If the Monsanto Company is good at one thing, other than saturating the landscape with harsh agricultural chemicals and causing untold harm to people and the environment, of course, it’s playing the PR game to perfection.
The company’s products have proliferated in large part due to their ability to cozy up to farmers, to sell them on the (often false) promises of their genetically modified seeds and tandem chemicals.
As word has spread about the company’s true history, which includes everything from Agent Orange to dioxin and now the highly controversial GMO crops, more and more people and companies have begun disassociating with them.
But Monsanto’s grant program has continued to roll along, with the company doling out countless thousands as part of a program many believe has ulterior motives, with strategic gifts designed to conflate the chemical giants with sustainable practices.
Monsanto’s Gift to Nature Center Stirs Controversy
When the Denison Pequotsepos Nature Center in Mystic, Connecticut received a $5,000 grant from the Monsanto Company last fall, whose Dekalb genetics plant resides next door, Bob Burns knew something wasn’t right.
Burns, the head of the local GMO Free CT chapter, was well aware of the mounds of evidence showing that Monsanto is widely implicated by scientists in killing off bees and other wildlife.
And yet here they were, writing a check to support the center’s school program called “Plant & Pollinators: Perfect Partners,” which teaches kids about bats, birds and bees, the very creatures the company has long been implicated in wiping out.
A controversy erupted after GMO Free activists began raising awareness on Facebook, leading a major change by the nature center this past December.
The Denison Center announced it would revise its gift policy so that any donation that “might jeopardize the DPNC image or mission” must be pre-approved by the executive director and advancement chair.
The nature center also said it would forgo its application for a Monsanto grant this year.
But Burns and company aren’t quite satisfied yet: they want a formal declaration in writing stating that the center will no longer accept money from Monsanto.
Elissa Bass, the center’s spokesperson, said that the pollinators program has been scrapped for this year; the GMO Free group says it will raise money for it continue, however.
But Bass and the center have refused to renounce the possibility of taking Monsanto money in the future.
They’re not budging on Burns’ request for a written statement vowing not to accept donations, saying that the grant was received without any strings attached and helped kids to learn about pollinators in last year’s program.
Burns has started a petition and says he will protest in front of the center on May 23, the day of the international March Against Monsanto, if they refuse to renounce any possible Monsanto ties.
He says he has the signatures of around 50 members on a new petition he would like to present to the center, and vows to keep pushing forward, out of his conviction that Monsanto should never be associated with his local nature center in light of their crimes against the natural world.