New-look Monsanto takes on Hull as public affairs VP

ST. LOUIS: Monsanto has hired Fleishman-Hillard exec Sarah Hull as its first senior VP of public affairs since it became a standalone agricultural company.

ST. LOUIS: Monsanto has hired Fleishman-Hillard exec Sarah Hull as its first senior VP of public affairs since it became a standalone agricultural company.

ST. LOUIS: Monsanto has hired Fleishman-Hillard exec Sarah Hull as its first senior VP of public affairs since it became a standalone agricultural company.

The appointment follows the release of the 'New Monsanto Pledge' at the end of last year. CEO Hendrik A. Verfaillie outlined its new commitment to dialogue, transparency, respect, sharing and delivering benefits at the Farm Journal Forum in Washington, DC.

Monsanto, which produces herbicides and seed products, has long been a controversial target for environmentalists and food safety advocates.

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.

'My take on this is that it's one of the best PR jobs in the country,' said Hull, who starts her job this week, 'because it deals with one of the most compelling issues of the day.'

Hull was previously SVP and senior partner in Fleishman's Kansas City office. Monsanto is a client of Fleishman, but Hull did not work specifically on the company's account.

The new pledge will be Hull's script. 'Her primary responsibility will be to deliver on the pledge that we've committed to,' said Loren Wassell, a Monsanto spokesman.

The pledge outlines a series of promises by Monsanto, including an undertaking that it will never use animal or human genes in agricultural products intended for food or animal feed. Monsanto also promised to make scientific data on genetically modified food available and to open a dialogue with opponents. The company also said it would seek a global standard for food and seed production.

Monsanto is 85% owned by pharmaceutical giant Pharmacia and was set up as a separate business, followed by an IPO, in September 2000. The stock is currently trading at about dollars 30.

Hull said her farming background in rural Missouri will help her navigate the new position.

'The key to what's going on with Monsanto is being extra forthright and very transparent about what the company is doing in biotech,' she said.

'There is a recommitment to that in this pledge.'



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