Defending one of Roosevelt’s Four Freedoms–the famous “freedom from want,” known the world over as the right to eat–Monsanto CEO Hugh Grant told Bloomberg that genetically modified foods are good for poor people who can’t afford organic. “As long as you’ve got money in your back pocket and you drive your station wagon to the supermarket on weekends,” he says, “then it’s out of sight out of mind, so far.” “It” refers to starvation and malnutrition, which afflict large numbers of people in developing nations (and in the US, too). Monsanto believes its technological advances increase the likelihood of a world where fewer go hungry. Anti-Monsanto activists, who plan a global march to protest the company’s entrenched interests on May 25, think the “unnatural” development of resistant seeds for grain, corn and other food is a danger to ecological stability and therefore a threat, not an answer, to global freedom from want.
Both sides, however, have cause for concern about the vision (or at least metaphor usage) of Monsanto’s leader. As the multimillionaire leader of a futurist, technology-led enterprise like Monsanto, it’s reasonable to wonder where, exactly, Grant recently saw a station wagon. Surely the last gasp of the station wagon was emitted before large-scale genetically-modified food was even a twinkle in the eyes of scientists. Monsanto itself was focused on chemicals that killed weeds back when authentic station wagons roamed the earth, guzzling fossil fuel. The company’s adjusted focus on biotechnology (and subsequently Intellectual Property) dovetailed neatly with the popularity of the wagon-killing minivan and SUV. Surely the elitists Grant disdains (“There is this strange kind of reverse elitism: If I’m going to do this (buy organic), then everything else shouldn’t exist,” Grant has said) drive their SUVs to the supermarket, not their station wagons. Some probably even ride their bikes.
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