By Jim Hightower on October 28, 2013

A problem with trophies is that they tend to tarnish over time. But one that Monsanto recently received came already tarnished -- by Monsanto itself.

This was the World Food Prize, intended to promote sustainable practices that help alleviate hunger in impoverished lands. But Monsanto is a predatory, profiteering proliferator of expensive, genetically-altered seeds designed for crops that require large amounts of pesticides and water -- the exact opposite of sustainability!

Why in the world would it get such a prize? Because Monsanto is a major funder of the foundation that awards this trophy. It even contributed $5 million to restore the foundation's august headquarters in Iowa. So, having given, Monsanto got.

The biotech seed manipulator had hoped the prize would help transform its corporate image from an abusive peddler of Frankenseeds to an altruistic crusader against global hunger. In particular, it wants the Catholic Church to bless its effort to hook poor, Third World farmers on its pricy, pesticide-dependent seeds. Monsanto hopes that a World Food Prize will buff its image and impress the Vatican.

But that might be a harder sell than the giant first imagined, for -- hello -- there's a new guy in Rome, and he seems a bit wary of the worldly intentions of the Big, Rich & Powerful. In fact, Pope Francis could've had Monsanto in mind earlier this year when he declared: "The worship of the golden calf of old has found a new and heartless image in the cult of money and the dictatorship of an economy which is faceless and lacking any truly humane goal."

Ironically, the only one getting an image makeover was the foundation, which has rather grandly tried to label its award the "Nobel Prize for Agriculture." But selling it to the profiteer, however, they turned the trophy into the "Ignoble Prize."

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By Wendell Berry

Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more 
of everything ready made. Be afraid 
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery 
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card 
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something 
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know. 
So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord. 
Love the world. Work for nothing. 
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it. 
Denounce the government and embrace 
the flag. Hope to live in that free 
republic for which it stands. 
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man 
has not encountered he has not destroyed.
Ask the questions that have no answers. 
Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.


Say that the leaves are harvested 
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
Put your faith in the two inches of humus 
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion—put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come. 
Expect the end of the world. Laugh. 
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts. 
So long as women do not go cheap 
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy 
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep 
of a woman near to giving birth? 
Go with your love to the fields.
Lie easy in the shade. Rest your head 
in her lap. Swear allegiance 
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos 
can predict the motions of your mind, 
lose it. Leave it as a sign 
to mark the false trail, the way 
you didn’t go. Be like the fox 
who makes more tracks than necessary, 
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

Wendell Berry is a poet, farmer, and environmentalist in Kentucky. This poem, first published in 1973, is reprinted by permission of the author and appears in his “New Collected Poems” (Counterpoint).

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