Why Monsanto didn't expect Roundup-resistant weeds

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87 Responses to “Why Monsanto didn't expect Roundup-resistant weeds”

  1. freshyill says:

    If weeds can push up through my brand-new asphalt driveway, they can survive anything. 

  2. greebo says:

    There’s a simpler explanation: it never really mattered to them. Monsanto has been very successful selling Roundup and Roundup-resistant seed-stock. If they can make that much money over the course of a decade or so, why would they care about the longer term implications? This is capitalism at work.

    • Even better: there’s now a ready-made market for a successor to Roundup. Adaptive upsell FTW.

    • blueelm says:

      From my experience in corporate life, they care. Not caring is often not really the cause of the terrible screw ups, so far as I’ve seen. Denial is much more key. Same thing that keeps people trying to insist there is no such thing as AGW.
      If I had to guess some people have been freaking and they’ve been trying to balance a SOA plan without losing investor confidence.  But I can definitely see how this could be one of those things they kind of knew might happen but didn’t want to deal with. I think as nice as it is to talk about soulless corporations, the reality on the floors of them is that they are really quite fearful and aware of risks usually. That just doesn’t always mean they do reasonable or rational things to address those fears. They really are just people (which is why they need laws :/)

      • EH says:

        Are you saying these people convinced themselves that entropy no longer exists?

      • bkad says:

        That’s been my experience, too, blueelm. (Disclosure: I work for a $5.9 Billion – revenue / 20k employee company, which while small for our industry, is definitely a large company.)  The people I work with generally believe in what they are doing, in helping the people our products  and services aid. The management (as are the customers) is terrified of risk and of bad public relations, and tons of money are spent managing product risk, “from cradle to grave” as the expression goes — from program risk in the develop stage through post-sale product performance through eventual obsolescence and disposal. Our industry is particularly “regulation encumbered”, so maybe we are more sensitive to these issues than most companies, but I’d be surprised if short-sighted greed or ambivalence plays much of a role in Monsanto’s failings. Now, overconfidence, I’ve seen that at every company I’ve worked for. Self-delusion and self-preservation I’ve seen too. 

  3. IamInnocent says:

    Maximization of profits leads to quickest money schemes winning over common sense. Those smart people you talk about have bosses.

  4. AwesomeRobot says:

    To quote the fictional mathematician Ian Malcom  “life will find a way.”

  5. Gutierrez says:

    http://www.npr.org/blogs/thesalt/2012/03/07/147656157/farmers-face-tough-choice-on-ways-to-fight-new-strains-of-weeds
    Just tossing a little more knowledge on the pile. Note that this gives an opportunity to alter farming practices. Proposed ideas are bringing back potentially more dangerous herbicides and engineering crops to resist those. Another thought is planting cereal rye as a cover crop which chokes weeds, but not the cash crop. Also there is the option to hire people to pick the weeds by hand and forego a bit of profit.

    I know which option Monsanto is rooting for, but we’ll see which hook farmers bite now that the salad days are over.

  6. Camp Freddie says:

    I think Monstanto realised that resistance was building up and have been aggressively marketing roundup ready in an attempt to recoup before resistance makes it useless (disclaimer: my opinion, basically just industry gossip, not necessarily true, don’t sue me!).
    Monstant were correct that Glyphosate is in the ‘low risk’ category for resistance, according to the standard criteria for assessing resistance (disclaimer: it’s been a while since I’ve worked on this).This is not the same as saying that using Roundup Ready crops are a low risk for resistance and it seems that the US EPA should’ve realised that, “this is not your father’s glyphosate”.

    Basically, Roundup Ready uses a herbicide with a relatively low risk of resistance, but uses it in the most resistance-fostering method possible (Roundup Ready plants always use glyphosate, whereas conventional farms use a variety of herbicides, which greatly reduces the resistance risk).

    It’s a shame really, since glyphosate is a very environmentally friendly product when used for stubble clearing in “minimum-till” agriculture (stubble clearance via ploughing damages topsoil and requires much more fertiliser). Using it post-emergence has caused resistance that will affect the ‘better’ uses of glyphosate. (disclaimer: I have been involved in the use of glyphosate for post-harvest/pre-planting uses)

    One thing to note in Monsanto’s defence is that the resistant weeds seem to have evolved naturally (via various methods), rather than stealing resistance from Roundup-Ready crops via gene transfer. As usual, nature is more innovative that the best scientists!

    • EH says:

      I think Monstanto realised that resistance was building up and have been aggressively marketing roundup ready in an attempt to recoup before resistance makes it useless

      In psychology I believe this might be called “extinction behavior.”

  7. Jim Smith says:

    But surely weeds were designed? How can they evolve?

  8. Daniel Smith says:

    Darwin gets his revenge…I wonder how creationists will spin this, or whether it will just sail peacefully far, far over their heads. I also wonder who Monsanto will try and sue for this generation of roundup resistant plants.

  9. retepslluerb says:

    Smart people? Yes.

    But that doesn’t mean that those smart people are being listened too.

    Also, smart people know who signs their pay checks – it was smart engineers  who designed iPods with fixed *and* short-lived batteries, it was smart  chemists that fixed stockings so they would still develop runs and so on

  10. retepslluerb says:

    I’d like to point out that this is actually more like artificial selection, which isn’t really a key factor of evolution, I think. 

    • Daniel Smith says:

       why would this be artificial selection? To the weeds, roundup is just another chemical in their environment. They don’t care that humans made it, and no one was deliberately breeding roundup resistant weeds. Artificial selection usually refers to deliberate, ie-guided by human hands, breeding to produce offspring with specific traits, like dachshunds or modern corn. Nope, this is natural selection hard at work.

      • retepslluerb says:

        Because it is an artificial agent. :-)

        No, seriously. I don’t know where my mind was. You are of course right. I confused this with the case where humans practice selection by accident.

        • saurabh says:

           That still isn’t artificial selection; humans can be a selective pressure like anything else. What makes it artificial is when humans are deliberately picking gametes based on certain traits – that is, they are consciously responsible for the selection.

          • Daniel Smith says:

             Some have argued that the beginnings of domesticated plant crops were an accidental byproduct of humans harvesting wild strains, and by transporting and winnowing accidentally selected for the traits we now think of as domestic grains. The whole brittle rachis thing. This would also count as artificial selection, even though the folks doing the harvesting were not deliberately trying to get a plant with any specific characteristic.

  11. Suburbancowboy says:

    The whole concept of Roundup Ready soy is insane.

    One of the promises of GMO was supposed to be that it would allow farmers to grow plants with LESS pesticides. Monsanto made Roundup Ready Soy to do the opposite. And it forces farmers to use their seeds and their chemicals.

    People often eat soy because they think it is healthy. So you want to eat Soy that has been treated with Roundup? There is no doubt in my mind that Roundup is a carcinogen.

    In nature plagues are prevented through biodiversity. now we have the cast majority of all soy in the country being the exact same strain of seeds. This allows a pest to easily decimate a crop where biodiversity would normally keep the percentages down.

    Do you trust anything from the company that made Agent Orange, DDT, Nutra-Sweet, and the Terminator seed (among numerous other atorcities)? I sure as hell don’t.

    • Daniel Smith says:

       “There is no doubt in my mind that Roundup is a carcinogen.”

      Um, why? Just a gut feeling? Does this have to do with any actual evidence, or is it just because you don’t like Monsanto, understandable as that is.

      Oh, and nature doesn’t “prevent” plagues with biodiversity, it survives them through biodiversity. The war between plants (and animals) and pathogens long predates humans.

    • saurabh says:

      I’m probably a much stronger opponent of Monsanto than you are, and I’ll readily admit that I don’t believe glyphosate is likely to be carcinogenic. It’s well-studied; it’s pretty harmless as a herbicide.

      • qwerttyy says:

        I think you’re right:
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Glyphosate

        “The acute oral toxicity of Roundup is > 5,000 mg/kg in the rat. It showed no toxic effects when fed to animals for two years, and only produced rare cases of reproductive effects when fed in extremely large doses to rodents and dogs. An increase in cancer rates in animal studies has not been demonstrated, and it is poorly absorbed in the digestive tract. Glyphosate has no significant potential to accumulate in animal tissue.”

        • SKR says:

          Impoverishing the soil?  That’s not exactly what that study says. It says that the roundup has a negative impact on the N sequestration process in soy which is a legume.  However, it doesn’t completely stop the process as shown be a decrease in the root nodules as opposed to a complete elimination.  Now let’s remember that only legumes pull N from the atmosphere and enrich the soil that way.  Other plants such as corn do not have this mechanism available and they could honestly be considered to impoverish the soil. So what the study shows is that Roundup Ready soy (that has been sprayed) does not enrich the soil as much as other types of soy but still leaves the soil better off than a crop such as corn.

      • MetalPorkchop says:

         http://www.occupymonsanto360.org/2012/03/11/unsafe-levels-of-glyphosateroundup-found-in-the-urine-of-city-dwellers/

        “…they were found with between 5 and 20 times the “acceptable” limit.  While companies such as Monsanto give people lines like,”RoundUp is practically totally non-toxic”, it is most certainly not true.  Glyphosate is a poison, extremely deadly for most plants, and quite toxic for people, especially over time.”

        • saurabh says:

          I’m not clear on what the “acceptable” limit being referred to is, here. I can’t read German so I am unable to read the original; do you have a link to a translation or some other study?

          In any event, I didn’t mean to imply that glyphosate is benign in its effects; I just meant to say that I don’t think it is carcinogenic, and it’s not acutely toxic to humans. Other effects I don’t know about, but I’ve read enough to feel certain that it has larger environmental effects beyond its specific purpose.

          That said, I think glyphosate is merely a type species; this pattern of agriculture as industrial chemistry is much more pervasive than that, and really ought to be understood in that context. Monsanto is not a “bad egg” – the whole clutch is rotten. An industrial relation to our food production is bad for the earth, it is bad for our health, and it is bad for the relationship between us and the earth. Organic food is okay, but personally I’d rather reintegrate the way we grow food with the way we live. Cities could be agriculturally productive if they weren’t so full of cars and trash.

    • qwerttyy says:

      I do not believe that you’re thinking clearly, in many different ways, but I’ll choose one to respond to.

      “One of the promises of GMO was supposed to be that it would allow farmers to grow plants with LESS pesticides. Monsanto made Roundup Ready Soy to do the opposite.”

      Monsanto made roundup-ready plants so that farmers would buy more of THEIR GMO seeds and THEIR herbicides.  This is not incompatible with the statement that the promise of GMO crops was a decreased need for herbicides/pesticides IN GENERAL.  My  understanding is that roundup is one of the more environmentally friendly herbicides, and its use prevents the use of larger quantities of nastier, more toxic herbicides.

      I’m not a farmer or in any way connected with the agriculture industry, but I do have a good chemistry/biology background for a layman, and I spend some time reading about roundup/roundup-ready crops the other day.

      Further reading:
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Glyphosate

    • SKR says:

      There’s quite a bit with which to quibble in that post some of which has already been addressed.  One of the promises was the use of less pesticide and it was realized with Bt seed.  Of course, that wasn’t the only thing you can do with GM and no one said every seed would have every modification.  Also, Roundup is an herbicide not a pesticide.  Monsanto doesn’t force anyone to use their products.  People use them because there is an advantage to doing so.

      Monocultures have been an issue that has been cautioned against long before GM was even invented, so it’s not like Monsanto caused the problem.

      Why do you hate DDT so much?  It eradicated malaria in the US arguably almost at the cost of charismatic fauna.  But malaria sucks soooo…

      The terminator gene has never been released as a product, and it would be a good thing for the anti GMO people because it would prohibit genetic drift. But “terminator” sounds scary so it must be.

      • msbpodcast says:

        The terminator gene has never been released as a product, and it would be a good thing for the anti GMO people because it would prohibit genetic drift. But “terminator” sounds scary so it must be. 

        WRONG!

        The terminator gene was responsable for the deaths of thousands of poor indian farmers who were talked into using it not realizing that it would leave them without a crop to plant the following year.

        • SKR says:

          The Daily Mail? Seriously?  There is a single unsourced assertion that the terminator gene doesn’t allow them to keep their crop. Unsourced in the Daily Mail!!! How about a little Wikipedia (yeah yeah I know but at last it’s quick and sourced) 
          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Genetic_use_restriction_technology

          Next, did you even read the article?  Every example of Indian farmers they gave that drank pesticide had multiple crop failures.  That has absolutely nothing to do with a Terminator gene.

          Lastly, how is a terminator gene any different in result than the F1 hybrid seeds that have dominated agriculture for 100 years?  Both result in the farmer having to buy seed every year.   The terminator because of sterility the hybrids because the F2 generation is going to have wildly different characteristics than the F1 generation.  

  12. angusm says:

    In IT, there’s a frivolous maxim: “Never test for an error condition that you don’t know how to handle.”

    For Monsanto, resistance was an error condition that they weren’t prepared to handle. They were betting the farm (so to speak) on a business model that involved selling Roundup-ready strains, so they didn’t want to look for anything that might threaten that model. So, naturally, it took them by surprise.

  13. Preston Sturges says:

    In any organization, you merely hire and fire scientists until you find one willing to pencil in the number you want, takes his bonus, and goes home at 5:00 every day. 

    • angusm says:

      “9 out of 10 dentists agreed that ______ is better for your teeth … mind you, it took us a while to find the right 10 dentists.”

    • MetalPorkchop says:

      So true.  I’ve quit a few jobs, and even have been let go once for not “fitting in” to this clinic’s working environment.  Of course I didn’t fit in, because I have standards and an understanding of ethics.  I hate BS.

  14. saurabh says:

    Their surprise is especially unwarranted given the mechanism of resistance, which requires two mutations in the protein targeted by glyphosate in order to confer resistance. The odds of that happening by itself are pretty high given the target size (that is, every genome in every weed on every glyphosate-treated field in the world, at this point a substantial fraction of fields); then, if you consider alternative mutations to the same protein that might produce a similar result (which surely exist, you might review http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19211556 to predict them if your protein biochemistry is up to snuff) the odds quickly approach a surety on a very short time scale.

    I imagine their response will be the same one doctors use to antibiotic resistance: doubly-resistant crops. A crop resistant to a broader class of herbicides, or even two different classes, could be marketed as superior to just the RoundUp-resistant one. Then you get to sell RoundUp AND something else. Bonus.

  15. CLamb says:

    Is there any mechanism by which the weeds could be acquiring genes from the Roundup Ready crops?

    • SKR says:

      That is unlikely considering the weeds are using completely different mechanisms to resist the glyphosate as stated in the article.

    • serpent says:

       What SKR said, and a low probability transfer by pollen. Plants are not exactly against inter-species marriage. Soy is a member of fabaceae family, as are some weeds, so there is this possibility. There are genetic tricks to make this (allready rare) transfer next to impossible, but have they used them?

      • saurabh says:

        Considering that they are just blasting these transgenes randomly into the genome and hoping they “take”, it seems unlikely.

        • msbpodcast says:

          I don’t think that the scientists are using such a scatter-shot approach as you describe but I do think that they stopped looking at what the side-effects of genetic manipulation were once they had evidence that their primary goals had been achieved.

          Then management stopped research and increased their marketing spending. They dropped the ball and took their eyes off of it but it didn’t stop bouncing.

          The makers of ammunition are not interested in funding the development of surgical techniques which enables survival of getting hit by their ammunition, but people are walking away with injuries that would have been fatal just ten years ago.

          • saurabh says:

             Actually, transfecting plants is often done by mixing your DNA of interest with some heavy metal particles and literally shooting them into a bunch of cells, then picking the ones that survived. Some fraction of the time the genes will incorporate into the genome, but there’s no way to be sure where. That kind of control is possible in bacteria, but it’s pretty difficult in higher eukaryotes in general.

    • Preston Sturges says:

      Canola is a crucifer, crucifers cross pretty readily, and there are cruciferous weeds, so it could happen in specific cases. 

      Any day you get to use the word “cruciferous” is a good day.

  16. cfuse says:

    They make two products that rely on each other and fuel the uptake of their counterpart. The idea that this was anything other than utterly intentional is completely specious.

    Monsanto are amoral and vile, and selected quotes from employees too stupid to see that or too happy to look the other way doesn’t change a thing. GM did exactly what Monsanto wanted here, and it will when they do it all over again it.

    • msbpodcast says:

      Monsanto probably wouldn’t like the accusation but I wonder how much of the rise in human obesity (and animal antibiotic use) is attributable to their development of RoundUp Ready™ corn.

  17. SKR says:

    Another reason the scientists at Monsanto probably discounted the chances of resistance is that there is a very simple mechanism for the elimination of resistant weed genes, mechanical removal.  No matter how resistant the weeds become to roundup, the genes can be halted in their tracks by simply ripping the plant out of the ground, a control technique that has an incredibly low chance of resistance.

    • saurabh says:

      Except that all of their marketing is based on reducing the amount of direct intervention required to grow crops; the whole point of herbicide-resistant crops is less weeding, and if that’s the way people start to use them, hoping that they’ll then faithfully remove the resistant weeds is less likely.

      In any case, your idea is unlikely to work. Glyphosate resistance confers a selective advantage on weeds – it means that they are some percent more likely to survive than their non-resistant compadres. Selected traits propagate exponentially fast in a population; the only way to prevent that spread is to reduce the selective advantage. That is, you must hand-weed ONLY the resistant crops and leave the non-resistant ones alive. It seems unlikely that anyone would be able to distinguish, and even if they could it seems unlikely that they’d be willing to leave the non-resistant plants alive.

      • SKR says:

        The amount of direct intervention would be reduced in so far as the total weed load in need of mechanical removal would be less than without the initial application of glyphosate.
        As to the selective advantage, I don’t see why you would have to leave the non-resistant weeds.  If all weeds are removed then the glyphosate resistance doesn’t provide a comparative advantage since all are equally dead.  The non-resistant plants that occur on other properties would seem to be a fairly large source for the re-population of the previously cleared farmland and you would start out back at resistance population zero after each year and could also be considered the non-resistant plants necessary for your selective advantage scenario.  Of course this would assume complete eradication and zero contamination from resistant plants elsewhere.

        Really, it just amazes me how some people when arguing about resistance forget that mechanical removal is an amazingly effective means of weed eradication.  You just have to get them before they go to seed.  Farmers and gardeners know this better than most.

        • saurabh says:

           Because I’m assuming that there would be a non-zero chance of you missing some plants, and if so this population would still have a selective bias. It’d be a lot weaker, perhaps enough that the selective advantage wouldn’t make a difference, but being sure of that would involve knowing stuff about the population genetics of wild weeds that I don’t know.

  18. Guest says:

    Pride, and weeds, cometh before the fall

  19. serpent says:

    The Monsanto revolution, foiled by evolution. How poetic.

  20. benher says:

    Do you remember Frankenstein? That’s Mon-fucking-Santo. I say we get the pitchforks and torches together and ready our bloodthirsty mob. Seriously, fuck these assholes.

  21. bluest_one says:

    Hey kids, it’s the new industrial polution!

  22. Ray Shao says:

    I think this is a good example of why the regulatory system for GM crops needs to change so that other players can get in the game. Right now, regulatory expenses are so high that only huge companies like Monsanto and DuPont can afford to develop GM crops. More competition in the market would force products to be more innovative, even if the big companies remain on top. Although technically challenging when it was created, Roundup Ready crops are conceptually simple when we think about what GM crops in the future might be like.

  23. magicdragonfly says:

    Personally, I think the problem was the Monsanto forgot that there’s usually a forest surrounding a bunch of trees. It was hard to engineer a herbicide resistant breed of soy, so consequently, weeds would have a hard time adapting. I don’t think this was a failing brought about by corporate greed, but a simple human failing — and a common one at that.

    The weeds don’t need to do anything more than find and exploit one weakness in the herbicide — and the solution found by one weed doesn’t need to be the solution found by another — if their pollen intermingles and creates a weed with both resistances, so much the better (from the weed’s standpoint). The problem is well defined, because the adversary (Roundup) is there for all to see.
    The herbicide manufacturers, on the other hand, have to think about all the ways their products could be defeated by the weeds. That problem is really poorly defined: what is your enemy up to that could exploit a weakness that you probably don’t know about yet?
    Any given company might have a hundred researchers working on the problem 8-10 hours a day, five days a week. There are only a handful of companies out there, so let’s say a few thousand total. There are billions of weeds working on the problem of overcoming the herbicides 24/7/365. Given those lopsided odds, it’s amazing that the effectiveness of Roundup has lasted as long as it has.

  24. Joe Buck says:

    I’m sure that at least some people at Monsanto realized that eventually weeds would become resistant. But management doesn’t like to hear bad news (and I’ll be some them just assumed that by the time resistance evolved there would be a brand new Monsanto herbicide they could sell).

  25. HahTse says:

    Monsanto is, and has been for a long time, a seedy company.

  26. Hakuin says:

    you may rest assured that doing “science” inside Monsanto is much like doing “science” under Joesph Stalin.   Take your choice:  support the fair-haired Lysenko – or SIBERIA!

  27. Antinous / Moderator says:

    They should have hired Jeff Goldblum.  And listened to him.

    • Preston Sturges says:

      Did you notice how Jeff Goldblum’s character had to get knocked out to keep him quiet so the action sequences could move forward? 

  28. Preston Sturges says:

    Well this would have all been avoided through the use of the unfortunately named “Terminator” technology.  

    It’s worth going back 10 years to read about Monsanto’s alleged plot to use Terminator technology to commit global genocide by (random word) a (random word) which would (random word) the world’s (random word).  No really, it was just random words.

    Some of the bitterest critics seemed to want a tool to do their own particular brand of social engineering.

  29. “Whatever its faults, the seed company Monsanto does employ some very smart people. ”

    Come Now! Lets not mistake information specialization and walled garden logic for intelligence or smarts for truly they are worlds apart. Everybody knows the most critical department keeping Monsanto on its “cutting edge” is the legal  department successfully defending the stunningly inane and frighteningly reckless permanent experiments of their money grubbing science and marketing departments.

    • twianto says:

      Exactly… because as everybody knows cutting-edge genetics and biology researchers are _not_ intelligent.

      Come on… I’ve worked in biotechnology research facilities and the people I met there are some of the most intelligent folks I’ve ever seen.

      • msbpodcast says:

        But the management of Monsanto are to be accused of hubris and a foolish consistency in thinking that nature would stop evolution for them to make more money.

        The thing about living systems is that they are constantly adapting and shifting their genetic makeup. The illusion that they aren’t is caused by a lack of perception and memory on our part.

      • Cutting edge genetics and biology researchers who work for Monsanto may have information intelligence but are by no means even close to “smart” they are by definition, sociopathic.

        so·ci·o·path   [soh-see-uh-path, soh-shee-] Show IPA
        noun Psychiatry . a person, as a psychopathic personality, whose behavior is antisocial and who LACKS A SENSE OF MORAL RESPONSIBILITY OR SOCIAL CONSCIENCE. ( my yelling )

        • twianto says:

          Come on dude, you redefined “smart” as “intelligent” and now you go after me for using your terminology?

          Now I don’t like Monsanto, but please accept that everyone’s sense of morality is different. Monsanto does some cool stuff that many researchers would kill to be part of. Also, their products are indeed immensely valuable for their customers, most of whom choose them because they get higher yields. It’s that simple.

          I can’t even begin to understand your logic. I did IT work for a research lab that had lab mice in its basement; did I like that? No, but they actually found cures for heart conditions; every single business entity will do things you can’t identify with.  Do you condemn every single BP gas station attendant as a psychopath because he — here come the caps, how very articulate BTW — “LACKS A SENSE OF MORAL RESPONSIBILITY OR SOCIAL CONSCIENCE”?

          The world’s not black and white.

          • http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2012/03/14/goldman-sachs-director-quits-morally-bankrupt-wall-street-bank/

            Twianto, I am not going after you.  I am trying to make what I feel is an important point about the personal responsibility of scientist to not simply look at their research as objective cool research stuff that smart people do no matter who for, or what. Science is not objective because the research facilities are not shared, the university tracking programs are sponsored etc. All of the access to the latest proprietary knowledge is predicated on the vulturous nature of Monsanto ownership as a profit driven corporation with no place in their bottom line for sustainability, human health etc. Monsanto provides lip service but the proof is in the pollen.

            This is your paragraph

            “Now I don’t like Monsanto, but please accept that everyone’s sense of morality is different. ”

            I do accept it and have labeled instances of scientist choosing profit and personal advancement over the literal future of food the morality of a sociopath. This action on my part is very different than not accepting.
            -
            “Monsanto does some cool stuff that many researchers would kill to be part of.”

            Many researchers also are raised in a false bubble of research is not political its just research. I would argue that to a certain degree this is correct, scientist should be left to roblem solve, but with Monsantos aggressive ownership and privatization of the very fabric of life this pretense fails because the research is muted and forced into a singular direction. To endorse this model as a scientist is to endorse a lopsided pursuit of knowledge, a knowledge in chains.
            -
            “Also, their products are indeed immensely valuable for their customers, most of whom choose them because they get higher yields. It’s that simple.. ”

            Its not that simple though it would be more convenient. This argument only works on a very short term basis. Because Monsanto legal lobbied and revolving-door-shortened their experimental time frames in order to get their “valuable products” to market quickly they  were not able to know how truly destructive of value and temporarily helpful their genetic manipulations were. so much writing about this. blah blah. I am not splitting hairs and arguing details because the big picture is that these scientist are not “smart” without “sociopath” as a context for the smart.

            there are a couple of other weak arguments I see in your post. “the BP attendant” is the lab floor custodian. no he is not a sociopath he mops floors and if he left the science would march on.

            “every single business entity will do things you cannot identify with. ” this is likely true but every single business entity that does things I dont identify with do not also threaten the future of food, or the DNA of all life forms.. only a few business entities do this and I give them extra attention.

            I agree with you the world is not black and white ..

        • Daniel Smith says:

          Dehumanization of those who think differently always works out so well. Next time, instead of stupid and sociopath go for cockroach, or something else often targeted for eradication. Of course, calling someone names is a sure way to influence them, but probably not in the way intended. And morality, well, let he who is without sin…..

          • Referring to scientist who work for Monsanto as sociopaths instead of “smart” is not “dehumanizing” it is simply placing their innocuous research actions in a direct way to the criminal nature of the corporation which employs them.  Monsanto is literally threatening the sustainability of agriculture on a grand scale by the experiments their legal department enables and their marketing department sells. This is not debatable, and obfuscating arguments such as, “they did not expect resistant weeds” is highly implausible given the great “intelligence” they are so possessed with. Regarding morality; To work for Monsanto, with all that is known about their tactics is to lack moral responsibility as scientist to WALK AWAY FROM ALL THE COOL RESEARCH. It is not inhuman to lack a feeling of moral judgement on Monsanto and to remain in their employ, verily, it is most human indeed. Just expect that if there is a discussion of how smart they are someone like myself might come along and point out that in the grand scheme of things these “smart people” are some of the most ignorant, stupid people impacting the world today.

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