EXCERPT: "The site features video clips with farmers from countries including India, Spain, Canada, South Africa, Australia, Argentina, the Philippines and the United States. These farmers discuss the benefits that biotech crops have had on their farms, families, communities and the environment."
Given Monsanto's long history of manufacturing farmer support and making fake claims about its products "successes" for farmers, it's worth checking out any of the farmers from your part of the world who are quoted on Monsanto's new website expressing their support for GMOs.
Here's a reminder some classic examples of manufactured biotech support:
GROOMED BY MONSANTO
The development expert Aaron deGrassi of the Institute of Development Studies, University of Sussex, has reported on Monsanto's use of South African farmers on a global basis for PR purposes:
'these "representative farmers" read statements carefully scripted by Monsanto.. These [relatively well-to-do and unrepresentative] South African farmers - whom representatives of Monsanto and other businesses call "basically representative farmers" and "representatives of the African smallholding community" - are plucked from South Africa, wined and dined, and given scripted statements about the benefits of GM'
A recent report on the promotion of GM cotton in India revealed:
'Posters appeared in many places in Madhya Pradesh before sowing time, featuring a person who claimed to have gained great benefits from using Bt Cotton seed. These advertisements urged other farmers to benefit similarly from the use of Bt Cotton.
Investigations revealed that this "farmer" was actually a paan dabbahwala (a vendor of betel leaves and cigarettes) who is not even a farmer, let alone a Bt Cotton farmer.'
Within the last month a complaint has been filed with the Advertising Standards Council of India against a print campaign by Mahyco-Monsanto. The complaint centres on a farmer pictured in front of a tractor as part of an advertisement headed "TRUE STORIES OF FARMERS WHO HAVE SOWN BT COTTON" that implied he was able to purchase the tractor as a result of growing Bt cotton.
From what the farmer says, he was effectively tricked into appearing in the advertisement for the Monsanto Bt cotton. He also says the tractor was only obtained with a private loan! He adds that with the yields he got from Bt Cotton, "I would not be able to buy even two tractor tyres"!
Then there was the parade of GM supporting farmers at the World Summit on Sustainable Development. They wore t-shirts and carried placards with slogans like "Biotechnology for Africa". On approaching the protesters, however, a journalist discovered that all of the props had been made available to the marchers by the pro-corporate lobbyists who were the organizers. When he tried to converse with some of the farmers about their pro-GM T-shirts, "They smiled shyly; none of them could speak or read English."
FAKING IT ON THE NET
Then there's Monsanto's dubious Internet PR promotionals:
'In a talk to fellow PR professionals, Jay Byrne, Monsanto's former Chief Internet Strategist gave 'CFFAR' as an example of the type of website that Monsanto worked to direct people to who were seeking information on GM on the internet.
CFFAR stands for The Center for Food & Agricultural Research and its website is not currently available, following adverse publicity...
... [on the site] no details [were] given of the history, constituent members, organisational structure, administrative location or personnel of this 'public policy and research coalition'.'
In fact, the site was a fiction created by Monsanto's PR people. And it's far from being the only such site.
For more details on manufactured support see:
*Trade Wars and Media Campaigns
*THE MARKETING OF BT COTTON IN INDIA
*The Fake Parade
Center For Food and Agricultural Research (CFFAR)
Complaint filed against Monsanto's "misleading" ad
New plant biotech Web site offers global discussions on GMO crops
Source: Monsanto Company news release
11/29/2005 ST. LOUIS -- A new multimedia Web site, "Conversations about Plant Biotechnology" at www.monsanto.com/biotech-gmo, offers discussions taking place among farmers on the impact of genetically modified crops. This year marks the milestones of a decade since GMO crops were first introduced and more than one billion acres such crops harvested worldwide.
The site features video clips with farmers from countries including India, Spain, Canada, South Africa, Australia, Argentina, the Philippines and the United States. These farmers discuss the benefits that biotech crops have had on their farms, families, communities and the environment. The Web site also offers viewpoints from global experts, such as Dr. Norman Borlaug -- Nobel laureate and leader of the Green Revolution.
Visitors to the site can sign up for a service that alerts subscribers when new video content is available. The "Conversations about Plant Biotechnology" site is hosted by the Monsanto Company.