Monsanto: Influence / Lobbying

 

 

Monsanto have aggressively promoted their products through PR campaigns, industry lobby groups, funding academic research and directly influencing government policy. A recent Monsanto internal document leaked to GeneWatch UK revealed Monsanto’s global strategy to promote GM foods. They are actively influencing which experts get on to international scientific committees and are promoting their views through supposedly independent scientists. The report suggests that they have virtually given up trying to influence the debate on GM foods in the UK and are stepping up their activity in developing countries [31].

 

Lobbying Groups

 

Monsanto is a member of several UK and European industry lobby groups, including:

Crop Protection Association (formerly the British Agrochemicals Association): an agrochemical and biotech trade association, one of the organisations that make up SCIMAC, the industry body established in June 1998 to support the "responsible and effective introduction of GM crops in the UK". This includes running GM farm scale trials in conjunction with the Department of the Environment Transport and Regions (DETR). (www.baa.org.uk/Default.asp), (www.ukasta.org.uk/news/scimac/)

Europabio (European Association for Bioindustries): A European pro biotech lobby group which encourages the EU and national governments to develop policies that are supportive of biotechnology (www.europabio.org/)

 

Influencing research and education

 

PBI/Monsanto employee Dr R Stratford sits on the Plant and Microbial Sciences Committee of the BBSRC (British Biotechnology Science Research Council) and Monsanto employee Dr K Hammond-Kossack sits on the Network Group of the BBSRC. The BBSRC administer funding for biotech research in British Universities [32].

In April 2001 140,000 copies of a pro-biotechnology booklet ‘Your World-Biotechnology and You’ were distributed in Scottish schools. The leaflet was produced by the US Biotechnology Institute who are part funded by Monsanto [33].

 

Links with government

 

There is a well documented ‘revolving door’ between Monsanto employees and officials from US Government regulatory bodies (particularly the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). This has effectively enabled Monsanto to bypass the regulatory process and get marketing consent in the US for their GM and other products with minimal safety checks [34]. US influence has made it much harder for other counties to implement more rigorous regulatory standards. Monsanto have also had direct influence within the Clinton administration and continue to have with the Bush administration [35]. Monsanto employee Linda Fisher was nominated by Bush in May 2001 for a key position in the US Environmental Protection Agency [36]. Monsanto have used their close links with the US government to influence policy decisions in the UK, Europe and the EU. The revolving door between Monsanto and the UK government is less easy to demonstrate, however, there are several links between prominent advisors to the Labour government, Bell Pottinger Good Relations (a PR company employed by Monsanto) and Monsanto [37].

 

PR Companies

 

Monsanto have used several prominent public relations companies in an all out media assault to achieve public acceptance of their GM products. These companies include the infamous Burson Marsteller [38], Global Access Limited, Bivell Woodings Ltd, Bell Pottinger Good Relations UK, Focus Communications and Bartle Bogel Hegarty (UK). Monsanto’s UK greenwash campaign organised by Bartle Bogel Hegarty in 1998 backfired spectacularly. Monsanto were accused of being arrogant and spreading misinformation. After a barrage of complaints an enquiry by the Advertising Standards Agency found that Monsanto adverts had been wrong and misleading on 6 of the 13 counts filed against them [39].


References [31] For the full text of this report go to www.genewatch.org/Press%20Releases/pr15.htm [32] www.bbsrc.ac.uk/about/annrep/committees.html [33] www.corporatewatch.org.uk/news/around_the_web2.html [34] see www.groundup.org/monsanto/door.htm and Feeding the Hungry Transnationals

[35] see Feeding the Hungry Transnationals

[36] www.connectotel.com/gmfood/re020501.txt [37] see chapter 3 in ‘Of Cabbages and Kings: A Cartoon Book on Genetic Engineering’ produced by A SEED Europe

[38] look at www.corporatewatch.org.uk/magazine/issue2/cw2f2.html and www.corporatewatch.org.uk/news/leeds_uni_bursonmarsteller.htmlfor more information

[39] www.guardian.co.uk/Archive/Article/0,4273,3829135,00.html

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