We don’t envy Monsanto right now. Sure, it’s a super-wealthy international “biotech corporation” that touts its seeds, pesticides and other products as part of the “sustainable agriculture” movement, but a fairly big slice of the public came out over the weekend in several cities around the world to show much it really hates the company for using GMOs (that’s genetically modified organisms to you, sir) in its products.
This is the second global protest against Monsanto; the first, in May, included endorsements from such celebrity luminaries as Bill Maher, Dave Matthews and Danny DeVito, who we will continue to call “Frank”. At the end of the day, it’s a messaging war: are GMOs a solution to global hunger or a way to poison the public in the name of profits?
The “March Against Monsanto” organization posted a press release explaining its complaints: “GMOs are not adequately monitored to ensure public safety” and Monsanato acts to “suppress any research containing results not in their favor” and avoid complying with any labeling requirements.
Now for the PR: how can Monsanto counter its current status as everyone’s least favorite evil corporation?
The only real option we see is pulling a Chipotle and issuing statements to the effect that “we use GMOs, and you can boycott us if you feel like it”, but it seems the company only pulls that one out when directly addressing opponents—and it certainly has no interest in placing “Contains GMOs” labels on any products.
We’ll probably irritate a lot of web surfers with this sentence, but the science on GMOs is so unsettled that we don’t see a way to “win” this argument, and no coordinated campaign will change the minds of those who participated in the weekend’s march. One thing’s for sure: the “we’re all about small-town farmers” message isn’t sticking, no matter how well-designed the CSR stories page may be.
Perhaps Monsanto simply has to accept its bad guy status. It’s not like the money will disappear.
*Photo via Wikipedia