GENTECH archive


MONSANTO MONITOR - Introductory Issue

Dear Friends,

Please find enclosed the introductory issue of the Monsanto Monitor.
This issue is a hint of where we would like the Monitor to go as an
information and strategic resource for organisations and individuals
campaigning against Monsanto and its products. Each issue will offer
feature analyses of various sectors or operational aspects of Monsanto
and other corporate GE practitioners; it will also profile various
institutional promoters of the genetic engineering industry and contain a 
larger news and campaigning section. Since there are similar newsletters
developing in countries and regions around the world, the Monsanto
Monitor will have a primary analytical focus on Monsanto & Co. in
Europe. The news and campaigning sections, however, will have an
international focus.

     For the Monitor to be truly valuable as a campaigning and
            news resource, we welcome and encourage your

      The deadline for contributions is the 1st of every month.

If you would like to subscribe to the Monsanto Monitor, please send
back the subscription form on page 8 of the enclosed issue, or send an
email to, to subscribe to the email version.  A
further version will be available on the website currently under
construction. The Monitor will be available free of charge to
campaigning groups and individuals worldwide.

The newsletter forms part of the
A SEED Europe Rounding Up Monsanto & Co.  Campaign.
For more information contact us at: P.O. Box 92066, 1090 AB Amsterdam,
the Netherlands. Tel: +31-20-468 2616; fax: +31-20-468 2275.

		M   O  N  S  A  N  T   O

		M   O   N   I    T   O    R


Introductory Issue                                    		     January 1999


Surviving Monsanto: Emerging Industry PR Strategies
The EFB: Collective Crisis Management
Upcoming Genetech Industry 'Dialogue' Initiatives

Monsanto Prepares to Acquire the Terminator Company



S  U  R  V  I  V  I  N  G       M  O  N  S  A  N  T  O

Emerging  Industry   P R  Strategies


The strong public response to GM foods and genetic engineering
forced industry and policy makers to rethink their communication
strategies. Industry is in crisis and corporations are having to rally
together to find ways in which to deal with the public's
to accept biotechnology as an inevitable innovation. The advice that

Burson- Marsteller Government & Public Affairs Europe gave to
EuropaBio (The European Association for Bioindustries) in January
1997 is obviously only beginning to sink in now: "Stay off the killing

field: Public issues of environmental and human health risk are
communications killing fields for bioindustries in Europe"[1]

Associations such as the EFB (European Federation of
Biotechnology) are working with industry and policy makers on
perception of genetic engineering (GE). The EFB's Task Group on
Public Perceptions of Biotechnology organises meetings such as
recent Brussels conference on "Public Perception and Public
(15-16/12/98). This conference provided industry and policy makers

with an opportunity to plan out their future public relations

The Monsanto Experience: A Lesson for Industry

Monsanto was the first company to aggressively sell the 'concept'
biotechnology and its products to the European public. It is
considered by other industry members, scientists and policy
makers to
be partly if not wholly responsible for negative public feeling against

GM food. The company's 1997-8 European PR campaign backfired
consumers reacted strongly against the so-called 'benefits' to
and to the environment that Monsanto was trying to sell them.
Exposure has been particularly strong in the UK although
Europe, suspicion of the genetechnologies and of the multinational
corporations behind them is high.

"They used the might of the conglomerate. They used bullying
tactics, really. Used their might to bulldoze it through" (a journalist
when asked about the 1998 UK Monsanto PR campaign) [2]

As a result of this, Monsanto and other industry members are now
finding themselves, together with policy makers, in the difficult
position of having to 'reverse' negative public perception towards
food biotechnology.

"Our work in Britain is still trying to overcome the strong negative
reaction to the way Monsanto introduced this issue though there is

some growing recognition that Monsanto is handling this issue
better" [2]

If Monsanto's disastrous PR campaign has in many ways helped to

expose the corporation as a profit and power hungry giant, a more
subtle and more 'successful' media campaign by corporations who
have learnt lessons from Monsanto will be more difficult to deal
It is vital for environmental, consumer groups and citizens to be
to keep track of the new communication strategies being worked
on by
industry so as to expose the manipulation behind them.


Public Relation Disasters to have hit the Genetic Engineering

June 1997:   Burson-Marstellar's proposal for a communication
strategy for the GE industry, commissioned by EuropaBio, is
The report talks of Health and Environmental issues as
"communication killing fields" for the GE industry.[1]

Summer 1998:   Monsanto launches its European advertising
on biotechnology and GM foods. This campaign is aimed at the AB

socio-economic sectors of society. The PR campaign is disastrous
unleashes strong negative public reactions, especially in the UK
Germany. This acts as the final nail in industry's coffin and leads
industry into its current crisis. [2]

Autumn 1998:   Marketing research reports analysing Monsanto's
failed UK and Germany PR campaigns are leaked. [2]
1998: Journalists sue Fox TV after attempted suppression of
Monsanto BST report.

Box ends

Public Relations: A Convenient Solution to an Inconvenient Issue

Industry in particular is framing communication (PR, marketing,...)
the root of the crisis facing genetic engineering perceptions.
in itself it is proving hard to deal with, it is nonetheless an infinitely
easier problem to solve than environmental and health concerns.
Dealing with such concerns would be highly likely to lead to
- extremely bad news both financially and competitively-speaking
the European genetech industry. It is much easier to decide that
citizens are against biotechnology because they just don't know
it is.

One recent example of this was a statement by Philippe Gay of
Novartis Seeds at the EFB Brussels conference [3] that the recent
Novartis Bt maize issue in France was merely a "communication
problem". The French Conseil D'Etat's (France's highest court)
decision against authorisation for the cultivation of Novartis's Bt
maize was based on the fact that Novartis's dossier on the Bt
was judged to be incomplete, especially concerning the antibiotic
resistance properties of this crop [4].

Policy makers and politicians, whilst very sensitive to public
are being led by the "competitiveness of Europe in the global
argument. They too need to believe that communication and the
in which it is presented to the public are the main barriers to be

The EFB Task Group on Public Perceptions of Biotechnology (see
article) and other such organisations play an important role here:
whilst apparently organising conferences on public perception to
ways to help the public reach 'informed decisions', they are in fact
providing industry, scientists and policy makers with the
to co-operate on communication strategies that will lead Europe's
consumers to believe that biotechnology is the way forward.

Industry Strategy and New Communication Tools

Public Relations and marketing are being developed in 4 main
industry 'dialogue' initiatives; the transparency of Governmental
Institutions; coalitions including direct action by scientists; and
informing and educating the public to reach 'informed decisions'.

Transparency and Dialogue

Policy makers see transparency as a strategic tool in re-
"trust". Whilst transparency is important, it is often used
and as a PR tool which enables the more important issues of
opinion on legislation to be sidelined.

"The lay public does not have the knowledge to evaluate scientific
and technical issues with regard to modern biotechnology. People
realise that potential risks of biotechnology must be investigated
controlled by third parties: producers and authorities. As citizens
not evaluate the technology, they will evaluate the regulators.
However, public surveys indicate that many citizens in Europe do
believe that biotechnology is regulated very well. Moreover, public
institutions are not well trusted. This situation may affect the
acceptance of the use of biotechnology in food production." [5]

Dialogue is yet again seen as a handy PR tool whilst enabling
potentially unwanted legislation to be avoided: "Parties with
opinions can choose between two general strategies in dealing with

the contentious issues surrounding biotechnology - conflict and
dialogue. [...] Eventually, the conflict may result in political
for example in new legislation. With the uncertain and ambivalent
attitude of the general public and even politicians in the
biotechnology area, it is often very difficult to predict the outcome
such conflict." [6]

A Success Story: Coalition and Local Direct Action by Scientists

The Swiss Referendum on genetic engineering, which took place
June 7, 1998, was a victory for industry, National Government and
other genetic engineering proponents. At this referendum, a 2:1
majority voted not to ban genetic engineering in Switzerland. In
strategic terms, the idea of coalition was found to be effective by
genetic engineering proponents: by having as many different
people/groups as possible arguing for genetic engineering, the big
corporations and politicians took a back seat as 'everyday' people
went out into pubs, markets and shopping streets to give their
for genetic engineering. According to the EFB's briefing paper 8 on
the Swiss Referendum, "Coalitions are essential for bringing about
political change [...] It helped [..] to have a majority of medical,
and farming organisations on their side, in addition to virtually all
laboratory scientists as well as the government and its agencies"

According to Professor Richard Braun, Vice-Chairman of the EFB
Group on Public Perceptions of Biotechnology, one of the most
important events in the build up to the referendum was the
mobilisation of scientists, especially young ones, as an interface
the public:  pro-biotech demonstrations as well as direct
communication with the public were organised.

It would appear therefore that this is seen by industry as a new
strategic tool: local action that could directly include scientists,
enabling a certain distance to be established between genetic
engineering and multinational corporations. This would ensure an
intense but apparently (to the public) informal communication
campaign to be carried out by research scientists from academic
institutions in whom the public have more trust than in industry or
government. Whilst advertising techniques are not to be totally
sidelined, the emphasis is to be placed on explaining genetic
engineering and promoting dialogue.

Education and Information: Towards 'Informed Decision' or

'Informed decision' is a communication concept developed by
and policy makers to suggest that citizens' current fears are
unfounded and are simply negative reactions to inevitable change.
Surveys such as the Eurobarometer 46.1 serve to back up this
with questions aimed at showing how little the public know about
genetic engineering. Programmes for 'educating and informing' the
public are the 'tools' behind such a concept. [8]

Biotechnology Teaching in Schools: the EIBE [3]

The European Initiative for Biotechnology Education (EIBE) is a
European Commission funded project that was set up in 1991 by
CUBE (Concertation Unit for Biotech in Europe) and covers 17 EU
Eastern European countries. It works with biotechnology education

initiatives and helps to develop them by training teachers, providing
educational materials, etc. Its aims are to 'reflect current issues' in

EIBE is a perfect example of the much repeated idea of 'informed
decision' whereby young people are taught by their teachers, who
themselves have the possibility of being trained by the EIBE, about

"New areas of development and technologies like biotechnology
arouse suspicion in the minds of many people because they do not

really know what it is about" [9]

It specifically targets 16 to 19 years olds, stating in the conference
"The up-and-coming generation are however more amenable to
change, and students of school and college age represent a target
group that is potentially receptive to the development of an ability to

understand the principles underpinning the new biotechnology and
assess the implications of current and future developments" [9]

One may ask how it is possible for the European Commission -who

sees biotechnology as an important innovative technology which
have important commercial implications for the EU- is able to be
objective and to present teenagers with all the issues surrounding
biotechnology. The idea of perceiving teenagers as a "target group"
worrying since 16-19 years olds represent a vulnerable age group
growing up and coming to terms with many aspects of life. Being at

school or college, they are still very much in the 'learning what
told to' state of mind, and so being taught about biotechnology is
likely to influence them rather than enable balanced decision

Science Centres and Museums across Europe [3]

A Science, Industry and Technology initiative partially funded by
European Commission's DGXII to create travelling biotechnology
exhibitions is underway with a 'Future Foods' exhibition travelling
between London's Science Museum, Lisbon in Portugal and Lille in

France. Another exhibition 'Gene Worlds' is organised for Spain

These are "hands on" exhibitions, another attempt at informing the
public. They travel around European museums but have also been
shopping malls, so as to reach a wider audience than the museum

Yet again, balanced information for a public with often limited
scientific knowledge is managed and financed by groups who have
themselves taken a position on biotechnology. Such
tools are very powerful since they have the appearance of being
educational whilst presenting a one-sided view that biotechnology
the way forward, and that the public must simply be taught the
way of thinking.

Access Excellence: Industry-Sponsored High School Teaching

Education programmes have already been developed over the last
years in the US. One example of this is Access Excellence, a
programme funded by Genentech, a medical biotechnology
which provides high school teachers with new scientific information
and enables the exchange of teaching methods via the Web. For


New industry PR tactics are becoming subtler and therefore harder
pin down. Corporations have understood that they must distance
themselves from issues surrounding GM foods. Even more
importantly, they have realised that health and environmental
concerns need to be 'dropped' and therefore shown to be annex to
genetic engineering. Convincing the public that everybody has been

wrong about GE is the basic aim of their strategy.  'Dialogue',
Decision', 'Education' and a publicly active heterogeneous pro-
genetech group (scientists, farmers, medical workers, young
are the new industry tools that have already proved themselves

1. Leaked report: 'Communications Programmes for EuropaBio'
1997, Burson-Marstellar Government & Public Affairs
2. Leaked Monsanto Marketing Research Report: 'The British Test,
Fall 1998 Research', Greenberg Research
3. The European Biotechnology Forum on Public Perception and
Public Policy, organised by the EFB, Brussels, 15-16/12/98
4. Friends of the Earth International
5. EFB conference abstract 'A Taste of Needs, Wants and
Monitoring consumers' wishes', Kees de Winter, Praaning Meines
Consultancy Group, Brussels
6. 'Dialogue in Biotechnology', Briefing Paper 7, November 1997,
European Federation of Biotechnology
7. 'Lessons from the Swiss Referendum', Briefing Paper 8, August
1998, European Federation of Biotechnology
8. EFB conference abstract "European Initiative for Biotechnology
Education - Understanding through teaching', Dr. Wilbert Garvin,
Queens University Belfast.
9. "Biotechnology in the Public Sphere: A European Sourcebook"
(1998), Eds. Durant,J.; Bauer, M.; Gaskell, G.


The   European   Federation   of    Biotechnology:

Collective Crisis Management


The EFB deals almost exclusively with the public's perceptions of
biotechnology, and the impact of this on policy makers and
politicians, unlike associations such as EuropaBio (European
Association for Bioindustries) whose objectives include working
directly on legislation and market authorization in the
sector. It is therefore an active participant in the development of pro-

genetech communication strategies and appears to work closely
industry and policy makers. In fact, it receives part of its funding
DG XII (Science, Research and Development).

The EFB was founded in 1978 in Switzerland. According to its web-
site, it is "an association of non-profit making European technical
scientific societies with interests in the field of biotechnology".
its 80 member societies, its aims are to promote genetech via both
public and policy makers. It aims to "promote awareness,
communication and collaboration in all fields of biotechnology" (see

web site). It regularly organizes conferences and workshops, as
as publishing 'Briefing Papers' on various topics related to
biotechnology and public opinion.

In 1991, the EFB task Group on Public Perceptions was set up to
"foster greater public awareness and understanding of
and to encourage public debate". Its most recent conference was
entitled "European Biotechnology Forum: Public Perception and
Public Policy". The conference was divided up into several parts:
"Policy making for Healthcare", "Policy making for Agriculture and
Food", "European Commission Initiatives", "Environmental Issues:
Better World" and "Moral Conflicts?" Leading authorities on such
issues included EuropaBio, OECD, DGXII, Smithkline Beecham,
Monsanto and Novartis.

European Federation of Biotechnology:
EuropaBio :


Upcoming  'Dialogue' initiatives

"Designer tomatoes, manufactured beans and the perfect banana.
Should we fear the proliferation of GM foods?"

This is the third talk in the 'Science and Ethics' Series. The
is sponsored by the New Statesman, Cap Gemini's Life Sciences
and Sun Microsystems. Participants include representatives from
Novartis Seeds, the Institute of Terrestrial Ecologies, and
in Europe.
14/01/99, Institute of Contemporary Arts, London, UK
(Source: the New Statesman, 1/01/1999)

"Genetically Modified Organisms: striking the right balance"

This is a 'European Voice (The Brussels based policy weekly)
Conference' sponsored by Monsanto. Participants will be expected
pay 425. Speakers include Consumer Affairs Commissioner
Bonino on "Addressing the scientific issues raised by GMOs and
responding to consumers' concerns" and Farm Commissioner
Fischler on "The role of new technologies in the 21st century".
18/03/99, Brussels, BE
(Source: 'European Voice, 7-13/01/1999, forwarded by Corporate
Europe Observatory)



Monsanto prepares for acquisition of Terminator company


As Monsanto pursues its aquisition frenzy and continues to go for
"consolidation of the entire food chain" (Monsanto executive in The
Guardian 15/12/97), it is coming up against US Justice Department
trust concerns.

At the end of December 1998, the corporation received Justice
Department approval for the aquisition of DeKalb Genetics Corp,
due to anti-trust issues, Monsanto was forced to transfer its rights
agro-bacterium-mediated transformation (a technique for
new, desirable genetic traits into corn) to Berkely University,
California. It also signed a binding agreement that it would license
Holden Foundation Seeds's corn germplasm to seed companies.
Monsanto has also put Stoneville Pedigree Seed Co, its cotton
subsidiary, up for auction (announced by the company on 4/01/99).

According to reports, Monsanto plans to sell Stoneville, the second

largest breeder, producer and marketer of cotton planting seeds in
US, to the 'highest bidder'.

The auctioning off of Stoneville is seen as a response to anti-trust
concerns relating to Monsanto's planned aquisition of Delta&Pine
Land Co., the company who is developping the Terminator
Technology or, as Monsanto calls it, 'Technology Protection
Delta&Pine Co. is the largest cottonseed firm in the US and
approximately 50% of the domestic cotton seed market.
analysts have stated that the most likely buyers for Stoneville are
Rh(ne Poulenc, Dow Chemical and Hoechst Schering AgrEvo

The sale of Stoneville will also help finance the corporation's
estimated $6 billion in seed company aquisitions announced in
Since the collapse of the merger with American Home Products,
Monsanto is having to shed companies. Another one scheduled to
in early 1999 is Monsanto's seaweed-derived algin business.
(source: Reuters and Jim McNulty on internet (31/12/98, 4-7/01/99,






Health Canada has rejected Monsanto's bovine growth hormone.
decision marks the end of an eight-year review in Canada to
market approval.
The Canadian government called for reports by human and animal
health committees to examine the safety of the product. While the
Human Health committee found no reason for concern, the Animal
Health Committee report, on which the government decision was
based, found that BST led to a 25% increase in the chances of
contracting mastitis (a bovine udder infection), an 18% increase in
infertility, and a 50% increase in the chances of lameness. The
itself has been the subject of on-going controversy, after Health
Protection Branch scientists involved in the investigations filed
complaints of professional harrasssment. Their complaints were
dismissed by a labour board.

Monsanto has announced  that it will challenge the government
decision. Among the options the company is exploring is a law suit

under the NAFTA agreement should the Canadian government ban
any US-produced dairy products from cows treated with the

In December of 1998, a coalition of organisations in the US filed a
challenge with the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the
removal from the market of Monsanto's Bovine Growth Hormone
in the US under the brand name, Posilac and also known as
recombinant Bovine Somatropin, rBST). Spearheaded by the
for Food Safety, the petition demands the immediate withdrawl of
from the market until its safety is proven against new evidence
released by Health Canada scientists last year. Should the FDA
fail to
do so, the coalition will sue the agency. Posilac is injected into an
estimated 15-30% of US dairy cows with the aim of increasing milk

yields (by an estimated 10-15%).

EU: Mapping the Moratorium
The Genetics Forum has produced a report on the EU Moratorium
the licensing and use of BST, due to expire at the end of 99. The
provides an insightful overview of the political pressures that will be
brought to bear to overturn the EU ban, and preventing an
For a copy, contact: The Genetics Forum, 94 White Lion Street,
London N19PF, UK. Email:

Big Brother donates to charity

Canadian farmers using Monsanto genetically engineered seed
well bump into Robinson Investigations private eyes on their farms.
The Detective agency has been hired by Monsanto Canada to
farmer compliance with the contractual conditions.
The company is aware of the negative implications this policing
have on the companies image in the farming world. Monsanto does

not want to become the Agriculture's "Big Brother", according to
Inksetter, Eastern Canada Monsanto Manager.
In order to counter negative press, the Monsanto solution is to
donate any fines collected from farmers to agricultural groups and
related charities. Taking the US as an example, where out of court
settlements range between $10 000 and $25 000 per farmer,
may well end up being a very generous benefactor.

IRELAND: Monsanto looking for scapegoats

    January 6 1999: People protesting at a food fair and debate on
    genetic  engineering  in Ireland have been served with legal
    writs by Monsanto  for the destruction of a Monsanto GE sugar
    beet trial. Irish Green  Member of the European Parliament Nuala
    Ahern rejects Monsanto's  charge that the protesters destroyed
    the site during their peaceful  protest at the sight. She holds
    that the site was 80% destroyed before  the protesters arrived
    on the site. The court case is scheduled for  February 9.

UK: Monsanto Hits the Media

    January 10 1999: Complaints filed by Monsanto against The
    Guardian  newspaper for a July 1998 article have been rejected
    by the UK Press  Complaints Commission. The Commission found all
    five points of  objection Monsanto raised against an article
    analysing mounting  opposition to GMOs were unfounded. Indeed,
    the ruling noted that  consumer and pressure groups had
    expressed anger over lack of  consultation by Monsanto; that
    Monsanto had unsuccessfully  restrained protestors. The ruling
    also held that the Guardian could not  be held responsible for
    inaccuracies in a map overviewing GMO field  trials in the UK
    that had been drawn from government information.  The Guardian
    editor, Brian Whitaker noted: "We are well accustomed  to
    vigorous lobbying from public relations companies, but Monsanto
    seems to put enormous pressure into complaining every time we
    write  about its activities". In the same month as the July 1998
    article was published, The  Guardian reported a different
    response strategy by the company to the  paper's coverage on
    genetic engineering. "Just over a week ago, three
    representatives of Monsanto [...] were thumping the table in the
     editor's office at The Guardian. They also demonstrated a vocal
    range  that visitors to the paper rarely exhibit. Monsanto's
    reps were  concerned about the paper's coverage of developments
    in  biotechnology. The coverage was too negative, they
    suggested."  (The Guardian International, June 16 1998)


Monsanto was amongst Multinational Monitor's 10 worst
corporations of 1998 for "introducing genetically engineered foods
into the foodstream without adequate testing and labelling, thus
exposing consumers to unknown risks".



    Monsanto Germany, Novartis Germany and AgrEvo are targeting
    teenagers in Germany. In 1998, an issue of the Teen 'Zine, Bravo
    Girly,  carried a pullout supplement, Gen Food that seeks to
    make GE cool.  Features of the supplement include:  *  teen
    interviews with the genetic engineer, Hans Olaf Warning ("He
    doesn't look like Frankenstein. He seems like a really good
    guy") * a visit to 17 year-old Lisa's farm, where her father is
    growing GE  crops (during which time young visitor, Sven, falls
    in love with Lisa). * a quiz to test your knowledge of genetic
    engineering (and win wrist  watches or packets of genetic
    biscuits) * a question/answer forum: teen questions on the
    benefits and safety  of genetic engineering are answered by an
    unidentified columnist

Teen readers with further questions can call the hotline (+49 130
914 606).

    Teen Zines provide a particularly malleable audience for GE
    promotion: the readership is typically a narrow social group
    (predominantly teenagers and below) with limited exposure to
    non- establishment political views or analysis. There is little
    or no scope for  peer opposition to genetic engineering in such
    a forum, so a pro-GE  analysis is likely to go unchallenged.



    "We don't seek controversy, but obviously it has been thrust on
    us. It  is a direct consequence of a role we  have chosen. And
    it is a role  which we can blame only ourselves  for. [...] we
    realize that with any  new and powerful technology with unknown,
    and to some degree  unknowable - by definition - effects, then
    there necessarily will be an  appropriate level at least, and
    maybe even more than that, of public  debate and public
    interest. And this will include both hope and  concern. So we
    have chosen this role and we believe it is a good role  for us.
    We view ourselves essentially as a technology supplier to
    global agriculture. We regret that the necessary concomitant of
    that is  that we are embroiled in a fair amount of discussion
    about this  technology and its applications."

    Robert Shapiro, in conversation with State of the World Forum
    News  Team journalist Alastair Thompson, October 28, 1998



Please note the new telephone and fax #s:

A SEED Europe Rounding Up Monsanto (& Co.):
telephone: +31 20 468 2616
fax: +31 20 468 2275

A SEED Europe
PO Box 92066
1090 AB Amsterdam
tel: 31-20-468 2616
fax: 31-20-468 2275