According to a recent briefing by The Economist, the company has many admirers: “Bill Gates sees Monsanto’s innovations as essential to the agricultural revolution in Africa to which his charitable foundation is committed. Josette Sheeran, the head of the United Nations World Food Programme, is also a fan.”
However, there are plenty of naysayers as well. Known for its "Violator Exclusion Policy," which punishes and sues farmers if they break the terms of a license (basically, if they hold onto seed for longer than one crop season), the company is accused of using extraordinarily strong-armed tactics.
The American Antitrust Institute, an independent competition watchdog, warned: “[W]ere it not for the early decision to broadly license its patented genetic traits technologies, Monsanto would control large, totally closed platforms in transgenic seed that could be challenged only by the unlikely emergence of rival platforms.”
Notorious for co-producing Agent Orange, an herbicide used in the Vietnam War, Monsanto is no stranger to controversy. This time though, it seems to be caught in between two camps -- one that applauds its innovation, and one that condemns its global clout and alleged incivility toward farmers.
Fools, what do you think? Is Monsanto on the side of good, is it evil, or is it simply focused on maximizing profits? If you have an opinion on any of these stocks, drop a comment in the box below, or come and join us on CAPS, absolutely free, to learn more about these and countless other interesting investing ideas.
Jordan DiPietro doesn’t own any shares mentioned above. Monsanto is a Motley Fool Inside Value pick. Syngenta AG is a Motley Fool Global Gains selection. The Fool’s disclosure policy highly recommends watching the documentary Food, Inc.