Confessions of a Former Monsanto Employee

In March, National Geographic published an issue called “The War On Science,” and of all the cities in the entire United States, can you guess which city was called out in the very first paragraph of that article for its anti-science tendencies? Oh yes: it was Portland.  The article went on to say, “We live in an age when all manner of scientific knowledge … faces organized and often furious opposition. Empowered by their own sources of information and their own interpretations of research, doubters have declared war on the consensus of experts… And there’s so much talk about the trend these days … that science doubt itself has become a pop-culture meme.”

Nowhere is this culture more alive than in the city where I live. We’re one of only a few major American cities that don’t fluoridate our water, despite the scientific and medical consensus that it is a cheap and safe way to improve dental health for everyone. We also just narrowly avoided being one of the first states in America to label GMOs; the vote literally came down to less than half a percentage point – I’m almost certain it will return to the ballot and possibly pass next time. There’s a county in Oregon that has banned the growth of GMOs, and there’s another county currently trying to do the same on a ballot measure next week, even though the state has passed legislation to prohibit county-by-county bans. To get around that, Benton County is trying to give legal rights to plants.

Yes, I  used to work for Monsanto.While all this is going on, I’m sitting here shaking my head. And sometimes, shaking in my boots. Why? Because when I’m at the bus stop talking to another neighborhood parent and they say to me, “What did you used to do before you became a stay-at-home mom?” I get this sinking feeling in my stomach. Do I tell them that I used to work for the very company that created GMOs? A company that many Oregonians consider representative of all that is evil and wrong with our world? Sometimes I just say, “Oh, I used to be in public relations” or “Oh, I’m a photographer.” Neither of those are un-true.  But sometimes I just say it: “I used to work for Monsanto.” Every single time I’ve done that it stops people in their tracks. I mentioned it to my dental hygienist the other day, and she literally pulled her tool out of my mouth and looked at me, “Oh…. oh. Really?!” Yes, really.

And the thing is, in all honesty, I’m freaking proud of it. I loved working there – I got to go to work every day and do something I feel passionately about. I got to help people better understand a technology that I think holds immense promise to change our world for the better. The people I worked with were awesome, and the company was great – I got amazing benefits and reduced summer hours! Sometimes I still kick myself for ever leaving. If Monsanto had an office in Portland, I’d be knocking down their door trying to get a job.

But I don’t talk about that here. There’s a very real reason I don’t share my last name on this blog – I know Monsanto employees who have been threatened in climates similar to Portland. I don’t wear my Monsanto jacket here (even though it’s a really nice jacket.) And I certainly have never shown up at a March Against Monsanto.

Except maybe that’s changing. Why? Because there’s a new grass-roots movement that’s standing up to March Against Monsanto and making an effort to help people better understand GMOs. Next Saturday, for the first time, there will be a group of pro-GMO people (YES! Pro-GMO people in Portland!) standing up for logo w proper coilscience. They’ll be standing right next to a horde of protesters carrying posters with sculls and crossbones, blaming GMOs for every health problem under the sun, and accusing Monsanto of controlling the food supply and killing bees, butterflies, and everything in between.  The pro-GMO group will be holding signs that say, “I heart GMOs” and “Ask me about GMOs.” They’ll be handing out leaflets that talk about all the amazing things GMOs have actually done:  like resurrecting the American chestnut tree from the brink of extinction, saving the Hawaiian papaya, and reducing carbon emissions associated with agriculture equivalent to removing almost 12 million cars from the road for one year. They’ll be approachable. They’ll be honest. And they’ll be accurate. They’ll be everything that March Against Monsanto isn’t.  They’ll March Against Myths About Modification. (That’s their name, MAMyths.)

Now that is the kind of movement I can get on board with. And it couldn’t come at a more necessary time. I really believe that in my lifetime, we’ll be facing problems that have the potential to make or break our species. I could give you a bunch of statistics here, but the bottom line is that we have too many people for this planet to support. We’ll Fork and knifeneed to make some drastic changes if we want to stay on this planet at all. There are lots of ideas about how we’re going to make that happen, but one thing is for sure: we already have a technology that has the potential to help address many of those problems. Is it the magic bullet? No. Can biotechnology feed every starving person in Africa? No. But it can help. If only we’ll let it.

How can we convince people that GMOs are not evil? How can we convince people that the story is not about Monsanto, or chemicals, or patents? The story is about the next generation of GMOs and their potential to help. Here are some examples of what I mean:

  • rice with beta-carotene that could help the 124 million children in the world who are chronically deficient in vitamin A, a deficiency that accounts for about one-quarter of the total global burden of disease from malnutrition
  • insect-resistant eggplant that would allow farmers in Bangladesh to spray less pesticide where pesticide poisoning is a chronic health problem
  • cassava (a staple for millions of people in developing countries) with increased protein, beta-carotene and other nutrients
  • crops that are self-fertilizing that would allow farmers in developing countries who don’t have fertilizer to grow more productive crops
  • crops that can photosynthesize better and produce 50 percent more food per acre
  • drought-resistant crops that can produce more with less water

Some of those are ten or more years away from development, but some of them, like Golden Rice and  Bt eggplant, already exist but are being blocked somewhat in part to hysteria fueled by activists like March Against Monsanto.

That brings me back to next Saturday in Portland. This is where we can help. This is right here, right now. For a long time, academics and scientists have been doing what I call the “soft sell.” They’ve been rather quietly and calmly explaining the science, the safety, and the benefits of GMOs and hoping that eventually it catches on. And maybe for some, it is working. But it’s not working fast enough. We are badly losing the information war on GMOs. Perhaps now is the time to be a little more forceful, and that’s exactly what MAMyths is doing. They’re standing up proudly and loudly to say, “I support GMOs and I want to tell you why.”

Of course, that’s a little scary. Especially in a city like Portland where people might get a little riled up over that. But the good news is they have the facts on their side.  And, even better, they’re real people who aren’t backed by industry. They’re people just like me: with children whose health we care about, who have a very serious vested interest in the sustainability of our food supply.

Maybe you should go. You could always go get a beer or some dried GMO papaya afterward. Or, if you don’t want to go, I understand. But you can at least join the movement online and use your voice to support science.

Please like & share:

46 Comments

Filed under Something to Think About

46 Responses to Confessions of a Former Monsanto Employee

  1. I love this post. Friends have told me I make a funny face when people ask *that* question. Maui has a similar Monsanto climate to Portland, and we regularly get hate mail. However, I’ve started declaring loud and proud that YES! we are here because of Monsanto, and we love what this company is doing. #ProudToBeMonsanto

  2. Great blog post! The beauty of living in America is that we have the freedom of choice. And my choice will always be for a safe, sustainable and economical product – and GMO’s give us just that.

  3. Proud of you, proud to know you, and and proud of the group standing up to the anti-science. This is a great article, thank you for writing it. I’ve gotten the hatred as well after a certain article was published in the Oregonian – horrible language about myself and my family! Personal attacks. I woke up the next morning, and just thought “You know what? They don’t even know me!” Love reading your blogs – looking forward to more!

  4. Andrew Burchett

    Great post.

    I work at Monsanto–I was even a registered lobbyist at one point. One of our LGBT network leaders made the analogy that saying you work for Monsanto in some social circles is like coming out all over again.

    A lot of people I meet are caught flat footed when share what I do. Most of the people around me know me as a community organizer and gardening geek. I’ll help you campaign for city alderman, troubleshoot your tomato plant’s nutritional deficiency and invite your kids over for potato harvest. It seems that for people who are authentically interested in me, the “scarlet letter” is more of a curious badge.

  5. Kristie Swenson

    God bless you! I’m a farmer in Minnesota, and a volunteer for CommonGround (findourcommonground.com). Every time I talk about the benefits of GMOs, I get accused of “being a corporate schill” or “pro-Monsatan”. I explain that I’m not pro-Monsanto; I’m pro-agriculture and pro-farming. I also try to remind people that while it’s easy to think of Monsanto as a faceless corporation only concerned about profits, Monsanto, and other ag companies, employ thousands of people — people with whom I probably have something in common — and that these people believe that they’re making a difference. I am proud to be a farmer and I believe that GMO technology is safe.
    I will be sharing this blog on the CommonGround facebook page and on my facebook page.
    Thank you and good luck!

  6. Nice work! We grow GMOs on our farm and I’ve gotten the hate mail too. Somehow I’m ungodly, greedy, and self-centered for wanting to provide safe, affordable food. I’ve been part of that quietly sharing information group, but I’m so excited to see that science is having a bit of a comeback. And if acceptance doesn’t happen today maybe it will when we’re all crippled from polio and hungry…

  7. Way to stand up!

    Just this week & I had a school bus driver ask me if I liked Monsanto or not. I said “Yes, I think they have done great thing with seeds & I love Round-up”. 🙂

    Also explained to someone why I don’t go to Agrarian Ales, a local brewery in the middle of the country just down from the farm. I said, “I am boycotting them because they sponsor the March Against Monsanto and I cannot support people who do not support what I do on my farm”

    It creates awkward situations but I think people need to know. Great job!

    • Gord Bestwick

      Good show!

      That is exactly what needs to happen. Without the social pressure placed on individuals that are opposed to this we aren’t going to make any progress.

      I have a friend that says that there is no circumstance where shaming someone is beneficial. I disagree. We need to make it so that it isn’t socially acceptable to be one of “those people” who are against these things.

      Speak up, defend your position, and don’t back down from these anti-science bullies.

  8. Amelia

    Hi Sarah! THANK YOU for this! I live on the other side of the Columbia, and the attitudes here are no less pervasive than down there. I’m so glad to know there’s more of us in this part of the country!

    Signed — Amelia, a pro-GMO, pro-vaccine, pro-nuclear power, pro-education liberal Democrat.

  9. Angie

    So proud of you for standing up for the truth no matter how those that don’t understand will tend to react. I didn’t know a thing about GMOs or Monsanto until I started hearing the fear and claims of ‘evil’. With an open mind, I went to credible, scientific sources and found that most people don’t know how to discern the facts from the fear. Thank you for having the courage to speak up and stand behind this technology. Genetic engineering hysteria and overall food fear seems to be similar to the Salem witch trials, and ironically, having the safest and most abundant food supply in the world seems to be playing a part. Thank God for food and as a farmer, thank God for the technology that helps all of us who work the ground and raise animals do our jobs in a more efficient and safe manner.

  10. Sara

    Thanks to everyone for your kind words and support. I truly appreciate it. I was pretty nervous sharing this today, but it makes me feel great to know I have so many of you out there willing to stand with me! Thank you!

  11. Josh

    Do you have more details about the event? I live in Portland and have a real ag degree and like you often find myself biting my tongue.

    • Sara

      Yes, Josh! Easiest way to find the info is to go to http://www.mamyths.org and go to the chapters tab. There’s a link there to the portland facebook group. The march is next Saturday (5/23) at 11am in Shemanski Park. They would love for someone like you to attend.

  12. Monica

    I have been working at Monsanto for almost two decades and I couldn’t agree more. As far as I’m concerned it is a great place to work, employees are genuinely interested in the science, the technology is safe, it goes thru a regulatory process within the company before being submitted for evaluation by government agencies. Employees have families with kids and want to do what is best for them and the planet. It is no surprise Monsanto was recently named in the top 25 best global companies to work for. The same people who are anti-GMO also advocate not vaccinating kids and we all know what public health risk that poses (just look at the recent Measels outbreak at Disneyland!). There is a disconnect between solid science and emotion which is quite dangerous and I hope more people find the courage to speak up, like you did!

    • Maggie

      Wow, talk about a rolling generalization. Not all of us that are anti-GMO are anti-vaccination. We would just prefer not to eat “food” that is legally classified as a pesticide, thank you very much.

      • Edie Diaf

        Yes, instead let’s eat “food” sprayed down with all the stuff certified for organic production, which doesn’t go through any particular regulatory screening and that can be WAY more toxic than glyphosate!

  13. Thanks for fighting against ignorance. Best of luck!

  14. Connie

    THANK YOU!

  15. Carol J. Hufnagel

    What a great testimonial: so happy someone says positive statements about agriculture, farming and ranching! Thanks for speaking out!

  16. Saif Arif

    I worked at Monsanto. Working with scientists, fine tuning their research. I have the first hand experience of knowing how impeccable their research is. I have more faith in research based GMO than so called organic food with unknown pedigree.

  17. Anon

    A permaculture approach would entirely eliminate the need for genetically modified food and monoculture (equally damaging to the environment) while supplying a near immediate and absolutely permanent solution to global hunger. Optimizing the beautiful and perfect system nature has provided for us not only unlocks the incredible abundance this world can provide for every living thing, it would also stabilize local and global weather patterns. It’s sad really when you see just how many problems can be solved in a matter of a couple years without corporations like Monsanto. While Monsanto might have provided you with a nice cush job, they’ve put thousands of farmers and family run businesses out of a job through no fault of their own. I suppose when you look at PARTS of the monsanto picture and not the whole thing you could probably sleep well at night knowing you’re going out of your way to buy them more support.

    • Cash Carter

      Nature did not provide us with an agricultural system. Agriculture by definition is humans mastering nature. The idea that nature can feed our population with no human involvement is a farce.

    • Gord Bestwick

      With all due respect, I would like to point out that humans have been trying to work in tandem with nature for literally thousands of years.

      At the peak of our farming capabilities, which would really be the end of the 19th century (late 1800’s early 1900’s), we still barely managed to feed our population.

      Death from starvation and numerous physical ailments from improper nutrition were rampant. This was the culmination of our experience of working with nature.

      Since that period of time we’ve used our knowledge of chemistry to create fertilizers and a pest controls (pesticides and herbicides) to make our ability to feed ourselves match the needs of a constantly growing population.

      My question would be this: Do you know anyone or more accurately *did* you know anyone who has died of a nutrition related disease? Rickets? Pellagra? Scurvy? Beriberi? Hypocobalaminemia? Paraesthesia? Nyctalopia?

      I’m wagering that you’ve never heard of half of those, and the other have you’ve never met anyone with them.

      The reality is that nature is not a gentle woman in a flowing dress walking around giving people berries. Nature is a fickle monster that we’ve only be able to start to get the upper hand with through the advancement of science and the use of new techniques.

    • Sara

      Let’s just say, for the sake of argument, that permaculture is a good option for solving some of the problems we’re facing in the future (population growth, climate change.) Why can’t we do both? Why can’t we use GMO seeds in a permaculture environment? Or, if they cannot work together, they are at least not mutually exclusive. I think we really need to use all the tools in the toolbox to address these challenges, and there’s really no advantage to dismissing one that’s perfectly safe and efficient. Let’s do all of them and hope that some combination of them works for us.

      As to your second point – why do you think Monsanto puts farmers out of business? Why would they want to do that? Farmers are Monsanto’s only customer, if they don’t have farmers they don’t make any money. Perhaps you mean that there are some farmers who don’t want to adopt new technology and they’re being put out of business by others who are growing more efficiently? That’s like saying there’s this newspaper that doesn’t want to switch to online news and they’re pissed off because its competitors are putting it out of business. Maybe I’m misunderstanding you, but Monsanto doesn’t want to put farmers out of business. That’s counter productive to their business model.

      Finally, Monsanto doesn’t provide “cush jobs.” They’re the most innovate company in agriculture technology right now. They’re like the Apple of the agriculture world. Yes, they’re a big company in ag, but they’re a big company with hundreds of brilliant scientist working their butts off to make innovative solutions that work for farmers. I sleep well at night not because I’m ignorant of what Monsanto does, but because I’m proud of what Monsanto does.

    • Edie Diaf

      If this utopia were possible, it would already have been in progress long before Monsanto, et al, were even a thought in someone’s head. Nature is not perfect, and never has been, but I will thank you for the laugh regarding the thought of just how many big problems could be solved in just a matter of years by switching to feudal-style crop production. You have it right in one sense: human impact on climate change would be altered incredibly quickly, thanks to massive starvation, disease, and death. At some point, the world population would be reduced enough that the sort of crop production you envision would feed everyone.

    • Kat Reid

      Anon-great reply! I couldn’t have said it better myself. I suspect this stay-at-home Mom is getting some corporate support for this blog. She totally glosses over the noxious poisons required/prescribed for these “miracle” (not) GMOs. I also think she genuinely believes her own propaganda at this point. Most of us who oppose GMOs do so on the independent science. We are not anti-science. We are pro sound science, which means that the science must be conducted transparently and without the influence of corporate oversight and control. Biased science = bad science.

      • Sara

        Nope, no one pays me to write this blog. I do genuinely believe in facts, yes. As I’ve said many times, everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but not their own facts.

  18. geezer

    Hey if you want to feed your kids pesticide residues, its your choice, its a free country after all. be my guest! But since you love science so much how about explaining the scientific underpinnings of the regulatory framework controlling release of new patented species. “Substantial equivalence” has none (its a concept developed by OECD based on the needs of international trade) or GRAS……these things PERVERT science by hiding the facts behind a wall nondislosure restrictions…..ever read a GMO seed contract? As a farmer you are prevented from discussing your results publicly! Some science… pass the 2-4D please, my cornflakes need a little something extra.

    • Sara

      Hey, Geezer. I almost didn’t approve this comment because of your “if you want to feed your kids pesticide residue” line. I have a comment policy, you might want to check it out. I approved this anyway because I think comments like yours actually just make my position stronger. But if you comment again with a negative mention about my children, I’ll ban you from the site. I’m also not going to address the rest of your post because I don’t think it makes any sense.

      • geezer

        OK, the kids remark was a low blow…but since I got a reply , here’s some challenges to your assertions, its unfortunate in this debate that myths or wishful thinking are passed off as facts.
        You stated ” insect-resistant eggplant that would allow farmers in Bangladesh to spray less pesticide where pesticide poisoning is a chronic health problem”
        You might finds some credibility issues with that if you read this
        http://ubinig.org/index.php/home/showAerticle/76/english

        You also list “rice with beta-carotene that could help the 124 million children in the world who are chronically deficient in vitamin A, a deficiency that accounts for about one-quarter of the total global burden of disease from malnutritio”
        Ah yes, the persistent golden rice saga….like waiting for godot ….still unavailable after how many years? here’s two clips from IRRI , the people in charge of this unicorn…..”using one of the most advanced versions of Golden Rice: GR2 event “R” (GR2-R). This first round took place in 2012-13 to assess how well this version of Golden Rice would perform in different locations in the Philippines. Preliminary results were mixed. While the target level of beta-carotene in the grain was attained, average yield was unfortunately lower than that from comparable local varieties already preferred by farmers.” and this …… “currently, Golden Rice is still under development and evaluation. It will only be made available broadly to farmers and consumers if it is successfully developed into rice varieties suitable for Asia” That is a big if. see http://irri.org/golden-rice/faqs/what-is-the-status-of-the-golden-rice-project-coordinated-by-irri

        And you should still try to answer the first question you conveniently ducked …try explaining the scientific underpinnings of the regulatory framework controlling release of new patented species. The guiding policy “Substantial equivalence” has none (its a concept developed by OECD based on the needs of international trade). Go ahead quote the science behind it, I’d like you to refute that it was merely a politically based implementation for getting our GE material to market quicker, consumer safety? not so much.

        • Sara

          Geezer, you’re trying to make the argument that because it hasn’t succeed yet, it never will. I can’t agree with that. Research is ongoing. Just because science didn’t happen fast enough to please you, doesn’t mean we should throw up our hands and give up. Why is it a problem for you if the researchers continue to try to make it work?

          I’m not in a position to “explain the underpinnings of the regulatory framework” of anything. I do not believe the USDA is corrupt, nor do I believe the regulatory agencies are merely rubber stamping GM varieties. If you want to make that argument, you’re going to need to back it up. I’d like to see solid evidence for that idea before I launch into an extensive response.

    • Edie Diaf

      Geezer, if you are operating under the presumption that organic production uses no pesticides, you are incorrect. There is an entire raft of things approved for use in organics, some of which are incredibly toxic, and almost all of which require more to do the same job as conventionals do.

  19. Rebecca

    ZERO negative health effects caused by eating GMO’s in 20 years?? That’s a pretty bold statement. Can you post links to scientific literature (other than Monsanto’s own research) that supports this?

  20. Melanie

    People get way to violent and rude over these Monsanto subjects and I don’t like that…. However I see where the anger and fear comes from. I get that Monsanto is in the business of feeding the world and trying to create ways to do that efficiently buts its also in the money making business. Naturally.. And sometimes that can cloud judgement. But the question is does that happen with Monsanto? I think it happens a bit with every company out there big or small. I definitely cringe a bit at Monsanto stories, but I want to understand more. One thing that bothers me and probably bothers the big time Monsanto haters is the stories and articles about Monsanto suing farmers for replanting seed or patent infringement which sometimes is legit but maybe isn’t always.. Apparently if a farmer buys conventional seed that happens to be contaminated with GMO seed and Monsanto came, tested the fields and found enough GMO seeds they could sue them for replanting. I have heard stories of similar stories happening. Again, are they all true, I don’t know. But that wouldn’t be right and that makes Monsanto look a bit bad. The other and biggest thing that bothers me is the chemicals, as far as I have read GMO crops are sprayed much more then organic or conventional. Again true or not? But I know a lot is sprayed (I have worked on and visited quite a few large scale farms growing GMO as well as conventional, and have in the past sprayed crops myself) I have read labels on these bottles and I have read papers about some of the ingredients being cancer causing (Yes, I know a lot of things are..). Some organizations, including WHO said glyphosate is a carcinogen, Monsanto says its not. Who do we believe? Either way I personally think most chemicals aren’t great for us and our environment and many of us have children we hope to leave a healthy planet to right? So it scares me that so much is used on these crops. And im no scientist but its hard for me to believe that the chemicals don’t end up the food, for example my cousins claims the round up she sprays beside the asparagus doesn’t get on or in the asparagus and I believe she has the best intentions but when it rains after and the water and chemical residue go into the ground, it would take convincing for me to believe some of it doesn’t end up in my asparagus. Studies also have found glyphosate in ground, rain and air long after application. Another example from a farm where I used to work in Australia. My old friend would mix up the chemical for spraying on their GMO wheat or bean crops usually wearing a mask, thick rubber apron and gloves. Many were toxic to breathe in or get on your skin. These chemicals then got sprayed repeatedly on fields where food was about to grow or already growing. And lastly a few days before harvesting to spray the crop out. Again I have a really really hard time believing none of these chemicals end up in the plant, in our food. Those beans are in shells yes, but porous shells. They don’t get washed off, if that would even help. So these chemicals we need rubber gloves to protect ourselves from go on our food. It just doesn’t logically make sense to me that it could be totally safe. I realize we need to feed a lot of people (we are also very wasteful with food in western countries so that’s a problem) but these are the things that bother me and I think all of the Monsanto haters out there. So of the Monsanto supporters does anyone have an opinion on these things that makes some logical sense? Id love to be convinced GMOs are safe, and I respect that your focusing on feeding the world and saying the story isn’t about the chemicals or patents but I think the chemicals are very important. What good is a fed world if it is laden with toxic chemicals which we may get sick from? This is a huge issue. Please clear it up if you can, anyone? And maybe slightly scientifically or logical way not just in a ‘nah they don’t harm you I drank some round up and im fine 10 years later’ kind of way. I also don’t get why they seem to be fighting against GMO labeling if there is nothing wrong with GMOs? Why don’t they just use their resources to educate on how GMOs are great if that is the case?
    Either way it might sounds crazy but hopefully you can see that those people who act out against Monsanto are just acting out of fear and insecurities and instead of taking in personally it might lead you to have some sympathy for them and their being afraid.. I am sorry to hear that people treat you differently and perhaps badly though for where you have worked, that is not right.
    The for and against Monsanto sides might both be right. I think we just need to be cautious with these big companies. They don’t always have the same values as we personally do. Yes they may help and supply more food, but they also may be neglecting things a bit on the chemical side and our environment. Doesn’t make them evil necessarily, just makes them a company. Think of Coca cola, its not a healthy beverage, it probably causes quite a bit of disease if you are into nutrition at all and know what its made of. They still market the heck out of it and how great it is, they wont make a big deal about the HFCS and its effect on us or about the plastic bottles. That wouldn’t be great for business. They are a company and that’s just life, everyone doesn’t always do what might be the right thing or what is best for their neighbors earth or customers. But we aren’t powerless, its up to us to be critical and say what we are and are not okay with and subsequently support the things we are okay with and not support what we are not okay with.
    Got a bit carried away.. I hope it makes sense but yes, looking forward to hearing back from the community!! Thanks for reading.

    • brad

      To clear things up for you, the development of gmo seeds has led to a decrease in the amount of pesticides being applied to crops. For example when I was younger there was no bt gene in cotton and pink bollworms were a major problem. We ran 3 spray rigs daily spraying organophosphates on the fields at least once a week. Since the introduction if bt we know spray at most 3 or 4 times a year for other pest with much safer materials and have zero pink bollworm problems. This myth that farmers are constantly spraying crops is a joke. Most farmers are strongly aware of integrated pest management and do everything we can to allow mother nature to solve our problems. We only spray when we have to and to do otherwise would be a foolish waste of money. The U.S. has the safest food supply in the world and the farmers here do everything we can to keep it that way. We have seen how one outbreak can break your farm, destroy your business and in extreme cases put you in jail. It is in our best interest to have food that is safe and healthy for our customers, people!

    • Sara

      Melanie –

      I’ll try here to address all your questions. I understand your concern and appreciate your interest in actually finding out the real information. It’s an immensely complicated subject, and certainly one that’s been extremely misrepresented by certain groups. That makes it really hard to discern what’s real and what’s not. Hopefully I can help.
      1. Monsanto suing farmers: This is a huge myth associated with GMOs. Monsanto has never sued a farmer when trace amounts of patented seeds or traits were present in a farmer’s field as an accident or as a result of inadvertent means. Not only that, but in 2012-2013, two separate courts acknowledged that Monsanto has not taken any action – or even suggested taking any action – against organic growers because of cross-pollination. As a result of that case, Monsanto is legally bound to that decision by judicial estoppel- they cannot legally sue a farmer for inadvertent presence.

      Since 1997, Monsanto has filed suit against a US farmer 147 times. Considering that Monsanto does business with more than 325,000 American farmers each year, that’s not very many. Out of those, only eleven have gone to full trial and all eleven cases were found in Monsanto’s favor and not one of them was about inadvertent presence.
      More on that here: http://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2013/06/12/190977225/court-to-monsanto-you-said-you-wont-sue-so-you-cant?sc=tw&cc=share and here: http://www.monsanto.com/newsviews/pages/gm-seed-accidentally-in-farmers-fields.aspx

      2. Roundup as a carcinogen: to clarify, the WHO did not categorize glyphosate as a carcinogen. They categorized it as a “probable” carcinogen. That may seem like only semantics, but there’s a big difference there. There is a HUGE list of things that “probably” cause cancer, including wood smoke and night shift work. There are lots of things that we encounter every single day that are KNOWN carcinogens (like sunlight, for example) which is a much riskier classification than a probable carcinogen. There’s also a lot of disagreement in the scientific community (not just by Monsanto) about that classification. more on that here: http://grist.org/business-technology/so-roundup-probably-causes-cancer-this-means-what-exactly/ and here: http://www.thefarmersdaughterusa.com/2015/03/glyphosate-as-a-carcinogen-explained.html

      3. Are chemicals bad for us? The key is here dose. Everything is toxic at a certain dose, even water. Much of the complication around this comes from the incorrect notion that the PRESENCE of a thing is synonymous with harm. It is not. Just because there is pesticide residue on your food does not mean it’s harmful to you. Just because the pesticides do in fact end up on your food, doesn’t mean you should be worried about it. In fact, going back to glyphosate (or Roundup) – glyphosate is actually 25 times less toxic than caffeine. Every year the USDA does an evaluation of pesticide residue on our food and every year they reach the same conclusion: safe. More on “dose makes the poison here”: http://ei.cornell.edu/teacher/pdf/ATR/ATR_Chapter1_X.pdf More on toxicity of Roundup here: http://www.geneticliteracyproject.org/2014/04/30/is-glyphosate-used-with-some-gm-crops-dangerously-toxic-to-humans/ More on the USDA’s PDP here: http://www.ams.usda.gov/AMSv1.0/getfile?dDocName=STELPRDC5049944

      4. Why does Monsanto oppose GMO labeling? Incidentally, they don’t. They label every single bag of GMO seed they sell. 🙂 They oppose punitive mandatory GMO labels that will scare consumers away from a safe technology that increases the efficiency of agriculture’s impact on the environment. I can’t speak for Monsanto, but I can tell you why I oppose these labels, I wrote a whole post on it right here: http://www.itsmomsense.com/oppose-mandatory-gmo-labeling/

      If you have questions for Monsanto on their business practices, why they oppose GMO labels, why they sue farmers, etc, they actually have developed a website just for you. discover.monsanto.com Go over there and ask any question you want. They want consumers to understand the issues, and that’s why they created that website.

      Hopefully that helps. Let me know if you have further concerns,
      Sara

    • Kristie Swenson

      Melanie,
      I think you’ve covered a lot of concerns that people have. There’s so much information and misinformation today, and it’s simply overwhelming. I love that you are sincerely saying, “this is what I hear, not sure I believe it, but I do have questions.”
      I agree with Brad and Sara’s responses, and I appreciate your comments & questions!

  21. Sally Linda

    This is an excellent blog post. As a mother and a clinical researcher, I have been accused as being a shill because of my vaccine advocacy. I’m very concerned about the lack of scientific literacy in our communities and prevalence of arm chair researchers. Great post!

  22. Pingback: Fave Social Media & Questions About Work at Monsanto

  23. Pingback: Why Am I Pro-GMO? [Yes, Really] | Eat, Pray, Lift

  24. Pingback: Friday Favorites: June 12th | Town & (Cow) Country

  25. Pingback: Friday Favorites: June 12th | Town & (Cow) Country

  26. A Care

    The genetically modified papaya didn’t save the Hawaiian papaya – it destroyed it. Anyone who has a bit of sense can understand mono-cropping vs poly-cropping. Mono cropping is bad for the soil, and of course it will create the perfect canvas for diseases to spread fast. So, instead of relying on GMOs to save the world, we actually learn to grow food how we should with the available and perfect resources we have. Farming used to be the most popular job in America. Farmers everywhere. I recommend educating yourself on permaculture. The government subsidizes GMO corn and soy in the USA – that’s the bulk of what Monsanto does in the USA. Then the corn goes to places like CAFOs where they force cows to eat a diet that they’re not evolved to be eating. Monsanto creates sickness in very obvious ways… And then tries to boast about its mini projects when we all know those aren’t their real prerogatives.

  27. Gonstar

    VERY VERY foolish not to trust the way an INFINITE GOD designed food for His creation.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *