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Consumer Education Monsanto-Style

For Related Articles and More Information, Please Visit OCA's Genetic Engineering Page and our Millions Against Monsanto Page.

Robert Fraley, Monsanto's Chief Technology Officer and this year's winner of the dubious World Food Prize, recently admitted that Monsanto made a huge strategic error by focusing educational outreach on growers and ignoring consumers. An interesting analysis of this admission is presented in an overlooked report by Joan Faus published in the April 12, 2014 edition of El País (Spain). Faus quotes Fraley admitting the error: "In the last twenty years almost all of our communication activities and education have been focused on farmers and it went very well. But the mistake we made is that we did not put enough effort toward consumer education."

Faus attended a press conference hosted last month by Fraley in St. Louis with invited members of the European press corps. The extended session revealed much about the political and strategic worldview of Monsanto's top technologist and legitimation agent-in-chief. According to Faus, Fraley's view of consumer education is informed by the corporation's awareness that the future of genetically modified foods will be largely played out in the public sphere and not the science labs. We should note that scientists have always been imbricated with the political machinery of the state as the overlapping industry ties of past and current USDA and FDA appointees will attest.

Perhaps, but one thing is certain: Monsanto does seem acutely aware that the battle between supporters and opponents of GM has heated up and is extremely fierce. Moreover, after years of accumulating what Fraley views as an unfairly bad reputation, the Gene Giant has decided to change strategy: It plans to get closer to the consumer so it can work at convincing skeptics and critics of the safety of its products and the positive effects biotechnology presumably has on world agriculture [sic].