Neil Young is known for latching onto certain causes from time to time, but his battle against Monsanto and genetically modified organisms (just plants in this case) has been raging for years. Not only did the rocker name his most recent album The Monsanto Years and has now released a ten-minute short film detailing the dangers of big agribusiness, titled Seeding Fear. Now the target company has stormed back, accusing the performer of letting his bias get out of control in the film.
Seeding Fear focuses on Michael White, a farmer who the film suggests was unfairly trampled by lawsuits alleging patent infringement. The mini-documentary, of course, suggests that the paranoid company is just trying to crush competition. Monsanto responded with a statement to Rolling Stone, noting that court documents reflect White had admitted under oath to stealing from the company.
"He actually admitted to knowingly planting, producing, saving, cleaning and selling Roundup Ready soybeans illegally. All of this information is available in court documents," the company wrote of its Roundup product. "Protecting patents and copyrights can be difficult in any business - including the entertainment industry...Mr. White's actions are equivalent to pirating an album, producing thousands of copies and selling bootleg copies-all while knowing what you're doing is illegal and that it will result in criminal charges if caught."
Young has declined to comment on the rebuttal, according to Rolling Stone.
Monsanto isn't the only company called out for their use of GMOs during The Monsanto Years. Starbucks and Walmart have both responded to the songwriter's criticisms as well. GMOs remain a hot-button issue, with some, such as Young, suggesting food produced by such methods is less healthy than organic options, while those in support suggest that genetic modifications could boost growth rates, making food cheaper and more widely available.
Farming has always been in focus for Young, one of the founders of the annual Farm Aid benefit concert.