I’ve been through the deluge of information out there that “Monsanto is EEEEVVVIIIILLLL!”. “GMOS ARE TEH DEBIL!”. I dunno, it all smacks of heartfelt claims that don’t have a legitimate basis. Don’t get me wrong, Monsanto could be horrible and GMO’s might be the end of all humanity, but I just need more information to come to those conclusions than,”They’re playing with God’s work” or “Well, they did something bad once upon a time”.
Of course, then there’s this: http://exitmundi.nl/exitmundi.htm (click on the picture labeled “yuk!”)
So… me being me, I sent them a letter asking for more information. Here’s the letter I sent through their “contact us!” link:
Hello, I’m trying to form a reasoned position about your company, your products, and your practices. There is plenty of information that depicts your company and products as “bad”, but some of the concepts-like drought resistant corn, appear good. Right now, I think that there is a general fear of anything people do not understand, as well as a fear of “large corporations” and their potential to do powerfully bad things. Put it all together, and I can’t speak for or against you or your products. I wind up fearing the products, even though I can see the potential for genetic modification to produce powerful agricultural items that could help the world. I can also see the potential for horrific consequences. I asked someone who was presenting you as a negative whether the problem was all GMOs, or more a fear that the GMO’s you produce are understudied and not understood by the public. The answers I got were heartfelt, but pretty unclear when it came to logic, appealing to opinion, religion, or security in “the old ways”. One even suggested that enough food is already produced without GMOs to end world hunger, and that your products were unnecessary, as if that was a reason in and of itself. So, I come to you. What are the potential products? Besides drought resistant corn, could you increase the nutritional value of a vegetable? Give it different flavors? Increased crop yields? What safeguards are there in place to prevent hybridization of special strains of corn? How many generations of plant should I expect to get if I purchase seeds from your company? (There are rumors that strains cease to be able to be replanted after 2 or 3 generations) What about the future? Could you produce a plant capable of growing on a semi-habitable planet, or one that does well with less sunlight, more sunlight, differences in gravity? Could you make a plant that would be able to be planted and grown in someone’s house without special equipment, that might be a way for urbanites to feed their families healthier food? If you have any other information that you think would be helpful to me in defining my position and thinking about your company, please, bring it up. Thank you, Arthur Russell
I fully expected to get no response, them being a “big, terrifying company” and me being “nobody important”. I was pleasantly surprised to get this in response yesterday:
Dear Mr. Russell:
Thank you for contacting us – and my apologies for sending you so much information . . .
Executive Summary, Product Safety Summary and Peer Reviewed Safety Publications for our products can be found on our website www.monsanto.com:
Our Research & Development Pipeline (corn, soybean, cotton, specialty crops & vegetables):
Please see information about agriculture and biotechnology:
I invite you to take a look at the PBS series America’s Heartland ( http://www.americasheartland.org/ ), which offers a picture of American agriculture.
We have a series of videos on YouTube – such as Food for Thought – What do America’s Farmers grow?
Also, please see these articles about food safety:
along with some outside sources:
Top Five Myths Of Genetically Modified Seeds, Busted
and Mark Lynas in the UK:
A good source about biotechnology and GM crops is the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-Biotech Applications. (http://www.isaaa.org/default.asp )
ISAAA does extensive surveys and studies on biotech/GM crops worldwide each year. Their 2012 report has just been issued.
They also have many publications available.
A very good one is “Agricultural Biotechnology (A Lot More than Just GM Crops).”
This brochure presents tools that are important for agricultural biotechnology such as
– Conventional plant breeding
– Tissue culture and micropropagation
– Molecular breeding or marker assisted selection
– Genetic engineering and GM crops
– Molecular Diagnostic Tools
as well as questions and answers about GM crops
and http://www.isaaa.org/resources/publications/pocketk/5/default.asp (Documented Benefits of GM Crops)
I hope you find this helpful. Please contact us again if you need additional information.
Now, I have not gone through all of this information yet, and I don’t think I will be entirely satisfied when I have gone through it all. However, their simple willingness to share the information is, to me, a good sign. It’s all freely available on the internet, but they certainly saved me a lot of time in looking around, and I really appreciate that.
I haven’t come to any conclusions yet, but I’m working on it. I just can’t assume that they are bad without considering all the possible information.