The Monsanto Files

The Ecologist September October 1998

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Dear Mr Shapiro,

This special issue of The Ecologist takes a close look at biotechnology, focussing in particular on the activities of your own company, Monsanto — one of the largest and most powerful corporations in the world.

Our reason for doing this is simple: it was you yourselves who asked us to. In your recent advertising campaign you called for free and open discussion about the impact of your work. "Food Biotechnology", as you put it, "is a matter of opinions. Monsanto believes you should hear all of them."

The opinions we present here are far less widely heard, but very much more widely held than your own. In fact, they represent something of a movement against biotechnology in general, and food biotechnology in particular. We hope very much that, in response to your invitation, they begin to get the full public airing they deserve.

You portray Monsanto as a decent and fair corporation whose interests coincide perfectly with those of the natural world and our place in it. There are some apparent contradictions here. You tell us in your advertisements that you want to help preserve the environment, yet Monsanto has caused environmental pollution on a massive scale — not least through the production of enough PCBs to kill all mammal life is the world’s oceans. You tell us that your aim is to feed the hungry of the world, yet Monsanto has been directly responsible for undermining one of the key practices of sustainable, subsistence agriculture that of saving and improving locally- adapted seeds from year to year. And you tell us that you see genetic engineering as a means of reducing the need for pesticides, yet Monsanto is the producer of Roundup, one of the biggest-selling pesticides in the world.

We are not pre-judging your response to the debate you have initiated, but nor are we very optimistic that you truly intend to listen. In the past you have had a very hard time accommodating the views of your critics. Indeed, as the following pages make clear, you have been quick to stifle any debate that might threaten year interests.

Biotechnology, you tell us, is ‘a matter of opinions’ — do you really believe we should hear them all?

Yours sincerely,

The Editors

Cover - September October
1998 Sept Oct Cover

What the !!!!

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Copyright The Ecologist 1998

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