By Jaden Elsasser
Growing up as a small town farmer’s daughter in Illinois, I only understood the basics of the farming business (and quite frankly I was never urged to learn about it, as hard as my dad pushed). I could answer the simple questions such as, “How many acres does your father farm?” and “Where is your farm located?” But when any further questions were sent my way, I simply nodded my head with a smile and pretended I knew exactly what they were talking about.
I hadn’t fully understood the debate around Monsanto until my first year at the University of Missouri. I paid little attention to what friends, acquaintances and others had said about the big, bad multinational company because Monsanto products had always played a vital role for a large farming family. It was the possibility of an internship with Monsanto this summer that sparked my desire to learn more.
I arrived in Brussels, Belgium with very little knowledge of how Monsanto was viewed in Europe, which I had assumed was not much different than in the United States. Wow, was I in for a surprise! Last Saturday I attended my first March against Monsanto to finally see for myself what all the hype was about. It didn’t take me long to realize that I had entered ground zero in a long, brutal war against “Monsatan.” From “Monsanto Kills” fliers being thrown at every passerby, to family photos in front of massive Monsatan signs, it was like nothing I had ever seen before.
I spoke with several demonstrators to hear their opinions on Monsanto and why exactly they were participating in the March Against Monsanto. Many were reluctant to answer my questions. From the conversations I was able to have, the “marchers” made it clear their overall objective was to push Monsanto out of Europe and stop all Monsanto products from being sold (which seems unrealistic to me, but I may be a little biased). It didn’t take me long to realize that the overly enthusiastic European activists demonstrating against Monsanto were nothing like anything I’d seen in the United States.
After shadowing the March against Monsanto, it’s no surprise that my opinion stays the same. It’s companies like Monsanto that help farmers succeed despite all the challenges they face every day. Ending my first day as a Monsanto intern, I’m ready more than ever to take on this crazy adventure.