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Neil Young Protests Against Monsanto and Starbucks in New Album "The Monsanto Years"

Updated on June 4, 2017

Protesting Monsanto


Neil Young the environmental activist takes on Monsanto

Canadian rock legend and singer-songwriter Neil Young has written and performed many protest songs throughout his career. Besides social injustice and political matters with songs like "Ohio," "Southern Man" and "Rockin' In The Free World," he has campaigned strongly for environmental issues too.

Whilst Young is probably best known for songs like "Heart of Gold," that speak about the search for love between humans, he demonstrates in his writings his very strong love for the planet Earth and the natural world, which he sees as under threat from so many sources, including global corporations like Monsanto.

"After The Goldrush," the title track of Young's album, which included "Heart of Gold," and was released back in 1970, commented vividly about how the living world is being destroyed. Young sang: "Look at Mother Nature on the run in the nineteen seventies."

Neil Young is committed to doing what he can to speak out on issues that concern him. Besides being an incredibly talented songwriter, musician, author and film-maker, Young is very much an activist for environmental causes. All through his career he has combined protest and activism with entertainment and performance.

He has recently announced a new album, entitled The Monsanto Years, in which he condemns the Global Giant company that has been a leading producer of genetically modified (GMO) crops and the harmful herbicide Roundup, which has been recently linked with causing cancer. Monsanto has also given us DDT, PCBs, Agent Orange, Bovine Growth Hormone and Aspartame, and all of these substances have been shown to cause great harm in one way or another.

Young also targets Starbucks in his new songs because he thinks the company is working hand-in-hand with Monsanto.

In releasing this album and making a public statement through his songs in opposing Monsanto, the singer has joined forces with all the other millions of people worldwide who are actively against the global company.

Neil Young performs at Farm Aid 2010


Songs of The Monsanto Years

The Monsanto Years features songs with titles that speak for themselves like "Monsanto Years," "Seeds," and "Too Big To Fail."

His anger and distrust of Starbucks is highlighted in "Rock Starbucks." Young claims that Starbucks have been trying to squash GMO labeling in Vermont. He called for a boycott of the firm in November 2014 when Rolling Stone reported:

“Neil Young is seeking a new source for his daily latte. The rocker announced on his website this week that he’s boycotting Starbucks over the coffee company’s involvement in a lawsuit against the state of Vermont’s new requirements to label genetically modified ingredients.”

Starbucks issued an official denial that they are working hand in hand with Monsanto under the name of the Grocery Manufacturers Alliance, on overturning the Vermont law to stop GMO food labelling but Young is not accepting this. He makes his feelings clear on his website.

Young has begun working with Willie Nelson's sons, Lukas Nelson and Micah Nelson, who play together in the band Promise of the Real. Young has spoken out against Monsanto and Starbucks before but now he is stepping up a gear by speaking out to the world in an album of songs about these global companies.

Neil Young - Mother Earth (Live)

Neil Young's other environmental songs

Neil Young has written, recorded and performed many other songs about environmental issues and conservation of the natural world.

His "Mother Earth" depicts clearly how human greed and the "men of power" are ravaging the planet.

On his Grammy and Juno-award nominated Living With War album that was released in 2006, and that condemned the policies of the George W. Bush administration, there was a song entitled "After The Garden Has Gone." It asked plaintively "What will people do, after the garden has gone?" It is easy to think that he means the "Earth," and all its diverse natural environments, as the garden.

After The Garden Is Gone by Neil Young

Neil Young is an active campaigner not just in his recordings

Neil Young is not only active campaigning about environmental issues via his songs and recordings, as well as his statements to the media, because he also does benefit gigs and tours to protest about matters that concern him.

Young is very annoyed with the tar-sands mining in Canada, which he has travelled to witness, and has expressed his anger before. He has already played concerts in support of Honour The Treaties last year, but has done so again, when he played a benefit on 3 July in Edmonton in support of the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation Legal Defense Fund. Honor the Treaties was set up to give a strong voice to indigenous people and their communities affected by issues such as oil-sand mining developments and the pollution it brings in its wake, as well as the destruction of their lands.

Young continues doing what he has always done so well by writing songs with an important message, and making his views known in his recordings and in performance on his tours. He is keeping the art of protests singing alive and well!


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