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Anonymous Monsanto March Can the Hacker Collective Bring Down a Food Giant
Hackers from the Anonymous collective claimed to have infiltrated the website for the biotech giant Monsanto, which has been the subject of recent international protests.
The cyber-attack was carried out as part of #OpMonsanto, an attempt to demonstrate against Monsanto’s reach into every aspect of the food industry, from nature to farmers to consumers. The corporation’s main website, Monstanto.com, appeared to have been briefly disabled Wednesday night.
The organizers of the May 25 rallies call for labeling of GMO foods and further scientific research on their health effects. They also urge supporters to “vote with their dollar” by buying only organic products and boycotting Monsanto-owned companies. Besides that, they are urging a repeal of the so-called Monsanto Protection Act passed in the US Congress, and that the company’s executives and politicians who back them are held to account through “through direct communication, grassroots journalism, and social media.”
On Saturday, the hacker collective Anonymous is planning a world-wide Occupy Monsantoprotest aimed at taking action against the corporate giant and highlighting its corrupt business practices and supposed influence in spreading harmful GMO products. With protests in dozens of American cities as well as cities in Canada, Japan, Australia, South America and Europe and growing public awareness of Monsanto’s influence, these marches could have a serious impact and provide a PR problem for the company.
But can they actually bring down a food giant?
While Monsanto is unlikely to go bankrupt over the weekend, these protests will be highly successful thanks to a proper understanding of how and why Monsanto has such power as well as practical solutions to help chip away at the power.
Rather than blame capitalism or corporations per se, Anonymous’s general opposition to Monsanto comes from the state-granted privileges that the company receives and enabling government agencies in the U.S. and around the world.
For example, for years Monsanto has been the recipient of large corporate welfare subsidies that help cartelizes its economies of scale further than the market dictates, crowding out smaller and organic farmers that lack access to these political favors.
Federal legislation also unfairly helps Monsanto while punishing its competitors. Without even mentioning the general litany of regulations that prevent or hinder smaller businesses from growing in competing, a few months ago President Obama signed into law an Agriculture Appropriations Bill which contains a provision protecting genetically modified seeds — a Monsanto staple — from litigation in the face of health risks. No person, company or entity should be exempt from paying the costs of actions that are found to have harmed others. But thanks to their lobbying power and political connections, Monsanto is immune from this basic principle of property rights in a free society: initiating aggression is always wrong.