Printers pulp Monsanto edition of Ecologist
Paul Brown Enviroment Correspondent.
The Guardian Tues Sep 29th 98.
The Ecologist, the flagship of radical green for 30 years, has become
involved in a row with it's printers after an edition of the magarzine was
It had used the edition to attack Monsanto, the multinational genetic
engineering company. But the Ecologist's printers - Penwells of Saltash
Cornwall, destroyed the 14,000 print run without notice. Although it
refused to comment on it's decision, it is understood the company was
afraid of laying itself open to a libel action.
Penwells has been printing the Ecologist for twenty nine years without
complaint.Zac Goldsmith, co-editor and son of the late Sir James Goldsmith,
only discovered at the weekend that no copies of the edition survived.
His uncle, Teddy Goldsmith, Sir James's brother, funds the magazine. Mr
Goldsmith is known well in green circles for his enviromental views.
The Ecologist has been controversial since it was founded. It is read on
both sides of the Atlantic and was one of the first publications to point
to the potentially dangerous power of multinational companies.
"We are shocked and amazed. We have a long history of being forthright
about enviromental issues and attacking powerful organisations, yet not
once in 29 years has this printer complained about or expressed the
slightest qualms about what we were doing," Zac Goldsmith said yesterday.
"We have been good friends, but suddenly out of thge blue this happens. I
asked if they could send us just one copy but they said no, the lot had to
be destroyed. I just cannot find out what happened; they are not returning
Penwells were not prepared to discuss their decision to destroy the
edition. "We cannot comment on what has happened at all, or our reasons," a
The relationship between Penwells and the Ecologist has ended, Mr Goldsmith
Daniel Verakis, UK spokesman for Monsanto,said he was mystified by the
printers action. "I had talked to Zac Goldsmith way back in September about
the fact that this edition was a special one about biotechnology, and I
guess and I guess as the biggest company in that field I knew we would be
mentioned, but I did not know that it would be especially about Monsanto.
The fact that it was pulped is news to me. We had nothing to do with it.
Mr Goldsmith said"The fact that Monsanto had nothing to do with the
decision to pulp is, if anything, more scaey than if they had made some
kind of legal threat. It goes to show what a powerful force a reputation
He said that he was determined to get the Monsanto edition published. The
Ecologist should have been in the shgop yesterday, but the goldsmiths were
looking for printers.
The pulped edition opened with an open letter to Mr Shapiro, cheif
executive of Monsanto, describing it as one of the largest and most
powerful corperations in the world.
It said the issue was put together in response to Monsanto's
advertisementsin which it claimed it wanted a free and open discussion
about the impact of it's work.
The editorial then accusses Monsanto of working against sustainable
agricultural practice by undermining the annual saving and improving of
locally adapted seeds. "In the past you have had a hard time accomadating
the view of your critics. Indeed, as the following pages make clear you
have been quick to stifle any debate that might threaten your interests."
Among the issues examined are the recent injuctions against the genetic
snowball movement, which symbolically pulls up a few plants in genetically
modified crops as a protest. It has been the subject of blanket injuctions
banning it's activities against Monsanto.
[funny really as Dan Verakis was sat on the front row of the Science Museum
debate last week and we could have sworn that he had one of the many Ecologist
fliers on hs seat and they clearly advertise the fact that this issue was due
to be about Monsanto. Order your copy from newsagents now as another printer
has been found and it will be available next week. - GEN]