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Monsanto Generosity

After hearing my daughter’s description of the aquaponics system she and her environmental studies students at Ithaca College will be installing in an elementary school, I asked how this ambitious and innovative educational project was being funded. Her answer: “Monsanto!”

Monsanto is an unlikely donor. The company has long been demonized because of the “short term gain/long term loss” equation that their controlling agricultural tactics generate.

An article entitled “Why Does Everyone Hate Monsanto” sums up the many reasons and the many results: “Over the past decade, Monsanto has become a pop cultural bogeyman, the face of corporate evil.” The company’s tactics and its genetically modified seeds have been the subject of searing documentary critiques (“Forks Over Knives” and “GMO OMG“), global protests, and “The Colbert Report.” Social media has hashtags such as #monsantoevil. Monsanto has been blamed for the decline of the monarch butterfly, bee colony collapse, and increased incedence of cancer in humans….Contemporary artists factor into this indictment. Besides Critical Art Ensemble, there is this sculpture by Steven Ledba entitled Monsanto (2010-2011), for example.

Another instance of Monsanto philanthropy was in the news today. It appears in a New York Times story about the resurgence of a pre-industrial method of enhancing soil fertility by adding carbon to the soil and helping the beneficial microbes, fungus, bacteria and worms to thrive.

The article lists the philanthropies that are supporting this strategy, which includes this statement, “ Monsanto, together with the Walton Family Foundation, recently put up the money to support the Soil Health Partnership, a five-year project of the National Corn Growers Association to identify, test and measure the impact of cover cropping and other practices to improve soil health.

Is it shame or is it pandering? I don’t know, but it seems Montano profits are beginning to support child enducation and environmental health.