The Bigger, Badder Cousin Of Monsanto: The International Chemical Fertilizer Industry

(Photo: Tamina Miller; Edited: LW / TO)

What You Should Know About The Fertilizer Industry–Hint: They’re As Bad Or Worse Than Monsanto.

When most people think about fertilizer–and lets face facts: not many of us do at all–we think about manure.

Or possibly we think about politics–bah dum tiss.

But what most people don’t know and what the fertilizer industry doesn’t want you to know is that it is a chemical-heavy, multi-billion dollar consortium that dwarfs even Monsanto in scope and wealth.

Yes, Monsanto and its insane drive to sell us “food” no one ever asked for is certainly evil. But if Monsanto is Darth Vader, the fertilizer industry is the Death Star.

So while there is plenty of much-needed coverage of GMO corps, herbicides, pesticides, antibiotics and other drugs used on livestock and the environmental and health hazards they pose, the fertilizer industry–despite weighing in as the biggest segment of the corporate agribusiness at a hefty $175 billion in annual sales–often flies under the radar.

So next time you’re in the produce aisle and you’re thinking about saving a few pennies on a non-organic fruit or vegetable, here are a few things to think about.

• Chemical fertilizer production is big, dirty business – To the tune of $175 billion a year, as stated above. But that money goes to prop up an energy-intensive, polluting system that works hand in hand with the big GM, pesticide and seed companies to keep things the way they are–unsustainable, wasteful, polluting and unhealthy.
• Fracking has made the US a big player on the nitrogen fertilizer front – Production of nitrogen fertilizer in the US has undergone a recent boom thanks to the falling price of natural gas vital to its production. And fracking is the reason for the cheap gas. So with the polluting process of fracking booming, nitrogen fertilizer plants are going up across the US to take advantage, with companies like Koch industries taking the lead. And the demand for all this fertilizer is coming from…you guessed it, Monsanto. Between 2005 and 2010, US growers of genetically engineered corn increased their nitrogen fertilizer use by one billion pounds.
• Fertilizer “regulations” often mean self-monitoring – While the EPA acknowledges the harm nitrogen fertilizer does to waterways, drinking water, animal and marine life and ultimately humans, farm runoff is largely unmonitored. Facilities are required to test a sample of its discharges, and notify the EPA of the results. Awesome. Imagine if we monitored drunk drivers the same way: “Hmm…no officer, I’ve checked and I’m completely sober.”

It’s all well and good to pat ourselves on the back for the defeat of the DARK Act, which would have limited the ability of states to label GMO foods. But people need to understand that things like that are the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the nefarious stuff these corporations are doing every day. This is systemic.

Every time we buy food that is not organic, every time we eat meat from animals raised at factory farms, we are supporting these people who are poisoning us and the only planet you and I will ever live on. Stop the madness, and just say no to corporate farming methods!


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