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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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What’s Served in Monsanto’s Cafeterias?

It’s 1999. Bill Clinton is in the White House. Sydney is preparing for the Summer Olympics. The world population is about a billion less than it would be in 2012.

A caterer in the United Kingdom tells the Independent newspaper that it doesn’t use GM food, which would have been difficult in the U.K. in 1999 since there wasn’t any to exclude, but that’s another story. The Independent reports it as “GM Food Banned in Monsanto Canteen.” GM critics have a field day.

Flash forward 13 years. Greenpeace, always interested in recycling, recycles this 1999 news story. People get excited, and tweet it as a current story.

The fact is, it wasn’t true in 1999, and it’s not true today.

All foods can be found in Monsanto cafeterias – conventional and organic. None of it is singled out as conventional or organic. It’s just food served in our cafeterias, the same food that everyone else eats.

In fact, the only time any food was removed from Monsanto cafeterias was a few years back, when a produce company announced a voluntary recall of spinach because of possible E. coli contamination. We remember it because spinach leaves suddenly disappeared from our salad bars.

Last year, there was a more limited recall of spinach because of concerns over possible Listeria contamination, but that didn’t affect our cafeterias, or most of them.

And, for the record, the spinach in question in both cases was – organic.

58 Responses to "What’s Served in Monsanto’s Cafeterias?"

  1. Thank you for clearing this up! I think this about covers it….. Nothing left to report in regards to lawsuits, the terminator gene, roundup ready soy, agent orange, dioxin, GM seeds or any other of DOZENS of “incredible” stories about your wonderful company. I have a question….does the landscaping company that services the companies headquarters…..use roundup?

  2. In the late 1990s, Monsanto sold biotech insect and virus-protected potatoes trademarked as NewLeaf potatoes. Occasionally, the Monsanto cafeteria would serve meals made specifically with NewLeaf potatoes and other biotech food ingredients.

  3. First I’m glad to have “Liked” you on Facebook. It does help to hear both sides of any argument. Now the question… what do you feel the benefits are of eating organic products, like the spinach served in your cafeteria?

    • Lisa – I’ve tried a number of organic products, mostly fruits and vegetables (but once even tried organic potato chips). Some of the very first organic products I tried were apples, because I love apples and am always looking for tastier varieties. What I found, though, after trying numerous kinds, was that the major difference was price — organic apples cost more. Maybe my taste buds are insensitive, but I really couldn’t taste a difference.

      • you should try organic eggs, the shells are harder, the yolks are of a natural color, and surprise surprise, the chickens are healthier too

        • your organic eggs are not better because they are organic they are better because they are eating buggs. yard eggs are allways better organic or not, and chickens that are not healthy dont lay. commercial growers couldnt stay in business if their birds were not healthy.

      • I do try to eat organic but not mainly because of the taste. In NJ/NY/PA, in the summertime, all tastes great! It’s more to avoid eating pesticides (especially apples and berries). Also, to encourage farming practices that are good for the earth and the soil. Taste-wise, I think everybody would agree that freshness is the decisive factor!

        • “Also, to encourage farming practices that are good for the earth and the soil.”

          If techniques are used that produce a reduced quantity of food per acre, then, by definition, they aren’t good, especially when the nutritional quality isn’t any different. Such techniques end up causing the food to have a higher cost which then, of course, results in the consumer being able to purchase fewer other goods per unit cost of his labor. This is in the direction of a futile cycle where all energy is used in a way that has no net gain. There’s gain for the “organic” farmer, especially from those parts of his farm that are next to “non-organic” farms and benefit from the proximity, but no gain for the consumer except an illusory feeling of having something “good for the earth and the soil.” It has exactly the same benefit as throwing a pinch of spilled salt over one’s shoulder to ward off evil: it reduces discomfort caused by the belief in a superstition, but it does nothing toward changing the purported objective reality.

      • `You didn’t answer the question.

        (“what do you feel the benefits are of eating organic products, like the spinach served in your cafeteria?”)

        To which, you responded that you could not taste a difference and didn’t even mention the word “spinach”. No one asked you about taste.

        Perhaps Lisa’s question was for whatever reason unclear to you, so I’ll pose my own: Do you feel that there is any benefit to eating organic food?

        Do you serve organic food in your cafeteria?

        If so, is that food clearly labeled as being GM or not?

        Is there some other way that employees can determine rather their food is genetically modified or not?

        Thanks for your time.

        • There are no benefits of eating organic versus conventional or GM food. All have the same nutritional value. And none is labeled in our cafeterias. In fact, the only way we even knew that organic spinach was served in our salad bar was when it was recalled for e coli contamination nationally a few years ago — the spinach was removed. (By the way, there is no GM spinach — it’s either organic or conventional.)

          • Why do you always talk about the nutritional value of food? Why dont you look PAST the nutritional value and look at the added poisons and toxins in GMO foods that are polluting our bodies. Your body can only handle added toxins for a while and then suddenly you will have cancer. So stop claiming the nutritional value is the same because that is far besides the point. I for sure dont want to be eating nutritious food with poison added. That defeats the purpose of eating HEALTHY food.

          • Hi Mary, Thanks for your question. First, we do look at the nutritional content of food. One example is our Beneforté Broccoli. Each one cup serving of Beneforté broccoli naturally contains 2-3 times the glucoraphanin as a serving of other leading commercial varieties of broccoli. Our body takes this glucoraphanin and turns it to sulforaphane. Sulforaphane naturally boosts our body’s Antioxidant Enzyme levels, which help sustain normal cellular processes by maintaining our body’s defenses against the damage of environmental pollutants and free radicals. These enzymes also maintain the beneficial antioxidant activity of vitamins A, C and E in our body. We were able to produce Beneforté broccoli through advanced breeding techniques, combining the best attributes of commercial broccoli with a wild broccoli variety found in southern Italy.
            Your second comment is regarding toxins in food. One of our resident toxicologists wrote about this recently:
            “According to physicians and other food safety experts, the mere presence of a chemical itself is not a human health hazard. It is the amount, or dose, that matters. In the United States, the maximum amount of pesticide residue that can be consumed and considered safe is set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Maximum amounts allowed (known as tolerances) are also established by the EPA for all pesticide residues on food commodities, like corn and soybeans. You can read more about this on the EPA’s website.
            Take glyphosate, for example, the active ingredient in Roundup® brand herbicides. Recently groups opposed to GMOs have circulated residue testing results of certain foods, such as cereal and corn chips, which indicate that trace amounts of glyphosate are present. In some cases, attempts are made to imply these levels are unsafe, but this is not based on any science and rather is a public scare tactic according to respected organizations such as the American Council on Science and Health.
            So how can you assess what this means to you and your family? While sampling and analysis methods were not provided, let’s assume for this purpose that the levels reported are accurate. We can then compare these levels to the safe levels determined by the EPA. It turns out that you could eat 450 boxes of cereal every 24 hours for the rest of your life and still be at a level of glyphosate exposure considered safe by the EPA. That equals 150 boxes at every meal!
            I understand some consumers may think zero is the only acceptable exposure level. However, as both a mom and a scientist, I am comfortable with the negligible amount of daily residues compared to real risks that I face in my daily life.”

  4. So when you say “conventional” foods are served in your cafeteria, do you mean GM food is served in your cafeteria?

  5. very interesting that the question from April 7th of this year goes unanswered.
    My perception of conventional is probably along the lines of most, normal traditional farming practices using natural/chemical fertilizers and chemical pesticides to grow the crops, and that of organic using only naturally occurring substances for these purposes, there has been no explicit statement that you serve your GM creations to your own employees.
    Could you please clarify?

    • We eat conventional food — GM and non-GM (not all “conventional” food is GM). We also have some organic, like spinach leaves in the salad bar.

  6. “What I found, though, after trying numerous kinds, was that the major difference was price — organic apples cost more. Maybe my taste buds are insensitive, but I really couldn’t taste a difference.” – Organic food is not about taste. It’s about lack of pesticides and other chemicals used on conventional food to treat different problems that are harmful to human health.
    Lisa, please be my guest and research the issue yourself, and remember to rely on credible sources.
    To top your research, look into antibioitic-resistant super bugs that are emerging as a result of use of antiobiotics on animals (meat that we eat). Then, you’ll know what’s a better option for you.
    Sure, I am a nobody, so why should you take my advice? Because I am a mother of two kids, and I will never recommend food to others that I do not feed to my children. I have no other interest in this issue but to do what’s best for my children’s health.

    • Organic foods are regularly marketed as tasting better.
      And some, e.g. mushrooms can’t be non-organic, as they would die if fertilised, but organically labeled ones are still more expensive.

      • I am very pro organic food for the reasons the person above mentioned and I have never seen organic food marketed as tasting better. It is all about not eating harmful chemicals. Period.

          • In order to be certified organic, the only pesticides an organic farmer can use is an organic, natural pesticide (no chemicals.)

          • Sarah, that’s true, but “organic, natural” does not mean “non-toxic.” The purpose of any pesticide is to be toxic for something.

          • David, of course organic farmers use pesticides; but they aren’t synthetic! Many natural “pesticides” out on the market- not that many of them I would recommend to anyone to come directly in contact with, but your one line answer that org. farmers use pesticides too is BLATANTLY MISLEADING!

          • David, by definition, any pesticide is toxic to something, even natural pesticides. And there are some natural pesticides approved for organic production that are more toxic than Roundup. Should they be labeled, too?

    • The food in our cafeterias is not labeled. The only reason we know we have some organic food is because organic spinach leaves were removed from the salad bars a few years back because of E. coli contamination. The spinach was eventually restored.

      • Why would you even choose organic spinach if it is up to double or triple in price? Cost is always the bottom line in any company..That does lead some to believe your other foods in the cafe are also chosen because they are organic. Since Ca. is where most spinach is produced you would have a choose of either organic or non organic. Go figure!

  7. @monssntoco…eating ORGANIC has as much to do with taste as reading a playboy for the “articles”…Eating organic is about eliminating the harmful chemicals typically found in other foods. GM foods are not natural and pose a threat to human consumption. BTW…putting labels on your food would be much appreciated. thanks!

  8. Hello:
    Can you tell me the top three reasons why you trully feel GMO products are safe ?
    thank you,
    I appreciate your time

    • Monsanto did not introduce Bt technology in India in 1995. It was eight years later, long after reports of Indian farmer suicides were being reported.

      • Not to mention that the rates of suicide among farmers in India have been less than half rate of the Indian population as a whole, and that the rates of suicide among farmers have actually declined since 2002 when bt cotton was first planted there.

  9. Why would Monsanto want to sue the state of Vermont for passing a bill to label GM foods in our state? Sue for letting us know what we are eating? Monsanto seems like a big bully that is scared of the consequences of labeling their food. But why, are they threatening to sue?

    • Monsanto never said it was sue the state of Vermont. Ronnie Cummins of the Organic Consumers Association said we did, but we never said that.

  10. I tried writing this once before and it was not allowed to be posted. I find that very suspicious in and of itself. Let’s try this again and see if Monsanto has the courage to post this: I find this all extremely dubious and it really does not pass the smell test. There is no cafeteria, buffet, restaurant, grocery store or the like that I or anyone has ever been to, where there is no distinction between organic and nonorganic food. Think about it. People don’t just lump them all together like Monsanto claims they do in their cafeteria with no labeling and no distinction. I’m sorry, but I find this claim to be highly unlikely. Any possibility of posting it this time Monsanto?

  11. I have eaten at the cafeteria many times and usually visit the salad bar. I can attest that there is no distinction between organic or not. Could someone please post the criteria for “organic” food? Chemically all food is organic and there are no differences in nutritional content for organic and conventional food. The organic criteria are about the method of production not the nutritional value or safety of the food.

  12. Monsanto
    I’m writting a paper for a college class and having trouble finding information from Monsanto addressing the concerns of bee death and the link to your products. I would like to add your side of the story with some facts. Thanks for your time .

  13. What are all of the organic items – labeled or not – that you provide in your cafeteria?

    What are all of the GMO items?

  14. Monsanto is “engineering” a seed. Whether it’s a seed, building, railcar, etc…there should be a blueprint or at a minimum a classification system in place via labels. Yes, I understand this is not in Monsanto’s best interest (hiding engineered food from the public is more profitable)…but I have one question from the above article. In essence, the true classifications of food are: conventional, organic, and GMO/GE. From your statement above…

    “All foods can be found in Monsanto cafeterias – conventional and organic”.

    I deduce that no GMO/GE’d are in the cafeterias at Monsanto? This is a frivolous attempt at mid-directing the consumers…even if the AMA or other “governing bodies” so not consider a label necessary on the food produced, at least do it for the fact of common sense.

    I’m stuck on the fact this is hierarchical in nature. Thus, I guess you’re argument is that the “seeds” themselves that are licensed to farmers (may have a label), but the produced food does not. I’m not sure how Monsanto has so much power to control the labels at the food level (raw material I understand)…thus, I’m sure the farmers can be forcefully lobbied in the alternative (not by Monsanto) to provide a clear / concise label on their computer systems.

    • The story min your link is dated 2012; the actual report is from 1999 in the United Kingdom. We serve GM food in our cafeterias.

  15. Hi. I came across this page while trying to figure out for myself if gm food is as evil as so many people claim. I have been buying only organic, even when I can hardly afford to do so, for about a year now and to be honest, I feel now that I have probably just been wasting money. I love science and believe that perhaps GMOs really can be a good thing like many other scientific/technological advances but I have just been misinformed, trying to think outside the box. Not everything is a conspiracy, people.

  16. You claim that the results of your researches about GMO safety are negative and that it is safe to consume. On the other hand, over 60 countries restricted or banned GMO products all over the world. What do you think why this is? Why do they do that if it is safe? How come their studies produced different results?

    • Regulatory processes in most countries involve examining several factors, including whether to allow importation and/or cultivation of GMO crops, impact on national trade, etc. But to our knowledge, GMO crops have never received a negative safety assessment in any country and safety is typically not the only factor involved in whether a country chooses to allow the growing or import of GMO crops.

      We are only aware of 2 countries – Peru and Kenya — that have banned cultivation and importation of GMOs, and Kenya is in the process of reconsidering their ban.

      Many of the world’s countries – 70 countries around the globe, including countries in North America and South America – allow farmers to grow GM crops, or allow for importation of GMO products.


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