The Harsh Truth About Monsanto and Syngenta

The incredibly simple and true answer explaining why Monsanto Company hasn't been more transparent with you.

May 5, 2014 at 9:30AM


Somewhere on a farm far, far away, a farmer plants an engineered seed. Source: Flickr.

There are dozens of consumer-focused groups that rally support against biotechnology by lambasting agricultural products companies such as Monsanto (NYSE:MON) and Syngenta (NYSE:SYT). The groups spread fear and accusations to build a rather persuasive message about the reported harm caused by engineered food solutions. Why else would major retail chains (which obviously rely on consumers) ban products containing ingredients from genetically modified organisms, or GMOs, from their shelves and stores?

The discussion-turned-controversy may have steered off track recently, but consumers have asked one very important question: why aren't Monsanto and Syngenta more transparent with consumers? This question is actually quite simple to answer, and it doesn't include an ounce of conspiracy or ill-intent.

The harsh truth
Do Monsanto and Syngenta have something to hide from consumers when it comes to their use of genetic engineering? If independent scientific research from across the globe is to be believed (that's the protocol on scientific topics), then the answer is "no." Next question: why aren't the companies more transparent with consumers? Simply put, consumers aren't the customers of Monsanto and Syngenta. The companies sell agricultural seeds, vegetables, traits, and weed control products to farmers, who supply distributors and food manufacturers with their harvested products. Consumers come into the value chain at the very end and well after Monsanto and Syngenta have sold their products.

Think about the following. Look on the shelf of your local supermarket and try to find a single Monsanto logo -- you won't be successful. Then again, do you really care if the corn starch in your cereal made it into the box because it resisted corn rootworm? Do you really care if the soy meal you're consuming came from a seed bag with a Kruger logo or Gold Country Seed logo? Those brands probably aren't even familiar to most people reading this, which is exactly the point. You aren't the customer.

Here's another illustrative example. Take a look at the top of Monsanto's pipeline. Do any of these products look remotely geared toward consumers?


This is just a snapshot of Monsanto's pipeline. Source: Monsanto.

I know what you're thinking, "Finally, peppers that resist phytophthora! Phew!" Sarcasm aside, that's exactly the point. You wouldn't go on a crusade against an Apple supplier when you're upset with a component of your iPhone. Why should Monsanto and Syngenta be in the crosshairs when it comes to food?

Foolish takeaway
You may not like that answer, but it explains why Monsanto and Syngenta haven't made consumer transparency a top priority from the beginning. They're making strides now, but the conversation has become so close-minded that consumers probably won't even take the companies' messages into account. That could soon change as more consumer-facing products are created, such as potatoes that result in healthier French fries and vegetables accompanied by enhanced nutritional benefits including lower calories or fat and higher vitamin and mineral content. Until that day arrives, I think it's a bit unfair to criticize the companies for a lack of transparency.

Warren Buffett builds wealth without GMOs
Biotech crops contributed $125 billion to American GDP in 2012, but Warren Buffet is more interested in other technologies. Imagine a company that rents a very specific and valuable piece of machinery for $41,000... per hour (that's almost as much as the average American makes in a year!). And Warren Buffett is so confident in this company's can't-live-without-it business model, he just loaded up on 8.8 million shares. An exclusive, brand-new Motley Fool report details this company that already has over 50% market share. Just click HERE to discover more about this industry-leading stock... and join Buffett in his quest for a veritable landslide of profits!

Maxx Chatsko has no position in any stocks mentioned. Check out his personal portfolioCAPS pageprevious writing for The Motley Fool, or his work for SynBioBeta to keep up with developments in the synthetic biology industry.

The Motley Fool has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

Money to your ears - A great FREE investing resource for you

The best way to get your regular dose of market and money insights is our suite of free podcasts ... what we like to think of as “binge-worthy finance.”

Feb 1, 2016 at 5:03PM

Whether we're in the midst of earnings season or riding out the market's lulls, you want to know the best strategies for your money.

And you'll want to go beyond the hype of screaming TV personalities, fear-mongering ads, and "analysis" from people who might have your email address ... but no track record of success.

In short, you want a voice of reason you can count on.

A 2015 Business Insider article titled, "11 websites to bookmark if you want to get rich," rated The Motley Fool as the #1 place online to get smarter about investing.

And one of the easiest, most enjoyable, most valuable ways to get your regular dose of market and money insights is our suite of free podcasts ... what we like to think of as "binge-worthy finance."

Whether you make it part of your daily commute or you save up and listen to a handful of episodes for your 50-mile bike rides or long soaks in a bubble bath (or both!), the podcasts make sense of your money.

And unlike so many who want to make the subjects of personal finance and investing complicated and scary, our podcasts are clear, insightful, and (yes, it's true) fun.

Our free suite of podcasts

Motley Fool Money features a team of our analysts discussing the week's top business and investing stories, interviews, and an inside look at the stocks on our radar. The show is also heard weekly on dozens of radio stations across the country.

The hosts of Motley Fool Answers challenge the conventional wisdom on life's biggest financial issues to reveal what you really need to know to make smart money moves.

David Gardner, co-founder of The Motley Fool, is among the most respected and trusted sources on investing. And he's the host of Rule Breaker Investing, in which he shares his insights into today's most innovative and disruptive companies ... and how to profit from them.

Market Foolery is our daily look at stocks in the news, as well as the top business and investing stories.

And Industry Focus offers a deeper dive into a specific industry and the stories making headlines. Healthcare, technology, energy, consumer goods, and other industries take turns in the spotlight.

They're all informative, entertaining, and eminently listenable. Rule Breaker Investing and Answers are timeless, so it's worth going back to and listening from the very start; the other three are focused more on today's events, so listen to the most recent first.

All are available for free at

If you're looking for a friendly voice ... with great advice on how to make the most of your money ... from a business with a lengthy track record of success ... in clear, compelling language ... I encourage you to give a listen to our free podcasts.

Head to, give them a spin, and you can subscribe there (at iTunes, Stitcher, or our other partners) if you want to receive them regularly.

It's money to your ears.


Compare Brokers