Monsanto: Influence / Lobbying

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Monsanto have aggressively promoted their products through PR campaigns, industry lobby groups, funding academic research and directly influencing government policy. A recent Monsanto internal document leaked to GeneWatch UK revealed Monsanto’s global strategy to promote GM foods. They are actively influencing which experts get on to international scientific committees and are promoting their views through supposedly independent scientists. The report suggests that they have virtually given up trying to influence the debate on GM foods in the UK and are stepping up their activity in developing countries[1].

Lobbying Groups

Monsanto is a member of several UK and European industry lobby groups, including:

  • Crop Protection Association[2] in 2008. The Crop Protection Association was formerly the British Agrochemicals Association. It is an agrochemical and biotech trade association, one of the organisations that make up SCIMAC, the industry body established in June 1998 to support the "carefully managed introduction of GM crops in the UK"[3] [4].
  • EuropaBio (The European Association of BioIndustries) in 2007[5]:A European pro biotech lobby group which encourages the EU and national governments to develop policies that are supportive of biotechnology

In America...

Influencing research and education

In 2001, Dr R Stratford of Monsanto, is reported to have been involved with the Plant and Microbial Sciences Committee of the BBSRC (British Biotechnology Science Research Council)[8]. The BBSRC administer funding for biotech research in British Universities

The Sunday Herald of Scotland are reported to have written on the 15th April 2001 that "MORE than 140,000 glossy brochures sponsored by the US corporate giants of genetic modification such as Monsanto are being pushed into Scotland's schools by Scottish Enterprise'[9]. The name of this publication is 'Your World: Biotechnology and You' which is reported to be funded by The Biotechnology Institute's founding sponsors - BIO (Biotechnology Industry Organization), Monsanto, Novartis, Pfizer, Amgen, BioAlliance, Fischer Scientific, Genencor International, MdBio, PAbiotech and the Council for Biotechnology Information[10]

Links with government

There is a well documented ‘revolving door’ between Monsanto employees and officials from US Government regulatory bodies. For example...

  • Rufus Yerxa, Monsanto's Chief Counsel and Head of Government Public Affairs for Europe. Yerxa is reported[11] to have previously served as US Ambassador to the GATT in Geneva and as Chief Deputy USTR during the 1st Clinton Administration (when he played a key role in the Uruguay Round Negotiations). Yerxa was also a Partner with Akin Gump (Brussels), Strauss Hauer & Feld, where he specialises in EC and International Trade Matters.
  • Linda Fisher. Reuters News Service is said to have reported in 2001 that Fisher, who headed Monsanto's Washington lobbying office, had been appointed as Deputy Administrator with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Fisher had also served on a U.S. Agriculture Department advisory Committee on biotech foods[12].
  • Marcia Hale, moved to Monsanto in 1996/7 to coordinate the company’s public affairs and corporate strategy in the UK and Ireland. Prior to this, Hale was Clinton’s assistant for intergovernmental relations[13].
  • Michael Taylor worked for Monsanto before moving to the (FDA) where he oversaw the FDA’s approval of Monsanto's Posilac[15].
  • Ann Foster, former Director of the Scottish Consumer Council went on to become Monsanto's permanent lobbyist in the United Kingdom. At the time, Foster sat on several government advisory committees, including the key Committee on Medical Aspects of Food and Nutrition[16].

Monbiot states that the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA), 'which regulates the food industry, is, according to Betty Martini of the consumer pressure group Mission Possible, so closely associated with the company that it could be described as “Monsanto’s Washington branch office”'[17].

PR Companies

Monsanto have used several prominent public relations companies in an all out media assault to achieve public acceptance of their GM products. These companies include the infamous Burson Marsteller [18], Bell Pottinger Good Relations UK[19], Global Business Access Ltd[20] and Bartle Bogel Hegarty (UK).

Monsanto’s UK greenwash campaign organised by Bartle Bogel Hegarty in 1998 backfired spectacularly[21]. After numerous complaints, the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) condemned Monsanto for making 'wrong, unproven, misleading and confusing' claims in a £1m advertising campaign. The ASA says that Monsanto expressed its own opinion 'as accepted fact' and published 'wrong' and 'misleading' scientific claims. The ASA criticised Monsanto for 'wrongly giving the impression that genetically modified potatoes and tomatoes had been tested and approved for sale in Britain'. They also dismissed Monsanto's assertion that GM crops were grown 'in a more environmentally sustainable way' than ordinary crops as unproven. The Guardian reports Patrick Spring of the Green Party, where he points out that...

'Monsanto has been caught out misleading the public... If they are prepared to hoodwink the public, what have they been telling their friends in Government? We know they have been lobbying ministers and officials to try to get their products onto supermarket shelves. Have they been economical with the truth? The public need answers.'


  1. GeneWatch UK GeneWatch PR: Monsanto's desperate propaganda campaign reaches global proportions Accessed 27th February 2008
  2. Crop Protection Association Members List accessed 27th February 2008
  3. SCIMAC Home page Accessed 27th February 2008
  4. SCIMAC Who is SCHEMAC? Accessed 27th February 2008
  5. EuropaBio Annual Report 2007 Accessed 27th February 2008
  6. American Benefits Council Memberships Accessed 26th February 2008
  7. The Gorlin Group Clients Accessed 20th March 2008
  8. British Biotechnology Science Research Council Annual report 2000-2001 Accessed 27th February 2008
  9. Mindfully Your World: Biotechnology and You Accessed 27th February 2008
  10. ibid
  11. Cameron May Conferences Cameron May - Conference Schedule Accessed 4th March 2008
  12. Connectotel Bush names Monsanto executive for senior EPA job Accessed 27th February 2008
  13. Monbiot, G. (1997)The Monsanto Monster Published in the Guardian 15th December 1997. Accessed 4th March 2008
  14. Monbiot, G. (1997)The Monsanto Monster Published in the Guardian 15th December 1997. Accessed 4th March 2008
  15. Monbiot, G. (1997)The Monsanto Monster Published in the Guardian 15th December 1997. Accessed 4th March 2008
  16. Monbiot, G. (1997)The Monsanto Monster Published in the Guardian 15th December 1997. Accessed 4th March 2008
  17. Monbiot, G. (1997)The Monsanto Monster Published in the Guardian 15th December 1997. Accessed 4th March 2008
  18. MELODY PETERSEN (1999) Monsanto Campaign Tries to Gain Support for Gene-Altered Food Accessed 27th February 2008
  19. Chime Communications ALEX WOOLFALL HEADS ISSUES & CRISIS PRACTICE AT BELL POTTINGER GROUP Accessed 27th February 2008
  20. UK AGRICULTURAL BIODIVERSITY COALITION Monsanto and Biotech for Agriculture Accessed 4th March 2008
  21. Arlidge, J. (1999) Watchdog slams Monsanto ads Guardian Unlimited 28th February 1999. Accessed 4th March 2008