Monsanto – We’re Just Like You

February 25, 2009


My Monsanto coworkers love me!

I see it all the time – blog posts, tweets, comments… People like to talk about Monsanto. However, I believe that people are making a critical mistake when they blog or tweet about Monsanto. I am certainly no grammar expert but it seems to me that in most instances Monsanto is referenced as a single entity and that is just not the case.

Monsanto is a community of people, not a machine-like corporation. We are over 20,000 employees worldwide (including me). We are your neighbors, friends, and relatives. What I am getting at is – we are people – we are human.

I, for instance, am all too human, trust me. I have my flaws; there is a reason why my parents didn’t name me Grace. In fact, my lack of grace is some-what infamous around my Monsanto office. Lucky for me, my coworkers expressed deep concern in my lack of coordination.

I’ll explain: I am a chatterbox, I love to talk and I can talk all day if you let me. So one day after lunch, I was merrily chatting away with Kathleen (aka Ms. Monsanto). As I often do, I let the world around me fade into obscurity as I became wrapped up in the babble. Although I cannot recall the conversation now it must have been riveting…probably recounting the most recent episode of The Office. Walking down the office hallway I was drawing closer to my office. While still trying to carry on the conversation over my shoulder, I turned sharply to enter my workspace and I slammed my left shoulder and half of my skull into the side entrance of my cubicle. I attempted to laugh the incident off and secretly hoped no one noticed although if my coworkers hadn’t seen it then they certainly heard the clang that resulted from my collision. I scurried off to a meeting in concealed embarrassment. Returning, I had all but forgotten my previous crash, only to find that my coworkers had very thoughtfully bubble wrapped the entryway of my cubicle. They’re so thoughtful and it kept everyone laughing for the rest of the day. So I kept the bubble wrap up for a couple weeks for my own safety and as a fun distraction from work (popping those delightful air-filled bubbles).

So I guess I am sharing my embarrassing story to illustrate that I’m a human, chatty and clumsy, and my coworkers are human too. Here at Monsanto we’re just normal people – and we even have a sense of humor.

Kate works on the corporate website for Monsanto in the public affairs department. She graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from Truman State University. Kate grew up in an Air Force family and has lived in sevaral states and countries but spent the majority of her childhood growing up in Iowa. Kate enjoys art and photography as well as horseback riding.

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18 Responses to “Monsanto – We’re Just Like You”

  1. Perc Blakeney Says:

    Oh dear,
    “Monsanto is a community of people.”
    I’m laughing so hard I can hardly see qwerty!
    Monsanto is a corporate entity that 20,000 individuals happen to work for.
    It existed before these 20,000 people were born and it will probably exist long after they are gone.
    Very few of these wokers have any real high-level decision making function.
    That function belongs to the board, CEOs and sometimes the larger shareholders.
    It is rather silly to suggest that just because low-level workers are human that this makes Monsanto a benign company.
    Your term “machine-like” is actually nearer the mark.

  2. J Perine Says:

    To provide complete perspective with respect to this blog, people should also watch the “The World According to Monsanto”

    Then use the blog, movie, and other resources to get a better picture of what Monsanto is about.

    Editors Note: The link provided was a bootlegged copy of the film, you can find more information at this site.

  3. Victoria Says:

    I appreciate what you and your company are trying to do with your website and your blog. I’ve already read with interest your company’s refutation of Percy Schmeiser’s story and intend to investigate further some of the things I’ve seen in The Film and others like it. I’m also interested in language and how it’s used. Thus, I feel compelled to say that I think the approach you’ve used in this blog post must be tagged with an EPIC FAIL (as blog fans, you’ll know what I mean). As the poster above points out, it’s facile to the point of being insulting. An honest, thoughtful response to how you as a Monsanto employee think or feel about your company re. all the controversy would have probably achieved more common ground than this story did.

  4. Kate Says:

    Thank you for the comment. I certainly realize that this post is light-hearted and that was the purpose of the post. We do plan on blogging on the misconceptions surrounding Monsanto although I don’t think all the issues can be addressed properly in one post. To create a more well-rounded blog a majority of the posts will hit the heart of the issues however there will be more like this one, because who wants to read a blog that just focuses on the negative?

  5. Chris Says:

    Since part of the definition of “Epic Fail” is “almost a win,” Victoria, let me come at Kate’s point from another direction.

    Monsanto is made up of 22,000 people who come to work each day, the vast majority of whom are proud to work on products that make farmers more productive. In spite of this, blog posts all too often refer to Monsanto as a monolithic “they” (as in, “They should all be marched out into the desert where they can die of starvation”; believe me, I’ve seen blog posts wishing much worse than that on Monsanto employees). “Monsanto” is not a “they” (or, worse yet, an “it”). Maybe you don’t like what we do, or the way we do it, and you’re entitled to your opinion. But “Monsanto” is the story of 22,000 well-meaning, hard-working individuals. Something to keep in mind before you engage in casual anti-Monsanto piling on in your next blog post.

    Perc, I know from previous posts that you’re Australian, so I invite you to pay a visit to our Monsanto Australia colleagues. I doubt that you’ll find any “low-level” corporate drones jumping to the whims of the board, CEOs and larger shareholders. Rather, I suspect you’ll find people who are truly excited about the positive contribution they’re making to agriculture.

    Finally, anyone looking for “complete perspective” from “The World According to Monsanto” should look elsewhere. Take it from someone who dealt with the filmmakers about a dozen times during production: they were looking for Monsanto’s participation so they could present an illusion of objectivity – since objectivity is completely lacking in the film. But that’s a subject for a blog post on another day…

  6. Phil Says:

    I have researched your company for several years and the “complete perspective” that I have found from, reading Monsanto’s website/ press releases, books, magazines, newspapers, and interviewing former Monsanto employees, is scary.

    What is Monsanto’s perspective about your companies conviction for dumping PCB’s in Aniston Alabama? You knew that the contamination was occurring since the 1960’s but chose to keep polluting!

  7. Victoria Says:

    I’m afraid I’m missing the point of this “but we’re PEOPLE!” PR strategy. I doubt very much that your critics honestly believe that the people who work at Monsanto are evil, fire-breathing villains who enjoy strangling kittens. I responded to Kate’s post because while I understand your company’s desire to repair its image, to go about it in such an inane way when people have very real fears over corporate power was kind of offensive. Then the follow-up from Chris – “Monsanto” is the story of 22,000 well-meaning, hard-working individuals. Something to keep in mind before you engage in casual anti-Monsanto piling on in your next blog pos”“Monsanto” is the story of 22,000 well-meaning, hard-working individuals. Something to keep in mind before you engage in casual anti-Monsanto piling on in your next blog post” – again, what does that have to do with anything? There are probably hard-working people in the Sudan government. They might even bump into things. That hasn’t stopped the entity as a whole from being complicit in corruption and atrocity. That’s because, as Perc pointed out, employees in PR don’t make high-level decisions. And if you’d like to read my post again, Chris, I think you’ll find that I wasn’t doing any ‘piling on’. Thanks.

  8. Victoria Says:

    Sorry for the messed up quote above – should only be in there once. And Chris – if the (rarer) use of epic fail to actually mean a win were to be applicable here, it would mean that the blog post actually failed so spectacularly at what it intended to do that this failure itself constituted something so significant as to warrant congratulations. This is not usually the effect that one hopes for.

  9. Chris Says:

    “Complete perspective” probably won’t be found in seven-year-old news stories, either. A lot has happened since that CNN article appeared in 2002, so allow me to provide, in the words of the recently departed Paul Harvey, “the rest of the story.” Monsanto has invested more than a half a billion dollars in Anniston, not only on environmental cleanup but in community improvements efforts, as well. We’re continuing to provide active leadership on the cleanup, working closely with regulators and community leaders in these efforts. These are facts that you’re not likely to find in the typical posts about Anniston.

  10. Deborah Rubin Says:

    But why did Monsanto continue polluting after they became aware of the problem?

    One of the main things that worries me concerning Monsanto’s genetic engineering of our food and their development of pesticides is demonstrated the very explanation Monsanto’s lawyers gave for why the town was polluted:

    “The attorneys said the company wasn’t aware the chemicals were being released or that they could be dangerous to the general public.”

    I don’t have much confidence that Monsanto knows or reveals all they know about the dangers associated with their technologies.

  11. Chris Says:

    Victoria, didn’t mean to imply that you, personally, were piling on here. However, I’ve seen my share of piling on in other forums. This knee-jerk negativity and de-personalization of Monsanto employees should be concerning to anyone interested in civil discourse.

    And, yes, your analysis of my interpretation of “epic fail” was correct, hoped-for effect or no.

  12. Monsanto? You mean this company well-portraited by Vanity Fair in this article published in may 2008?

    Well, do all Monsanto’s employees know about these facts? If the answer is yes, what do they do to stop this madness?

  13. JT Says:

    No, you’re not like me at all. You cannot have a conscience and feel good everyday about going to work for Monsanto at the same time. Maybe your community that you speak of simply just feels lucky to have a job in today’s economy, while using their well-exercised skills of denial to ignore what Monsanto really is and what they do. Well, that’s your choice and you’ll have to live with that on your mind– after all, you’re the one who decided to send Monsanto your resume.

    Don’t even try your lame PR tactics in an attempt to humanize Monsanto’s agri-gangsterism. Your methods make Dick Cheney look like a good guy. Keep your GM seeds and your pesticides to yourself, I want no part of it.

    hey i have a good PR idea, that’s better than this blog. Art Harper, who’s on the board for Monsanto, is also on the Board of Directors for Gannett News– why not write favorable ‘feel-good’ articles about Monsanto in USA Today? oh, maybe you’ve done that already…

    No no, you’re not like me at all.

  14. smartunion Says:

    tell the farmers about the bad side of RoundUp or we’ll do it for you

  15. Deborah Rubin Says:

    Smartunion, please share your information.

  16. Cowgirl up Says:

    Monsanto….your not at all like me…and I certainly do not want anything to do with you. I have no use for liars…and that’s what you are. Leave us alone and make your billions somewhere other then my country.

  17. Juilus Teaser Says:

    Put yer money where yer piehole is: drink a quart of Roundup a week!

  18. Monsanto is a Wonderful company.

    Reading all of your hateful remarks and scourging insults makes me feel like crying. Just because you don’t understand the Miracle of Agricultural Biotechnology does not mean you should fear it, mistrust it, or hate it.

    It really hurts to hear you say terrible things about wonderful people. I hope to work for this wonderful company someday. As a biochemist who knows a great deal about Ag Biotech, I can say unflinchingly that Monsanto is on the right side.

    If you want to hurt anyone, hurt me instead.
    Leave the good people at Monsanto alone!
    I love Dr. Robert B. Horsch, Dr. Robert T. Fraley and everyone else who has made the world a better place despite the cruelty and criticisms of uneducated and mistrustful lay people.

    okay, now i am crying…

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