15 Myths About Monsanto

  1. Anyone who supports Monsanto is a paid “shill”

    Monsanto has developed a terrible reputation over the years and it is peculiar as to why that has happened. One of the reasons is because anyone that tries to defend them is labeled as a “shill.” This means the opposition believes that anyone who defends Monsanto is being paid to do so. I can assure you this is not the case. There are thousands of privately funded scientists, millions of people in agriculture, and myself who do not believe Monsanto is a terrible company and who are not getting paid to have those beliefs. The simple fact is that Monsanto, while very large, does not have nearly enough money to pay everyone who supports them, or even half of everyone who supports them. That notion is implausible and doesn’t even make sense. There has never been any evidence to show that something like this is happening. Plus, Monsanto was recently bought out by Bayer, proving again that they can and do struggle financially sometimes and have no business paying thousands of people lots of money to defend them.

(In an attempt to be as transparent as possible, my relationship with Monsanto is as follows. On our family farm, we do use Monsanto seed on a small portion of our acres and we do apply the Monsanto chemical glyphosate on our fields to control weeds. However, neither of those things are vital to our operation. Our farm does not “rely” on Monsanto in any way and could easily continue to function entirely without a buying relationship with them. Monsanto has never given our farm or my family any money to do anything on their behalf, but they did fly our family to a convention to receive an award for agricultural advocacy in 2013. However, a free flight (or any type of compensation for that matter) would never be enough for me to advocate for a company that I honestly believed was evil or bad. I do not believe Monsanto is either of those. It has always been my goal to search for and promote the truth about whatever it is I am talking about, and this blog about Monsanto is no different.)

  1. Monsanto is evil

    There are many out there who simply believe that today’s Monsanto is pure evil. There are conspiracy theories out there that Monsanto is trying to poison the world. This is simply not true if you examine the evidence. While Monsanto is a huge company, and that itself is reason enough for concern about who they are and what they do, most of what Monsanto does is not evil or even bad. They can be greedy, as can any huge company, but in most cases, what they are doing is by and large, good. Let’s discuss the main grievances people have with Monsanto.

  1. Monsanto’s GMOs are poisonous

    Most people who are anti-Monsanto are also anti-GMO. If you truly believe that GMOs are evil and are being produced to “poison the world,” it would be logical to believe that the company (companies) behind that is evil as well. However, if you examine the evidence on GMOs, it is clear that at the very least (even if you don’t support them) they are not poisonous or evil. And at the best, they are a very beneficial technology that is both feeding people and helping the environment. (Read what we believe about GMOs)

  1. Monsanto’s glyphosate is poisonous

    Next to GMOs, the biggest problem people have with Monsanto is their production of one of the top selling chemicals in the world, glyphosate. Many people believe glyphosate is over-applied, extremely toxic, and causes both health and environmental problems. On the contrary, glyphosate is one of the safest, least toxic chemicals used in agricultural production and is applied at extremely small amounts. Evidence is also strong that glyphosate does not cause health or environmental problems when used responsibly. (Read more about what we believe about glyphosate and other chemicals)

  1. Monsanto manufactured agent orange

    This is a common argument used to prove the fact that Monsanto is evil. It is slightly misleading. There are actually two “Monsanto” companies that have existed. The first one, the former Monsanto company, manufactured agent orange from 1965 to 1969 as part of a government contractor for the war. They also developed a bad reputation as a company. That chemical company was sold to Pfizer in the 1990s. The Monsanto of today is a combination of seed companies that were acquired in the 1990s and 2000s and relaunched as a separate, new “Monsanto company.” This “new Monsanto” was formed to incorporate new science and technology in the development of seed, providing farmers with the ability to create more food with less land, water, and chemicals than had been previously possible. That’s what Monsanto has been doing ever since, and has built up a very positive reputation in the agricultural community, but much of the public’s opinion of them is based on the “old Monsanto” that was a disliked chemical company. (Read more about the history of Monsanto)

  1. Monsanto is a massive, controlling monopoly

    Monsanto, while a large company, is not massive. They are 189th on the Fortune 500. They are worth $66 billion. Apple in comparison is worth $500 billion. Monsanto is also not a monopoly. There are many companies farmers can buy their chemicals and seed from. That being said, Monsanto does have a huge market share of seeds (25% of all seeds) and chemicals around the world and is the largest seed company. The consolidation of seed and chemical companies is real and is a cause for concern. But the reason they keep consolidating is because it is so difficult and costly to bring new GMOs and new chemicals to the market, due to so many regulations. In conclusion, you can’t say Monsanto is large and trying to consolidate without also recognizing the reason why: GMOs and pesticides are unbelievably regulated and inspected for health and safety and hardly anyone can afford to produce them.

  2. Monsanto sues farmers

    One of the main accusations about Monsanto is that they sue farmers. Yes, Monsanto has sued farmers before, but only because they broke the rules of the technology agreement Monsanto requires with a purchase of their seed. Just like any invention, Monsanto’s GMO seeds are patented to make sure people are not stealing from them. By signing the agreement, the farmer agrees to buy new seeds from Monsanto each year. The farmer is not forced to do this, they are free to buy non-GMO seeds from somewhere else. To be clear, Monsanto rarely sues farmers (only 8 times per year since 1998, out of thousands of seed transactions each year)  If a farmer follows the rules of Monsanto’s technology agreement (don’t replant the seeds), they have nothing to worry about. Most farmers do not save seeds anymore anyway, for a variety of reasonsMonsanto does not sue for inadvertent (accidental) contamination or from cross pollination. A farmer has to willingly, knowingly break the rules in order to be sued and could easily eliminate the risk of being sued by never buying from Monsanto in the first place.

  3. Monsanto is causing farmers to commit suicide

    A widely publicized rumor several years back was that farmers in India were committing suicide after trying to plant Monsanto’s GMO seeds. It is true (and extremely sad) that 270,000 farmers have committed suicide in India over the last several decades. Monsanto, however, has never had anything to do with this, and has actually helped millions of Indian farmers with their technology. Over 90% of Indian cotton farmers now use GMO seeds. Why would the technology spread so successfully if it was making farmers commit suicide? There are many reasons Indian farmers have taken their own lives over the years, including crop failure from weather events, banking policies, cultural shame, and just an overall suicide problem in the country (over half of all suicides come from India and China). The issue is outlined in this write-up: Why are Indian farmers committing suicide?

  4. Monsanto is bad for farmers and rural communities

    There is a general feeling on the internet of “poor farmers being under Monsanto’s control.” In reality, nearly every farmer you talk to recognizes that Monsanto is just another big agricultural company who they can *choose* to buy seeds or chemicals from. There will definitely be some farmers that don’t like Monsanto, simply because they make a lot of money and charge a lot for their products, but farmers continue to buy Monsanto products because they are the best option for their farm, not because they are being forced to in any way. Monsanto is also one of the greatest contributors and donators to rural communities in America and around the world. They are constantly sponsoring youth programs, funding local research, and giving back to many non-profit organizations. Read more here: Monsanto Giving

  5. Monsanto creates seeds that are sterile (terminator seeds)

    Terminator seeds (seeds that become sterile after one year) were a concept developed by Monsanto early on the history of GMOs, but they received so much public backlash that Monsanto never brought them to market. Monsanto’s GMO seeds can be planted again the next year and they will grow, it’s just against the rules to do that. There are no terminator seeds available today nor were there ever any brought into commercialized production.

  6. Monsanto hates bees

    Many people hold the belief that pesticides and GMOs are responsible for bee population decline. We address that myth in our GMO and Chemical blogs. If you can get look past that misguided belief and examine the actual evidence, you will find that many different factors are contributing to bee decline and most of them are not related to Monsanto. Monsanto is actually working hard to find a solution to bee decline (Read more here).

  7. Monsanto employees are all terrible people

    Many people believe that all Monsanto employees must be terrible people and hate their jobs. Anyone who knows a Monsanto employee, however, knows this is not even close to true. Monsanto was voted the 59th best company to work for in the world. They are well respected in the agricultural community and the employees who work there are some of the nicest people you’ll meet. I had many friends in college take internships with Monsanto and/or went on to work for Monsanto and I never once heard them badmouth the company. (Read more about Monsanto employees and how they feel about working for Monsanto)

  8. Monsanto employees don’t eat food containing GMOs

    This myth is simply untrue and never had any grounds of being true. Monsanto has never excluded GMOs from their cafeterias nor do their employees avoid GMOs in their personal grocery shopping. (Read more)

  9. Monsanto only sells GMOs

    Monsanto sells many different seeds besides GMOs. This includes non-GMO seeds, organic seeds, and vegetable seeds. They also sell a variety of chemicals and weed control products.

  10. Monsanto is against labeling GMOs

    Monsanto has a very similar opinion to us of GMO labeling. Click here to read Monsanto’s opinion of labeling GMO products. Click here to read our opinion of GMO labeling.

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17 Myths About Agriculture in 2017

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  1. GMOs are evil

    GMOs are a valuable technology used in science, medicine, and agriculture. Farmers use them to increase yields, reduce inputs, improve the soil, and provide resistance to drought, insects and weeds. There are GMOs being used all throughout society, and there is a very good chance you’ve consumed or used a GM product today. We do believe people should be free to avoid GMOs if they want to, but GMOs have been around for 2 decades (over a trillion meals consumed) without a single sickness or health issue resulting from consumption. We’ve written about why farmers use GMOs and their many misconceptions here: What the Peterson Farm Bros Think About GMOs

  2. Monsanto is evil

    One of the biggest misconceptions about agriculture (or on the internet really) is that Monsanto is an evil company bent on poisoning humanity. Anyone who is familiar with Monsanto or who knows a Monsanto employee knows this isn’t true. Most of what you hear online about Monsanto is either greatly exaggerated or simply not true. We don’t believe Monsanto is perfect and we know that many people are frustrated with how much money they make compared to farmers. However, if Monsanto was truly evil, farmers wouldn’t buy their products and their employees would not enjoy working for them. Plus, they are actually doing a lot of good things! We address 15 myths we’ve discovered about Monsanto here: 15 Myths About Monsanto

  3. Organic farming is the only sustainable way to farm

    We are advocates for diversity in farming. We are believers in organic farming and think all of agriculture can learn a lot from what organic farmers do, but we also believe that farming is not a “one size/type fits all” industry. Our world is a complex, diverse place that faces complex, diverse problems that require complex, diverse solutions! We need big farms, small farms, conventional farms, organic farms, GMO/non-GMO, etc. in order to find those solutions and meet the needs of 9 billion people by 2050! Please watch: Greg’s Ted Talk for more on this subject!

  4. Organic food is always safer, healthier, more environmentally friendly and is not grown using pesticides

    Again, we are believers in both organic farming AND organic food! We do believe that if people want to buy food that has been raised organically, farmers should be allowed to meet that need. However, we don’t believe that organic food is ALWAYS safer, healthier, and more environmentally friendly. Many people buy organic food to support small farms, get healthier and safer food, and protect the environment. We believe that you can do these things without necessarily purchasing organic food. Plus, one of the biggest myths out there is that organic farmers do not use pesticides. They do. There is just a great amount of misleading information being put out there about the difference between conventional and organic food. You can read our entire opinion of organic food here: Conventional AND Organic

  5. Misleading Labels

    • “Raised Without Antibiotics:” Antibiotics and vaccines are used throughout the livestock industry to prevent animals from getting sick and help the ones who do get sick recover. Not using antibiotics on an animal who gets sick increases the suffering of the animal and is inhumane. Animals are never “pumped full” of antibiotics. Antibiotics and vaccines are very expensive and farmers would be stupid to overuse either one. All milk and meat is antibiotic free. There are strict withdrawal times for both that prevent antibiotics from reaching the food supply. (Read our entire opinion of antibiotics here)
    • “Hormone Free:” All humans and animals have naturally occurring hormones in them, so meat and milk from animals will never be “hormone free,” but hormones can be added to an animal in production. All pork and poultry products are free of added hormones! Cattle that do receive hormones receive a tiny implant (size of a tic tac) that increases the efficiency of how they grow, it does not “fill the beef full of hormones” but adds a minuscule amount (Read our entire opinion of hormones here)
    • “Non-GMO:” A non-GMO label makes sense for products that have the capability of being GMO, but many non-GMO labels are on products that are never GMO. The only GMO crops being grown are corn, soybeans, cotton, potatoes, sugar beets, papayas, canola, squash, and alfalfa. A “non-GMO” label on foods other than these creates fear that the opposite (GMO) exists in that type of food. We do believe in freedom of choice for consumers and so we aren’t anti-labeling, however, we do believe any sort of non-GMO label can cause confusion in uninformed consumers, making them believe GMOs must be dangerous, an opinion that we’ve attempted to debunk in our GMO blog.
    • “Gluten Free:” Gluten free labels are great and are needed for people who legitimately suffer from gluten intolerance. However, if you do not legitimately suffer from gluten intolerance, there is no need for you to avoid gluten. Gluten has been consumed for thousands of years and is in many products that accompany healthy diets. The gluten-free fad has been beneficial in providing new products for people who are actually gluten intolerant, but is causing problems as well.
    • “Grass-Fed:” The grass fed label on beef can be very misleading. All cattle are fed grass throughout their lives. Even grain-finished cattle are raised on grass for the first half of their lives. From there they are transitioned onto a grass/forage/grain diet and eventually finished on mostly grain for the last portion of their lives. “Grass-Finished” is the appropriate label and refers to the ending period of cattle’s lives when they are being finished. We believe both grass finished and grain finished are sustainable ways to produce beef. Learn more here: Why do we have feedlots and grain-finished beef?
  6. Our food supply is poisoned by agricultural practices

    Farmers are not poisoning the food supply. It makes zero sense that we would produce dangerous products that we ourselves consume! A vast majority of farmers use technology like GMOs, pesticides, hormones, antibiotics, etc. If you believe that these things are killing us, you must also believe that the thousands of farm families like us are willingly producing this poison! We would never do such a thing! If the farm families who used these types of technology knew they were dangerous or poisonous in any way, we would stop growing them and stop consuming them. We haven’t.

    Most of the unhealthy products you consume come from the middle steps between the farmer and your plate. Evidence shows that added sugar, added fat, and added preservatives are causing health concerns rather than GMOs, pesticides, hormones, and antibiotics. These are being added by profit-hungry companies, that are agreeably hard to trust. However, at the beginning of the equation are farmers, and farm families that are creating healthy products you CAN trust! Evidence is clear that limiting calories, avoiding added sugar, fat, and preservatives and exercising daily are what is best for your health. There is no evidence that technologies used in agriculture are bad for your health.

  7. Agriculture is destroying the planet

    There is no way that farmers and the agricultural industry can feed and clothe billions of people efficiently without making a huge impact on the environment. However, farmers are making a lot of progress in minimizing that impact! It takes less input to grow beef, pork, poultry, and crops than it ever has, thanks to the technology we talk about on this page. Conservational farming, waste regulation, reduced emissions on machinery, and better management practices are all ways farmers are reducing their impact. We still have a lot of ways to improve, but you can’t say we aren’t trying! You can read more about how farmers are reducing their impacts on our blogs: Reducing Impact

  8. Family farming is dead and corporations rule

    96 percent of the farms in America are family farms like ours, according to the USDA. The vast majority of the food being produced in America is being produced by family farms. Corporations do play a big part in the industry, but they do not “control” or “rule” the food supply. Farmers are still at the root of the food equation, and are growing healthy, nutritious crops better than they ever have! Technology, efficiency, and commodity prices have definitely increased the size of these family farms, and many of them farm thousands of acres and thousands of animals, but they are still the same value-driven family farms that were around 50-100 years ago! Read more in our blog: Family Farming

  9. Farmers are only in it for profit

    Profit is definitely one of the central motivators in how a farmer farms. A farm would not work and a farmer couldn’t support their family if the farm was not making money. Money factors into most decisions made on a farm. However, there is so much more to farming than how much money is being made. Farmers have a rough job, one that requires many hours of hard work in tough conditions. The bottom line is that the vast majority of farmers farm because they love what they do and care about taking care of what they have and raising healthy food for people to eat, not because farming makes them rich.

  10. Farmers don’t care about the land

    As mentioned above, there is no way agriculture can feed and clothe billions of people without making an impact on the environment. However, farmers do care greatly about their land, their water, and the environment! It only makes sense. Why would farmers abuse the land that produces the crops they make a living with? Why would farmers pollute the water that their family drinks and that they need to grow their crops? Why would farmers destroy the environment that they live, breathe, and work in every day? Farmers are the original stewards of the earth and to this day are working hard to improve the health of the soil, the water, and the air.

  11. Farmers don’t care about their animals

    Again, why would farmers mistreat the animals that they are raising for a living? Animals that are mistreated do not grow as fast or as healthy as animals who are treated right. It is every advantage to a farmer to give an animal the food, shelter, medicine and quality of life it needs to be happy. If not, the animal will get sick or not produce well and the farmer will lose money. Furthermore, farmers love their animals. If they didn’t they wouldn’t raise them. It takes a lot of work to raise animals and it requires many sacrifices. Livestock live better lives than many humans do! Please read our “Animal Welfare” blogs for more.

  12. Farmers drench their crops in pesticides

    When people think about farmers using pesticides in crop production, they typically think of a crop being drenched in toxic pesticides. In reality, up to 95% of a spray mixture a farmer uses is water, and very little of the spray is actually applied to a crop. It is common for only a soda can’s worth of pesticide to be sprayed on an entire acre (football field). Most pesticides are sprayed before and after a crop is planted, but even for pesticides applied during the growing season, residues from such mixes are always given time to wear off of a plant before harvest, especially in cereal crops. The amount of residue in your food is far, far below anything that would ever affect you. However, you should always wash fruits and vegetables before eating. You can read more about toxicity levels and pesticides on our blog: Chemical Application in Agriculture

  13. Farmers don’t rotate crops

    A common criticism of farmers is that they practice “monocropping,” aka they don’t rotate their crops. As of 2017, nearly all farmers rotate their crops in some way, organic farmers or not. Some may only rotate between 2-3 crops (corn, soybeans, wheat) or some, like ours, may rotate between 5 or 6. The other definition of “monocropping” is planting just one crop in a field. Planting multiple crops at once is an impractical goal for farmers as they cannot harvest the crops in an efficient way. However, many farmers today are implementing “cover crops” that allow for multiple crops to be grown in a field in one growing season. It is common knowledge that rotating different crops in your fields creates better soil health and higher yields. Soil health is becoming more and more a part of the farming discussion and a great amount of research is being done on how to build the health of soil. (Read more: How are farmers improving?)

  14. Farmers get rich off of subsidies

    Subsidies exist to help farmers supplement their income, manage their expenses, and maintain the supply of agricultural commodities. While the system isn’t perfect and it does tend to favor large farmers over smaller ones (we agree it should be opposite), subsidies are a valuable part of the farm economy. Many subsidies come in the form of crop insurance, where a farmer is reimbursed if their crop fails. Without this system in place, more farmers would go broke and there would be even fewer farms operated on an even larger scale. There would also be a higher risk of financial crisis in lending institutions. The vast majority of farmers do not get wealthy off of farm subsidies, they just provide a slight cushion of constant in a profession that is very vulnerable to volatility. (Read more: Crop Insurance in America)

  15. Large scale animal agriculture (factory farming) is evil

    One of the practices that gets the biggest knock in agriculture is intensive animal farming or “factory farms.” Factory farms are by definition farms that have thousands of animals. Our farm is a “factory farm.” Without intensive livestock farming, there would simply not be enough meat, dairy, eggs and animal products to go around. It is the most efficient way to raise animals, because the animals are all in one spot and the farmer can take care of them easier. Economy of scale, when done right, can often lead to better care of animals and less input required to raise one. The important thing to remember is that smaller is not always “better” and bigger is not always “right.” It all depends on the location, type, and climate of the farm and the commitment of the farmer to the animals. (Read more: What are factory farms? and The Welfare of Livestock Animals)

  16. Meat, eggs, and dairy are unhealthy for you and the environment

    People have been eating meat, eggs, and dairy products for thousands of years. Many of the people who live to be very old have eaten diets containing these for their entire lives. Meat, eggs, and dairy are excellent sources of protein and nutrients and build strong muscles and bones. Should you over-consume these products? No, just as with anything. The environmental impact of raising this type of food is also greatly overstated. While raising animal products does take it’s toll on the environment, they are the best, most efficient way of delivering protein to a hungry world. And farmers are working hard to minimize their impact each day. For more on our opinion of this subject, please read our blog: Why We Raise Animals For Food and Products

  17. Everyone should be vegan

    While we do respect the vegan and vegetarian lifestyle, we feel very strongly that not everyone needs to avoid meat and animal products. These products are very valuable to our infrastructure, efficiency, economy, and accessibility to protein. A vegan lifestyle is simply not possible for everyone. Vegans also advocate that animals who are raised for food an products are abused, exploited, and made into slaves. We do not feel this to be true at all and explain why in our blog: Why We Raise Animals for Food and Products