Monsanto pledges better biotech communication

ST. LOUIS: Monsanto, which has suffered major PR setbacks in Europe over biotech foods, is changing its communications approach in the US, pledging to be more open and proactive about the subject.

ST. LOUIS: Monsanto, which has suffered major PR setbacks in Europe over biotech foods, is changing its communications approach in the US, pledging to be more open and proactive about the subject.

ST. LOUIS: Monsanto, which has suffered major PR setbacks in Europe over biotech foods, is changing its communications approach in the US, pledging to be more open and proactive about the subject.

Monsanto CEO Hendrik A. Verfaillie told a Washington farm conference in November: 'We recognize that our role as a leader in this technology means we have to do more than react to what is said publicly. We have an obligation to take a solid stance and set benchmark policy on how this technology is developed, used and communicated.'

Monsanto pledged to create a biotech advisory council, share its biotech research with universities and seek global standards on biotech seeds.

In what it's calling the New Monsanto Pledge, the company states: 'We commit to an ongoing dialogue with interested parties to understand concerns related to this technology.'

Scarlett Lee Foster, the company's director of public affairs, said the pledge is the result of more than a year of discussions between Monsanto and groups concerned about biotech. The pledge responds to Verfaillie's feeling that Monsanto has not effectively communicated externally, said Foster.

Charles Margulis, a Greenpeace genetic engineering specialist, said he didn't think the new pledge signaled any change in Monsanto's efforts to gain market acceptance for biotech products.

Foster admitted that the company may never be able to reach an agreement with hard-core biotech opponents. But, she said, 'We hope to bring together people who can reach a common ground on biotech.'



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