I’m several Internet lifetimes late in posting this, but Vanity Fair’s lengthy look at Monsanto—in this month’s Madonna-clad green issue—is somewhat surprising, not for how unrelentingly vicious it is, but for how wide-ranging. There’s a lot of highly contaminated dirt in Monsanto’s backyard, and the authors went digging all over the property.
The story leads with the company’s aggressive tactics in enforcing patents on its genetically modified seeds, which include hiring private investigators and agents who “fan out into fields and farm towns, where they secretly videotape and photograph farmers, store owners, and co-ops; infiltrate community meetings; and gather information from informants about farming activities.”
The piece then steps back into Monsanto’s chemical past—PCBs and dioxin—before fast-forwarding to the company’s current attempt to prevent dairies from advertising that they don’t use rBGH, Monsanto’s bovine growth hormone. It’s a head-to-toe indictment of the company, and it seems to have been picked up by the CBS Evening News, which this weekend ran a story on Monsanto’s legal pursuit of small farmers it suspects of piracy. What’s perhaps most galling, and was reported by both outlets, is Monsanto’s lawsuits against seed cleaners, who cull and clean seeds for farmers to replant—an ancient practice.
Needless to say, it’s been a rough month for the corporate giant, which was also hit with a new study showing that its genetically modified soybeans produce 10 percent less than a conventional counterpart.