) talk specially about this, the technique of intensive exploitation of land, to promote specifically “the increase of the annual production per unit area” and “increases in multi-year average yieldThe Argentina of course is just a gym, then its model will be gradually exported overseas. In Italy there are already labs ready to be put to good use these experiments. A Pontevico in Italy there is for example an important research center Monsanto (and an even in Olmeneta) whose task is to monitor and investigate the analytical work that is done by all other Monsanto laboratories around the world (Umberlandia in Brasile, Ankeny and St Louis in USA, Boissay Francia, Bethlehem Sud Africa).
    But a question comes naturally: “Miguel but you are quite sure that in Europe there are now favorable conditions for the comeback of Monsanto?”. The gaucho shakes his head and says yes without hesitation. Monsanto, tells us, some time has unleashed its 007, its secret agents in order to probe into the European market (with particular attention to the Italian market) and to approach all major corn growers professionals, offering interesting counterparts in exchange for use of its products modified in the laboratori (to start their would like sponsor a highly hybrid corn varieties adapted to the Mediterranean zone). In Europe and in Italy, for example, perhaps not everyone knows it, even if GMOs are officially banned and initiated a moratorium, some of these GMO are also used, studied, tested and widely used (The important thing is not to tell anyone where and how). the technologies and brand Monsanto products are already well known and present reality, for years in many important industries (see products as DEKALB, Asgrow, Roundup e Cargill).
    Let’s say, for the sake of truth, that in Theoretically the biotechnology applied to agriculture, may be harbingers of great benefits for humanity, especially for crop protection against viruses and parasites and the defeat of world hunger. In reality, however – or so says our well-informed interlocutor – is exactly the opposite. The substances manipulated by the eco-monster american caused only enormous environmental damage. Just think of a variety of corn, that a brilliant Monsanto scientist has mixed with a deadly pesticide (corn type MON810 treated with the Poncho 2 a potent pesticide manufactured by german Bayer). Insecticides, fungicides, pesticides, herbicides and fertilizers produced by Monsanto, instead of defending the environment they’re literally killing and poisoning. It ‘s the case of a hyper technological disinfesting based Zetacipermetrina, a pyrethrum generation with neurotoxic activity that causes immediate paralysis and death of larvae and insects (pity that also kills bees and insects that are essential to the balance of the ecosystem). According to Miguel this substance of synthesis is also responsible of many problems of all crops (soybean, corn, canola, cotton, potatoes) with consequences not so beautiful in the food chain. When nature rebels then are just greats pain for all.
    That the Saint Louis multinational did some of disgusting things, actually someone had already suspected. Monsanto has repeatedly been accused of serious negligence, fraud and threats to health and integrity of persons and property, health and ecological disasters as well as use of false evidence.
    A rather striking case was that of the herbicide Monsanto Roundup (the world’s best selling and most widely used in school gardens and green areas in cities) which unfortunately has had some slight drawback (cause only a bit of malformations and of genetic mutations). Proven studies by international research (including Argentine and British scholars) have established incontrovertibly the responsibility of the herbicide in craniofacial malformations of the embryos of chickens, frogs and other animals. Other scientists have foundinstead that Monsanto’s Roundop destroys testosterone and causes male infertility in humans and in animals. Another independent team instead have found that the Roundop also causes birth defects, cancer, genetic damage, alterations in endocrine and other damages even if the Monsanto product is absorbed at very low doses. Let alone the massive use of this product, as normally happens in agriculture. There’s hardly surprising that there was a worrying emergence of cancerous diseases observed right on the population of South America, one of locations of the world where you use more Roundup GMO soybeans, genetically modified soybeans created by Frankenstein by genetics biotech Monsanto for tolerate high levels of Glyphosate (the killer substance which is contained in the Monsanto’s products). But the killers products are many others, such as the deadly pesticide herbicide Lasso for which Monsanto has recently been condemned for poisoning and intoxication (want to see that in the end did less damage the Eternit asbestos and the chemical of ENI?).
    An interesting document internal Monsanto Italy – that thanks to Miguel we were able to view – expressed: “First herbicide with European recording (20-11-2001). All manufacturers must demonstrate the safety of their products. We provide the best data on physico-chemical-toxicological. Most of the recordings will be: canceled or classified (within 2 years). Roundup will surpass all tests (strong European lobby of support for Monsanto)…” (See attached pdf and document here reproduced).
    A team of honest researchers recently have published a dossier that accusing the american agro-chemical industry, and the European Commission to have knowledge at least from thirty years of the dangerousness of this product Monsanto but had deliberately kept secret to the public opinion. Monsanto is replicating the sad joke of the tobacco companies? Repeats itself the history of the Eternit asbestos? Everyone knew it was deadly, and today we count the dead and wounded. That at least this time Monsanto you put one hand on your heart and has the good sense to write it in big letters on its products: “Monsanto is seriously detrimental to health”.
    An interesting research study sponsored by Monsanto says: “Men and Biotechnology, real risks or imaginary risks?” (See attached pdf and document here reproduced). Say pro-GMO and pro-Monsanto: “…genetic engineering can lead to dangerous products. True. Multinationals do not work to solve environmental problems or world hunger but only pursuing their profits. True. The law allows the patenting of genes or organisms is very contradictory. Its foundations are based on arbitrary assumptions which identify a right ethically very questionable. True … “. As says the Monsanto’s motto: “ … companies that look to the future do more that satisfy their customers. must astonish their customers”. This time it has really surprised Frankenstein.
    “Miguel…” (meanwhile, thanks for all the information) we ask “…these things of Monsanto are much interesting, you can tell us other interesting things?”
    “Sure you … if you do not mind …”.
    If you fancy – and time – you can throw an eye on some interesting documents Monsanto (courtesy of Miguel).

  9. aj says:

    I am not sure why people would defend the huge companies? There involvement in the food world is affecting the mindset of a large majority of people. And gives the “King” control of your food. What we need more of is Television Programing and complacency pills, less heirloom seeds, less knowledge of growing food, more sports, more distractions, more want to be kings, more green lawns without dandelions……I personally like to eat from my backyard, wilderness, local farms and not pay for bad war ration food!!

  10. Jen says:

    Obviously Ben is Monsanto or Cargill PR/digital monitoring staff, because it’s impossible for anyone to be that stupid when actually informed about these corporations.

  11. Bonito says:

    Sorry Ben but if you try to plant none GMO crops Monsanto will sue you. Here is something shocking!
    Roundup found in city dwellers urin. Look it up.

  12. frank says:

    What a bunch of libtards. Now I know why Obama was elected. Libtards are everywhere!

  13. Kahshan Lau says:

    Thank you for the article Ashley :)

    It was a good read, though I already knew about Monsanto. I did not know much about Cargill though (is it an international corporation or mostly USA-based?). I’ll have to look for more info about Cargill.

    @Jen, I agree. I think Ben in one way or another closely related to either Monsanto or Cargill. Normal people won’t just lurk and attack (even though Ben did it in a less trolly-way than frank) — though I could be wrong.

    Looking forward to more amazing articles!

  14. J says:

    So who knew “Ben” was a euphamism for Cargill or Monsanto? Grow up & be straight forward. If what your company does is so great, come right out & say it you weasel.

  15. Lionel says:

    Applying an industrial paradigm to living organisms is a form of insanity, an especially vicious form of insanity. Many studies, including one by USDA, concluded that family farming is more efficient than corporate agribusiness. Every bushel of corn grown in Iowa consumes four bushels of precious topsoil. Globalization is another form of insanity. Let’s drag “globalize, privatize, deregulate” to the trash can and instead localize, deregulate, and reclaim the commons.

  16. Lionel says:

    OOPS! I meant to say localize, deregulate, and reclaim the commons.

  17. Lionel says:

    double OOPS! I meant to say REregulate, not deregulate.

  18. Tyler Amphlett says:

    Why do people want so badly to tinker with the fundamentals of nature? How are scientists allowed to experiment in the cruel and irresponsible ways that they do? What is SO bad about living NORMALLY that we must tamper with the very genetics of life?

    Doesn’t anyone understand that there is NO POSSIBLE WAY that we can be 100% sure of the safety of ANY genetic/chemical experiment?

    That is enough for me to say NO to ALL experiments of the chemical and genetic world. These solutions can be achieved naturally. All we have to do is get rid of the people who are greedy and literally want the WHOLE pie of their industry. They don’t NEED that. The ONLY way they got what they have is by tampering with things that have repercussions!

    Obviously nothing should be centralized. Everything should be local. The way things are meant to be should remain as such. No more jet-lagged food that has traveled more of the world than I have. How is ANY of this appealing to people?

    It’s only appealing to business people who love money. I happen to love life. I love nature. I love the way that things are, they are engineered PERFECTLY and don’t need any help. We are only meant to be the gardeners of the world. The caretakers. We aren’t here to mess with the programming and turn this place into a hostile environment. A hostile environment equals NO MORE LIFE.

    Of course no business mind cares because they only want the rewards that they will get in their lifetime. They don’t care about their legacy or the legacy of anyone else, the very people who fund their riches. Their idea of legacy is riches. They want their family to have money instead of a habitable planet and an honorable business.

    I could go on forever.

  19. Jackson says:

    All I can say is that this article is stupid. We need GMO’s because of the increase yield they provide in today’s crops. Today we struggle to produce enough food to keep up with the growing population, but GMO’s are the only way to keep up. Plus, the pictures Ashley provided are inaccurate depictions of farms. Today over 90% of U.S. farms are family owned farms. If you have any disputes with my argument do your research first.

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