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Monsanto looks for ‘new words’ on GMOs

John Walter 10/17/2013 @ 1:43pm

Monsanto needs to find a new language, a better way to talk to consumers, if the world is to continue to make gains with food quantity and quality, Rob Fraley, one of three winners of the 2013 World Food Prize, told a gathering at Meredith Corporation on Thursday.

The session was a side event to the 2013 Borlaug Dialogue of the World Food Prize being held in Des Moines, October 16-18.

Fraley, chief technology officer of Monsanto and a former Illinois farm boy, talked about the value of biotechnology to a large group of Meredith food, health and agricultural editors. The company’s magazines, websites, and television programming reach some 100 million consumers.

Fraley, who led the development of Roundup Ready crops, began with a primer on genetic engineering. “Biotechnology gives us a way of putting a gene precisely into a plant that is safer than traditional plant breeding," he said. “That’s what the hoopla is all about.”

Fraley made the case for the science behind GMOs, handing out a jump drive with a review of studies on the topic.  But, science alone isn’t enough to sell the value of biotechnology to many consumers, Fraley said.

“We need different approaches than we’ve been taking,” he said. “We’re being challenged to find new words and new analogies that will resonate with consumers.”

Monsanto is making a bigger effort to talk with consumers—“in schools, with moms, with people who like us and people who don’t like us,” Fraley said.

Social media is another tack the company will take with the general public, he added.

And, Monsanto may need to look for a new positioning of its business when it comes to consumer perception, Fraley said.

“People look at us not as a seed company but as first step in the food chain. We need to provide comfort and trust to move the technology forward.”

He appealed to Meredith editors for their attention to the value of GMOs in providing more abundant, healthier food, pointing out, too, that the company supplies about 25% of the vegetable seed in the U.S.

“We need your help in talking to consumers so this technology doesn’t seem scary,” he told the group.  “Our company has done a pretty good job of talking to farmers. But the challenge has been that we have been so focused on the farmer, and now we need to reach out to the consumer.

“What can we do differently?” he asked.

Tomorrow, Fraley, and the other WFP Laureates--Marc Van Montagu, a Belgium researcher, and Mary-Dell Chilton of Syngenta Biotechnology--will appear on a panel looking at the next steps in biotechnology.  Fraley told the Meredith group that Monsanto will be “getting back into wheat,” for one thing. He also mentioned that the company has its sights set on energy crops and vegetables.

Information technology is another ongoing focus, he said, citing Monsanto’s recent purchase of the Climate Corporation, a weather technology and crop insurance company.

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The new language of greed 01/09/2014 @ 1:05pm What monsanto really wants is a new language to hide their greed and political manipulation of agriculture policies. Their misuse of the judicial system to destroy anyone who stands against their goal of owning the procreative means of food production is evil to the core.

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All the PR Spin in the World is not Going to make 10/23/2013 @ 4:17pm GMOs are fulfilling none of the claims made by the Corporate Ag Overlords. Monsanto has given us nothing but lies and half-truths regarding the Human & environmental health hazards that are increasingly apparent with GMO crops. Not only has use of pesticides and herbicides increased dramatically since the onset of wide spread use, they are spending MILLIONS to fight labeling campaigns across the country because they know that once GMOs are labelled, all the spin in the world is not going to stop the wide-spread rejection of them in the market. Why should we trust the chemical company that gave us Agent Orange to know what's safe for our food system? Screw Monsanto and the greedy transnational corporations that are trying to monopolize all the world's seed via patenting and turning our farmers into mere sharecroppers and serfs on the land. The World Food Prize is just the latest dog & pony show put on by lying corporateers who think Americans are so easily fooled that they will literally eat just about anything ...

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