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Monsanto working to educate consumers on biotechnology

Monsanto is getting off the sidelines to tell its side of the story.

According to Robb Fraley, Monsanto's chief technology officer, the company is committed to engaging consumers to tell the story of biotechnology and its role to sustainably and safely feed the world.

Fraley, one of three winners of the World Food Prize in 2013, spoke to a group of consumer magazine editors, and said that Monsanto is changing its communications strategy. In the past, Fraley said, the message was "better seeds for farmers."

Today, the strategy is to go directly to consumers with the message that "seeds are the first step in the food chain." Biotechnology is an essential tool to ensure food is safe, healthy, and affordable. Fraley pledged that Monsanto is changing its advertising messages and becoming more transparent as well.

More than 20 editors exchanged questions with Fraley. The publications included Family Circle, Better Homes and Gardens, Ladies' Home Journal, Every Day with Rachel Ray, and others.

Fraley cited a United Nations report that shows updated population figures: the planet will hold 9.6 billion people by 2050. Fraley said that growth will require doubling of the food supply in the next 36 years.

Another key: The growth of the middle class across the globe. Today, there are 1 billion people in the middle class. Because of the growth in China and Asia, the size of the middle class -- who will demand better food choices -- will reach 3.5 billion by 2050.

"It is the greatest challenge our planet faces," he said. "And not many people wake up every day and think about it."

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