Neil Young Sings Out Against the Age of Agribusiness

Maia Welbel June 24, 2015

On his latest record, The Monsanto Years, Neil Young criticizes industrial agribusiness.

The ever-incen­di­ary Neil Young is set to release a new album on June 29 titled The Mon­san­to Years. Young col­lab­o­rat­ed with the band Promise of the Real, fea­tur­ing Willie Nelson’s two sons, Lukas and Micah.

The album offers blunt com­men­tary on agri­cul­ture pol­i­cy and GMOs. Its con­demn­ing lyrics har­mo­nize with the envi­ron­men­tal­ism nar­ra­tive Young has estab­lished through­out his career.

The first verse of A Rock Star Bucks a Cof­fee Shop” reads, I want a cup of cof­fee but I don’t want a GMO/I like to start my day off with­out help­ing Mon­san­to.” The tune goes on to describe Vermont’s legal bat­tle with the Gro­cery Man­u­fac­tur­ers Alliance over GMO label­ing: They sued the state of Ver­mont to over­turn the peo­ple’s will.”

Mon­san­to respond­ed less than favor­ably to the accu­sa­tions — some implic­it­ly, and some quite explic­it­ly — present on the album. In an inter­view with Bill­board, the com­pa­ny con­tend­ed that they were por­trayed inac­cu­rate­ly. We rec­og­nize there is a lot of mis­in­for­ma­tion about who we are and what we do, and unfor­tu­nate­ly sev­er­al of those myths seem to be cap­tured in these lyrics,” they say. 

At 69, Young has clear­ly not lost touch with his provoca­tive side. A film chron­i­cling the record­ing process that is to be released along­side the album shows him and the Nel­son broth­ers satir­i­cal­ly role-play­ing as farm­ers and Mon­san­to executives.

Young and the band will be kick­ing off a sum­mer tour in July to pro­mote the album. Expect to see more activists than Mon­san­to exec­u­tives in the audience. 

Maia Wel­bel is an intern at Rur­al Amer­i­ca In These Times. She is a ris­ing junior at Pomona Col­lege where she stud­ies envi­ron­men­tal analy­sis and dance. She is also a con­trib­u­tor to The Stu­dent Life.
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