Monsanto blog goes on the attack
The Monsanto blog promised not just amiable interaction with the readership but to generate controversy. And it hasn't been long in coming, as this response posted by Deborah Rubin indicates:
Deborah Rubin Says:
March 8, 2009 at 10:40 pm
Brad, your reference to Jeffery Smith as a "yogic flying instructor" seems like you are trying to discredit him with an ad hominem attack. Because he has a different "unconventional" spiritual belief system, he must be wrong or deluded about gmo's, too? If those really are his spiritual or religious beliefs, how are they any less valid than praying a rosary, believing in the saints, Jesus, Satan, angels, life after death? Indeed, theoretical physics starting with Einstein's Theory of Relativity through to the modern day String Theory are questioning the boundaries of time and space in ways few can comprehend.
I would much rather see you address the many reasons why Jeffery Smith believes GMO's are potentially harmful to humans and the environment. What do his spiritual beliefsË†or your CEO's, or any of ours have to do with it? Some of Smith's concerns can be found here:
I have been waiting for many years to see your company address these concerns.
Here at GMWatch we can't help wonder whether the kind of ad hominem attack Deborah refers to actually originates with "Brad", or Kathleen Manning (aka Ms Monsanto), the company's Social Media Specialist, or their boss, Chris Paton, Monsanto's Social Media Team Lead. Or does it perhaps owe more to Monsanto's former former Director of Public Affairs and Chief Internet Strategist, Jay Byrne?
Under Byrne's command, Monsanto launched a slew of ad hominem attacks on the company's critics - mostly posted on an anonymous basis on the net (sometimes with the help of Monsanto's internet PR company Bivings), using front e-mails (such as those of "Andura Smetacek" and "Mary Murphy"), message boards and even the website of a fake agricultural center established for the purpose.
When one of these postings got published under the name of Prof Trewavas in a Scottish newspaper, it ended up in the High Court. (Greenpeace wins damages over professor's 'unfounded' allegations, Education Guardian, Monday October 8, 2001)
When Byrne finally left Monsanto, he set up an internet PR consultancy (v-Fluence) in the company's home town - St. Louis. v-Fluence has consistently numbered Monsanto and the Biotechnology Industry Organisation (BIO) among its clients.
And Byrne, like Bivings, is a big believer in the power of social media.
Also like Bivings, v-Fluence claims to analyze "the nature of online searches, blog postings, social-networking spaces, listservs, discussion boards and other kinds of content online". Byrne's company has also "evaluated the online environment of... hot-button ag issues" and it helps its clients respond to the "enormous and growing amount of online activity that does not serve the interests of the American farmer". (Agriculture Industry Critics Driving the Debate Online)
So perhaps Monsanto should add a "Jay" to its list of cute SP-Studio images for its bloggers. Or perhaps in this world of online proxies a SP-rejuvenated "Andura" would be more appropriate.