Two months into the blog, we have gotten our feet wet and we’re getting a handle on what works and what doesn’t. We are also coming across some challenges we did not anticipate. With this in mind, we want to call to your attention to some tweaks in our comment policy.
First, we have found a need to include language about fabricated reply postings. Last week I received the following comment being held for moderation.
“My name is Okam Muboye. I am one of 27 family owners of a cooperative farm near Lesotho. We were not sued (yet), but received a “cease and desist” letter from Monsanto because the strain of brown rice we have been growing in this region – since at least 1877 when the British Museum secured a sample – has now been patented by Monsanto.
That is the downside. It was our primary crop. Now we have only 27 (of the original 59) families left here; the rest have had to go find work in the cities and the nearby marble pits because the rice was the only thing we could make any money on.
For every farm like ours, there are a thousand others where someone like me – someone lucky enough to have been educated in Britain and who has computer access – isn’t there to speak up.
The responsible party is he – or she – who has the ability to respond.”
I found the comment suspect as Monsanto 1) doesn’t have any commercial rice products, nor are we currently doing any rice research and 2) Monsanto donated its work on the rice genome to the International Rice Research Institute in The Philippines and did not seek to commercialize rice varieties, patented or otherwise.
Also, while I am no patent lawyer, it seemed odd that this story suggested Monsanto had a patent on a variety that it did not invent or create. Fearing a hoax, I decided to do some digging before posting. Sure enough, Kinyua, a colleague in Africa, confirmed that there was no truth to this story.
As you know, we have a transparent commenting policy allowing comments as long as they aren’t profane or threatening. This comment posed something of a challenge to us. We do not want to censor things, but we don’t want to become a platform for fabricated propaganda against Monsanto. That being said, comments such as the one above will be held while we ensure the validity of the statement. If it is not true we will post the comment with a note stating there is no validity in the comment. If it is true it will be posted.
Another change is the response to comments coming from the blog managers. We make every effort to respond to questions on older blog posts. Unfortunately, the questions have tended to run on indefinitely. Apart of the policy changes, Monsanto blog managers will make every effort to respond to blog post comments for up to 10 days after the original posting date. This is an open forum for employees and readers alike, but those of those of us who manage this blog cannot continue to ensure a response 10 days after posting. We considered closing comment periods, but felt that wouldn’t be fair to those who want to comment on the older blog posts.
Part of the issue with run-on threads is that people have many questions and comments, many of which are off topic from the original post. We encourage all commenters to browse through older (and newer) threads when they have questions. Odds are someone has answered your question. If not, as a means of addressing this, we have included a suggestion page on the blog so that we can identify the topics of greatest interest to readers. Suggestions need to be kept short.
Thank you so much for reading thus far, and stick around for much more to come!