The Monsanto-Bayer merger could be the biggest development in the world of health and agriculture since the introduction of genetically engineered crops and seeds hit the market over 20 years ago.
But despite the pending tsunami about to be unleashed, coverage in the American media has been spotty at best, especially when it comes to looking at the highly controversial new partnership in-depth and with a discerning eye.
While much of the developed world is increasingly falling in love with organic food and focused on supporting the natural food revolution with their wallets, the biggest global players in farming are taking things in a decidedly different direction.
It’s a direction that small family farmers fear, and one that could have the effect of changing our natural world as we know it. When it’s all said and done, the newly-formed company could control over a quarter of the world’s seed and pesticide market, all based around a business model of lab-spliced GE crops and harsh, toxic pesticides designed to withstand them.
But now, with the merger pending and the fate of farmers hanging in the balance, one German public TV station has released a documentary offering unprecedented access to the major players of the 21st century’s new “Farm Wars.”
And it just might change the way the world sees these two corporations and their way of doing business for good.
“They’re (Only) Worried About Selling Their Product To Us”
The documentary, titled ‘Harvest of Greed,’ can be seen below in its entirety.
Despite the slanted title against the chemical farming industry, the documentary takes both sides of the equation into account, educating viewers on the chemical companies’ viewpoints while also chronicling the widespread troubles, protests and concerns of natural and family farmers worldwide.
It includes interviews with Bayer CEO Werner Baumann and Monsanto CEO Robert Fraley and offers unprecedented access into their facilities, but also tells the complex stories of adversarial farmers, environmental advocates and protesters on the ground through expert storytelling and interview footage.
Many of them face difficult questions as they wrestle with the enormous specter of the two mega-corporations, both of which have been involved not just in the agricultural system but also some of the most egregious wartime horrors of the past century.
Farmers Not Buying Bayer, Monsanto Promises
One segment focuses on the Rabens, longtime Illinois family farmers who spend tons of cash on Monsanto’s products, including genetically engineered seeds and Roundup, Monsanto’s herbicide which was declared a “probable human carcinogen” by the World Health Organization’s top cancer research body in spring 2015.
The father-son duo seems split over whether to continue using Monsanto’s model of farming or to make a change and go back to the way things used to be before the chemical farming post-World War II revolution.
“We used to walk out and chop beans by hand, I remember doing that as a young kid. That’s how you clean the field up,” he says in the film.
“Now with glyphosate and Monsanto coming up to Roundup, that’s a world-changer for us. It really makes the efficiency so much better.”
But Joe’s father Jim strongly disagrees, and despite his continued use of Monsanto products is not buying the alleged reasoning behind the company’s most famous mission statement.
“I’ve heard that since 1964 when I was back in high school, ‘Feed the world, feed the world’ Jim says in an interview.
‘There’s always been plenty of grain. I don’t buy that, I think it’s a slogan that sounds good,” he adds. “They’re not worried about us, they’re worried about selling their product to us.”
The issues of seed patenting and farmer’s rights encroached upon by Monsanto are also covered in the film, including an interview with German organic farmer Bernd Schmitz, who is concerned with the way Monsanto operates.
While Monsanto and Bayer will offer new tools to farmers through unprecedented data collection systems, they will also be granted more control over small farmers and their day-to-day operations than ever before.
Already Monsanto is known for its highly controversial legal practices including hundreds of lawsuits against small farmers for patent infringement involving the planting of its trademarked genetically engineered seeds.
Schmitz is just one farmer who sees the strong potential for misuse.
“If I am no longer able to plant my own seeds the way farmers have done for thousands of years, then I see a need to defend myself,” he says in the film. “It becomes just a matter of money, and if I have to justify everything I do out in the field, then it’s time to take a stand against them.”
The $66 billion merger has already been approved in both Europe and the United States, and polling has shown that over 90 percent of farmers are concerned about its future impacts (over 80 percent are “very concerned”) for many different reasons.
Pig Farmer Shocked by Monsanto Gene Theft
One German pig farmer named Martin Hausling has already seen Monsanto’s control tactics firsthand, as he discovered that Monsanto actually attempted to patent the genetic makeup of his farm’s own breed of heritage pigs according to the film.
Hausling fought back and Monsanto withdrew its patent attempt four days later, but the incident stands as a clear example of why so many people across the globe refuse to trust the aggressive multi-national corporation (skip ahead to the 17:02-21:04 mark in the video below to see Martin’s story).
“We have to stand up for our rights as farmers,” he says in the film. We refuse to be robbed. To be callously dispossessed of our rights and crops.”
You can watch ‘Harvest of Greed’ below; please feel free to share this article and documentary with anyone who still doesn’t know the full story behind Monsanto and Bayer, and support DW-TV’s work if you have the ability to do so: