The recent legal action in which Monsanto effectively precluded publication
of an entire issue of the Ecologist is strongly reminiscent of Monsanto's
prior action against our first publisher.
While we have not yet gotten Monsanto's viewpoint, we find the whole concatenation
of episodes troubling. If a corporation's apparent global plans of dominance
and ostensible heavy-handedness bother some of us in the main, because we
find some of their actions unethical or just plain upsetting--should not we
be free to express our beliefs and concerns. At the very least, Monsanto
seems to be shooting itself in the foot if it truly believes the answer to
misguided judgment or scientific interpretations is transparency and dialogue.
When we onjected to their less than even-handed treatment of our requests
for dialogue, Monsanto's senior public relation person wrote back saying their
steadfast and repeated refusal to communicate was because they did not think
we were willing to listen to their point of view and make the changes if deemed
Well, we guess you do not have to have a dialogue if you never communicate.
Or, if you are successful in quashing opposing views before they ever see
the light of day. We have been lucky. Our book
Against the Grain (Common Courage Press, 1998) has just been
printed, delayed almost over 8 months because of Monsanto's actions, but printed
nonetheless by aptly named Common Courage Press. We wish the Ecologist
similar success in finding a courageous printer who is willing to trust justice
over mean spirited threats of legal action.
PRESS RELEASE 13 Oct. 1998
The Ecologist Vol. 28 No. 5 (Sept/Oct 1998)
The Monsanto Files:
Can We Survive Genetic Engineering?
Genetic engineering threatens to upset the earth's ecological balance, and
to undermine the livelihoods of millions of people around the world.
It is a technology that is almost entirely controlled by a handful of giant
Transnational Corporations, and its effects are often irreversible.
The giant Monsanto Corporation tells us that genetic engineering is all about
feeding the hungry, about protecting the environment. But this is the
company that brought us Agent Orange, PCBs, and Bovine Growth Hormone; the
same company that produces Roundup, the world's biggest- selling pesticide,
and the highly questionable 'Terminator Technology.'
This special issue of The Ecologist takes a close look at Monsanto's track
record and asks the simple question: should we allow such corporations
to gamble with the very future of life on Earth?
The Ecologist has had enormous difficulties in releasing this special double
issue. The twenty-five year partnership between the magazine and its
Cornwall-based printer ended unexpectedly, just hours before this issue was
due to be released. The printer, having never before expressed reservations
about the magazine's often controversial content, deemed this particular issue
to be 'too hot to handle' and pulped the entire print-run.
The printer initially denied having had contact with Monsanto, yet it was
nevertheless prepared to drop its oldest and most reliable customer, from
fear of being sued by Monsanto under UK libel laws. After speaking with
us, the printer did contact Monsanto, seeking the assurance that any potential
legal action would be taken against the magazine itself, and not against the
small printing company. Their request was rejected, and as a result,
there has been a delay of over two weeks in the publication of this issue,
because The Ecologist had to make arrangements with another printer. No one
can deny the importance of balancing the very one-sided message put out by
Monsanto with that of an independent, alternative source of information.
Yet The Ecologist has been faced with nearly insurmountable obstacles in the
publication of this issue. This incident demonstrates that Monsanto's
reputation for aggression and intimidation alone makes it difficult for the
public to be properly informed of the true nature of genetic engineering.
PRESS RELEASE 26 Oct. 1998
The Ecologist Vol.28 No.5 (Sept/Oct 1998)
WHO'S AFRAID OF MONSANTO?:
BRITAIN'S BEST-LOVED NEWSAGENTS BEND TO HISTORY OF INTIMIDATION.
Two leading newsagents in the U.K., WHSmith and John Menzies, have recently
confirmed that they will not be selling the controversial latest issue of
The Ecologist magazine, for fear of being sued by the giant biotechnology
The latest special issue of The Ecologist is a direct response to Monsanto's
large-scale Europe-wide advertising campaign, in which the company claims,
among other things, that "Food biotechnology is a matter of opinions.
Monsanto believes you should hear all of them."
The magazine highlights Monsanto's track record of social and ecological
irresponsibility, and illustrates its readiness to intimidate and quash those
ideas which conflict with its immediate interests. "Through reputation
alone," says Zac Goldsmith, the magazine's co-editor, "Monsanto has been able,
time and time again, to bring about what is in effect a defacto censorship.
Their size and history of aggression has repeatedly brought an end to what
is undeniably a legitimate and very important debate. They believe in
information, but only that which ensures a favorable public response to their
often dangerous products." The Ecologist's office has been inundated
with phone calls from the public,
wanting but unable to buy copies of the magazine.
Earlier this month, the printers of The Ecologist, fearing legal action from
Monsanto, pulped their entire print-run of the issue, just hours before it
was due to be released. The small printing company had worked in partnership
with The Ecologist for over twenty-five years without conflict of any sort.
Now, with highly respected retailers like WHSmith and Menzies refusing to
stock the magazine, citing "potential legal problems," the very independence
of the press is being called into question.
"No one will deny the importance of balancing the one-sided messages put
out by Monsanto in its advertisements," say the editors, "and yet, in practice,
it is almost impossible for critics to do so."