Hackers Against Monsanto
Monsanto: a self-proclaimed friend to farmers, bringing biotechnology to the food we eat. The tables seemed to have turned a bit from that day in 1983 when they first announced they’d genetically modified a plant cell, bringing the first genetically modified crops in 1987.
Now, there are marches against the biotech giant by both farmers and citizens alike, held in 52 countries and 436 cities on May 25. Farmers worldwide feel Monsanto is controlling the seed market and charging a high price for the altered seeds: even Haitian farmers protested seeds that were donated in 2010, burning a small pile of seeds symbolically.
In the US, it is not much different. Although more accepting of the use of genetically modified seeds (other countries ban GMO altogether), there is a movement to go organic by those that just don’t trust the safety of genetically modified foods. People living in the US are slowly becoming aware of the issues GMO presents, and some are taking action.
Hackers Against GMO
In March of 2012, AntiSec went after Monsanto by publishing a database of their material, snatched from the company’s web servers . It was outdated, so it wasn’t a knockout punch — more like a slap in the face. AntiSec, hackers affiliated with Anonymous, said it didn’t matter that the move caused no real harm to Monsanto. They wanted the biotech giant to be aware that they will keep up the attacks in protest of actions they see as wrong.
“Your continued attack on the world’s food supply, as well as the health of those who eat it, has earned you our full attention,” AntiSec wrote. “Your crimes against humanity are too many to name on one page.
Hackers Against Monsanto: Where It Started
Anonymous had been fighting against Monsanto since July of 2011, with hackers attacking Monsanto’s website, gathering and releasing data regarding 2,500 people within the agriculture industry. Monsanto claimed 10 percent of the information related to their current and former employees.
In a statement by Tom Helscher, Monsanto’s director of corporate affairs released in July of 2011: “Last month, Monsanto experienced a disruption to our web sites which appeared to be organized by a cyber group. In addition, this group also recently published publicly available information on approximately 2,500 individuals involved in the broader global agriculture industry. Contrary to initial media reports, only 10 percent of this publicly available information related to Monsanto’s current and former employees. The list also included contact details for media outlets as well as other agricultural companies.”
It isn’t just the GMOs that are controversial. The company also used to provide the military with Agent Orange during the Vietnam War, as well as manufacturing bovine growth hormones. Today, it focuses solely on pesticides and GMO seeds that are resistant to these pesticides.
Why AntiSec Attacked
AntiSec stated that the purpose of the attacks on Monsanto’s web servers was to protest the lawsuits brought forth by Monsanto against organic dairy farmers, simply because the farmers disclose on their labels that the products are growth hormone-free.
“You have put over 9,000 small-time farmers out of business by using your enormous legal team to bury them with your malicious patent lawsuits,” said a statement released by AntiSec in March of 2012. “You have continually introduced harmful, even deadly products into our food supply without warning, without care, all for your own profit.”
The growth hormone has been sold to Eli Lilly soon after settling these lawsuits, shifting their focus to genetically modified seeds.
With the Farmer Assurance Provision (called the Monsanto Protection Act by those against the company) somehow finding its way into the Agricultural Appropriations Bill on March 26, 2013, basically making it illegal for courts to ban the planting and sale of GMOs no matter what health information is discovered regarding the products, it seems the company is safe in the US– for now. This provision is only applicable until the end of the 2013 fiscal year.
The marches against Monsanto that occurred recently are evidence that the people worldwide aren’t going to accept the use of GMOs, despite what the government tries to do. With hackers getting involved, vowing to continue attacking their servers until something changes and the use of GMOs is banned, it is uncertain if their reign in the agricultural world will continue.
How do you feel about this issue? Do you think there is nothing wrong with using the seeds that help farmers produce higher crop yields, or do you attempt to support the organic movement?