One of the things I think most surprises people about Monsanto and its employees, is the fact that we serve a wide range of farmers, including organic farmers. For some reason people think we are exclusively a biotech company but I’ve had the chance to visit several customers who have organic farms and several organic farmers have visited us. But this time, when an organic farmer visited, he decided to blog about it. The first few paragraphs follow but we encourage you to read the full post “An Organic Farmer Walks Into Monsanto…And This is What Happened” on Real Agriculture.com.
The story of how I came to be touring Monsanto starts back in late April and a blog post where I questioned the current tenor of the GMO debate. It caught the attention of Janice Person, a Social Media Director for Monsanto, who commented, “if you ever want to see what we do at Monsanto, I would love to arrange a visit.” As luck would have it, I passed through St. Louis on the first of August, and Janice was true to her word, arranging for a personal guided tour of their research facility.
It’s probably fair to say that both Janice and I experienced some trepidation as the date approached. Having completed Ontario’s Advanced Agricultural Leadership Program with existing and future employees of Monsanto, I didn’t see Monsanto as the devil incarnate, but I certainly wasn’t above criticizing them, and I do have a history of butting heads with certain of their employees. On the other hand, Janice and I had interacted over Twitter with civility, and in the weeks leading up to the visit, it seemed I was mostly raising ire from the radical anti-GMO side for refusing to buy into their fear-mongering.
I’d say that I arrived open-minded but skeptical. I expected that we’d be coming from radically different perspectives, and I was prepared to listen to theirs (how else could I expect anyone to listen to mine?). I was also prepared for the “hard sell” — lots of promotional propaganda. What I ended up getting was quite different, and four months later, I’m still digesting it.
This is part of my job I truly love — talking to farmers about things that matter to them, hope they run their farm, ways they control pests and more. Whether those farmers use organic practices, biotech products or a combination of the two, there is always something that I can learn from them. It’s nice to think they also have a chance to learn something when they are here.
What have you learned from farmers?