back to article Seedy hacker steals 1300 Monsanto client and staff records

Monsanto has admitted credit card data along with names, addresses and US taxation information for 1300 customers and employees was compromised in after hackers broke into its servers. The March breach affected Monsanto's Precision Planting division which manufactured specialist farming equipment. It came as the agriculture …


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  1. Khaptain Silver badge


    Couldn't think of a "nicer" company for this kind of bad press to be inflicted upon..

    Reap what you sow.....

    1. Elmer Phud

      Re: Obvious

      "Every time I plant a seed,

      He says 'kill it before it grows' "

      Someone has put the shits up the Sherrif.

    2. dan1980

      Re: Obvious

      Being neither American nor at all clued-in on happenings in the agricultural world, could someone please explain the dislike of Monsanto?

      1. KjetilS

        Re: Obvious

        Being neither American nor at all clued-in on happenings in the agricultural world, could someone please explain the dislike of Monsanto?

        This should be a nice place to begin.

      2. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

        Re: Obvious

        Monsanto has created a bunch of genetically modified plants that are resistant to the herbicides and pesticides it sells. This allows for great yields and productivity of industrial-scale agriculture. You buy seed from Monsanto, plant it, spray your fields with chemicals bought from Monsanto and you in turn get lots of crop to sell.

        The problem is that plants can reproduce. So if you take seeds from those crops you just grew and replant them you are violating Monsanto's intellectual property. They own the patents to that DNA and allowing your field to "go to seed" is considered piracy, thanks to laws hand-crafted by Monsanto.

        For additional fun, Monsanto crops are so prevalent that it is functionally impossible to grow a crop without Monsanto plants in your crop; they'll blow in from the neighbor's field. You can't just go to a granary after harvest and buy up a bunch of random seed for spreading on your field (as was common "back in the day") because that will contain seeds that contain Monstanto's patented DNA.

        So for all intents and purposes every single farmer growing crops from see in the USA has to pay Monstanto protection money, or they have to spend twice as much money proving that there is no possible way that any Monsanto-patented DNA could be growing anywhere on their fields.

        In addition, they also lobby to basically eliminate any form of environmental protection, testing for GMOs, food safety and other people-not-dying-of-unknown-chemistry type regulations. Oh, they also basically wiped out bees. I think that about covers it.

        I should point out that I have no problem with GMOs. My digestive system doesn't give a rat's ass if the DNA in that plan is "naturally" selected (when was the last time mankind grew a "naturally selected" crop, people?), artificially selected by growing generations in a lab, or even DNA spliced. Proteins and carbs and so forth are all the same as far as my innards are concerned.

        I think we should test all foodstuffs for toxins, but if GMO corn provides the right nutrients in the right amounts - or better nutrients in better amounts - when compared to regular corn, and/or there are advantages to how it's grown...hey, that's science. I like science.

        I don't think crystals have woo-woo powers and I don't fear low-level ionizing radiation either, though I understand that like that "I fear GMOs but don't know why" crowd, they too exist.

        Still, when you get past the crazies who fear GMOs on principal (and thus see Monsanto as the ultimate devil of devils), Monsanto are on the whole really big dicks. The biggest, loudest problems that people have with them - GMOs - actually have nothing to do with how big a bucket of douchy fail they are. It's just paranoia-related noise.

        Where Monsanto relay earns their hate is in the business practices, but it's the sort of stuff that, unless you live in a rural area, you just won't hear about.

        Isn't the world we live in grand?

        1. dan1980

          Re: Obvious

          Thanks Trevor - another capital post and very informative.

          I am the same as you re: GMO and that was kind of the gist of my question - I knew they made GM seeds and know there is a lot of backlash against that - people, as you say, basically believing them to be at least two of the four horsemen.

          I also knew that they had patented stuff and that was their business - selling seeds they developed - but that's not really cause for any upset by itself.

          I must presume, then, that the business practices that are the real problem are unethical beyond imagining!

        2. James Micallef Silver badge
          Thumb Up

          Re: Obvious

          Excellent post, especially because it makes it clear that it's not GMO in itself that is bad but the way Monsanto uses it.

          I have no problem with GMO plant that is pest-resistant so plants can have LESS poison sprayed on them. Monsanto's way is to make teh plant pesticide-resistant so that farmers can spray MORE poison on them.

          This might sound a tad obvious, but where food is concerned, less poison is better than more poison

        3. Steven Raith

          Re: Obvious

          Just for reference, the contamination thing has been pretty overblown in many cases, in particular the case of the farmer who was sued for having Monstanto Roundup Ready crops in his fields.

          It's almost always said that the seeds blew in and contaminated his crop - by the anti-Monsanto brigade..

          What's almost never mentioned, even though it's a google search away, is the the farmer was clearing down the field with Roundup, and found a decent amount of corn was resistant to roundup - blowover from his neighbours field/from a lorry/whatever. He did some more tests, and found a fair whack of crop (somewhere around 3-4 acres) was resistant to Roundup. He then got someone to grab the seed, and store it seperately. He then replanted that seed on 1000 acres of his land.

          When it was eventually discovered, he had a 95% Roundup Resistant crop.

          So he didn't have a handful of seeds blow in, then get sueballed for having the gall to trust in nature to find a way, etc, he was - correctly - sued for IP theft, for using a proprietary product that he hadn't paid for, in a way that simply could not have occurred by accident.

          "The case is widely cited or referenced by the anti-GM community in the context of a fear of a company claiming ownership of a farmer’s crop based on the inadvertent presence of GM pollen grain or seed. "The court record shows, however, that it was not just a few seeds from a passing truck, but that Mr Schmeiser was growing a crop of 95–98% pure Roundup Ready plants, a commercial level of purity far higher than one would expect from inadvertent or accidental presence. The judge could not account for how a few wayward seeds or pollen grains could come to dominate hundreds of acres without Mr Schmeiser’s active participation, saying ‘. . .none of the suggested sources could reasonably explain the concentration or extent of Roundup Ready canola of a commercial quality evident from the results of tests on Schmeiser’s crop’" - in other words, even if the original presence of Monsanto seed on his land in 1997 was inadvertent, the crop in 1998 was entirely purposeful."

          No doubt Monsanto have some (lets face it, probably quite a few) crappy business and legal practises - who doesn't at that scale? - and yes, contamination is an issue with these IP protected crops, but it's important to disseminate the facts evenly if you want to stick it to someone with some weight.

          And no, I'm not a paid shill for Monsanto (nor am I a huge fan of their business practises, which do appear to be rather brutal in many respects) otherwise the arches on my car wouldn't be so fucking rusty. And I wouldn't be living in a bedsit. But it's important to have balance when bringing up these subjects, otherwise it leaves the person open to claims of wild bias and lack of objectivity, which can harm an argument as badly as a lack of evidence would.

          In short, read the case notes, fuck agressive business practises, and where are my goddamn glow in the dark broccoli and drought resistant pizza plants to feed the starving in the poorer parts of the EMEA?

          Steven R

      3. Wade Burchette Silver badge

        Re: Obvious

        Trevor covered the points nicely.

        However, I tend to believe a lot of hate for Monsanto is based on the fear of genetically modified plants. I say this because I have friends who are farmers and I asked them specifically about Monsanto and their practices and both acted like Monsanto was the best thing since the tractor. I saw the documentary Food, Inc. and my opinion of Monsanto was not good. Then I talked to the farmers I know, the people who actually deal with Monsanto, and my opinion changed completely. I consider them a greedy company, not an evil company.

        I am not going to defend their tactics, just know the world is gray and not black or white. Other companies are patent trolls too and don't engender the hatred Monsanto does. I wondered why that was. Coincidentally soon after I saw Food, Inc I noticed more "organic" farms appear and more "no-GMO" labels. I see a lot of fear of genetically modified plants and if Yoda taught me nothing else it is that fear leads to anger. I may be wrong, but I think the anger toward Monsanto is the fear of GMO's; their litigious nature is just icing on the cake.

        1. dan1980

          Re: Obvious


          See - that's kind of what I thought; that Monsanto are a company with an excellent and very desirable product that they charge a premium (both in actual cost and conditions) for. Apart from the GM angle, I just couldn't see the problem. There's a lot in this world that is over-priced but very few real bargains; if you're not paying for it, chances are you're not getting it. After all, those with a truly superior product can set their price. (And, people will pay it.)

          I mean, if the product costs more than its worth then those farmers who don't use it should win out because they are able to put their capital into more worthwhile products/endeavours. But, it seems that what they sell, even with the conditions of the sale (however strict) makes farmers more profitable.

          Again, I am very far removed from all this, which is why I asked in the first place.

          I suppose the core question is - do farmers earn more using Monsanto products or not?

          Of course, I appreciate what Trevor is saying and it may be that not using Monsanto, regardless of efficiency isn't really an option if they have to pay anyway, they might as well play ball.

          Thanks all for the input - it's appreciated.

          1. Why Not?

            Re: Obvious

            possibly wrong but my understanding is once you have used the GM seed its difficult to eradicate and grow crops using another seed. Partially due to the level of pesticides you used and the likelihood of remaining seeds.

            So as a farmer you are hooked.

            Fear of GM is fairly common otherwise Monsanto shouldn't be so dismissive of it:


            So its not animal DNA, just bacteria DNA they use.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Obvious

          The fun part is when you have done everything you can to avoid monsanto seeds and they come and audit you.

          They innevitably find some genetic material in your crop that belongs to them, thanks to the way nature works. Then you end up unable to claim your crops are GMO free and/or organic (loosing the premium that goes with it) and have to fight the people who contaminated your field and are now demanding money for the privilege.

          Had some farmers here get togeter and collectively sue monsanto for the contamination of crop. Never heard how that finished.

          1. dan1980

            Re: Obvious


            Sorry, Monsanto audit people? Under what law can a private company inspect another private company with whom they have no commercial relationship or agreement?

            Don't get me wrong - the more money you have, the more you can co-opt the makers and keepers of the law but WTF? I mean, can Monsanto literally just pick a farm and storm in with some G-men? That'd be like a petrol company being able to pull over cars to check what they have in their tanks.

            If that is really the way of things then fuck it - they are all four horsemen. The barest bit of me, however, still carries a guttering torch for the basic decency of people and I truly hope that what you are saying is not representative. I'm about to go to bed; someone please tell me there is at least a seal or two left.

      4. Tom 13

        Re: Being neither American nor at all clued-in

        Because like all Progressive Fascists, they don't really give a crap about technology or IP rights no matter how much they protest to the contrary. They've been told Monsanto should be the object of a good 2 minute hate, and they daily engage in one.

      5. Euripides Pants

        Re: Obvious

        "could someone please explain the dislike of Monsanto?"

        They make Oracle look good.

  2. dan1980

    Okay . . .

    So, whoever is down-voting everyone's posts, why don't you let us know what you're thinking? I can guess well enough that you don't approve of what has so-far been written but what's your take? I wasn't joking when I said that I wanted the input so are your going to provide some or just down-vote every comment you don't agree with without explanation or justification?

  3. EJ

    So the takeaway is that GMO wheat should be showing up on Chinese dinner plates in the near future. Got it.

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