About “Beyond the Rows”

Beyond the Rows is a Monsanto Company blog focused on one of the world’s most important industries, agriculture. Monsanto employees write about Monsanto’s business, the agriculture industry, and the farmer.
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“Monsanto is Evil.” What?

“Monsanto is evil.” I’ve seen headlines like that, the latest one for a story about the readers of a website catering to people interested in natural news, health and information. The readers had voted Monsanto as “Most Evil Corporation of the Year.” Given the readers and the site’s coverage of GM food, even the editor acknowledged that those who voted were largely a self-selecting, anti-Monsanto crowd.

If you search the web looking for “Monsanto” and “evil,” you will find the type of thing that sensational movies are made of. But thanks to a new beta product from Google that shows what others in “your social circles” are saying, I have a very different subset of results, too. With the number of farmers and other people who work in agriculture I’ve connected to, Google provides me a very different perspective.

Sure, it’s no surprise that Monsanto employees have written blog posts on the topic. After all, we’re the ones who get painted with that “evil” brush. A few favorites I’ve read from the Monsanto ranks are:

• A scientist who self-identifies as a progressive who believes in enacting positive social change wrote this post. Jeff hopes someday we’ll be able to work together across politics and science to make the world a better place.

• My good friend Mica, who’s been doing a lot of social media work, saw a lot of our critics talking about Monsanto routinely in terms of “evil.” Instead of getting down about the negativity she saw elsewhere, she talked to John Purcell about why he works here. John’s positive attitude as he looks at the world is infectious and reflects so many of our people.

• And before social media was a specific part of my job, I wrote a post on my personal blog, of which I remain proud.

But it’s really the thoughts from farmers and others who get to know our products by planting them on their land that matter to me. I came across two blog posts (and there are a lot of others) and lengthy discussion in the comments give just as clear of a message:

• An Iowa farm wife recently wrote a blog post about how when she hears the accusations against “industrial agriculture,” she knows her family is under attack. And when most people tell her they know her farm is different, she becomes more frustrated because she knows her farm is like so many others and that “big corporations” are not controlling her family. She also explains the interaction of your family, safety, health and research as well as honoring the choices others make for their farms and families.

• Shaun Haney, whose family has a seed business in Canada and farmed until recently, wrote a post about the blinders needing to come off and rhetoric giving way to conversation. “We need to get past the rhetoric that Monsanto is the evil empire,” he wrote, “and all people that eat organic food smoke pot and live in a grass hut down by the river.”

Before someone who’s critical of Monsanto suggests I live in a bubble where everyone holds hands singing “Kumbaya” and praising Monsanto, I want to say my social network is as diverse as my personal community. I frequently have conversations with people who oppose biotechnology and our company’s efforts in general. This morning as one of those critics tweeted a list of who someone should follow for discussions. I was listed along with some of our most vocal critics. Someone else noted the diversity of her recommendations and she replied “well, diversity is the point, you can’t learn very much from people who all think the same.”

I agree. I’d would add that you also can’t learn much when polarizing words like “evil” are used.

21 Responses to "“Monsanto is Evil.” What?"

  1. I think it is important that people actually go learn about things they have strong feelings for. While I was working for the Business Journal in St. Louis, I had the luck for doing a tour of the Monsanto research facilities in Creve Coeur. We ended up spending almost three times the amount of time that we had scheduled, and I was amazed at the great work you guys do. I wrote this blog post later The source of all evil? I think not. http://www.lenejohansen.com/?p=863.

    I have learned that many people with strong feelings about GMO, don’t want to learn more about GMO. I even suggested that a friend who edited a consumer magazine for organic foods come with me, but she was not interested. It was sad really…

    • Thanks Lene!

      I loved that post and had to think about how much things have advanced in the past few years. Please let us know if you get back to St. Louis anytime soon. We’d love for you to see the molecular marker breeding tools, etc. I still learn something every time I go through the facilities. Either from the tour guide or the people taking the tour!


  2. just search “monsanto” and you will find the truth, but i doubt this comment will even be published, because monsanto doesnt want the truth to be known

    • Anthony,

      I take a lot of time to research, discuss differences of opinion, etc. I can say without a doubt that not everything that you search & discover on the internet is accurate. In fact, much of it regarding Monsanto is myth.


    • Anthony,

      The TRUTH of the matter is….. Monsanto wants nothing more than for the TRUTH to be known. Because if you all knew the TRUTH you wouldn’t think so poorly of them.

  3. How can you say that what is researched is a myth? You spread millions of tons of chemicals on farmland and contaminate 1000’s of acres of land with your GMO seed that you “own” and then sue farmers for this contamination. You are just mad that you can’t pull a blindfold over people anymore and that your evil ways are becoming known to consumers. You can’t get mad at people for educating themselves. Get a clue!

  4. If biotech seeds are no different than ordinary seeds, then why is there a patent on them? Why is Monsanto, Bill and Melinda Gates, and other globalists putting native seeds in a nuclear war proof seed vault in the Artic? http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=10300

    I know 5 dairy and beef producers that are having major difficulty in getting their cattle to breed back. One of them is my uncle! All of them have fed copious amounts of GMO corn and beans the last 10-15 years. I talked to a artificial insemination technician, same thing from him. He is running into more and more herds having major breeding problems and people are scratching their heads.

    Come on Jan! Time to wake up here. Farmers are waking up and so are the people. Is it any wonder that the same globalist, corrupt corporations that have sold this country out are actively trying to shut down the web?

    • Shirls,

      You are certainly welcome to your own opinion but my opinions are different and are based on the facts I’ve seen from more than two decades in agriculture.

      The seeds we are involved in have a lot of similarities to the “ordinary seeds” you mention but the investments in R&D to make the advancements in yield, disease resistance, etc are the inventions that are covered by patents.

      As for the seed storage you mention, the article indicates its NATO’s. There are a number of germplasm libraries in the world and this is one.

      The livestock issue you’ve mentioned is one that I’m not familiar with, however, I’m familiar with lots of farmers who have cattle with very healthy breeding programs that feed our corn.


  5. Paul, please enlighten us about the truth because from what I know GMO contaminate farmers fields and then the farmers get sued at no fault of their own expect for the fact you think you own the seeds. The Supreme Court should ban patents on plants and then the problem would go away. Not to mention the millions of tons of chemical Roundup that is put on our land and in our food. Sounds pretty evil to me.

  6. Monsatno is not evil?
    Do you want to say that Wikipedia brings out also some poor articles out.
    Check out this:
    People in USA can’t choose to have milk free rBGH, patents royalty for seeds, plenty legal issues against many farmers that never wanted to use your seeds, thousands of dead farmers in India who get debts due to royalty to Monsanto.
    Inability for consumers to choose healthy food without your GM products. Monsanto reduces people’s choice more than many dictatorship, because Monsanto is here to decide what is good and what not.
    Buying company which produced Terminator seeds (sterile seeds after harvest) is another nice point that shows direction of Monsanto’s work.
    Of course, this post will be deleted.

  7. Wow … dog breeders? Really? What on earth does that have to do with this? I don’t “paint” all Monsanto employees with the “evil” brush. However, Monsanto, as an agency, IS evil. Roundup is good? Oh really? Can I add some to YOUR drinking water sometime? Farmers LOVE you? Oh really? Even the ones who try to farm WITHOUT using your tainted seed and are then hounded by attorneys from your beloved company to prevent them from seed-saving because YOUR tainted seed-pollen cross-germinates with their neighboring field? Those farmers love you too? How about the girls entering into early puberty, the milk cows who suffer and die, because of rBGH, YOUR company’s product? Do they love you? I don’t think so. Monsanto IS evil. Monsanto is a government-supported, capitalistic, small-farm killing, bio-terrorist agency. And you, my sad little darling, are one of the puppets.

    • There are so many fallacies and out right lies in that comment you obviously don’t want to engage in a conversation. If that isn’t the way to close a door than calling me a “sad little darling” who is a puppet certainly is. I do not suggest that folks who disagree with me are either.

  8. so basically. ‘It’s Not Us We’re Not Evil,Come to the Light Let Monsanto In…Open You’re Heart…You Don’t Have To Fear Us Little Child… We’re Here to Save You…We Love You’re Money—,,,Erm can I get Some White Out Over here..”

    I Boycott You. Give It Up.

  9. Michael,

    The complete sentence by Shaun Haney was “We need to get past the rhetoric that Monsanto is the evil empire and all people that eat organic food smoke pot and live in a grass hut down by the river.” to leave out the first half of that sentence obviously changes its meaning greatly. We have not said such a thing about people in the organic side of agriculture nor do we intend to. Personally I have a number of friends who produce organic foods so it’s absurd you would even suggest we were saying such a thing.


  10. With that list of topics, I can offer a list of resources that accurately portray the topics you refer to.
    People in USA can’t choose to have milk free rBGH http://www.monsanto.com/newsviews/Pages/milk-labeling.aspx
    patents royalty for seeds — Yes, we seek returns on the innovations we deliver
    plenty legal issues against many farmers that never wanted to use your seeds http://www.monsanto.com/newsviews/Pages/why-does-monsanto-sue-farmers-who-save-seeds.aspx
    thousands of dead farmers in India who get debts due to royalty to Monsanto http://www.monsanto.com/newsviews/Pages/india-farmer-suicides.aspx
    Inability for consumers to choose healthy food without your GM products http://www.monsanto.com/newsviews/Pages/food-labeling.aspx
    Monsanto reduces people’s choice more than many dictatorship, because Monsanto is here to decide what is good and what not http://www.monsanto.com/newsviews/Pages/choice-in-agriculture.aspx http://www.monsantoblog.com/2009/03/09/organic-vs-biotech-monsanto/
    Buying company which produced Terminator seeds (sterile seeds after harvest) is another nice point that shows direction of Monsanto’s work – D&PL was purchased due to the company’s strength in cotton genetics http://www.monsanto.com/newsviews/Pages/terminator-seeds.aspx

  11. I think the reason you see this is because Monsanto being evil is essential to the anti-GMO argument. Talk to someone who is against GMOs and more often than not Monsanto comes up sooner or later (usually sooner), even if you’re talking about something with no connection like virus resistant papayas in Hawaii or insect resistant rice in Iran. What you largely see is that, in order to maintain the claims that GE crops are in some way dangerous or inferior, any and all evidence counter to that claim must be dismissed, and one of the most convenient and effective ways of doing that is claiming that there some sort of, for lack of a better word, conspiracy putting that information out to cover up the truth. A key component in any conspiracy theory is that there exists a powerful force behind the scenes with nearly unlimited resources covering up evidence. In the case of the anti-vaccine movement, it’s the pharmaceutical companies, in the case of the 9/11 truth movement, it’s one or more governments, and in the case of the anti-GMO movement, Monsanto is that power. Because they’ve already decided that GMOs are dangerous, and because Monsanto makes, sells, and profits (which is bad word) from GMOs, Monsanto must therefore be evil.

    If Monsanto were not viewed as evil, the whole thing falls apart. You’d have to consider the whole of the evidence about GE crops, not just a few poorly done studies, and make a good case as to the how and why GMOs are dangerous…what specifical compound makes them dangerous, how it is formed, why only GMOs produce it, ect. You’d have to view each GMO as unique, accept that the AquaAdvantage salmon is not the Arctic apple is not the HoneySweet plum is not Golden Rice is not the Amflora potato is not BioSorghum, rather than just lump them all together as part of Monsanto’s vast network. Ever seen anyone call Monsanto evil then praise a GMO from a small potential competitor or a non-profit organization/university? Me neither. Monsanto, it seems, is the linchpin linking together all genetic engineering. I’m not saying it makes sense, it doesn’t, just that I believe that that is the method to the madness.

    And I think it’s kind of telling that these people think that making an oil spill bigger than my state is preferable to genetically engineered crops. Jeez, what planet do they live on anyway?

  12. Saying something is “evil” does nothing to move the discussion forward. It’s a meaningless statement that does nothing other than incite negative feelings.

    I honestly believe this is largely a PR problem. This blog goes a long way in addressing that. However, as we’ve seen in other companies in social media, sometimes the space is not ideal for rational conversation. But it seems like this blog is more rational than other places I’ve seen.

    Keep on discussing this. Much of the work companies like Monsanto is doing is crucial for a planet of nearly 7 billion people.


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