Sorgfelt's picture
I learned from practical experience that, in order to get a job with Monsanto, or do any research that is supported by Monsanto, or even to publish research on Monsanto seeds, that all of my work would have to be approved by Monsanto. This makes it very difficult to have legitimate third party research to rely on. How can I trust any research done on GMOs that has the imprimatur of Monsanto?

A:Expert Answer

The research scientists employed by Monsanto work in teams focused on creating solutions that are core to improving agricultural productivity and sustainability. Of course, the specific research projects that we work on are agreed to by management teams throughout the organization.  However, as employees, we are encouraged to publish the results of our research. In fact, since 2000, Monsanto employees have published more than 1,000 studies related to the science, safety and benefits of our products.


In addition, university, government and other public-sector researchers independently conduct research on our products.  Since the introduction of GM technologies in the mid-1990s, hundreds and hundreds of independently conducted scientific studies have been published in scientific literature (see the Biofortified website), including studies focused on risk assessment that have expanded the growing body of evidence supporting the safety of GM crops and validating the conclusions of regulatory authorities worldwide.  From 2001 to 2010, more than 50 studies were conducted in Europe alone, funded by the European Commission (at a cost of >200 million euros) and performed by more than 400 research groups.  These studies are summarized in “A Decade of EU-Funded GMO Research.”


With regard to public-sector research, Monsanto worked with other GMO developers and the American Seed Trade Association to establish principles that enable the public-sector research community to independently conduct research studies on commercially available seed products and provide assurance that the public sector research community is free to design robust, scientifically sound experimental protocols and methodologies, and to derive independent conclusions. Importantly, researchers may publish their findings without any review or approval by Monsanto.  


More information about the ASTA initiative can be found here


Information about Monsanto’s Academic Research License, which allows researchers to do research with commercialized Monsanto products, is available here.   


Monsanto has ARLs in place with all major agriculturally focused U.S. universities and the USDA Agricultural Research Service―about 100 in total.

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jtrav21's picture

This is the case with almost all companies - anything that is done by an employee is owned and managed by the company. Do you know of any corporations that do not operate by this principle?

Sorgfelt's picture

The FDA depends on industry research to make decisions that affect our health. That in itself makes no sense. It makes it important to us that Monsanto does not hide research that impacts all of us. It wasn't OK when the tobacco companies hid evidence found by their scientists that tobacco caused lung disease. The same goes for Monsanto. But, beyond this problem of employees, the agreement that must be signed by anyone who purchases Monsanto seeds prevents most legal and meaningful independent third party research in the USA.

Kevin Folta's picture

A student at my university contacted me for advice on her GMO project. She's interested in using various methods to destroy allergens in plant products like soy milk. She wanted to test a GMO to see if she found anything different, and then if she could get rid of it. She obtained some seeds through some source.

Long story short, there was nothing new or interesting, but she still wants to publish the results. I contacted Monsanto and there was never any hesitation. She was free to publish whatever results she found, as the activity fell within the Academic Research License.

It was not even a question, and personally I was surprised that there were not more hoops to jump through. This is IP protected seed. My experience reflects how the policies help facilitate discovery, not inhibit it.