28 Jan 2014 Free-Market Activists Confront Junk Science Anti-GMO Radicals at Monsanto Annual Shareholder Meeting
National Center for Public Policy Research Counters Liberal Shareholder Proposal to Require Mandatory GMO Labeling – as Liberal Activists Derisively Call the National Center’s Scientific Position the “Fox News” View of GMOs
World’s Largest Seed Company Urged to Do More to Combat Radicals With Scientific Experts as Unruly Crowd Outside Seeks to “Occupy Monsanto”
St. Louis, MO / Washington, D.C. – As liberal radicals protested GMOs outside of Monsanto’s headquarters, inside the building, a free-market activist with the National Center for Public Policy Research confronted junk science leaders who demonize GMOs at today’s annual meeting of Monsanto shareholders in St. Louis, Missouri.
“Despite the best efforts of anti-GMO activists, Monsanto’s shareholders unequivocally agreed with our position that mandatory GMO labeling is anti-free market, anti-common sense and, more importantly, anti-science,” said the National Center’s Free Enterprise Project Director Justin Danhof, Esq., who attended today’s Monsanto shareholder meeting.
Danhof spoke out against a shareholder proposal submitted by anti-GMO activist Adam Eidinger (according to media reports, the former co-owner of two Washington, D.C. hemp stores that were forced to close in 2012 after federal officials raided the stores leading to multiple arrests), which would have required Monsanto to work with the FDA to develop and require mandatory GMO labeling guidelines.
An audio recording of the proposal’s presentation and rebuttal is available here.
Danhof countered this fear-based proposal, by saying, in part:
This proposal is unnecessary for Monsanto’s corporate purposes and unnecessary for health purposes. GMOs are mainstream agriculture. GMOs feed people more efficiently. GMO crops are more environment-friendly than conventional crops. Numerous scientific bodies have determined that GMO foods are safe, including:
- The National Academy of Sciences
- The American Association for the Advancement of Science
- The American Medical Association
- The Royal Society of Medicine
- The World Health Organization
Literally hundreds of studies have confirmed that GMOs are safe… GMO foods are a great gift to mankind. They lower food costs, allow farmers to produce food in a more sustainable way, and, as Bill Gates and the Gates Foundation have pointed out, show great promise for ending world hunger and malnutrition.
The proposal can be found on pages 76-77 of Monsanto’s proxy statement.
Danhof’s full statement against the proposal, as prepared for delivery, can be found here.
The proposal failed, with more than 95 percent of company shareholders voting against it.
Prior to the meeting, the National Center issued a press release urging shareholder to reject the anti-GMO proposal.
“If progressive activists really think GMOs are causing the spreading of massive diseases and widespread health concerns, why are folks such as Mr. Eidenger only asking that these products be labeled? If GMOs pose grave risks to human health, shouldn’t they be banned altogether? If the science backed their scary claims, I would lead the charge to ban GMOs,” said Danhof. “Too bad for the agitators, GMOs are perfectly safe.”
“One possible explanation for the disconnect between the anti-GMO claims and the science that unequivocally states GMOs are healthy for human consumption, is money. The organic food lobby has been spending large sums to support GMO labeling efforts,” said Danhof. “While some of the anti-GMO crowd may be true believers who have been swindled by hack scientists, it is likely much of the opposition to GMOs comes from the organic food industry which seeks to improve its sales and profits.”
In response to Danhof’s comments, the shareholder who presented Mr. Eidinger’s proposal complained that the organic food lobby wasn’t donating enough to his cause.
Also in response to Danhof’s comments, Lisa Lindsley of Sumofus.org attacked the National Center’s position as the “Fox News” position on GMOs.
“It is news to me if Fox News has a position one way or the other on mandatory GMO labeling. I have never been a guest on the Fox News Channel, I’ve never worked for Fox News, nor do I have any affiliation whatsoever with that news organization,” said Danhof. “But what Ms. Lindsley did was show the immaturity of the anti-GMO activists who make ad hominem attacks when confronted with stubborn facts that counter their pre-ordained positions.”
“At today’s meeting, anti-GMO activists also failed to confront the stubborn fact that GMO crops often use less land and natural resources than traditional farming methods, while producing a greater yield. Since liberal elites claim to be the champion of the poor and the environment, it makes very little sense why they seek to quell GMOs,” said Danhof.
At today’s meeting, Danhof urged Monsanto’s CEO Hugh Grant to take a more aggressive stance against the anti-GMO messaging machine.
“GMOs may be the key to ending world hunger, and every serious scientific body in the world to study the issue has concluded that they are perfectly safe for human consumption, yet the anti-GMO, junk-science campaigns have been winning the public policy debate. Despite running a morally bankrupt platform, the anti-GMO factions have scored profound victories in the public relations battlefield specifically because companies such as Monsanto are often unwilling to take on the rabble and stand up for its products,” noted Danhof.
In fact, one ABC News poll found that a whopping 93 percent of Americans think the federal government should require GMO labeling.
Danhof asked Grant, in part:
My question: Would you consider asking Monsanto scientists – not all of them, just the ones with an interest who would be good at it – to go on talk radio shows, across the country, not just in places with labeling debates, explain the issues and take questions from the public?
Your critics want transparency. What could be more transparent than actual Monsanto scientists interacting with the public?
Grant replied that he liked the idea, saying “coaching accepted.” He noted that for a long time the company didn’t see that it was Monsanto’s place to be involved in public policy debates regarding GMOs and this is a reason it lags in many opinion polls. But that going forward, the company will aggressively engage stakeholders and the public and confront anti-science activists.
“I was very impressed by Mr. Grant’s admission of past public relations failures and dedication to fixing those errors. I understand that the prevailing mantra of the corporate business world is to remain as risk averse as possible, but Monsanto has nothing left to lose on this issue. The public is so ill-informed on the science and benefits of GMOs, that nine in ten Americans have been lured into the opposition’s camp. By sending scientists with facts to the airwaves, the company can counter the irrationality of the fear mongers, and get back to work trying to help cure world hunger,” said Danhof. “Monsanto is the market leader in GMO seeds, and, as such, it must steel its spine against the anti-science crowd and win back the public’s support for its important work in our growing world with ever more mouths to feed.”
In response to Danhof’s comments about Monsanto’s public relations, the individual who presented the mandatory GMO labeling proposal called Danhof’s comments “rich” and claimed – in full tin hat conspiracy theory mode – that Monsanto has been in full control of the media for decades.
“Today’s meeting made one thing abundantly clear to me: when confronted with fact-based arguments, anti-GMO activists have absolutely no coherent response,” said Danhof. “Their default position is to attack the other side personally, and avoid the issues. I guess that’s what one is left with when they are defending a morally and scientifically bankrupt position.”
Despite the proposal’s failure today, the anti-GMO movement has effectively scared many Americans into believing that GMOs are a true evil to society and danger to human health.
Earlier in January, Jeff Stier, director of the National Center for Public Policy Research’s Risk Analysis Division, responded to a petition by lawmakers and hundreds of anti-GMO organizations that urged President Obama to require labeling for GMO foods. Stier remarked:
Genetically modified foods, already consumed widely by American consumers, haven’t made anyone sick. Further, requiring labels would add all sorts of expenses that will make healthy foods more expensive.
Organic food companies, or any company, for that matter, are welcome to label their products as ‘GM free,’ and many do. But mandatory labeling of safe products represents a classic case of rent-seeking; this is an effort to assert political influence at the expense of consumers and responsible farmers for the sole benefit of those seeking the labels.
Danhof attended today’s meeting as proxy for National Center Chairman Amy Ridenour, a Monsanto shareholder.
The National Center for Public Policy Research, founded in 1982, is a non-partisan, free-market, independent conservative think-tank. Ninety-four percent of its support comes from individuals, less than four percent from foundations, and less than two percent from corporations. It receives over 350,000 individual contributions a year from over 96,000 active recent contributors.
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