When I joined Monsanto five years ago, I had little notion of what I was getting myself into. I grew up in the St. Louis area, and the Monsanto name was well known in the community, but I would venture that most people still thought of Monsanto as a company that made carpet fibers, industrial chemicals and yes, even AstroTurf. However, thanks to my father who was an ag chemistry salesperson for many yers with a competing company, I knew Monsanto for what it is today – an agricultural business.

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Glynn Young

It’s a cool thing to be part of Monsanto’s blogging team. And it’s because I’m one of 24 million people in the United States whose job depends upon farmers.

I’m the team lead for what we call Online Strategy & Communications, one of the team in Corporate Marketing & Communications. My team is responsible for the corporate web site, www.monsanto.com, online corporate video, helping support company web sites in other parts of the world – and writing stories.

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As a fourth generation Memphian and the third in the line of women who went to what is now the University of Memphis, I rarely thought of agriculture growing up.  And my guess is the farmers portrayed in movies or on television were a general stereotype… I didn’t think much about it being inaccurate or accurate.  That started to change when I got a job that involved me contacting farmers directly.  And it didn’t take long for me to realize I had stumbled into a great industry — one that is made up of people who are willing to share their knowledge in the most genuine ways sharing themselves and their stories.

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My goal for blogging is pretty easy: to highlight farmers’ stories and stories about agriculture.

I think I bring a different perspective to this, as I didn’t grow up on a farm. As I mentioned in a previous post, I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve been on a farm. I hope blogging allows me to get out of the office a couple days each month and to interact with farmers and others in ag industries. For example, I hope to have a report from a visit to a central Illinois farm in two weeks, and during the winter, I hope to take advantage of St. Louis’ proximity to the river and farm communities to report on river transportation and check out a grain elevator.

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Even More Changes

November 18, 2009

Back in August I wrote about more changes coming down the line.

Starting this week you will be introduced to our four full-time bloggers, Nick, Janice, Glynn and Mica. Each has a different voice and a different perspective to bring to agriculture and this blog. I am excited that they will  start sharing stories from farmers, scientists, seed dealers, and so many more people.

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Changes for the Better

August 31, 2009

Six months ago, Monsanto According to Monsanto set out to be a blog focused solely on issues related to Monsanto . The reason to start such a blog? Often times we need to set the record straight on a number of different topics, from labeling to HR 875. We addressed the big topics and had some great conversations in the comments section.

Starting now, you’ll still find myths debunked and misconceptions set straight in this space – and you’ll also see more focus on the positive things going on at Monsanto, as well as in the fields of agriculture and biotechnology as a whole.

You may have noticed some subtle changes to the site, and some more noticeable ones will be implemented soon.

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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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