April Fools Day: Who's the Biggest Corporate Fool?

SustainableBusiness.com News

It probably won't surprise you who your fellow green businesses voted for as the Biggest Corporate Fools on this April Fool's Day: one from Big Ag, one from Big Oil and one from Big trade association supporter of both industries. 

1st Place: Monsanto.
2nd Place: U.S. Chamber of Commerce
3rd Place: Chevron

Green America's online contest is honoring Monsanto as the nation's biggest corporate fool by making a donation in the name of Monsanto CEO Hugh Grant to Navdanya - an organization in India that's worked with 5 million farmers to create seed and food sovereignty and sustainable agriculture over the past 20 years. It's also helped set up the largest direct-marketing fair trade, organic network in the country.

Monsanto's legacy includes Agent Orange, DDT and massive aerial spraying of Round-Up as a drug-war tactic, as well as unlabeled and untested genetically modified crops.

Its practices enable factory farming and put small farmers out of business. They continue to push genetically modified crops here and in the developing world, which locks farmers into cycles of debt and dependence on chemical crop inputs.

See: 8 Ways Monsanto Undermines Sustainable Agriculture

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is benefiting hugely from the Citizens United Supreme Court decision. It regularly spends millions of dollars for TV and radio ads for or against candidates and isn't required to disclose its donors. Corporations can spend unlimited money on political ads through the Chamber of Commerce without shareholders or the public knowing it.

As a puppet for Big Oil, they peddle climate change denial, the tar sands pipeline, and have fought California's landmark  greenhouse gas standards for cars.

Chevron has dumped over 18 billion gallons of toxic wastewater in the Ecuadorian Amazon rainforest during 3 decades of oil drilling. Locals have suffered a wave of cancers, miscarriages and birth defects. Last year, an Ecuadorian court ruled in favor of local communities and ordered Chevron to pay $18 billion in cleanup and restoration efforts.

"One lesson we can learn from our winners is that no matter how much money a corporation spends on advertising to make itself look good, the public can see its actual impacts and call that company out on its worst practices," says Todd Larsen, corporate responsibility director of Green America.

"The fight against the Biotech bully Monsanto embodies some of the most pressing issues of our time, including the current health and obesity crisis, climate change (to which industrial agriculture is a major contributor), and the fight against corporate rule," says Ronnie Cummins, director, Organic Consumer Association.

"We're thrilled the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is getting the attention it deserves for funneling secret corporate money into our elections. When the Chamber buys political ads on the radio and television, most of the money for the ads is coming from large corporations. They don't want us to know who they are, because we might hold them accountable for the ads. The more of us who speak out against the Chamber hiding the political spending of large corporations, the faster we can fix this very flawed system and safeguard our democracy. We hope people will join us in guessing how much the U.S. Chamber will spend on the 2012 elections) and calling for an end to secret corporate political spending through the U.S. Chamber," says Anne Pernick, executive director, Corporate Ethics International/Business Ethics Network.

"We are delighted that Chevron has been recognized as a top "Corporate Fool." Any corporation that spends millions of dollars on greenwashing ads in a vain attempt to wash away its guilt in one of the worst oil-related environmental crimes in history deserves to be singled out as such," says Paul Paz y Miño, managing director, Amazon Watch. "Chevron's ‘foolish' efforts at evasion and unwillingness to accept responsibility for the shameful crimes it deliberately committed in the Ecuadorian Amazon make it not only a fool, but one of the worst corporate criminals on the planet."

Corporate Fool awards will be presented in person to Monsanto, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and Chevron today,  March 30, 2012.

Can you guess what the Chamber of Commerce will spend this year on campaigns?:

Website: www.guesswhattheuschamberwillspend.org