A Peek Behind the Curtain at Monsanto

June 1, 2009


By Mark

Sitting in the cube farm at Monsanto, you hear conversations floating across the ceiling. One of the recent ones I overheard involved Brad, one of the regular bloggers on this site.

Apparently, Monsanto had received a phone call from a lad who had some questions about Monsanto and seed patents, and Monsanto and lobbying, and Monsanto and a few other things. Now, in the past, I’m not sure how that voice mail would have been handled.

But today it was responded to quickly!

You’ve seen this. You see this with this blog. You see this with our conversations on sites like OpEd News and Crooks and Liars. You see this on Twitter, on YouTube or on MonsantoToday.com. We believe in being responsive, being engaged, being who we are—human beings passionate about what we do and the benefit our work brings to the world.

Brad called this lad, and spent about 20 minutes on the phone with him. They talked about the main issue that caused him to call—an article on seed patent enforcement. They went point-by-point. They talked about other issues like lobbying practices. They engaged. They conversed. They communicated.

Now, I don’t know if the lad who called changed his mind about Monsanto. But I do know the fact the conversation even took place speaks volumes about the people who work here. Because Brad is not alone in how he views things–many of us here see the value of dialogue and transparency.

We see the value of accountability. We understand that food is an emotional issue. We know the deep passions and the romance we all have about our food. But we also know that there are many, many false claims about Monsanto on the Web.

And we want to, in a respectful and understanding way, present the reasons we do what we do. We want people to be aware of our desire to help feed a growing world. We want people to see we have a passion for helping farmers in Africa. We want people to understand that we are driven by a passion to make this world a better place for our kids, our grandkids and beyond.

Now, I know, some people won’t change their minds about us. And that’s okay. But many people are open minded about solutions to the crisis our world faces. And my hope is these conversations, both in person and online, help drive us all forward to what I consider our common goal—making the world a better place in the future.

As you see the ongoing online debate, you’re going to see Monsanto and people who work at Monsanto engaging, conversing, sharing, disagreeing and communicating. We encourage all employees at Monsanto to engage and converse. And this is good. This is healthy. This is essential.

And my hope is that those that choose to converse with us, do so in a reasoned, intelligent manner. That people value free speech enough to allow us to present our thoughts and ideas.

Because when we all engage in the problems the world faces, the solutions we all come up with will be much better than any we come up with in isolation.

Mark is a 16 year communication veteran, originally from Scotland. He is a former member of the media, has worked for many years in non-profit and corporate communication, and is a published author. He has won seven MarCom awards, three E2E awards, three Hermes Creative Awards, one Society for New Communication Research Award of Excellence for Internal Communication, two IABC Silver Quill Awards for Excellence and two IABC Bronze Quill Awards for Excellence—all for his transparent approach to employee communication. He also received the President’s Call to Service Award in 2004. Mark’s interests include soccer, ice hockey, karaoke, politics, family and faith.

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