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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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Facts, Statements, and Conclusions

Featured Article

By Nancy
Monsanto Technology Division

Cat - Nancy blog postLet’s play a game.

First, I’m going to tell you five things:

  1. The species Felis catus, the common housecat, is the most popular pet in North America, with more than 70 million cats residing in about a third of American households.
  2. Ancient Egyptians were the first society to systematically domesticate cats, and worshipped them as “gifts from the gods” (translation from glyphs).
  3. Experiments recently conducted on a scaled-down size of the Great Pyramid of Giza demonstrated that its internal architecture, in the presence of the proper chemicals commonly found in the Nile Valley, facilitated the creation of a focused microwave radiation beam out the southern shaft. Residual salt deposits and sulfur gas emissions support this hypothesis.
  4. There is evidence to support the theory that the ancient Egyptian gods were actually aliens.
  5. Approximately one third of cat owners think their pets are able to read their minds.

I’ll tell you my credentials.  I’m a scientist and a lifelong rescuer of abandoned cats. That makes me a trustworthy source, right?  As you read through that list of five statements you may have noticed a couple of things.

First, I never called them facts. Second, I started out with a scientifically accurate statement, with statistics, which probably got you in the frame of mind that what I said afterwards was just as accurate and scientifically supported as that first statement. Number 2 is partially correct – the first phrase – but the rest of it is a combination of something I read on the internet and then I made up the translation bit. Surprisingly, #3 was an actual experiment that was conducted, but has nothing to do with the rest of the statements except to pique your interest. Okay, I have to confess that #4 was actually the storyline of the movie “Stargate.” Finally, #5 is a true statement – this survey was actually conducted – but the concept of cats reading minds was not a tested hypothesis but only an implied conclusion to the statement.

Now that the game is over, think about those five statements, made by someone who could be considered a qualified source, and the fun conclusion it took you to (my cat is an alien overlord bent on world domination through mind control and there are facts to support it). What was my agenda for playing this game? Of course I had an agenda. Everyone does. In this case, my purpose was to show you how a series of statements can lead you to a conclusion that is not true.

For my day job, I work for Monsanto, and I’m very proud of the technologies we develop to help farmers produce more food, with fewer chemicals, in a more environmentally responsible way. But every day I see news articles that lead to a conclusion about Monsanto that is just not true. Whether it’s a scare about new crops supposedly containing Agent Orange (not true), or conspiracy theories of Monsanto supposedly controlling the U.S. Department of Agriculture through the Farmer Assurance Provision that was passed in recent legislation (not true), I read everything from the perspective of a scientist: “Which parts of these are factual statements, and what is the agenda of the author?”

I know that what I do, and what my colleagues do, makes a difference in agriculture, on a planet that will see 9 billion people by the year 2050. When your read conspiracy theories about agriculture, ask the authors what the real facts are. Tell them the crazy cat lady at Monsanto sent you.

Photograph by Jiri Dokoupil via Public Domain Pictures. Used with permission.

19 Responses to "Facts, Statements, and Conclusions"

  1. Many thanks for this article. As a fellow Monsanto employee, it can be very hard to filter through the comments and articles sent by well-meaning friends and families. So often the things we read online (whether they are about Monsanto, cats, parenting, or any other topic) seem to make sense. The phrase “common sense” comes to mind. When someone with perceived athority makes statements that sound like they sort of might possibly be true, it’s easy to take those statements at face value. Thanks for the reminder and the great illustration as to why it is so important to dig deeper and really look at the science behind articles.

    Reply
  2. “But every day I see news articles that lead to a conclusion about Monsanto that is just not true. Whether it’s a scare about new crops supposedly containing Agent Orange (not true), or conspiracy theories of Monsanto supposedly controlling the U.S. Department of Agriculture through the Farmer Assurance Provision that was passed in recent legislation (not true)…”

    Well Nancy, all I can say at this point is: What proof do you have that these statements are NOT true?

    I’ve read the articles too, I’ve seen the numbers myself, I’ve even tasted some of this mediocre, lifeless food that you all produce – ain’t lookin real good for you guys.

    PROVE IT – that you all are not about big money and that you hold life itself sacred…and not sacred from some ‘hippie’ or ‘religious standpoint, but sacred for the sake of being sacred.

    PROVE IT!

    Reply
    • Thanks for the clarification. Working at Monsanto Fact or fiction? you are able to put just the right spin on what you are doing. Fact, the lies that are told the gross exaggerations….. how many communities were poisoned by companies who put out propaganda telling the world that they are not doing anything wrong. I live in a town with 3 asbestos sites……. Do you think the owners of the factory told the truth about asbestos before they started to dump their waste?

      com on….be real tell the truth

      Reply
    • well, in fact it is all the way around.
      Nobody has to prove that he/she is not guilty. YOU must prove your accusations. That’s civil rights 101.

      Reply
  3. Really?

    “For my day job, I work for Monsanto, and I’m very proud of the technologies we develop to help farmers produce more food, with fewer chemicals, in a more environmentally responsible way.”

    /facepalm.

    Fewer chemicals? Fewer chemicals than?

    Spraying fields with your toxic chemicals will only create super bugs and weeds resistant to that toxic chemical – you know this. So Monsanto will come out with a new chemical and GMO strain to combat the new super bugs and weeds which means MORE chemicals. – it is a never ending loop.

    7 hells you Monsanto folk are something else. I look forward to the day that the public has awoken enough to remove this cancer that is Monsanto from this earth.

    Reply
    • Do you farm, Bert? We actually use fewer chemicals with GMO technologies and it’s usually more economically feasible as well.

      Reply
  4. Indeed Nancy, the anti-GMO bastards never quit. However, we need facts when persecuting Science. I support the good job u’r doing. KEEP IT UP!

    Reply
  5. Hi Tiffany,

    I can prove that my cats can’t read my mind because every time I turn around, there they are right under my feet waiting to be stepped on.

    Obviously that’s meant as a joke, even if it has some intuitive truth in it. But if I claimed that my cats can read and do math, I’d better have some pretty convincing evidence.

    Tiffany, you’re the one making the claims about Monsanto, so it’s up to you to prove it with convincing evidence. It is not up to Monsanto to prove the falsity of a negative statement.

    If you claim that unicorns exist, I want to see evidence. If I say there are no unicorns, I don’t have to prove a thing.

    Think about it.

    I’m a businessman and some of my clients are farmers. I know a bit about farming. I wonder why farmers would keep on buying from Monsanto if they really were getting such a rough deal.

    I also want to know, where are all the people who have been killed or have contracted strange diseases from eating GM food? Are they like unicorns: do they exist only in fairy tales?

    Reply
    • http://www.responsibletechnology.org/gmo-dangers

      Thank you Mike, you are absolutely correct in that it will have to be up to the people to prove Monsanto is a devastation to this planet. I will start to compile what I’ve researched. Here is a link to start with.

      One interesting paragraph in this article grabbed me:

      “Unlike safety evaluations for drugs, there are no human clinical trials of GM foods. The only published human feeding experiment revealed that the genetic material inserted into GM soy transfers into bacteria living inside our intestines and continues to function. This means that long after we stop eating GM foods, we may still have their GM proteins produced continuously inside us.”

      …now why would this be that there are no human clinical trials? Oh right, Monsanto would have to pay for that, and they don’t want to find out, and/or, they already know. So the longer they go without testing, the longer they can spread the dis-ease around the planet.

      I encourage you not to ignore, or sweep away with a hand, the testing done on animals and their organ systems. If you pay attention and value animal testing on other products, why discount the testing that has happened with Monsanto feed?

      You wondered: “I wonder why farmers would keep on buying from Monsanto if they really were getting such a rough deal.”

      Well Mike, that’s a whole other help line in and of itself. This is where it gets tricky and very convoluted. This is the area where Big Money comes into play…where smaller family farms are run out, where farmers who refuse the use of Monsanto are driven out…in a plethora of different ways. This is where big business and governmental policy crawl into bed together…and breeds.

      What kind of research have you done, that you can share with the community here, to say that what Monsanto produces is natural and keeps the ‘balance’ of what was originally not broken?

      Reply
  6. I’m afraid it is going to take more than this to convince me. I have read so many articles from farmers and how they dictate how much they will sell them and they can not save seed from plants. It is against their policies at Monsanto. I believe that’s called a monopoly with is against the law in the US.

    Reply
  7. so I am wondering if Monsanto thinks agent orange was a good thing, and were the troops affected by this collateral damage, because at this point that is they way I see it, or was this something that happened along time ago and we shouldn’t be concerned about it

    Reply
  8. So as a farmer i think it is important to provide perspective. Consumers have an expectation that there will be fresh food on the shelfs of grocery stores or in the meat and dairy sections. I find it interesting when I do my shopping- there are the older folks that marvel at the abundance, variety and freshness of their options. There are the younger folk reading labels and determining what it is that they wish to purchase. Often choosing something that is marketed to be “better” than another product on the shelf. And we must have the best- mustn’t we? The older folk in the store remember producing their own food perhaps, the depression, minimal bank accounts, food rationing. The younger folks think that food grows or is produced by multinational companies perhaps, or the small farmer down the road- really they don’t necessarily have a sense on where their food comes from or how it got there. But we all have an opinion!
    Farmers like their consumer customers make choices about their food- but it starts with what we purchase to grow that food. Monsanto and others ( BASF, BAYER, SYNGENTA, CARGILL and others also supply products to the market for us to chose from) We like our consumers friends want to purchase the best product for our farms, plant the best seeds that will grow the best crop and use the least amounts of fertilizer, herbicides, fuel etc, we can in order to grow that crop. For an average sized farm ( lets say 2500 acres) to grow a crop will cost that farmer a minimum of 250 dollars per acre ( i am basing this on wheat, oats, barley for now….soybeans, corn, canola will be considerably more $ and that is generally the market that these companies are in) So you do the math. 2500 x 250 minimum = $625000 each and every year to grow a crop. Farmers have a vested interest in making sure that they monitor each and every item they use on their farm and the Monsanto’s of the world provide us with a tool to run our businesses, feed our families and about thousands of others. We ( Farmers) make up less than 1% of the population, we could be like the other 99% and go work somewhere else- but we chose to use our talents working the land and producing food. Monsanto and others use their talents to work with science to help people around the world to produce good healthy crops that are sustainable. Producing food is not just something that we worry about in North America you know, ask Monsanto what they are doing for underprivileged people in Africa…you might be surprised?

    Reply
    • Pioneer (DuPont), Syngenta, BASF, DowAgro, Bayer and a host of smaller seed companies int he US and the rest of the world.

      Reply

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