Saturday, May 4, 2013

Squeeze more food from a raindrop? | PCC Natural Markets

A few years ago, Monsanto, agriculture's industrious seed and pesticide giant, launched an aggressive advertising campaign on public radio and in high-brow, left-wing magazines — on American Public Media's Marketplace, in the New York Times Magazine, The New Republic, the Atlantic Monthly, and even the coveted back page of the New Yorker.

"How can we squeeze more food from a raindrop?" The key to solving environmental woes and feeding the world, the ads argue, depends on Monsanto's genetically engineered (GE) seeds and pesticides.

The print and media ads have subsided, but the biotech industry's messaging continues in corporate brochures and homey online "webisodes" (see In these videos, "America's farmers" talk with humility, pride and gratitude about what it means to raise a kid on the land, and plant crops with your brothers beside you, and how nice it is to plow a field in an air-conditioned tractor, and about the goodness of a strong work ethic, and the joy of bottle-feeding calves and ...

Did you swallow that? The feel-good montage — interspersed always with a salutation to GE seeds and pesticides. It's slick marketing.

Exposing lies

But not everyone is suckered into believing Monsanto is helping farmers build idyllic, prosperous farms. From the beginning, skeptics have questioned Monsanto's claims.

In 1996 New York's attorney general sued Monsanto for false advertising. One Monsanto ad at the time read: "Roundup can be used where kids and pets play." The lawsuit ended with Monsanto agreeing to stop calling Roundup "biodegradable" and to pull ads claiming Roundup was "safer than table salt" and "practically nontoxic."

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Squeeze more food from a raindrop? | PCC Natural Markets

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