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General Discussions => Skepticism / Science Talk => Topic started by: mem_somerville on May 28, 2015, 11:42:46 AM

Title: What would it help you to hear from Monsanto?
Post by: mem_somerville on May 28, 2015, 11:42:46 AM
I've been hanging around with the Boston Skeptics, and we would like to have a speaker from Monsanto come and speak to the group. We have a chance to direct the content a bit.

I know skeptics aren't unified on the GMO issue. But I appreciate that most of them are at least open to hearing the data from the other side of their concerns.

So here's my request for your questions: if you could hear from Monsanto, what would you like to have them address?

Alternatively, what myths do you think they need to tackle the most? What data might help you in discussions around the 'tubz on topics you face out there?

For example, I'm going to ask about:

1. Biodiversity. It seems to me that people think there is just 1 kind of corn out there. How many varieties of corn are available to farmers? What differs among them?

2. The technology agreement: can you clarify if farmers are bound to your company and your chemistry in perpetuity?

That sort of thing, really specific about Monsanto's science and business.

[x-posted to r/skeptic]

Thanks for any guidance. I do not have any affiliation with Monsanto or Big Ag in any way, if that matters.
Title: Re: What would it help you to hear from Monsanto?
Post by: Henning on May 28, 2015, 12:38:31 PM
Are they aware of their huge public relations problem but just don't have the resources to deal with it? Why don't they try to address it ever?
That's what I would want to know.
Title: Re: What would it help you to hear from Monsanto?
Post by: Andrew Clunn on May 28, 2015, 12:57:06 PM
The really hard questions:

1) Your products are being adopted at staggering rates, which raises its own potential issue with a decrease in bio-diversity.  Are you concerned that this lack of biodiversity will make your products more susceptibility to single pathogen?  What precautions are you taking to stay ahead of natural adaptation of pests in the evolutionary arms race?

2) Repurposing genes found in nature being protected under patent law has lead to a situation where farmers are required to purchase seeds anew each year, as opposed to saving seed from year to year.  Also the pesticides sprayed, which your own crops are resistant to, can easily damage the crops of any neighboring farmers who don’t use your resistant strains.  How can you reassure investors that foreign governments won’t reject US patent laws over growing political opposition, and thereby effectively nationalize your product’s trade secrets?
Title: Re: What would it help you to hear from Monsanto?
Post by: amysrevenge on May 28, 2015, 01:04:27 PM
Yeah, those are pretty much the rational concerns about Monsanto.
Title: Re: What would it help you to hear from Monsanto?
Post by: Henning on May 28, 2015, 01:07:20 PM
Yup, those are good ones, sure. And unless they send you a scientist, you'll probably get a vague PR answer.
I'm more interested in the social phenomenon of "Monsanto is evil" anyway.
Title: Re: What would it help you to hear from Monsanto?
Post by: Anders on May 28, 2015, 02:11:04 PM
Are they aware of their huge public relations problem but just don't have the resources to deal with it? Why don't they try to address it ever?
That's what I would want to know.

Because they know it wouldn't do any good.
Title: Re: What would it help you to hear from Monsanto?
Post by: lonely moa on May 28, 2015, 02:14:08 PM
Are they aware of their huge public relations problem but just don't have the resources to deal with it? Why don't they try to address it ever?
That's what I would want to know.

Because they know it wouldn't do any good.

Because they don't need to do it. Have a look at their share price.
Title: Re: What would it help you to hear from Monsanto?
Post by: Morvis13 on May 28, 2015, 02:21:05 PM
I wonder if they worry about their product becoming an invasive species?
If they build a better plant what is to stop it from dominating the landscape?
How have they tested the safety of the product? Are there independent studies?
What are the possible side effects and how do they go about mitigating those?
Why don't they address those fear mongers?
Where do they draw the line in bringing in genes? will we be getting soylent green any time soon?
Title: Re: What would it help you to hear from Monsanto?
Post by: mem_somerville on May 28, 2015, 02:34:53 PM
Thanks for the good and thoughtful questions so far. Feel free to keep 'em coming. I'll keep checking in.
Title: Re: What would it help you to hear from Monsanto?
Post by: lonely moa on May 28, 2015, 03:00:03 PM
I wonder if they worry about their product becoming an invasive species?


GE canola already is.
Title: Re: What would it help you to hear from Monsanto?
Post by: Ah.hell on May 28, 2015, 03:17:17 PM
Monsanto has a few commercials out there that are "up with us we feed the world", so they are trying to help their image.

Title: Re: What would it help you to hear from Monsanto?
Post by: lonely moa on May 28, 2015, 05:44:14 PM
Monsanto has a few commercials out there that are "up with us we feed the world", so they are trying to help their image.

They certainly help feed cattle and automobiles in the US.
Title: Re: What would it help you to hear from Monsanto?
Post by: mem_somerville on May 28, 2015, 06:23:00 PM
Someone on reddit asked for clarification of the Academic Research License. I think that's a good piece to explore too. There's a lot of confusion about that around.
Title: Re: What would it help you to hear from Monsanto?
Post by: mem_somerville on June 06, 2015, 02:15:13 PM
Update: the event is in place. More details here:

SitP: Larry Gilbertson on GMOs and Biotech  (http://bostonskeptics.com/2015/06/sitp-larry-gilbertson-on-gmos-and-biotech/)

7PM on Monday, June 22, 2015 in the third floor of The Hong Kong Restaurant, 1238 Mass Ave in Harvard Square, Cambridge

I will be using the real questions from here, reddit, and other places to form the basis for the discussion part.