Monday, March 15, 2010

Another Case: Monsanto Edition

Just another case of The Man sticking it to Corporate America?

Monsanto is currently under scrutiny for anti-competitive behavior. Currently they are only opening a forum for Monsanto critics - of which there are many - to voice their dissatisfaction:
Justice's tight-lipped antitrust division is taking the unusual step of inviting competitors, farmers, politicians and activists to air any gripes about Monsanto—and to suggest ways to limit the company's reach before a high-profile audience.
This is an interesting step. Can you imagine inviting Apple and computer retailers to a workshop discussing Microsoft, or Pepsi to discuss Coke? Tell us, Steve Jobs, how you would like to see Microsoft hampered.

I don't imagine many of the smallholder farmers in developing countries will be invited to attend in person or in proxy.

On a purely "this is a really big company that controls an immense amount of national and global seed production and distribution" level, there's probably a pretty good case to be made and I'm pleased to know that some scrutiny is under way ... this just seems an odd way to go about it.

On the other hand, it plays to the militant anti-biotech crowd - an opportunity not to discuss the merits of one company's actions, but the benefits of the industry as a whole, which could be very damaging to smallholders, the world's hungry, and the environment in the long run. Whatever the Justice Department decides to do will have impacts beyond our shores, but I doubt they will be taken into consideration.

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