On Tour with Rock Legend Neil Young: The Monsanto Years


By Kaiulani Kimbrell, Hollywood Food Guild Director

This month we lost a truly phenomenal music legend, David Bowie. The love, respect and honoring of him that has poured out over social media has been a moving reminder of the impact one voice can have on a culture, and seems very relevant to the Hollywood Food Voices video we are releasing this month.

Over this past summer, we had the great fortune and joy of experiencing the powerful voice of another musical legend, Neil Young. We accompanied him on his tour, “The Monsanto Years”.  For decades, Neil has used his voice through his music for social justice issues, working specifically as a strong ally for farmers. In 1985, along with Willie Nelson and John Mellencamp, Young started Farm Aid to raise awareness about the loss of family farms and to raise funds to keep farm families on the land. Farm Aid also now contributes to the growing call for transparency around GMOs.

HFG Director Kaiulani Kimbrell with Daryl Hannah

In 2015, Young released his newest album titled The Monsanto Years.

As many of you know Monsanto is one of the top 5 Chemical companies (along with Syngenta, Dow, Dupont and Bayer) that control seed production in our current agricultural system, and have created patents on their genetically engineered (GE) seed, taking away the farmers’ right to save their own seed. These companies’ GE crops have increased the use of pesticides by hundreds of millions of pounds, and next generation GE crops will further increase pesticide usage of even stronger, more toxic herbicides.

To dedicate an entire album and tour to calling out what many see as one of the most harmful corporations in human history is an incredibly courageous and noble feat. We feel honored to have been able to join this tour with Neil and Promise of the Real (and openers Norah Jones [Puss ‘N Boots] and Band of Horses), and the over 70,000 fans per show that came night after night to watch this unbelievable concert.

In the accompanying video, you will notice that Neil created an “eco village” at each tour location where non-profits (like our own Center for Food Safety) could be accessible to concert goers for questions and information. Again, this is another powerful example of how one voice can bring together thousands to transform a culture for the better.

We hope you enjoy this short piece that gives a peek behind the scenes of the tour and highlights voices of concertgoers.
And as always, for more info on GMOs, Monsanto, and other food movement facts, you can check out our GMO fact sheet or the Center for Food Safety website. Neil starts his International Tour this summer 2016.

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