by Marion Nestle
Oct 18 2010

Monsanto: the worst stock of 2010?

Some investment analysts have annointed Monsanto, the 800-pound gorilla of the food biotechnology industry, as the worst stock of the year.  Whether or not the company is really doing that badly, it is not having a good year.

For starters, its income  fell by half since its last fiscal year.

That’s bad news, but there’s more.  Just in the last few weeks:

  • Monsanto’s SmartStax corn which has been bioengineered to contain eight inserted genes turns out to produce yields that are no higher than those from the less expensive GM corn containing only three inserted genes.
  • Sales of Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide are way down since it went off patent.  Farmers prefer to buy the cheaper Chinese generics.
  • More and more weeds are becoming resistant to Roundup.  To kill them, farmers have to buy other, more toxic herbicides, defeating the whole point of using this herbicide.
  • The Justice Department has Monsanto under investigation for possible antitrust violations.

It’s almost enough to make you feel sorry for the company.

Maybe Monsanto could take the present crisis as a sign that it’s time to make some real effort to elicit public support.  How about petitioning the FDA to allow GM foods to be labeled, for starters?

Hey, I can dream.

  • Emily

    It would take a heck of a lot more to make me feel sorry for Monsanto. Like, for instance, they would have to stop being evil.

  • I’m honestly surprised that Monsanto’s income has been cut in half this past fiscal year, and find it as a very encouraging sign

  • This is one of the most exciting things I’ve read in a long time. Monsanto’s income is falling, their products aren’t working as they *should* and I feel like doing a happy dance!

    I hope that this is an early sign of things to come. A Monsanto-free world would have so many possibilities. Like perhaps a return to eating locally grown foods?

  • Gee, Monsanto is having a bad year, I’m so broken up about it, I think I might cary…or DO A HAPPY DANCE!!!

    But seriously, Monsanto is an astonishingly smart company full of super brainiacs, so lets hope they switch to good from evil.

  • B.

    The best news I’ve read in a long time! Thanks for sharing.

  • The website “Ethical Investing” has already named Monsanto as the
    World’s Most Unethical and Harmful Investment! They’re on a roll!!!

  • Cathy Richards

    You know the global economy is in the tank when Monsanto can’t figure out how to stop their profits from falling. Doesn’t bode well for economic recovery. Sounds like the 2nd wave of the economically triggered tsunami is about to hit.

    I agree with above posters. Smart People. Self Serving company. Let’s hope they can resteer and help themselves at the same time they help the world.

  • Peter

    I won’t get too excited … If you look into details, the glyphosate business (aka Round UP) is the business that is down due to generic, cheap Chinese glyphosate… What a great tradeoff, right???!? Personally, I don’t want China to control our food supply…That’s way too dangerous…
    Monsanto’s seeds and traits business is still pretty healthy… Newer reports (on much greater acrage) of SmartStax show great yield improvement… Sorry to tell you folks that Monsanto is far from being dead….

  • Cathy Richards

    @Peter — “newer reports (on much greater acreage)…”

    Whippee. More monocultures! More oil-dependent fertilizers to make up for lack of top soil and mycillium understructure! More wars to keep the oil flowing! More hydrophobic dirt that contributes to risk of drought and floods!

    Truly. We reap what we deserve.

  • Nothing… will make me feel sorry for Monsanto.

  • Bobby

    Gee, didn’t Monsanto buy a whole lot of politicians and even whole government departments? How did their master plan for total global domination of the food supply fail?

    That’s the real story here.

  • “How about petitioning the FDA to allow genetically modified foods to be labeled, for starters? ”
    Unfortunately, Marion Nestle is still promoting the myth that the FDA has banned the labeling of foods derived from genetically engineered crops. They have not, and when I pointed this out to Marion in the comments on one of her posts, she conceded that she was incorrect. Here she is saying the same thing again. What gives?

  • Mary

    Awww….everyone’s concern is so touching. Quite frankly I think it would be great for Monsanto to go away. Then we could have serious conversations about the science and the evidence instead. And a lot of the other companies in this space would confuse you guys and you’d have nowhere to aim. It would be fun to watch. (Oh, and you’d have to aim at several developing countries too–the cognitive dissonance would be hard for y’all.)


    Does it ever embarrass you to respond to the word “Monsanto” in a dog-whistle manner, which many of you mock in other zealots?

  • @Karl:

    I think you are aware that the FDA discourages labeling products as GMO-free. I believe Dr. Nestle’s statement might derive from a belief that consumers who take issue with the effects genetically modified organisms have on the environment, on the economic climate, and on other cold, hard realities, should have the right to know when a product contains GM ingredients.

    I’ve seen these realists be lumped together as spiritualists, too often. GMOs are not a necessity in the American diet.

    If you want to debate their global impact on a humanistic level (not isolated in personal economic gain, but rather widespread betterment of the human condition) you must first cease to distract from the very real causes of famine.

  • LindsayB

    Perhaps Monsanto could fire a few of the lawyers they use to prosecute farmers whose crops get contaminated by their GM pollen?
    Hopefully they lose so much money that they have to sell the seed companies they have taken over in their quest for world domination of the food crop seed market.

  • Peter

    @Cathy Richards,
    I hope you speak Chinese!!!
    More China, whipee

  • fuzzy

    There really isn’t a fate that could befall them that wouldn’t be appropriate and desirable. Something of biblical proportions would be nice to observe, I’m just sayin’….

    Monsanto and the Catholic Church are two of the great evils of the world, and I am hard pressed to choose between them, followed closely (in no particular order) by BigOil, the Insurance Industry, and the Banking Industry (the last two should be non-profit institutions with powers and responsibilities like utilities).

  • Re: Michael,
    “I think you are aware that the FDA discourages labeling products as GMO-free.”

    Yes, and why is that? In order to say a food is “free” of something, you have to be able to demonstrate it somehow. However, the FDA clearly outlines that food manufacturers can label products as being “produced without the use of biotechnology”, non-GMO, and other similar phrases. Such negative labeling is allowed. Marion is talking about mandatory labeling, which she argues should be put in place. This is different from allowing voluntary labeling. In either case, both positive and negative labeling is allowed.

    “I believe Dr. Nestle’s statement might derive from a belief that consumers who take issue with the effects genetically modified organisms have on the environment, on the economic climate, and on other cold, hard realities, should have the right to know when a product contains GM ingredients.”

    Yes this is a pretty accurate statement of Marion’s beliefs, however she should know better than to repeat a clear falsehood that she has already been corrected on. Notice in the previous comment thread she made additional claims about labeling but did not support them with a source when asked. I can find nothing in the FDA’s draft guidelines on GE foods to support her statements.


    With all due respect, you are wrong. The draft guidelines clearly discourage the use of the term GMO-free, non-GMO, and similar phrases. In addition, the FDA opposes mandatory GM-labeling.

  • Pete

    So you think all this is just the work of one evil company? Come on now, you know right well there are hundreds of companies ready to take their place.

  • Jon

    Ooh, poor Monsanto. Turns out people don’t like eating scorpion or whatever genes Monsanto puts in its corn and soybeans.

  • But it has been a really bad year for everyone, a lot of stocks have done poorly and in a lot of ways, I think the fact that Monsanto is one of the biggest means it is no surprise that their income and sales have been hurt the most!

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  • Tom

    Quote: “It’s almost enough to make you feel sorry for the company.”

    LOL, yeah almost!!

  • Long way to go Monsanto. Much more is coming…just wait and watch. You will reap what you sow.
    Don’t play with Nature.