More Monsanto Bashing

This was recently posted on the wall of one of my facebook friends.  I thought it might be worth mentioning, and including the dialogue that unfolded between us.  Here is the initial post:

“For anyone else who likes to grow food not made from nature and not science…


Following this post were, of course, some comments.  One particular comment that I enjoyed, the response to which initiated my involvement in the discussion, was as follows:

“Isn’t that just called free market capitalism?”

The response:

“You have to internet to check Facebook…can’t you use it to research Monsanto? Yes, I think you can.”

Now, this was where I had to enter into the discussion, because I myself HAVE researched Monsanto and was quite amazed to find how absolutely, blatantly wrong most people are when espousing these negative claims against them.  Now, don’t get me wrong…it’s fine to be anti-corporation, but making false claims is never a valid mechanism.

The rest of the comments will be omitted, as well as the original poster’s name for proper measure.  I will from here on out refer to the original poster as “Person X”, and myself as “Jon Day”, because I have no qualms about anyone knowing my name as is evident by my internet activities.

Jon Day: “I would say researching Monsanto doesn’t really count if the source is clearly biased. Monsanto is hardly the “evil” force claimed by most of the mindless drones who regurgitate what they read on organics blogs. The issue largely seems to be that people can’t think for themselves anymore…and don’t seem to understand the basic principles of agriculture…nor business. Oh, I know, I know…business = bad. I see that posted all the time, you know…via an expensive smart phone, from a starbucks (sipping on a chai tea) to the facebook website, valued at billions of dollars. Gotta love a good contradictory philosophy.”

Person X: “What’s your argument exactly Jon? Sure, there are biased reports on both sides of every story, but that doesn’t entirely discredit a legitimate argument, does it? Monsanto is the Walmart of agriculture, neither of who have anyone’s best interest in mind but their own. People who don’t know what capitalism is may want to call that free trade, but if you’re decisions to engage in any sort of trade stem from fear or having no other option, then your decision is not your own, but that of someone who has eliminated selection. Once you take away option, you can do whatever you want to a product because there is no alternative from which to choose. Business isn’t bad. Predatory business is.”

Jon Day: “ I kind of lost you on the whole “Wal Mart and Monsanto don’t act in anyone’s best interest but their own”. What is it they’re supposed to be doing? Whose best interest should they be considering? Yours? Mine? Joe Smith down the road? What if we each have best interests that are different? What the fuck has “best interest” even got to do with it? These people are in business to do the same thing that every other business is in business to do, generate revenue. In your opinion, they are resorting to the equivalent of “extortion” to gain this revenue. Problem is, I’ve nothing by means of proof that this is true. The stale canard that Wal-Mart is some evil mega corporation has been almost entirely debunked. Many people, who cannot obtain employment anywhere else are quite thankful to have Wal-Mart. Others, who cannot afford to obtain goods anywhere else also benefit greatly. Perhaps these people should just go fuck themselves? Additionally, Wal-Mart is far from the only option for anyone. It’s just the best option for some. Wal-Mart is not resorting to any predatory business tactics that I’m aware of, and am interested in hearing the objective proof for such a claim. Monsanto, what they do that got a bug in everyone’s craw was to bring about lawsuits against those farmers who chose to take their propreitary seeds, and rather than pay for them AS THEY SHOULD HAVE TO DO, just continously reproduce them each season without paying a cent. Now that’s what I call predatory. Let someone else do the work, then you profit. Of course, the hippies got all their little panties in a twist over it…and it was difficult to get legal assistance, so instead they developed single generation seeds so that the product would not provide farmers an opportunity to illegally use the offspring of the crop grown. This is all part of a standard contract. In business, when you want to use someone’s product, you agree to pay for it. If I create a website for someone, I’d hardly expect them to feel its ok to take that website, copy all the source code and replicate site after site without ever paying me, but collecting revenue themselves. You’d have to be a complete idiot to think that’s ok. As far as Monsanto buying corporations…well, it takes two to tango. The businesses they are able to buy, are willing to sell. It’s that simple. No one is forcing them to do anything. Why do they sell? Because they have their own best interest in mind. Perhaps you have your masters in business, and would like to help them develop a business model that would yield a greater profit than selling, and by all means do so…but I bet they were happy to sell. It’s not possible to “force” someone to sell. This isn’t the movies. Besides…there’s still tons of different seed companies, tons of different seeds available, and Monsanto definitely has no plans for creating a world famine. That would not be acting in their best interest. What’s the end goal? Kill everyone off so they can sit on their big pile of money like Scrooge McDuck? Surely you must see how silly that sounds. I know it’s hard to believe that a trendy idea may be wrong, especially when it masks itself in “everyone’s best interest”, but you need to ask yourself if you really know what EVERYONE’s best interests are…and how they might be obtained before you start throwing around allegations. It’s difficult to write a good retort in this format, but I gave it a shot.”

Person X: “Actually, that was kind of the point I was making. They don’t care about anyone and their practices show it. It’s entirely American to create something that dominates and destroys it’s competition and poisons the very subject it’s trying to control all for the sake of money and power. Some people are okay with that while other choose to defend it. I think it’s disgusting and no amount of media placating will ever convince me otherwise or that there is a “silver lining” to any of it. The day I start supporting Wal Mart and watching Fox News, please feel free to kill me.”

Jon Day: “How did Fox News get brought into it? I don’t watch any news personally, since it’s all entirely bullshit. There is no real information on “the news”, whether it’s extremely right or extremely left, and all of it is one or the other. As far as “they don’t care about anyone”, I guess I don’t get what you mean by caring. I’m not in kindergarten anymore, so that concept is a little more involved than just stating it. I guess I just don’t get what you would RATHER them do than what they are doing. What, in your opinion would be “OK” for them to do…? Should they just give their merchandise away for free? Should they raise their prices so that other stores can compete, forgetting that doing so would have a negative impact on the poor? How exactly are they “dominating” the competition? Should there be no competition? Maybe the competition should learn to play the game better, and spend less time whining and seeking more government involvement in our lives. Maybe you should read Atlas Shrugged…if you have not.”

(here person x begins to split their posts into multiple posts at a time before I could respond)

Person X: “To care about someone or something to me means to not willfully inflict any number of negative effects onto a person, place or thing presently or in the future for any number of potential gains. To care about someone or something means to defend it’s integrity from being swayed by ominous propaganda or legislature designed to divide and conquer. To care about someone or something to me means to not lie to them and deceive them or be less than forthcoming because I want them to be fully informed and to make the best decisions possible because their happiness will in part reflect the level and quality of involvement I’ve suggested is necessary. To care about someone or something to me means I will not deceive them or others into forming an opinion about them or others that is beneficial only to me and at sake of another.”

Person X: “You do not have to care about the fallout when you are not the one being affected negatively. Without consequence there is hardly a conscience from which to filter your actions.”

Person X: “Do I think people should just GIVE their merchandise away? Why? That was never my argument to begin with.”

Person X: “Do I think there should be NO competition? Why? That only creates laziness and complacency.”

Person X: “If you have something to offer, let people decide if they want it. If what you have to offer is superior to the others, it will sell.”

Person X: “If you eliminate the others, you take away peoples choices and therefore their right to choose.”

Person X: “Once you have taken away their choices, you can do whatever you want to your offering because there is no longer any alternative.”

Person X: “Learn to play the game better? Without the billions of dollars that these companies have at their fingertips, there is no way to compete.”

Person X: “Example. This original post. I don’t want to eat genetically modified produce. Whether or not you or anyone agrees or disagrees with it doesn’t matter. Eat whatever you want. But when a company dominates the food chain as well as the supplies to grow my own food to where I can’t even grow my own food and opt out of their services, that’s is complete and unarguable bullshit. The choices are being eliminated to “eat Monsanto foods or starve and die” and that isn’t right.”

Jon Day: “You do not have to buy Monsanto foods, and in no way is your choice being eliminated. Monsanto is not destroying any competition, as evidenced by the $40+billion organics industry. Yes, learn to the play the game better, and they also will have billions of dollars (and many other than Monsanto do). That’s how “the game” works. These companies have something to offer, people are deciding they want it, and they are buying it. I mean, really, what are you suggesting that someone is forcing people to buy products from specific companies? Who would have that kind of power? No others are being eliminated through any means other than the ordinary rise and fall of businesses. It’s tempting to think that life is a movie, where you’re the hero fighting against some ethereal evil, housed in a giant corporation. Unfortunately, that’s not the case. Perhaps you’re of the opinion that Wal-Mart has “eliminated all competition”, but that opinion would come from a foundation of incorrect information. Take a look at Target’s recent market shares. Please explain yourself better. I would prefer something more than a bunch of recycled arguments I’ve heard time and time again, none of which are based in fact, and all of which contain esoteric “touchy feely” phrases in order to garner an emotional appeal as opposed to one that is based on reason and logic. Unfortunately, that rarely works out in anyone’s “best interest”. You mentioned “caring”. Is it caring to LIE to a starving country, convincing them to turn down tons of food just because it was “genetically modified” (a basic principle of agriculture in practice for centuries) by calling it poisoned? I suppose that it’s caring for people to take the perspective that you’d rather them starve than eat, if what they’re eating does not meet up with your ideological standards. I don’t find that to be caring so much, I find that to be self-centered and elitist. I also don’t think it’s caring to perpetrate and perpetuate false propaganda about what GM crops really are, such as is commonplace within the “organics culture”. They distort the facts behind the science that creates these foods. They flat out lie. In fact, pretty much everything you mentioned about what caring means to you, is the opposite of what is being done by groups like Greenpeace and other “anti-GM” groups. There is nothing wrong with GM foods, and to attempt to legislate me into having to buy organics is just fascist and wrong. You might want to learn more about what’s really going on with “your side” if you think that it’s all about letting people eat what they want (personally I’m not on a so-called side). It’s those of us who are not on any side who are getting fucked. Look at the soda tax…that’s social engineering in practice. Take a look at the lobbyists for groups like greenpeace, and the legislation they are seeking. If they had their way, and they just might get it, I will not have the choice to buy anything but shitty, bland tasting organic food…that is way too expensive. In fact, it would seem that most of the proposed legislation coming out of places like California revolves around telling other people how they have to live. Many of us are wide awake…and while others are sleeping, our liberty is simply being stripped away to nothing.”

Person X: “Really? Did you just make this about me living in California?”

Person X: “You think I feel like a hero in a movie living in California?”

Person X: “Really?”

Jon Day: “The hero movie part was just an analogy. The California part was about where certain legislation is being passed.”

Jon Day: “In other words, the two concepts were not connected.”

Person X: “So, if I say something is true, you say it is NOT true simply because I say it is true and vice versa. But you’re telling me that if you say something is true, that it is in fact , true. You assume you know my argument based on prior experiences and therefore that opinions are made based upon the information we choose to read and accept or discredit and the experiences we’ve had with that information as well as our own likes and dislikes regardless of public opinion. There are also a lot of other arguments included up there that I never sided with but am expected to defend? I do not assume that one argument accepts the likes of another because their correlation generally lies only with a ‘left’ or ‘right’ vote. While your “hero” comment was just an analogy, it was an analogy used and worded to belittle my argument and add credit to yours, which oddly enough is a tactic used by the very company that this post is about. Weird.”

Jon Day: “My point was that your argument did not contain facts. I’ve been trying to get you to specify facts, so that I could have an actual legit debate against those facts. So far, I’ve had to debate against “ideals”, which is much less worthwhile as they are purely esoteric. I tried to give you a fact…you said “WalMart and Monsanto eliminate all competition”…I said it was untrue. I attempted back up MY assertion, by stating that Target beat out WalMart in market shares, and that the organics industry is currently well above $40billion. Can you defend your argument that Monsanto and WalMart are eliminating the competition by disputing these facts with contrary facts?”

Person X: “Oh crap Jon, Target is hardly the competition I’m referring to, and why is it that you’re only focusing on the ‘competition’ factor? You think I care about which billion dollar company beat out whichever other billion dollar company?”

Jon Day: “No, I don’t think you care about whatever billion dollar company…you’re posting on facebook aren’t you?”

—More on this later, in another post.

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