Monsanto tops poll of firms accused over climate change


MONSANTO, THE US multinational chiefly known for its aggressive marketing of genetically modified (GM) crops, has emerged as the surprising winner of the “Angry Mermaid” awards for business lobbyists against taking action on climate change.

Presented here yesterday by author and activist Naomi Klein, the premier award went to Monsanto in a poll conducted mainly on the internet. It won 37 per cent of the 10,000 votes cast. The runners-up were Royal Dutch Shell and the American Petroleum Institute.

Monsanto was nominated for promoting its GM crops and biofuels as a “solution” to climate change. “The expansion of GM soy in Latin America is contributing to major deforestation and greenhouse gas emissions,” according to Friends of the Earth International.

It said the awards were to “recognise the perverse role of corporate lobbyists and highlight those business groups and companies that have made the greatest effort to sabotage the climate talks, and other climate measures, while promoting often profitable, false solutions.”

Ms Klein said there was an “embarrassment of riches” among the nominees for the award, named after Copenhagen’s Little Mermaid. “We’ve had endless sessions here about poor countries adapting to climate change, but none on the corporations causing it.”

The author of No Logo and The Shock Doctrine said there were so many “common sense solutions” that were also being ignored – such as levying taxes on the windfall profits of oil companies, or closing down the extraction of oil from tar sands in Alberta, Canada.

Speaking as a Canadian, she branded her country a “carbon criminal” for allowing the oil companies to continue with this environmentally destructive activity. “We need to denounce false solutions and focus on real solutions that are kept off the agenda.”

Asked about the curious choice of Monsanto as a major culprit, Ms Klein said people were “struck by the fact that a company producing such products with negative impacts, such as GM crops and biofuels, will be able to get public subsidies” from climate change funds.

Announcing that she would be joining a “Reclaim Power” protest march today, she appealed to participants to “observe the rules against violence”, so that there would be no excuse for the “outrageous” behaviour of Danish police towards protesters.