Monsanto's external council to increase dialogue as part of pledge

ST. LOUIS: Monsanto has established an external biotech advisory

council in a continuing effort to fulfill the five features of its

"Monsanto pledge."

The council is designed to comply with Monsanto's promise to "commit to

an ongoing dialogue with all interested parties to understand the issues

and concerns related to this technology."

Monsanto, which produces herbicides and seed products, has long been a

controversial target for environmentalists and food safety


Activists, particularly in Europe, have dubbed Monsanto food products

"Frankenfoods," and are concerned about the long-term effects of

genetically modified products on the environment and the human body.

The charter council comprises five members, including Dr. Jeffrey Sachs,

director of the center for international development at Harvard

University and Dr. Lynn Goldman, a principal investigator for the

Children's Health component of the Pew Environmental Health


The new council will be international and new members are still being

recruited. "The role here is more in terms of listening," said Monsanto

spokesman Loren Wassell. "We have an interest in hearing what they say

and we want to get a better insight into the issues and what people


The Monsanto pledge, announced in December 2000, also includes promises

to increase transparency, to respect cultural, religious and ethical

concerns, to share knowledge with developing countries, and to deliver

environmental and commercial benefits to farmers.

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