Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Forbes Magazine and Monsanto

Last year, Forbes Magazine anointed Monsanto as Company of the Year. My coverage at the time was doubtful.
Forbes credulously repeats these promises about future products as if they were already here, while burying its more skeptical coverage of Monsanto's main business lines.

The article focuses first of all on Monsanto's efforts to provide omega-3 fatty acids through genetically modified soybeans. These fatty acids are found naturally in fish oils. Citing a not-yet-refereed paper from a recent scientific conference, Forbes gushes: "Wouldn't that be a wonderful product to have for sale? Stops heart disease--and protects the environment, too. People could get their nutritional supplements without depleting fish stocks."
But that Forbes article did not represent all of the magazine's coverage of food business issues, much of which is informative and challenging. For example, an article in May, by Matthew Herper and Rebecca Ruiz, about over-hyped health claims for probiotics in foods, had the headline, "Snake Oil in Your Snacks."

This week, Forbes writer Robert Langreth reflects back on his Monsanto Company of the Year article a year earlier.  The new headline is courageous, "Forbes Was Wrong on Monsanto.  Really Wrong.


ann cox said...

The reason Monsanto is so effective is because they are great at covering up what they do. They also have really great marketing campaigns too and a modern day Pinkerton force of detectives. I would really like to learn about how Monsanto affects specific geographic areas in different ways.

Anonymous said...

In the farm community Monsanto has a reputation of being a corporate bully compared to other entities, such as John Deere. Monsanto is perceived as being overly aggressive, both in pursuing seed savers and in using pricing structures and formulations for its products that retained maximal benefit for Monsanto. Although it is also understood that these were legitimate actions, I suspect many still believe that the company is getting its just deserts.