Expert response from Cami Ryan, Ph.D.
Social Sciences Lead, Monsanto Company
Wednesday, 11/02/2015 20:10
Industrial agriculture and agricultural companies – Monsanto, in particular – have been the subject of fear campaigns spearheaded by critics of GMOs. Much of what is outlined in these campaigns is lies and half-truths and it all makes companies like Monsanto look “bad.”
Over the past two decades, critics of GMOs and genetic engineering use misinformation and “mythmaking” as a way to capture audience interest and influence public opinion about products of biotechnology and the companies and scientists that develop them. Behind much of this is a strong anti-corporate bias. Critics artfully blend words and scary visual images in continuous, well-executed communication strategies. As a result, they have been very successful in reframing the debate on agricultural biotechnology. Because there isn’t just one answer, I have included several perspectives from our employees!
A similar question on this topic has been answered by my colleague John Vicini on this site and also explains the “villain” concept you might find interesting, What is the history of the phenomenon of Monsanto being a focal point for opponents of GMOS . For the full response please visit the link, however, here is an excerpt:
“I really like this question and am often asked it (that being why is Monsanto a focal point for opponents). An effective way to rally people to a cause is to have a villain. A good story needs a villain, a victim and a hero. The best villain has a face, for instance, Seinfeld popularized that many are scared of clowns, but American Horror Story personalized it with Twisty. “Monsanto” represents the personalized villain rather than one less defined (i.e. the biotech industry as a whole). So pick the company that was first on some of the technology milestones, add in a few legacy issues (Agent Orange, DDT), some of the earliest business practices that may be difficult to understand (ex: farmer agreements), and you have a villain. And since Monsanto sold RoundUp, one even gets to claim that GM was invented just to sell more RoundUp, in spite of the fact that some companies that sell Roundup Ready seed don’t sell Roundup and many companies besides Monsanto sell glyphosate. “
Here are a couple more responses from previously asked questions for your review:
Video: GMO Answers at SXSW