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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 necessary.

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)


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 company, Monsanto.

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."