By Jesus Madrazo
Vice President, Corporate Engagement
The world faces a lot of big challenges today – climate change, feeding another 2 billion people in the next three decades, and protecting the environment are just a few. Solving those big problems will require debate, dialogue, diversity of opinion and lots of people working together. Reasonable people can and should disagree about how to solve those problems – that’s healthy.
But there’s a big difference between healthy debate and demonizing people you disagree with. Personal attacks don’t move any of us closer to solutions. To the contrary, those attacks make it harder to work together to find real, practical solutions.
A recent article on the website Natural News is an example of how personal attacks can distract from productive conversation.
The author of this article equated Monsanto’s employees with Nazis, and likened those who work with us — or even report on what we do — to “Nazi collaborators.” He even illustrated his article with several extremely graphic images of Holocaust victims.
He then wrote “all Monsanto collaborators need to be documented now, with their names, photos, public statements and other details that might someday make tracking them down easier.” He argued that “humanity must record and remember those who collaborated with the enemy.” A couple of days later someone put up a web site that named people as Monsanto “collaborators.”
This sort of story is profoundly and deeply offensive to the memory of Nazi victims, who faced horror and suffering beyond imagining. It is also insulting and threatening to the people (scientists, reporters and others) the writer calls “Monsanto propaganda collaborators” and accuses of having promoted “mass genocide.” I also am troubled to see someone verbally attack Monsanto employees – great people who work hard every day to contribute to solutions to help feed a growing world – in such a personal, hateful way. They don’t deserve to be the targets of this sort of attack.
Plain and simple, this is an attempt to use hate-filled intimidation to silence those with opposing viewpoints.
At Monsanto, we know people aren’t always going to see eye-to-eye on these important issues and understand that helping solve some of the world’s biggest challenges takes broad collaboration, including by people who have some pretty tough criticisms of us. We encourage vigorous debate. We just hope that debate will be full of facts, not personal attacks.
We know these particular posts represent a very small number of extreme critics. But, sometimes the most extreme voices can be the loudest. The Organic Consumers Association (OCA), one of the leading advocacy groups that opposes GMO crops, regularly publishes information from the author of this piece, including as recently as three months ago. The author even appeared as a guest on the nationally syndicated Dr. Oz Show less than four months ago. I am not suggesting that Dr. Oz, the OCA, or others who work with this author share his views. But I do hope they’ll condemn rhetoric like this and support a more positive conversation about how to meet the challenges of tomorrow.
To all of our employees and others with whom we work and collaborate, thank you for your patience and persistence in focusing on solutions, not sound bites. I am proud to be associated with each of you – even if we disagree – and I am proud to be a Monsanto “collaborator.”
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