Round 8: Monsanto vs Walmart

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Monsanto develops and market genetically engineered seed and bovine growth hormone. In 1997, Fox News acquiesced to Monsanto pressure and squashed a report on hormone-laced milk. At one time, the company was trying to develop seeds that grew plants that themselves grew no seeds, the idea being to force farmers to buy seeds year after year. The company is a frequent target of environmental action groups. Oh, and they made Agent Orange.

Hardly needing an introduction, Walmart draws criticism for disrupting small town economies and for its treatment of its workers. This year Walmart was successfully sued for millions of dollars in backwages owed to its employees. Recently Walmart hired public relations firm Edelman, who have tried an extreme image makeover for the retailer as if it were a political candidate. They sold, and continue to stock on its shelves, tshirts bearing Nazi iconography.

WALMART posts.
MONSANTO posts.

P.S. You still have time to vote on the earlier rounds. Stand up and be counted as the polls for the first series will be closing soon.

Previously: Verizon vs Bank Of America, AT&T/Cingluar/SBC vs Clear Channel, Halliburton vs News Corp, Exxon vs Time Warner Cable, Comcast vs Sony, Best Buy vs Uhaul, RIAA vs United Airlines.

Comments

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  1. esqdork says:

    This is so hard. Monsanto has a larger negative impact globally, but boy do I hate Wal-Mart.

  2. etinterrapax says:

    In a way, Wal-Mart does the same thing as Monsanto. Forces people to work for wages that can only buy crap that sucks, so they have to buy more crap that sucks. What a tough choice, this one.

  3. How did two of the MOST evil end up paired off in the first round?

    I went for Monsanto. WalMart is way evil, but if Monsanto has its way, we’re all going to starve to death.

  4. junkmail says:

    I’m not sure I understand how you can compare Walmart’s (admittedly shady) business practices with those of Monsanto. While you may not agree with the way Walmart does things, there are literally hundreds of thousands of people that rely on them for making it paycheck to paycheck. Does that outweigh the poor treatment of employees, or the heavy-handed tactics they use with vendors and suppliers? Of course not. Monsanto on the other hand, is the basis for every “evil corporation” stereotype and horror story you can imagine.

  5. AtomikB says:

    Wal-Mart provides people with low-paying jobs, but at least they do provide jobs. Wal-Mart sells crappy products, but some people like those products.

    Bottom line, Wal-Mart doesn’t poison people, or try to lock farmers into evil seed schemes, or sue farmers who have the misfortune of having genetically modified seeds blow into their fields. Monsanto does these despicable things.

    Monsanto is worse than Wal-Mart!

  6. vinco says:

    Part of the reason for the attempted design of seeds that will only grow for one year was to prevent the spread of the GM crop beyond the planting area. If the plants can’t reproduce, the transgenes won’t make it into the general ecosystem.

  7. Fortran says:

    It can’t be Monsanto, they gave us “Adventures Thru Inner Space”!

    Miracles from molecules are dawning every day,
    discoveries for happiness in a fabulous array!
    A never-ending search is on by men who dare and plan:
    making modern miracles from molecules for man!

  8. Elaine Chow says:

    I can’t believe Wal-Mart’s winning at this. It’s definitely not perfect, but everything it does is still an attempt to provide cheap goods to consumers. If you think a product is ethically dangerous at Wal-Mart and get enough friends to think the same, they do something about it.

    Monsanto? RAPING OUR FOOD SYSTEM AND OUR HEALTH! And I’m not even being sensationalistic! They were the ones that subverted nature by breeding seeds that could only be used once (and trying to punish or sue farmers who refused to use that seed).

    They continually put hormones into milk and then deny ANY claims or ANY studies that say that the hormones could be good for you.

    Ok, you guys stated that… but how about cloned meat? They’re lobbying to get the FDA not to put “cloned meat” labels on their meat, because apparently the customer doesn’t have the right to know.

    Plus all the pollution they cause and the birth defects that subsequently happen and then them constantly funding studies to say that those birth defects have NOTHING to do with Monsanto products, god… it’s just disgusting!

  9. lpranal says:

    Spatuladeity > I couldn’t aggree more. I implore anyone who actually vo…

  10. lpranal says:

    uhm… ok…
    what i meant to say was,

    Agent orange vs. Nazi Tshirts? WTF!?

    anyone who voted for walmart needs to read this.

    http://www.smartmoney.com/tradecraft/index.cfm?story=20061

  11. esqdork says:

    Wal-Mart should hire the agency Monsanto retained because that agency is doing a better job.

  12. FLConsumer says:

    Wow… tought decision here. VERY tough decision. My vote goes to Monsanto — any company which knowingly tests pesticides on humans without telling the humans of the testing deserves to be called the worst. This crap hasn’t been done since the Nazis, now we’re having big business doing it, calling it “science.” If they were doing a TRUE scientific experiment into the effects of pesticides, they’d use a better sample pool than 10 healthy college students. AND they’d follow up. Just because the kids didn’t die in the test chamber doesn’t mean they didn’t have any ill effects down the road.

    http://www.democrats.reform.house.gov/Documents/2005061611

  13. jeblis says:

    Tough call, but I haven’t any hard evidence of Monsanto’s evilness. Rather than just jumping on the environmentalist bandwagon here that every chemical company is evil:

    I’m ok with gm crops (maybe you’re not, but there is not evidence that this is bad)

    Plants that don’t produce seeds. Not much different than software that won’t copy itself. A little mean and potentially dangerous, but not evil.

    Agent Orange – Nasty stuff. Did Monsanto know how bad it was and used it anyway or did they find out later like everyone else?

    Hormones in milk. Again is there any proof this is bad or are you just suckered in by the notion that it’s not naturally there so it must be bad.
    Arsenic is 100% natural.

    Get over the t-shirts already. Walmart is evil because it screws it’s employees.

  14. wasylm says:

    @lpranal: That article fails to address any of the real reasons Wal-Mart is called evil. You can’t simply dismiss evil actions because it has some positive side-effects.

    Yes, Wal-Mart provides many American jobs, but it also got nailed for unpaid overtime and pay discrimination against women, not to mention the rock-bottom wages they do pay are driving people toward government assistance programs.

    Yes, Wal-Mart allows poorer folks to get more for their dollar, but only by squeezing suppliers, who in turn squeeze their workers in foreign countries. It’s simply a transfer of poverty to non-Americans, not to mention the working conditions and hours.

    I’m sorry, but even if Wal-Mart did solely great things for our own country’s people (quite debatable), my own view of what is fair and right extends beyond US borders. Exploitation is exploitation, and of course some people here are benefiting from it, but that doesn’t make it right in any way.

  15. pediddle says:

    Dudes, how in the world did you seed this tournament? The two potentially-most-evil companies in America should be on opposite ends of the bracket!

  16. Bob says:

    Funny how Walmart is voted worse than the company who made Agent Orange!

  17. ACurmudgeon says:

    Gotta agree with jeblis here on the GM crop thing and Monsanto in general.
    I imagine that Monsanto is an evil corporation, but I don’t have any evidence myself. But, for all the bitching people do about agri-business, the bottom line is that without it, many more people would starve to death.
    I am all for going back to organic farms and natural foods. Just as soon as a couple of billion people kill themselves so that organic works and I can have my all-natural pudding pops.

  18. velocipenguin says:

    Wal-Mart is evil.

    That being said, I don’t think Wal-Mart ever knowingly poisoned American soldiers and the citizens of an entire country; therefore, my vote goes to Monsanto.

    (Genetically engineered single-generation seeds suck too.)

  19. CorporalNobby says:

    Walmart is about emotions, while Monsanto makes poisons and says it doesn’t.

  20. junkmail says:

    I think I’m going to throw up. This whole thing is almost as bad as the “Man on the Street” interviews with people who voted for Kerry because his running mate was “cute”. Good grief people. I know this voting carries absolutely no weight at all, but do a little research, wouldja?

    You don’t personally have any evidence that Monsanto is an evil corporation, so you’re going to vote for Walmart? I don’t even know where to start with that…

    And just in case it starts looking like I’m preaching FOR Walmart, I’m not. I’m just REALLY amazed that anyone can intelligently compare poor wages and “squeezing suppliers” with a company that is single-handedly doing more to endanger the health and well-being of this planet than anyone in history.

  21. cheesyfru says:

    Wow, getting to the big boys in round one. Monsanto might not be nearly as visible as Wal-Mart in their evilness, but Monsanto wants to kill us all, and then sue us for dying from their poisons without paying royalties.

  22. junkmail says:

    @cheesyfru:

    Monsanto might not be nearly as visible as Wal-Mart in their evilness, but Monsanto wants to kill us all, and then sue us for dying from their poisons without paying royalties.


    Okay, I’ve posted twice now, and still didn’t say it as well as you did with that one sentence. Well played.

  23. spanky says:

    All genetic modification is not the same, and it is unfair and inaccurate to characterize the critics of Monsanto as a bunch of superstitious hippies who fear progress or something.

    It’s not just that Monsanto crops are genetically modified. It’s that they lie about the effects of those modifications. They cover up studies and media reports that illustrate and inform the public about problems with their products–including serious health dangers and nutritional issues with their crops; environmental problems, including the advent of super-strains of weeds as a result of overuse of their herbicides; and other issues.

    Rather than honestly and clearly responding to the legitimate issues with their products, they just sue their detractors. They’ve sued small dairies for labeling their products as BGH-free. They’ve sued and strongarmed family farmers whose crops have been contaminated with patented Monsanto crops, through no fault of their own. They’ve polluted public water sources, then filtered and sold back the water they contaminated in the first place.

    If you haven’t seen any evidence that Monsanto is doing anything wrong, that’s probably because Monsanto doesn’t want you to see it.

  24. thrillhouse says:

    At one time, the company was trying to develop seeds that grew plants that themselves grew no seeds, the idea being to force farmers to buy seeds year after year.

    @vinco:

    The real reason they tried to do this is to support their business model. Prior to GM (not the car company) seed, farmers would hold back a certain amount of the grain they would harvest to use as seed for the next year. They would still buy seed corn or beans, but saving some back would help offset their costs, while still having plenty to sell. It was their crop to do what they want with.

    Monsanto’s current business model has them selling their seed very high (with the included ‘technology’ fees), and the chemicals (Round-up) being quite cheap. If a farmer were to save back some of his GM crop, he would have GM seed ready for next year sans all the added cost. Doing this would violate the agreement with Monsanto that allowed the initial purchase of seed.

    Occasionally, someone will get brave and think, “oh, they won’t notice”. But they do. When caught, Monsanto’s goons will pay you a visit and give you 2 options:
    - We sue your ass and put you under.
    - You hook up your plow and turn under your entire crop, while everyone watches on.

    So this seed they were developing was/is an effort to circumvent that whole process and just make it impossible to do.

  25. Kryndis says:

    The link FLConsumer posted ought to be in the article. Read that link and you won’t even consider voting for Walmart.

    And don’t get me wrong, under normal circumstances Walmart would win any contest hands down. But man, Mansanto needs to stop being ignored.

  26. dotyoureyes says:

    @Eyebrows McGee & pediddle:

    The tournament got seeded with .

    In the prelims, Monsanto got all of 60 votes — it barely made the tournament. Wal-Mart got 367 — making it the #2 seed overall.

    I agree that Monsanto is far more evil on a global scale, and would love nothing more than to see a first round upset.

    So… start a little grass-roots push (ahem). Get your friends out here and put Monsanto over the top!

    Any tournament worth its salt needs the prospect of a Cinderella team that could take it all!

  27. dotyoureyes says:

    @dotyoureyes: Sorry. Bad link above. The tournament got seeded with this preliminary round.

  28. John Stracke says:

    @cheesyfru:

    Monsanto wants to kill us all, and then sue us for dying from their poisons without paying royalties.

    Now that’s just silly. If they kill us all, whom will they send to serve the lawsuit?

  29. pestie says:

    I know it’s fashionable to bash Wal-Mart, and with good reason, but I’m definitely voting for Monsanto. They’re truly evil.

  30. Jeffers0n says:

    Until today I’d never really heard of Monsanto, but after doing some research they got my vote hands down. I think people are only voting for Wal-Mart because it’s cool to hate Wal-Mart, and they’ve never seen the name Monsanto before.

  31. jeblis says:

    Monsanto may truly be evil. I just haven’t found (or seen posted) any credible specific examples.

    I know more about Walmart’s specific tactics and policies. That being said it’s often the companies that produce products not immediately visible to the general public that get to fly under the scope of public opinion.

  32. Trai_Dep says:

    I voted for Wal-Mart out of instinct. Upon reflection, the globe is threatened more by Monsanto. My bad. BOY will I feel awful if Monsanto wins by 1…

    HEY, I call foul on placing these two in the first round! It’s like comparing Stalin & GW Bush straight out, instead of the preliminaries (Speer, Caligula & Barney)

  33. LeopardSeal says:

    @Eyebrows McGee: That’s exactly what I said when I saw this pair.

    They are both evil, but Monsanto is evil in a “destroy all ecosystems and the balance of life as we know it” kind of way. That gets my vote.

  34. Luxy says:

    I voted for Monsanto because they have a more immediate impact on me, personally. I don’t shop at Wal-Mart, ever. But with Monsanto, I can’t tell when exactly I’m buying their products. So I spend a lot on organic food and worry when I don’t use something all natural.

  35. captainmicahp says:

    Monsanto may one day end malnutrition and hunger in the world, it is very fashionable to criticize a company for making “frankenfoods”, but companies like Monsanto and ADM are taking technology and making the world a cleaner and healthier place. Technologies that allow farmers to use less pesticide and fertilizers fro example are good for the farmers, and greatly reduces toxic runoff from farms entering our watershed. Go ahead and blame them for making agent orange, but that was 40 years ago not last year.

  36. olegna says:

    Monsanto produced RoundUp Ready. It’s a good product, I guess. (It’s not a chemical herbalizer, per so, but rather a compound that breaks down with water, sticks to leaves and blocks photosynthesis). But it is used in the Colombia coca-crop eradication program founded by US taxpayers and administered by DynCorp, a “private contractor” based in Virginia with lucrative preferential business agreement with the US gov’t. Has been for years. The problem is that according to the safe use instructions provided by Monsanto, it is supposed to be heavily diluted and sprayed from tractors directly over the crops. This is to prevent wind-drift and killing off plant life. In Colombia it is sprayed from helicopters and other aircraft over the southern Colombian countryside. There is some evidence that the mixture isn’t following the instructions (possibly not as diluted) and in the 90′s a British company stopped selling an additive that was being uses in the mixture in the crop-eradication program because they couldn’t say if it was safe. (In addition to the wind drift over the crops of poor Colombian subsistence farmers, it is also being inhaled by the people on the ground, causing respiratory congestion (sticky mist being inhaled by people on the ground). A group of Ecuadorean farmers have sued DynCorp because they say the Roundup mist is drifting over the border, killing the farmers food crops and causing respiratory distress in children and the elderly.

    Anyway, if Monsanto had any concern it would stop selling its products to DynCorp.

    Also, the seedstock is copyrighted (Monsanto produces seeds that are immune to Roundup Ready, which means you can spray it on these crops and it will kill all plant life except the crops grown form these seeds, allowing for easy weeding of fields.) Mosanto has brought suit against small farmers in Mexico (and probably other countries) accusing them of copyright violation because some of them have been found growing crops that originated from these copyrighted seeds. Farmers claim that the genetics is drifting into their field from neighboring big-agro operations using Monsanto stock.

    My main concern with Monsanto’s genetic engineering is that it is making crops homogeneous. For example, the typical Mexican farmer has dozens of varieties of corn (in various colors) and those are going to be gone someday and replaced by the standards yellow corn we see in US grocery stores. This genetic standardization not only makes food bland and standardized, but it also exposes the species to any future weaknesses to disease. If all crops are the same, they are all going to be exposed to future crop-diseases. We see this going on with bananas in Central America.

  37. KenV says:

    The people that vote for Monsanto know the evils of Monsanto and the Wal-Mart people know the same about the Beast of Bentonville.

    I will say this, there are sweatshop slaves all over the world being poisoned by toxic chemicals and lead based paints producing merchandise for Wal-Mart.

    Here’s a scary thought:

    Mon*Midland*Mart, a conglomeration of Monsanto, producing seed and agri-chemicals, Archer Daniels Midland controlling the food supply, and Wal-Mart handling the distribution!

  38. Logan26 says:

    You people are nuts. Most of what Walmart sells is good quality stuff that is cheaper and more affordable than other large box stores.

  39. thrillhouse says:

    @captainmicahp:
    That is just about the funniest thing I have ever heard.

    “making the world a cleaner and healthier place”?! By using more chemicals? Chemicals do not equal healthy. Their products require using more chemicals, not less. they are a chemical company. And GM crops won’t be curing world hunger anytime soon. In fact, GM crops killed 1600 sheep in India not so long ago. The impact that GM crops will have on the world is as unpredictable as Agent Orange in 70′s. But I bet that won’t stop them.

    And Agent Orange? Ever heard the herbicide Lasso? Lasso was made available to farmers in 1969 and was basically Agent Orange. This isn’t just something that was used in the war, it was their livelihood. The EPA forced them to halt its production in 1977, but not until after run-off of the toxin PCB had polluted America’s lakes and streams.

    Yes, it was made 40 some years ago, and they’ve spent that time since then and millions of dollars trying to cover every bit of it up by doctoring government studies, lobbying against legislation and putting out mis-information.

    Their toxins can now also be found in lots of other consumer products, like cosmetics… You can probably buy them at Wal-Mart. Evil, evil Wal-Mart.

  40. Elvisisdead says:

    @olegna

    You are off in the details. Roundup Ready is a genetic modification that is made to the seed that Monsanto sells. They also license this technology to other seed producers.

    That modification allows the plant to be immune to Roundup – the chemical weed killer you reference. RoundUp is so evil that you can buy it at any home center in the entire US. Feed and seed stores have been selling it to farmers for at least 20 years, if not 30. Frankly, it’s one of the best herbicides out there.

    You’re also way off base in your concern about genetic homogenization. You can’t grow one strain of corn everywhere. Something that is engineered for the Iowa/Nebraska corn belt (or even certain areas within it) will not produce in latin america. Well, it will, but not like it does in the environment that it is engineered for. Your view of the corn industry is overly simplistic.

    Ask me how I know. My wife’s family business is corn. Monsanto has tried to either put them out of business or buy them more times than we can count in the last 20 years. The problem for them is that the company’s IP is patented, and Monsanto can’t beat it.

    They’re bad. Worse that Wal-Mart ever thought about being. They’re bad internationally and locally.

  41. olegna says:

    @elivisdead

    >> You are off in the details. Roundup Ready is a genetic modification that is made to the seed that Monsanto sells. They also license this technology to other seed producers.

    Isn’t that basically what I said? The point is that the seed is patented and if you don’t buy that seed from Monsanto (or its licensed vendors) finds it in your corn field, then it goes after you.

    >> RoundUp is so evil that you can buy it at any home center in the entire US. Feed and seed stores have been selling it to farmers for at least 20 years, if not 30. Frankly, it’s one of the best herbicides out there.

    That’s true… when you follow the instructions on the label, which includes by how much to dilute it and to spray it directly over the crops from tractors, NOT form cropdusting aircraft. In Colombia, the following things were done that do not follow Monsanto’s own instructions for proper use:

    #1.) They spray it from aircraft, causing it to drift over natural habitats and people living on the ground;
    #2.) Until the mid-90s, Dyncorp was using an additive than made Roundup adhere better to the leaves of the plant. When the British producer of this additive found out, it was so concerned over this that is stopped selling its product in Colombia.
    #3.) There is no oversight on whether Roundup is being diluted in proper amounts. There is some evidence to suggest the Colombians, under the US crop-eradication program, are not diluting Roundup to its recommended ratio.

    All three of these points, put together, is harming the natural habitats of southern Colombia, destroying food crops of subsistence farmers, and causing respiratory distress in the young an eldery on the ground.

    >> You’re also way off base in your concern about genetic homogenization.

    I admit I don’t fully understand the nuances of genetic seedstock in the corn industry. What I do know is that the (culinary) variety of corn is being diminished. (Where do you buy red or blue corn in the US?) With that said, I probably shouldn’t try to pretend like I know anything about the genetic nuances of the standard yellow corn varieties. All I know is red corn, blue corn, the “calico” varieties, etc. are being replaced in Mexico by the standard “yellow” variety grown by DeKalb and ADM (in Mexico).

  42. clarksonsucks says:

    fyi dupont developed and produced agent orange, not monsanto. monsanto is famous for blowing up in galvaston texas after the fire on the french cargo ship, the grand comp which was carrying amonium nitrate fertalizer