Organic Consumers Association

Campaigning for health, justice, sustainability, peace, and democracy

The Planet Versus Monsanto

[Editor's Note: It is absolutely ridiculous and yet predictable that Forbes Magazine has named Monsanto the Company of the Year for 2009. Monsanto has been a bit more high profile in the last year, I'll give them that, but it's because the public is finally getting educated about Monsanto's role in ruining our world by its company contributions to climate change, pollution and injustice. Monsanto was recently awarded the Angry Mermaid Award during the Copenhagen climate talks, and is also currently the subject of a Department of Justice anti-trust investigation. This just makes Forbes Magazine love them all the more, though, because now they're the underdogs! Poor, poor Monsanto! Read more on the OCA's Millions Against Monsanto Campaign Page.]

Monsanto biochemist Roy Fuchs takes fish oil pills every morning in hopes of warding off heart disease. He'd much rather get his omega-3 fatty acids in a granola bar or cup of yogurt. But it is tricky to add omega-3s to food products without adding unwanted flavors. After a while on the shelf, omega-3-enriched products can smell and taste like old fish, he says.

Fuchs hopes that the new genetically engineered soybeans Monsanto ( MON - news - people ) is working on will solve this problem. The soybeans contain two new genes to make a tasteless oil that is converted inside the body into the form of omega-3 thought to be good for the heart. In a 157-patient study presented at a cardiology conference in November, those volunteers who had high triglycerides saw their levels drop 26% after eating 15 grams of the oil daily for three months.

Wouldn't that be a wonderful product to have for sale? Stops heart disease--and protects the environment, too. People could get their nutritional supplements without depleting fish stocks.

Monsanto needs crowd-pleasers like this to get past its image problems. In economic terms, the company is a winner. It has created many billions of dollars of value for the world with seeds genetically engineered to ward off insects or make a crop immune to herbicides: Witness the vast numbers of farmers who prefer its seeds to competing products, and the resulting $44 billion market value of the company. In its fiscal 2009 Monsanto sold $7.3 billion of seeds and seed genes, versus $4 billion for second-place DuPont ( DD - news - people ) and its Pioneer Hi-Bred unit. Monsanto, of St. Louis, netted $2.1 billion on revenue of $11.7 billion for fiscal 2009 (ended Aug. 31). Its sales have increased at an annualized 18% clip over five years; its annualized return on capital in the period has been 12%. Those accomplishments earn it the designation as FORBES' Company of the Year.
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