Are you a good neighbor, or a bad neighbor?

By Lauren Neuschel

Native Foods Cafe

Some say that, “A good neighbor increases the value of your own property.” And a bad neighbor, well, just the opposite.

That sentiment is proving all too true for Midwest veggie farmers, whose land sits just downwind from mega agricultural giants, Dow AgroSciences and Monsanto. In the past few years, these smaller farming businesses haven’t exactly been reaping what they’re sowing. Instead, their crops have been infected with herbicides from neighboring fields that evaporate and drift in a gaseous state, miles from where they were first sprayed- sometimes even a whopping 100 miles.     

  Monsanto 1

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Dow and Monstanto apply these herbicides to corn and soybean varieties that have been genetically modified to withstand the spray, so that only the weeds are killed. Other crops, and unfortunately, the crops grown by neighboring farms happen to be sensitive to these herbicides (including tomatoes, potatoes, squash, beans, peas).

Local farmers have gathered together to approach these two giants with only one of them willing to compromise. And yep, you guessed it, Monsanto is the one not doing the budging. As the world’s largest producer of genetically modified seeds they aren’t willing to reformulate the herbicide despite the serious effects to neighboring crops. In fact, this new herbicide would likely not even exist had it not been for overuse (and misuse) of an older variety of the herbicide. With over-spraying, the weeds became resistant and this new herbicide had to be formulated. Bigger will always be better for Monsanto, no matter the cost. And their herbicide would boast much higher yields for the company and increased efficiency.

If you look back on Monsanto’s history, it’s clear that bigger and fast have always been a top priority. As has finding the “next big thing.” For example, in the 1950s they predicted microwave-cooking technology, climate control systems (aka the air conditioner), and pushed plastics as “the newest and most challenging category of building materials.” One year at Disneyland they sponsored the “Monsanto House of the Future”- a house made entirely from plastic. Plastics? Microwaves? Chemicals? Energy-suckers? Let’s just say they don’t use the words “protect” and “environment” in one sentence too often. 



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The question is certainly not whether Monsanto will be on the cutting edge of the latest technology and scientific innovation. For good and for bad, they have been leaders in both fields. But when given the power to lead and to innovate, the question becomes whether they’ll ever realize that the latest technology isn’t always the greatest technology.


Only time will tell with this great debacle. But, we’re certainly sticking around to find out…

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