Hero of Neil Young’s anti-GMO doc ‘Seeding Fear’ is confessed thief

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inteNeil Young’s released a 10-minute documentary “Seeding Fear: The Story of Michael White vs. Monsanto” on his Facebook page, timed to coincide with the U.S. House of Representatives vote on the Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act, dubbed the Deny Americans the Right to Know (DARK) Act by opponents.

The last-ditch effort to inflame the debate did not change the outcome. The bill, which would if passed in its present form [which will not happen, as a Senate version is considerably different and is a long shot even then to pass] would restrict states from having separate GMO labeling regulations and provide federal guidelines for voluntary labeling, passed 275-150. Next, the Senate will debate the bill.

The mini-doc tells the story of Michael White, who was sued by Monsanto for saving patented soybean seed and lost. The film is the latest in Young’s media campaign against Monsanto, which includes his recent album, “The Monsanto Years.” Last fall, he boycotted Starbucks accusing them of affiliating with Monsanto because they were members of the Grocery Manufacturers Association, which sued Vermont in opposition to the the state’s mandatory GMO labeling law.

Introducing the film, Young wrote on his Facebook page:

A Message From Neil Young – As I write this, the Dark Act is up for a vote in the House of Representatives; representatives of the people. The Dark Act takes away the rights of those people to vote for or against things like GMO labeling in their states. It does seem ironic. If the act is passed, it will truly be a dark day for America. Monsanto is a corporation with great wealth, now controlling over 90% of soybean and corn growth in America.

Family farms have been replaced by giant agri corp farms across this great vast country we call home. Farm aid and other organizations have been fighting the losing battle against this for 30 years now.

Dairy and meat farming is done in those white sheds you see from the freeway, no longer on the green pastures of home with the old farmhouses and barns. Those beautiful buildings now stand in ruin across the country. This has happened on our watch while the country slept, distracted by advertising and false information from the corporations. Monsanto and others simply pay the politicians for voting their way. This is because of “Citizens United”, a legislation that has made it possible for corporations to have the same rights as people, while remaining immune to people’s laws.

Both Democratic and Republican front runners are in bed with Monsanto, from Clinton to Bush, as many government branches are and have been for years. This presidential election could further cement the dominance of corporation’s rights over people’s rights in America. If you have a voice you have a choice. Use it.

On the human side, the film I would like you to see tells the story of a farming family in America, but the same thing is happening around the world. It is a story that takes 10 minutes of your time to see. It is a simple human one, telling the heartbreaking story of one man who fought the corporate behemoth Monsanto, and it illustrates why I was moved to write The Monsanto Years.

The film presents a rare opportunity to hear from the source as Mr. White is one of only four farmers who is still legally allowed to speak about his case as all the others have been effectively silenced.

Thanks for reading this and I hope you look at this simple and powerful film, “Seeding Fear”.

Of course the Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act passed with overwhelming bi-partisan support.

Here is the Neil Young endorsed anti-GMO documentary:


There is no science or factual information in the film; it’s just agit prop, an appeal to raw emotions. The documentary misrepresents the real story. White is no victim. In court documents, Monsanto Company versus Michael White, Wayne White, White’s Seed Cleaning, and White Farms Feed & Seed, White admitted to knowingly planting, producing, saving, cleaning and selling Roundup Ready soybeans illegally. According to the court records, White started saving Roundup Ready seeds on his family farm in 1998. He continued to do so in 1999, and at this point, he began selling the seeds to Alabama farmers. Mr. White continued this practice in 2000, 2001 and 2002, at which point Monsanto realized he was saving and cleaning patented seeds.

Monsanto approached both Wayne and Michael White with evidence, and ended up dismissing the case against Wayne when Michael admitted to farming in his father’s name. After a couple years of legal actions, the company settled with Michael in 2006. Again, Michael White admitted he knowingly planted, produced, saved, cleaned and sold Roundup Ready soybeans, which are protected by a patent.

The documentary has numerous other misrepresentations, among them:

  • Monsanto has “sued hundreds of farmers for patent infringement.” The fact is that Monsanto has pursued legal action against 147 farmers, with 11 cases going to trial. As there are more than 300,000 farmers as potential customers every year, this number equates to less than 0.1% of all farmers.
  • “Over 90% of the soy beans (sic), corn and cotton produced in the USA are a product of Monsanto.” This claim an example of how those who do not want to present the truth can manipulate facts. The intent of this quote is to imply that Monsanto “controls” more than 90% of the seed market; that it has a monopoly over the US seed supply. That’s factually not true. Monsanto developed and patented the Roundup Ready trait, which makes engineered corn, soybean, cotton resistance to the herbicide glyphosate. That trait has been licensed to hundreds of other competing seed companies for use in their particular seeds’ genetics–different for each company. So while the patented trait may have been developed using Monsanto’s patented technology, there is a robust and competitive market for herbicide resistant GMO seeds.
  • “The thousand-year tradition of saving seed is over with.” That’s absurd. Farmers can still save seed, and in this film White himself notes he still does this. Wheat, soybeans and cotton, in addition to other grains like barley and oats, are saved by farmers all over the country. However, farmers cannot save seed if there is a patent on the seed (like the Roundup Ready soybeans); this applies to patented non GMO seeds and patented seeds used by organic farmers, and has been US law for more than 80 years. Farmers can save formerly patented seeds that go off patent (for example, the University of Arkansas has released herbicide resistant soybean seeds featuring the Roundup Ready technology that went off patent in 2014). Farmers may also choose not to save seed year after year, because seed companies and universities are improving the genetics of the crops every year.
  • Terminator genes. Monsanto has never developed a biotech trait that resulted in sterile – or “Terminator” – seeds. No company has. Monsanto announced in 1999 that it would not commercialize technologies that result in sterile seeds in food crops, and it has no plans or research that would violate that commitment.

Despite Young’s misrepresentations, Robb Fraley, the chief technology officer at Monsanto, nonetheless has responded to Young’s ongoing attacks, even inviting him after the release of his attack album “The Monsanto Years” to visit the company and commence a dialogue:

neil-young-monsanto-years-artworkThe Monsanto Years,” makes me sad. It reminds me once again what a lousy job we have done in communicating about our business and engaging in dialogue around science with the public.

If you listen to the new album, you’ll hear a rehash of many of the myths we’ve long heard about our company. Unfortunately, some of these myths are now so well-established in some circles that people don’t even question them. Young suggests, for example, that our company is making life more difficult for farmers, that we bully them with lawsuits, and that we‘re all about greed. None of this is accurate.

The truth is that farmers are our customers, and our 22,000 employees focus on improving their operations and their lives. If we didn’t, we wouldn’t have those customers for long. They have many choices.

Will Young agree to learn about the science of genetic modification and the facts of the debate over the future of farming? Or is he so fixed in his ideological viewpoints that dialogue is off the table?

NOTE: This article was updated on July 27 by editor Jon Entine at 3:56pm et to include analysis of specific claims made in the Michael White film.

Rebecca Randall is a journalist focusing on international relations and global food issues. Follow her @beccawrites.

  • JoeFarmer

    Ol’ Shakey wants to sell some records. Big surprise.

    If he were donating his profits to Joni Mitchell’s healthcare and hospice care, it would be a different story.

    He’s an opportunistic dick. Harvest was an awesome album, but that was 1972, doesn’t matter if he’s going to have a personally signed Pono version now. He’s still a dick.

    The Stray Gators made that album, not Neil, so meh.

    Deport his dumb ass to Canada, make him work at Songberry Farm.

  • JohnDoe

    I wonder how Neil Young would feel if someone was taking his music without his permission and making a profit off of it.

    • First Officer

      But that’s different! It’ll be his intellectual property in dispute. #FreeTheMusic !

      • JohnDoe

        He’s keeping me from reusing the music I purchased. I should be free to press more copies and sell them once I buy the first CD. /s

        • Jereshroom

          First officer seemed to be joking. Everyone in the conversation agrees with you (:
          Now I’m off to pirate Young’s music!*

          *Legal disclaimer: This is a joke, not a pre-emptive confession.

          • JoeFarmer

            Shouldn’t be too hard to do.

            Neil’s last good album was “Live Rust” or maybe “Mirror Ball”.

            There should be a statute of limitations on Neil Young songs.

            After seeing his “Starbuck’s Song video, he’s fair game

          • JohnDoe

            I know First Officer was joking. I was just continuing on the line of thought.

          • zigzzagz

            How are you Monsanto shills doing. We’re you three in the office together at Monsanto when you made these posts?

          • Farmer with a Dell

            Dude, you’re flaming a thread that’s a year old, for Christ’s sake. Are you BigOrganic shills that far behind in your trolling or are you just lonely and bored?

          • zigzzagz

            A thread desperately in need of flaming. A day or a year old, it’s new to me.

          • Farmer with a Dell

            So ‘lonely and bored’ is your story and you’re sticking to it, eh? Very well, troll on sister, troll on!

          • zigzzagz

            Poison on farmer. sister? Is that the best you could come up with?

          • JR

            Bit late to the party, no? A year after I made this comment…

            But for the record, I’m employed in academia and receive no industry funding.

    • Granny

      Let’s see if any of his music grows roots. If it is a non living entity, fine. Call it “intellectual property”.

      If it IS a living thing, monsanto and nobody else created the living seed. They took living seeds and manipulated it. THAT is not intellectual property.

      Monsanto’s claims are as stupid as claiming that a doctor who delivered a baby, and had to make medical adjustments for the life of the child, can pull the same stupid stunts monsanto pulls and claim the child belongs to the doctor via supposed “intellectual rights”.

      Monsanto has to be shut down and eventually it will be.

      • Granny, granny, granny. You need to educate yourselves about patent law and agriculture. Seeds have been patented since the 1930s. All high end hybrid seeds, including organic seeds, are patented…has nothing to do with GMOs. If we did not have patenting, your food costs would be twice as high as the are now–maybe three times–and there would be ravages of global hunger. Farmers have a choice to buy patented seeds or not. Nothing stops them. They almost all choose patented seeds, despite slightly higher cost, because the seeds grow “true” and their yields are multiple times higher than non patented ones. As for Monsanto being shut down, it’s been one of the fastest growing companies in the US for a couple of decades. I write in the socially responsible business community and it is regularly rated as one of THE most ethical and socially responsible companies in the world. I know this is difficult for you to swallow because you appear to be a hard-edged ideologue, but that’s the reality.

        • Granny

          As usual, defenders of the monsanto/GMO fraud are full of mumbo jumbo. Just like you. Your posting is full of disinformation.

          • What a laser sharp critique of my comments! You certainly knocked your position out of the park. Impressive science communication on your part. Now please provide one piece of information above that is incorrect, and link to a non-activist source?

          • Granny, granny, granny: I presented facts, and your response is “your posting is full of disinformation”. Show me your smarts Granny. What did you find was disinformation in what I posted, and please supply real information, with links to independent sources, not anti-GMO activist sites. Let’s discuss data and real issues.

          • Farmer Sue

            Granny, patented seeds have been around since 1930. Organic, conventional, and now GE. Farmers have been choosing them for years. What’s your beef? We pay more for patented seeds, and GE seeds, by choice. Why? Increased yields. Less impact on our soils.
            If you think that’s not true, then you know squat about farming. Talk to a farmer who will be happy to straighten you out about your many misconceptions about farming.

          • Granny

            Farmer Sue, girl, find something better to do.

          • lf

            you’re full of ignorance his post is right on point
            the difference between people like him and you is that he can provide data and facts and you don’t , your ideology is based on baseless information.. sad

      • JohnDoe

        I’m not sure if you’re aware, but creating hybrids and new breeds of plants is hard work and can take a lot of time to get it right. As of the Plant Patent Protection Act of 1930, plants are patentable and can be protected by patent for 20 years. Monsanto and other companies that spend millions upon millions of dollars creating new varieties are simply using the law to protect their intellectual property and investment for the short time they are allowed to. If people don’t like it, they are free to plant non-patent seeds (and in fact, IIRC, some GMO-soybeans are now off-patent). No one holds a gun to a farmer’s head and forces them to use Monsanto products. Your irrational hate for them is quite strong and your analogy is quite terrible.

        • Granny

          Naw, JohDoe. I don’t know a thing about GMO or hybrids. Naw. You might want to take your mumbo jumbo and dump it on someone else. Now scram. I have to get back to my lab station.

          • lf

            what are you a janitor at the local high school ? do humanity a favor when you blabber about mumbo jumbo and such provide some reasonings why you believe so , right now you sound like a deranged conspiracy theorist no more than that

          • Granny

            Janitor? Now If, you know I ain’t got no learnin’. My job isn’t to provide you and your slimy lying ilk anything. Smart people have had quite enough of your “anything” you’ve been dumping on everyone. Say — one more thing — pick you a ‘nana, tater or one o’ them maters and enjoy your vaccines … eat ’em up. Give some to that female who thinks she’s a “farmer”. Yep. Yum yum.

          • Abe Wieler

            Neil’s Meth lab? As Skynard once said, we don’t need him around anyhow.

      • Farmer Sue

        Not likely, girlfriend. Farmers are buying GE seeds in increasing amounts every year, from Monsanto, Pioneer, Syngenta, and many other GE seed companies. Hate to bust your bubble, but you are so wrong on so many points. It’s obvious you are drooling with loathing for Monsanto (how incredibly boring), but if you want to know something about farming, talk to a farmer.

  • JSpencer

    Young is right about these trends, but with such an intellectually sedentary (but opinionated – go figure) and uninvolved citizenry it’s hard to see how things will change anytime soon.

  • First Officer

    He’s so vain. I bet you he kept the copyrights to this!

    • Janie Almany Cornett

      I bet you think this song is about you…Ha! Just a pun so lighten up…

  • lf

    what an idiot .. he goes on telling us how he’s been saving seeds for generations and then tells us how saving seeds is over but yet he’s still doing it .. i can’t believe people are so dumb to fall for this crap
    he even admitted to plant monsanto patented seeds illegally for years

    • Farmer Sue

      Contemporary farmers (and I am not talking about small-plot gardeners) almost never save seed. The storage tends to degrade the seeds, yielding a poorer crop the next year. Not worth it. Maybe back 100 years ago, before good-quality seed was available, people saved their seed, but it is not an optimal way to farm.

      • Janice Rickert Mueller

        I know, the saving seed argument always gets me. My dad grew mainly corn, soybeans and Pioneer Hybrid Seed Corn. He did at one time save soybeans for next year’s planting but never corn because the hybrid seeds were so good and he was in fact growing those seeds. Eventually he planted hybrid soybeans also as I imagine most farmers do today.

  • lf

    I had to stop watching this idiot talk as soon as he brings out the terminator seeds bullshit lol

  • lf

    it doesn’t matter what they are involved with , this video is full of lies plain and simple

    • Granny

      No it isn’t.

      • lf

        yes they are

  • David Keener

    So, what is the true story of Michael White? The Video make it like he won the case against Monsanto, but you say Monsanto did? And did Monsanto really make a death threat against White?

    • Guest

      The court documents are available online.

    • lf

      he won the case , monsanto never made death threats as obviously that is illegal lol however white admitted he has collected and used patented seeds illegally .. no different than getting a new cd and making thousands of illegal copies for profit ,how he won is a matter of legalities regarding corporations and the type of protection you can get by being incorporated

  • Robb Levinsky

    Neil speaks the truth, a rare voice against the corporate shills who own Congress, paid for with dark money

    • If you hang out here long enough your illiteracy will vanish. In your case I’m thinking 35 years or so.

    • gmoeater

      Oooo, I want to be a corporate shill who ownes Congress!

      Is this statement enough to qualify? “I support biotech agriculture wholeheartedly and I know many farmers who purchase GE seeds from many different companies (including but not limited to Monsanto).”

      There. Now, Robb, tell me how I can get me some of that “dark money.” I mean, your truthiness is reliable, isn’t it?

      • Granny

        Before you make that decision for dark money, go work in a testing lab. Your ideas about GMO are way way off base and they most certainly are causing problems, serious ones.

    • agscienceliterate

      Robb-o, let us know what was “truth” in this shill piece of bad writing.
      What did you believe to be “true” about what he said, specifically? And why do you believe whatever it is you believe to be “true” ?

      • Granny

        What is “truth” to you, agscienceliterate??? You are spitting into the wind, kiddo.

  • gmoeater

    Neil, you know a lot about seeding fear, alright. And ignorance. And hype. And shill money to produce your pablum, paid for by Big Organic money.
    Don’t quit your day job.
    Wait; please quit your day job — you sing out of tune and you can’t even tune your guitar.

    • Granny

      I think most Americans would be very pleased if ALL the GMO vermin did quit their jobs.

  • JohnL

    Read the court documents. In no way is Michael White an innocent victim. I bet Neil Young didn’t bother to read it.

  • Niki Ghini

    interesting how all the comments supporting Monsanto and booing NY are written by non people – or by people who use pseudonyms. It takes away credibility to their claims as they could be people on payroll spending their work days disclaiming right accusations. The issue is clear, either you believe on side or the other but while on one side there is huge monetary interest, on the other there is not.

    • Good4U

      Your premise is false. I have no monetary interest in Monsanto, yet I support the biotechnology that they and several other entities, including academic institutions, have developed. I use a pseudonym because I don’t wish to be physically attacked, such as some anti-technology terrorists might like to do. Is Niki Ghini your real name?

  • Granny

    The center focus of the problems with monsanto IS the idea they can patent seed and thereby control farming and even gardening. That is the focus issue. Monsanto and all the GMO ilk are not anything more than a black ops. By the way, I wouldn’t believe anything that comes out of a monsanto controlled court room. Do some court watches. It will make you sick.

  • Dave Pennington

    Monsanto says it “has no plans” to ever commercialize the numerous “Terminator” patents it owns? http://www.globalresearch.ca/monsanto-buys-terminator-seeds-company/3082

    Ask the people of Anniston how Monsanto’s promises worked out.
    http://www.commondreams.org/headlines02/0101-02.htm

    And of course it’s not just Monsanto. The entire GMO industry would love to implement “GURT” technology, which is why they keep patenting different ways to perform the same trick. They haven’t figured out how to do it without pissing off a huge number of people, so they are filing patents and biding their time.

    http://www.adonline.id.au/terminatorseeds/benefits/

    • Good4U

      I think the so-called “terminator” technology should be deployed. It would be the solution that the anti-biotech screamers are seeking to prevent proliferation of biotechnically modified traits to the environment. If the biotech crop can’t reproduce then there would be no proliferation of the GMO trait(s) to wild populations. The main reason that it wasn’t deployed when it was first proven to work is because the anti-GMO faction demonized it. They should have supported it. Shoot themselves in the foot much?

  • zigzzagz

    Wow. A shocking amount of Monsanto shills in here. Did the entire board of directors post here? Was it mandatory?

  • zigzzagz

    Woah, it’s worse than I thought. This whole site is a shill for Monsanto. Almost every story is about gmo/Monsanto with a few others thrown in here and there. Scummy buggers.