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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Who are you most afraid of – Darth Vader, Ninjas or Monsanto employees?

It happens. You create images of people and places you’ve never seen or met. And with some of the things that get said about Monsanto, it wouldn’t surprise me if some people said they were more afraid of Monsanto employees than they are of Darth Vader or ninjas. When I read a blog post, by a person I consider a friend through social media, that said something about the way she generally pictured my Monsanto colleagues and me in darkness. I have to admit to being a bit surprised. But more than that, I so appreciate her willingness to consider that the perception and reality may not be the same.

I know that images of Monsanto aren’t always pretty. And with the current stage of my allergies, I’d have to admit the same is truthfully said of me with these swollen eyes. But in the day to day reality, we are the people who live alongside everyone else. We spent our evening and weekends taking kids to soccer games, volunteering at civic organizations, cooking meals on the grill and doing social media chats.

The pictures of us doing our day jobs are rarely as exciting as the images folklore would have people believe. We spend our days focused on farmers. Behind the doors of our labs, offices and pickup trucks, you will find some of the people who are most passionate about American farms – after all, a lot of us grew up on farms and return there to help at harvest or to spend the holidays with family.

If you want a chance to see some of our people going about the day-to-day, here are a few links for you to check out:

As far as the Darth Vader images, I’ll have to see if I can find a Star Wars fan planning for Halloween. Though I like the image of taking a light saber to some of those mythological perceptions, I think connecting with people in honest ways is much more my style.

14 Responses to "Who are you most afraid of – Darth Vader, Ninjas or Monsanto employees?"

  1. It would be useful if you were to address many of the reasons that you are equated to less desirable entities, than to simply state that you take your kids to soccer games. While this may paint a more wholesome picture of yourself, it does nothing to alleviate any of the well grounded fears many have. Could you put up a post directly addressing these issues?

    Reply
    • Hey Chris,

      Thanks for reading and commenting. On the blog we address a lot of these questions regularly but this post was responding to the fact there can be this perception around things without direct knowledge or specific reasons. Are there any specific areas you are interested in understanding, I’d be glad to help provide more information on those topics.

      jp

      Reply
  2. Dear Janice,

    Thank you for taking up this topic and responding to it with honesty. I was wondering if you had any of the same thoughts about monsanto before joining the company as an employee? And if you did, how did real life change your opinion?

    Eva

    Reply
    • Eva,

      I’ve worked in agriculture a few decades and came to Monsanto four years ago. I must say that I had some misperceptions but I think that’s common to every job. You see a different reality when you are directly involved. I have to tell you, the criticism levied by farmer customers is on a totally different scale than things I see from the general public. The opinions of Monsanto I had before I came to work here were shaped through close connections within agriculture. I heard farmers complain about a specific issue or something that has gone amiss but these same farmers would say how valuable the company’s products were on their farms.

      On-farm criticism is much like I criticize the businesses or brands I choose to buy from…. I’ve been critical of the car company that produced my last car a time or two but I still bought from them the next time because when I look at the big picture, they best suited my needs. Since I’ve been working here, I have found that feedback from our customers is respected and frequently acted on. I don’t think that’s well understood by the general public but farmers see it.

      jp

      Reply
      • You make the comparison between buying seeds and buying cars. The difference is that you have a choice to buy the car again or not. With the inability to contain GMO seeds comes the loss of choice. Even if farmers “chose” to plant your seeds I do NOT chose to eat products grown from them. The Monsanto lawyers prove again and again that my choice to eat GMO free foods does not exist. If it did farmers wouldn’t be in court over seeds they never planted. I would be able to purchase a huge range of GMO free products. You and I both know neither of us have that choice. Someone else made that choice for us and they are the source of YOUR income. That means that no matter how many soccer games you attend, meals you grill or clever blogs you write you are defending a company that is stealing my right to choose. I think you would be better to compare Monsanto with the Sith Lord Darth Sidious and lower ranking officials to clone troopers. To rank yourself with Darth Vader is a little presumptuous of an average evil minion.

        Reply
        • Interesting take on the Darth Vader theme. Congrats on the creativity. Farmers make choices every spring about the seeds they want to purchase. The current US labeling system is based on nutrition and safety, for marketing differences there are voluntary efforts like GMO-free and if they want to have it certified as organic, they can do that as well providing real choice in the grocery store.

          Reply
      • This is a reply to Jennifer above, probably going to appear in utterly the wrong place due to the way the threading of replies is operating here (seems it can only go to a third tier of replies before stopping….)

        I’ll preface this with the usual as I haven’t commented on Beyond the rows in quite some time – I’m a Monsanto employee, the views expressed here are my own and not those of the company (I lack the eloquence and civility to be a PR type, aswell as an apparent inability to boil things down to an easily digestible information snippet)

        “You make the comparison between buying seeds and buying cars. The difference is that you have a choice to buy the car again or not. With the inability to contain GMO seeds comes the loss of choice.”

        I think the car analogy holds out somewhat better than you’re giving it credit for – it is true that you can chose whether or not to buy a car, but you have no choice whatsoever over who produces, say, the overlay manifold sprocket, or the cup holders, there is no labelling to tell you where the plastic doodad that holds the gearstick just so (anyone conversant with cars will know I’m making parts up as I go along… the point holds true regardless of the fictional nature of the pieces) was made, or how much sulfur is in it, or whatnot.

        ” I would be able to purchase a huge range of GMO free products.”

        You can purchase GMO free products – I have a bunch in my pantry at home (baby food brands, amusing because they prominently state they contain no GMOs, a fact which I cannot dispute at all as not one of the ingredients has a commercialized transgenic trait associated – bought not because I have a great love of organic, or for GMO free products, but because frankly when you find something your kid will eat that contains veggies…) – or you can buy organic, etc – just as those who wish to eat Halal or Kosher can do so by following the labels so can those who wish to eat GM free – there is no infringement on choice in the case of Halal or Kosher (although by your arguement perhaps you would insist that there is, and that all foods should be labelled as non-Kosher and non-Halal unless they are)

        “I think you would be better to compare Monsanto with the Sith Lord Darth Sidious and lower ranking officials to clone troopers. To rank yourself with Darth Vader is a little presumptuous of an average evil minion.”

        I don’t really see any of the Sith being quite as hooked on powerpoint or excel. I will however be making inquiries as to where to pick up my spiffy armour as I believe I am just about the right height for a storm trooper.

        Reply
  3. Hi Janice,

    I’d like to start off by saying that I went to business school and for the most part am not a proponent of government regulation (I am not some left wing pundit who thinks that all corporations are evil). That being said, I am not a fan of Monsanto because your GMO crops are cross pollinating with non-GMO crops and could potentially force farmers to use RoundUp. Moreover, numerous independent studies have found that GMO crops using RoundUp can cause birth defects. My wife just had our first baby and we made sure that she did not eat any soy, corn or canola unless it was organic. I have a question for you. If you were pregnant, know someone who was pregnant or had an infant of your own, would you want your baby exposed to such chemicals? It is apparent that Monsanto tried to cover up the harmful effects of Bovine Growth Hormone for years and unfortunately I drank milk and ate meat with those hormones before I knew better. Just curious if you would feel comfortable feeding an infant in your family Bovine Growth Hormone and GMO crops.

    Reply
    • Chris,

      Thanks for reading & sharing your thoughts.

      We’ve written quite a few things that speak to the topics you raise as have many organizations. On the coexistence of biotech & non-GMO crops, you may want to read http://www.bio.org/node/731

      On the use of Roundup, I’m not sure how the presence of a biotech crop forces the use of more Roundup. We believe farmers need various tools to manage weeds, Roundup is one but so is crop rotation and plenty of other things. The choices farmers have are numerous as are choices in the grocery store. I have great confidence in the US food supply and my family chooses to feed our children from a variety of sources. We find conventionally raised foods next to biotech and organic on our tables quite frequently. I buy regular milk (which may or may not have come from cows who received Posilac) and am quite comfortable providing it to the kids in my care.

      jp

      Reply
    • Chris – In response to your question to Janice, I have a 3-month old and had no issue being pregnant and consuming everyday food. We do not buy organic in my house, and I have no concern or fear about what I consumed during my pregnancy or what we consume in my house now. In fact, I have two of the healthiest, cutest kids on the planet! 🙂

      Reply
  4. Janice,

    Looking into the future of farmers and food in this country, you have to be able to see why people take issue with Monsanto. What happens to farmers in a few years when Monsanto has a monopoly on the business and they cannot even save their own seed and sustain themselves? We will have a monoculture crop, with only one genetically modified soybean (for example) in existence, and every other species will be extinct. What does the future look like when Monsanto owns the entire food industry? As far as taking issue with Monsanto employees, I’m sure you are all normal people like you described. I’m not afraid of a Monsanto employee, I’m afraid of a corporation with a lot of power that might not have the future of our society as a whole at its best interest. I very much respect your right to have a job and feed your family. I’m worried about my family in a few generations and how they will eat. Do you see what everyone else is seeing?

    Reply
    • Linda,

      Sorry I didn’t catch your comment earlier. I have taken a lot of time looking at the matter. I just joined Monsanto 4 years ago and have always worked in agriculture. My brother farms organically and in many of the things he plants heirloom saved seed or seed traded with friends. I wholly endorse that choice. But I also support the possibility that other farmers want to buy seed that has been enhance to perform better at a great investment that makes the farmers decide it is worth the purchase price. There are a lot of genetically different soybeans available today — some with Monsanto technology, some with a competitors and some without any technology at all.

      You say you aren’t afraid of the employees but you are afraid of the corporation….. working here everyday, I don’t see how that disconnect can be made. I know the scientists who develop the new technologies and get to see what drives them, in many instances it is the promise of developing a product that will help their parents or other family members succeed on their farms. All of us here have an eye on the future. We want to continue providing seed for farmers to grow the food that feeds our families and communities.

      So while I respect your choices for your family, I do not see things the same way. I would welcome having the opportunity to talk with you further, maybe visit a farm or two in your area where farmers are using Monsanto products to provide you an opportunity to see what I see on a daily basis.

      jp

      Reply
  5. Suing farmers because wind blows nature from one farm to another and making people destroy seeds is just evil. Wiping out varieties of vegetables is evil. Poisoning our environment is evil. Strong arming farmers and seed vendors is evil. Evil is as evil does. Do the farmers that you strong arm and take their farms see the value in your genetic modification? How about the lawns in suburbia poisoned by Round Up? Darth Vader is a saint compared to all that work for Montsano.

    Reply
    • You have a lot of misinformation. We have never sued a farmer due to inadvertant seed issues and have committed to maintain that. And additionally are talking about a tiny subset of farmers who have had legal issues due to patent infringement whereas millions of farmers choose the buy our products each spring. Farmers are incredible stewards of the earth’s resources and we provide them tools to consider in that endeavor.

      Reply

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