News | May 19, 2017
Food, Inc. Movie
Thank you for the opportunity to talk with you about the issues the film Food, Inc. raised regarding Monsanto.
We believe documentaries can play an important role in drawing attention to vital issues. When it comes to Monsanto, nothing is more important to us than agriculture — it’s our whole business. It also happens to be the topic the Food, Inc. documentary covers. The film addressed agriculture very broadly, but our role in the industry is specifically focused on seeds, crop protection, and software to help farmers around the world produce crops while making the most efficient use of energy, water, and soil.
There are several topics raised in the film that we would agree are very important, especially when it comes to food safety and the importance of understanding where your food comes from. However, many of the topics and claims made in regard to Monsanto were incorrect or misleading. This isn’t very surprising; in the past we haven’t always done a great job talking about our business, products, or technology. We spent most of our time talking with farmers because they are our customers and, unfortunately, we overlooked the importance of talking to society. We found out the hard way that when we don’t tell our own story others will do it for us. That’s why we want to make an effort to better address your questions and concerns raised by the Food, Inc documentary now.
Below you’ll find the most commonly asked questions raised by the film. If you don’t find your question please visit the Conversation where you can view hundreds of questions from consumers answered by experts. You're also welcome to ask a new question of your own.
Are GMO foods safe?
Foods derived from GMOs have a thoroughly tested, proven safety record. Countless studies have reviewed the safety of GMOs, and trusted organizations such as the American Medical Association and World Health Organization have agreed on the long-term safety of food grown from GMOs. We feed our own families with foods grown from our crops and safety is something we care deeply about. Here is a recent Forbes article that highlights the safety of GM products and here is an extensive list of studies confirming the safety of GMOs.
Why does Monsanto sue farmers when Monsanto seed blows into their fields?
We don't sue farmers who have accidentally ended up with trace amounts of our seeds in their fields, and we've made a commitment that we never will. You can check out this NPR article for more information about how this idea might have gotten started.
Why does Monsanto require annual seed purchases for farmers when the typical practice was saving some from the previous crop and using them?
When farmers choose to purchase the seeds we produce, they agree by contract not to save those seeds at the end of the season. We have these formal agreements because many of the seed varieties we develop are patented. Through the continuous innovative cycle fueled in part by patents, we are able to continue our work developing the next generation of products to be used by farmers to ensure they can feed the world’s growing population.
Additionally, buying new seeds every year often results in a much higher-quality crop than replanting seeds from a previous year because of the way we produce and manage our seeds. Additionally, hybrid seeds are less effective when replanted because they might not result in crops that have the same traits as the first generation, such as pest resistance. Check out this video put together by graduate students at the University of California - Davis which explains the science behind this in more detail.
Why do you say you work with the government when in fact many regulatory officials are former Monsanto employees? How is that fair?
We believe all government employees, including former Monsanto personnel, must ultimately serve the best interests of U.S. taxpayers. Individuals throughout the private sector, not just from Monsanto, routinely serve in government roles. A handful of former Monsanto employees have moved on to work for the U.S. government, and we did have a former employee, Michael Taylor, who went on to serve as deputy commissioner of the FDA. If you’re interested, Cathleen Enright, who served on President Obama’s Agricultural Policy Committee in 2008 and 2012, wrote a good post about this topic.
Why did you sue a small farmer for cleaning seeds? What happened in the case of Moe Parr?
Even though farmers are free to clean, save and replant their own conventional seeds, most of them buy new seeds every year for one of two reasons:
- They decide to take advantage of the benefits of new hybrid seeds; or
- They choose the benefits of biotech seeds and have signed an agreement that they will not save, sell, or replant the seeds produced from the biotech seeds they bought from their chosen seed vendor.
Maurice (Moe) Parr is not a farmer. He has operated a seed cleaning business in Indiana for decades. We became aware he was involved in the illegal cleaning of patented seed and, after years of efforts to manage the problem in other ways, we were forced to take legal action. He is able to continue to clean conventional soybeans, wheat, and other non-patented seed crops. Monsanto, in a gesture of good faith, agreed to forego the financial judgment against Mr. Parr as long as he honors the terms of the court order.