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One hell of a company

Monsanto uses child labor in its Indian cottonseed fields

Photo: iStockphoto Monsanto dominates the global seed industry and churns out $1 billion a year in profit. Investors are so enamored of its market power and profitability that they've bid up its share price by nearly 1500 percent since 2004. So why does Monsanto rely on farms that use child labor to cultivate its genetically modified cotton seeds in India? From Forbes Magazine: Yothi Ramulla Naga is 4 feet tall. From sunup to sundown she is hunched over in the fields of a cottonseed farm in southern India, earning 20 cents an hour. Farmers in the Uyyalawada region process high-tech …


Zipcar merges with Flexcar, effs it all up

Has the east coast car-sharing company screwed up the west coast car-sharing company?

Late last year, the country's two major car-sharing companies, west-coast Flexcar and its larger east-coast cousin Zipcar, merged and became, um, Zipcar. Flexcar fans were concerned about the effects of the merger. Sadly, Flexcar fangirl Erica Barnett reports that they were decidedly negative: more expensive, fewer cars, less friendly service, etc. Zipcar, what hath thou wrought? Any Gristians have car-sharing experiences to share?


There will be ethanol

Archer Daniels Midland will squeeze out competition, says Fortune

Record corn prices aren't just squeezing consumers. They're also hurting the ethanol industry -- yes, the very folks whose ravenous appetite for corn drove up prices in the first place. From Fortune Magazine: Cargill announces it's scrapping plans for a $200 million ethanol plant near Topeka, Kan. A judge approves the bankruptcy sale of an unfinished ethanol plant in Canton, Ill.. And that was just Tuesday. Indeed, plans for as many as 50 new ethanol plants have been shelved in recent months, as Wall Street pulls back from the sector. What's up? Didn't the government recently bail out the industry …


Say cheeeeez

Kodak, Wal-Mart partner on photo kiosk recycling

Wal-Mart continues on the "Seriously? They're still doing good stuff?" path with a new partnership with Kodak that will bring recycling to those handy in-store photo kiosks. The printer ribbon, spools, and cartridges recycled annually by the program will weigh about as much as six commercial planes. Which is, even by Wal-Mart standards, big.


John McCain and Exxon Valdez

Mr. Straight Talk voted against requiring double-hulled tankers after the biggest oil spill

You're likely aware that the notorious Exxon Valdez case is back in court yet again. Yesterday, the Most Profitable Company of All Time argued before the U.S. Supreme Court that it shouldn't have to pay $2.5 billion in damages to Alaskans harmed by the spill. (That was reduced from the original $5 billion, but Exxon argues it shouldn't have to pay any damages. Yes, really.) It is, of course, morally repugnant almost beyond measure for the company to be fighting this still today. But my outrage and disgust aren't particularly interesting. What might be interesting is a fact you may …


Chinese bosses could see salary cuts for water pollution

China is considering a law that would cut a head honcho's income by up to half if his or her company was found to be "directly responsible for causing severe water pollution incidents."


Wal-Mart wants your cleantech ideas

Wal-Mart wants your help: We are trying something new at Wal-Mart…amidst the crazy fast, rapidly growing space of clean/green technologies we have found it pretty difficult to do two things: 1. Find the technologies that we should be implementing and 2. Be sure those that we know about are the best options with the most business potential and positive environmental impact. With this in mind, we've decided to partner with Cleantech, a very large network of the people who have the ideas and the people who have the capital to give those ideas business potential. To begin, we have identified …


Large water utilities form climate alliance

Eight of the largest water agencies in the U.S. have formed the Water Utility Climate Alliance to strategize about dealing with climate change. Together, the eight members provide water to more than 36 million people, whose slaked thirst is endangered by "diminishing snowpack, bigger storms, more frequent drought, and rising sea levels," according to WUCA Chair Susan Leal. sources:


Portfolio magazine lists eco-saint and eco-sinner companies

The magazine Condé Nast Portfolio has produced a "Toxic Ten" list of companies that claim to be green, but really ain't. Among those called out: Cargill, in part for egregious water pollution; Ford Motor Co., in part for the unimpressive overall gas mileage of its fleet; Boeing, in part for a lack of transparency about its greenhouse-gas emissions; Apple, in part for toxic chemicals found in its hip products; Massey Energy, in part for its horrific reliance on mountaintop-removal mining; and Chevron, in part for the waste it has contributed to more than 90 Superfund sites. The magazine also made …


Crock is as crock does

GM’s Lutz can think whatever he wants, but the record shows his actions hurt the climate fight

Yesterday, a post on the Wall Street Journal's energy blog discussed the controversy over GM Vice Chairman Bob Lutz calling global warming a "crock of shit." It said: Some, like Wired and Grist, buy his argument: As long as GM keeps making progress toward electric cars and expanding the role of alternative fuels like ethanol, the auto maker is clearly blazing a new trail. This is a bad misreading of my point, which I probably didn't make very clearly. I was only trying to say that Lutz has a right to whatever personal beliefs he chooses, up to and including …