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Monday, August 4, 2014

Monsanto Paid Female Bloggers to Attend Panel


Heather Callaghan

Writers are often barraged with email invites to attend conferences to become better writers with promises that, in time, their efforts will produce a lucrative income. There are niche writing workshops as well, such as "food blogging." The hitch, of course, is that one must pay for tickets to enter said workshop.

In a notable flipside, however, Monsanto recently paid female bloggers $150 if they attended "an intimate and interactive panel." The goal here not being a way to a successful writing career, but rather an incentivized way to shape public opinion.

The invite target? Women ... Perhaps those of the ever-growing "Mommy Blogger" persuasion?


Reportedly, this was an invite-only three-hour brunch panel event on the last day of the BlogHer conference held in San Jose, California the weekend of July 26-27. It was to feature two female farmers and a team from Monsanto to discuss "where your food comes from" and the “impact growing food has on the environment, and how farmers are using fewer resources to feed a growing population.” 

The Cornucopia Institute originally posted a link to an invite, which is now closed. The invitation specified that no social media or write-ups were expected from attendees, but attendees would have the opportunity to ask questions.


It was Anna LappĂ© of Foodmyths.org who made the event well known and delved deep into the PR tactics surrounding this event. She really dissects the dizzying methods that Big Food corps use to build relationships to sponsor events like these in order to mold public opinion and "dress up" advertising as news or use "panels" with the appearance of a two-way conversation.

Anna also notes:

Another invite-only event in August will bring bloggers to a Monsanto facility in Northern California for a tour of its fields and research labs. Again, while no media coverage is expected, the unspoken goal is clear.
Stealth marketing techniques, such as these by Monsanto, reveal how the food industry — from biotech behemoths to fast-food peddlers — is working surreptitiously to shape public opinion about biotechnology, industrialized farming and junk food.
She mentions similar events. Not that these tactics are really all too surprising, considering the vast resources of a global corporate giant, which according to one of Lappé's sources, now build in entire budget lines for such networking. That is, as soon as they started taking the blogosphere seriously.
Nestle, for instance, has a "cyber army," complete with state-of-the-art high tech headquarters ready at the helm to address criticism through social media. They also had to pay a fine for infiltrating an activist group that spoke out against them....

Speaking of which, Monsanto has taken the online social media offense before. Even going so far as to pay Blackwater (which boasts having Monsanto as a client) the truly big bucks to infiltrate the ranks of anti-Monsanto activists.

Furthermore, in one instance, Monsanto representatives were asked to speak to school children in a health classroom - they gifted each of the kiddos with a deck of playing cards - each card displaying a Big Agri tidbit.  That article drew criticism from a Monsanto employee who routinely makes such comments on similar articles.

The Internet is starting to really teem with pro-GMO frontrunners trying to make it popular to paint non-GMO writers as extremists, shills, alarmists, dumb, science-illiterate and apparently killers for promoting world hunger via organic and local ag. Go figure. But now, perhaps, by holding positive sounding "educational" panels, they can convert mommy bloggers who will spread the GM gospel.

As people continue to turn away from corporate-run media, catch on to the PR industry spin jobs, and explore the world of the blogosphere, such tares among wheat are to be anticipated.

Heather Callaghan is a natural health blogger and food freedom activist. You can see her work at NaturalBlaze.com and ActivistPost.com. Like at Facebook. 

Recent posts by Heather Callaghan:

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