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Monsanto Named Winner of Angry Mermaid Award

I’ve discovered that Monsanto is the recipient of something called the “Angry Mermaid Award.“ The award was handed out Tuesday evening in Copenhagen, the host city for of the United Nations climate talks.

I guess someone forgot to send the invitation to the awards ceremony.

Then again, maybe we didn’t get a ceremony invitation since we were nominated as a member of the Round Table on Responsible Soy (RTRS), which does have representatives from some members companies and organizations attending the climate talks.

In the case of the latter, to be recognized for our participation in RTRS is an honor. The Roundtable on Responsible Soy is an international, multi-stakeholder dialogue that includes a large group of producers, companies and NGOs focused on promoting responsible soy production, processing and trade. As the RTRS Web site explains, the group is “working to define what is responsibly-grown and processed soy and to promote the best available practices to mitigate negative impacts throughout the value chain.”

Some prominent members of the group include Conservation International, the Nature Conservancy, WWF, in addition to a long list of private-sector companies such as Carrefour, Marks and Spencer, Rabobank, BANCO Real, Unilever, etc. Sounds like a good match for Copenhagen.

We thank the Angry Mermaid award organizers for drawing attention to the important work that the Roundtable is addressing.

P.S. This story did peak my interest in why the mermaid was so angry. Contrary to what the award’s organizers say, I think she’s pretty angry due to this long list of atrocities. (Decapitation and amputation?)

13 Responses to "Monsanto Named Winner of Angry Mermaid Award"

  1. What is an “angry mermaid”? – the Urban Dictionary definition when I googled it leaves me bewildered. I imagine the average Dane might not be happy that their national symbol has been co-opted by a bunch of Environmental Al Qaeda types for political ends spreading fear and misinformation. When will the world wake up and realize these enviro-fundamentalists don’t really care about the environment? They’re only interested in controversial headlines and raising money for their cause. Facts and science have no merit in their ideology. Let’s hope facts and science prevail.

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  2. This isn’t much of a response. The “award” detailed numerous allegations that aren’t addressed in this post. The fact that some of the attendees at Copenhagen sit on the RTRS with you does little to nothing to address the concerns raised by the award sponsors – which actually talk address your RTRS membership in the award announcement (which you don’t even bother to post a link to.

    From the award site:
    “Agriculture giant Monsanto was nominated for promoting its genetically modified (GM) crops as a solution to climate change and pushing for its crops to be used as biofuels. The expansion of GM soy in Latin America is contributing to major deforestation and greenhouse gas emissions. The Round Table on Responsible Soy (RTRS) of which Monsanto is a member, is helping to promote the company’s cause by allowing GM soy to be labelled as responsible”. Monsanto also wants GM soy to be funded under the Clean Development Mechanism”

    The group that organizes the award actually calls to task RTRS. I believe WWF has said publicly that Monsanto is a member only because they are such a big player in the soy market, not because of any great commitment to the environment.

    I think you would do well to give readers a link to the award site and actually address their charges rather than simply list membership in a single organization as your defense. Are you pushing soy expansion in south america? Are you attempting to get soy funded under the Clean Development Mechanism?

    If you are doing well by climate change – show it. Glossing over the charges, as is done in this post, helps to bolster the point of the angry mermaid.

    BTW – angry mermaid award site is at http://www.angrymermaid.org/ since it is not provided in this post.

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  3. This award is aptly named: it’s based on a fairy tale character, and the idea that genetically modified crops are somehow contributing to deforestation is indeed a fairy tale. Then again, when have Friends of the Earth and others of their ilk let facts get in the way of a clever PR ploy?

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  4. It seems somewhat ingenuous to me to present this story without noting the context of the ward, which is very negative. The fact that Monsanto is being compared with Shell for damage to the environment is somewhat laughable, but deserves to be addressed seriously and with candor.

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  5. Under the Sea v.2.Oh-No-They-Di-Int!

    The cash flow is always greener
    In big activist groups’ lakes
    Our group really wants to be one
    So we’ll do whatever it takes.
    We’ll create an online poll, then …
    Make up some stories ’bout soy!
    Maybe freaks will give us money …
    It’s a real successful ploy!

    Angry Mer-maid!
    Angry Mer-maid!
    “Monsanto’s awarded!”
    Call them cold-hearted
    And hey – we’ll get paid!
    Host a fake cer-e-mon-ey
    Hand out a shiny plastic trophy
    Ignore our condescension
    And please pay attention
    To our busty mermaid!

    Reply
  6. Neela –

    I could’ve wrote a lengthy, lengthy blog post on why the criteria for our nomination and win is not only off-base but it’s actually ironic considering that our efforts would actually help do the OPPOSITE of what is espoused by FOE.

    If we can produce more yield on acres that are already in production through better seed, then we can preserve rainforest land that would otherwise be used for expansion. See more on our efforts in Brazil here. here

    We don’t believe better seed through biotechnology and breeding is THE solution to climate change. We think it can be part of a multi-pronged strategy that can lessen agriculture’s impact on this issue. Organic/local should also be part of the equation as well as other methods – protected culture (greenhouse), vertical farming, etc.

    We also know that Monsanto can’t and shouldn’t operate alone. More can be accomplished by collaborating with other industries, NGOs and academic institutions that also have contributions and interest in addressing this issue. We only represent one link in the chain.

    I’m not familiar with your reference to WWF’s claim about why we are part of RTRS. Can you provide a link so I can see the direct quote? Even if WWF were to say that, then that seems like a smart thing to me. If you’re going to address soy production, it’s probably a good thing to have all the major players in the soy production chain at the table if you are going to actually come up with a solution.

    So, no we are not pushing soy expansion, and no we are not attempting to get soy funded under the Clean Development Mechanism.

    If you want to learn more about how seed breeding and technology as well as improved agronomic practices can help lessen agriculture’s impact on the environment, please visit http://www.producemoreconservemore.com.

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  7. Your post would have been much better if it responded to specific allegations and showed why Mon is climate-responsible.

    I don’t disagree that its a bad thing to have Mon at the table of RTRS. However I do think it is rather lame to use your participation in RTRS as a response to the Angry Mermaid award when:
    1. The award calls to task RTRS as well as Monsanto. Did you actually read their Web site?
    2. Monsanto’s participation in RTRS alone in no way supports the assertion that Monsanto is environmentally responsible. you may be, but simply being part of this group is not very strong evidence of this.

    WWF’s statement was in response to criticism of GM Watch and I believe FOE. They had picketed WWF over being on RTRS with Monsanto. It spoke of Monsanto being a participant due to a “market reality”. WWF has since taken the response off their site, but look on google – plenty of references to it as well as statements by WWF that they have yet to endorse GM soy.

    I am no fan of the radical activist crowd but your initial posting was no better than their rhetoric. All spin and gloss, no substance. If you don’t support the expansion of soy (which frankly seems kinda unlikely) then you should have said it straight out.

    The mermaid also claimed you were attempting to get soy funded under the CDM – your assertion that this is blatantly untrue would seem a much better response to their claims than holding up your RTRS membership card.

    Vertical farming is NOT part of the solution. It’s just wacky.

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  8. Actually, did you know that down the street from the original mermaid there is a Genetically Modified one?

    http://www.cbc.ca/arts/story/2006/09/15/mermaid-genetic.html

    It is part of an installation that would make heads explode all over the US, including a seriously voluptuous Madonna, Eve, Jesus, and other fascinating items.

    You can see the photo series for the sculptures here: http://www.dr.dk/P2/Kunstmagasinet/Billedgallerier/ParadisetOpstilles.htm

    I actually like it. I think it speaks to the failure of scientists to communicate the realities of science to the fearful.

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  9. To: Mica Veihman, Monsanto

    Here a message from the official Angry Mermaid organisers. Monsanto was the very convincing winner of the Angry Mermaid Award for the worst climate lobby, for trying to get carbon credits for ‘no-till’ (herbicide resistant) crops like RoundupReady soy. This, to thousands of voters, is the most absurd and damaging corporate lobby on climate change issues.

    Monsanto was invited to the Award ceremony, on Tuesday 15 December in the Klimaforum in Kopenhagen, where the Award winner was announced by writer and journalist Naomi Klein. Friends of the Earth International sent the invitation on 14 December 2009 to the Monsanto press office – queries.media(at)monsanto.com. Both Monsanto and the RTRS had lobbyists registered to the COP15 in Copenhagen (Michael Hauser for Monsanto and Jeroen Douglas and Ben Zeehandelaar for the RTRS).

    The Round Table on Responsible Soy was nominated along with Monsanto, for lobbying for carbon credits for ‘responsible’ GM soy, by developing a ‘responsible’ label that is in reality an empty shell; even soy from deforested land can be called ‘responsible’. By allowing Monsanto and Syngenta as members, and by promoting itself as a certifier of ‘sustainable’ biofuels for European car drivers, the RTRS has definitely disqualified itself as nothing more than a greenwashing platform for the soy industry.

    Large scale spraying of herbicides as a “solution” to weed control on monoculture fields has nothing to do with sustainability. The evidence of the impacts of RR soy production on the local environment and communities in South America is so overwhelming and well documented that this undoubtedly was another strong motivation for voters to choose Monsanto out of a list of eight corporate lobbies that have all done their best to wreck effective action on climate change.
    For more information on Monsanto’s lobby, please visit: http://www.angrymermaid.org/monsanto

    We thank the DC Climate Action Factory for their prompt delivery of a mermaid to the Monsanto office Christmas tree!! See http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2vBiRp81pgo

    Nina Holland, Corporate Europe Observatory

    Organisers Angry Mermaid Award: Attac Denmark, Corporate Europe Observatory, Focus on the Global South, Friends of the Earth International, Spinwatch, Oilchange US.

    Reply
    • Thank you for reading the blog. I think we can both agree that we disagree on what is considered sustainable. As Monsanto is a proud member of the Round Table on Responsible Soy and we stand by the work that is being done to develop more environmentally-friendly business practices.

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    • AMO:-

      I guess this all depends on what the alternatives were in the given situation, and to what extent Monsanto can be seen as responsible for the deforestation rather than simply for supplying the seeds used – assuming that land would have been cleared anyway, then utilizing roundup rather than other herbicides to me seems like it would be better environmentally (although clearly if this comes on top of massive deforestation then this is but a thin veneer of silver lining on an ominously large black cloud) – it could be argued that utilizing roundup ready tech rather than other weed control methods is the more responsible course of action after the fact, and as the peer reviewed science in general supports the notion that RR crop production is more environmentally sound (there are numbers elsewhere on this blog detailing the number of cars removed from the road equivalent (and other measures) of utilization of RR as opposed to other conventional farming methods in terms of CO2 reduction etc)

      In terms of impact on actual action on climate change therefore (based on global utilization of RR crops in areas where intensive ag would otherwise produce more greenhouse gases) it seems a little ridiculous to point the finger at monsanto accusing them of wrecking effective action on climate change when the reality is that by utilizing RR technology, and IR tech globally farmers have massively reduced their production of the very chemicals which are thought to be causing climate change in the first place – while at the same time increasing yields of these crops so that more can be produced in less area (which is important in keeping the agricultural footprint in terms of area used per unit produced low – I’m not sure how one would go about doing the calculation, but it might be worthwhile attempting to figure out the carbon/environmental impact which would be seen if the acreage said to have been preserved by utilization of monsanto/GM tech (figures bouncing about somewhere on the blogs) were instead utilized for lower yielding practices (both in terms of carbon sequestering capacity reduction, and in terms of extra carbon etc output due to more area being farmed)

      What to me, and many others, is ‘absurd and damaging’ is the green lobby’s ideological rejection of GM technology in spite of the clear cut environmental benefits of utilizing this technology, and the future potential of this technology to further reduce the environmental impact of agriculture without reducing agriculture’s capacity to feed demand – perhaps your own organization, or the sponsors thereof, could be nominated for a genetically modified angry mermaid.

      Reply
  10. I do not believe that any corporation (including the one I work for) is a white saint, but I am extremely extremely skeptical and disbeleiving of any group of people who claim (even implicitly) that they are out to save the world from its enemies.

    Agency costs and economic incentives drive employees of any and every corporation to sometimes do improper things in order to maximise their own (often short term) welfare. This is true of banks (dont we all agree now), energy companies, consumer goods companies, pharma giants, and as I said before, every firm.

    But when I see groups of people whose sole agenda is to raise a noise over issues such as the environment, poverty, hunger, etc, and raise money and spend it in name-calling, it is many times worse.

    These organisations achieve nothing. They provide no employment, they create no economic surplus, they often mis-state things, and their contributors ask for no accountability, having felt good in contributing already.

    Is there not a huge vested interest for leaders of organisations such as these to do whatever it takes to further their own material interests and fame ?

    So are all these leaders saints that they are able to resist the obvious temptations ?

    I am not a beleiver of saints. They are statistically infinitesimally probable.

    Reply

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