If Monsanto is evil, what’s that say about me? About dialogue?

I started this blog in 2009 and it didn’t take long before I ended up writing about where I work. It wasn’t part of my plan. I mean this is just my personal blog. A place where I share whatever is running through my head and heart. So occasionally, work is on my mind, even when I’m off the clock. It is a job I am passionate about so I’m sure lots of you can identify that it doesn’t stay in the 8 am to 5 pm timeslot.

Monsanto is evil, what does that say about me?But have you ever felt people think you are evil because you work where you do? I have had the experience quite a bit online. And occasionally it happens face-to-face. One of the first times I had that put right in my face after I started my blog, I wrote about it. Someone actually said Monsanto is evil. I had a choice. I took what I called the middle ground rather than ranting or sitting there speechless.

That encounter comes up from time to time and now it is part of an article in an international science magazine called Cosmos. It is a bit strange to see my story referred to in a publication out of Australia and highlighted on the journalist’s blog on Discover. But that’s how high-pitched the rhetoric about Monsanto has gotten. And Keith Kloor is just trying to understand. He writes:

Several years ago, Janice Person, a Memphis-born PR specialist and amateur photographer, was making small talk with a stranger sitting next to her on a plane when the conversation turned to their jobs. “Where do you work?” the woman asked Person.

“Monsanto,” Person replied.

The woman gasped and her eyes widened in disbelief. “Monsanto is evil,” she said.

Person, who is the social media director for the US-based agricultural company, hears this a lot. The sentiment is sprayed all over the Web, where Monsanto-bashing is at its most fevered.

via Speak of the devil | COSMOS magazine.

Dialogue is more productive than name calling or screamingHe spends the rest of the article asking the question “How did we get to this point?” I think trying to understand that is important, but more importantly, I think we need to figure out how to move forward with real dialogue about the things that matter. And another article in Cosmos talks through some of the things driving the fear that is so common.

While the few people know are doing the name-calling shout louder and louder, I have found more and more people see the absurdity of the misinformation & tenor of the talk. And farmers are standing up and calling BS on things they see too.

And I think more people are seeking out the middleground. That’s where I found Nathanael Johnson, who writes for Grist magazine and did a thought-provoking series on GMOs over the last several months. Just this week, in a twitter conversation we were talking about the pitch of the discussion and we agreed that listening is important as is treating people with respect.

I hope there are a lot more people who understand listening and dialogue are the way to move forward. And I hope they find some folks like me

As for me personally, I remain grounded in the fact my momma raised me right, that my family and friends know my heart and that the farmers I meet by the thousands see the world through a multi-colored spectrum, not in stark black and white. I’m also rooted in the fact that I am one of many in agriculture — we are big and small, GMO and organic — who would rather focus on the real challenges ahead of us than name-calling exercises.

We may not all agree on all the details of agriculture anymore than we agree on the details of politics or anything else, but having productive dialogue is a much better use of my energy than calling people names. I hope you agree and take time to read the pieces Keith has written on Cosmos and his blog, as well as the one on the psychology of fear. If so, what can we do to move this forward?

A few related posts:

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About Janice Person

I'm Janice & this blog is about my passions -- photography, travel, agriculture & whatever else comes to mind. Putting all those things together is intriguing to me…. I can spend a lot of time soaking it up! It's almost always a colorful adventure!

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20 Responses to If Monsanto is evil, what’s that say about me? About dialogue?

  1. Anjanette February 10, 2014 at 11:05 pm #

    “As for me personally, I remain grounded in the fact my momma raised me right, that my family and friends know my heart and that the farmers I meet by the thousands see the world through a multi-colored spectrum, not in stark black and white.”

    Awesome!! Thank you for this Janice !!

    • Janice Person February 11, 2014 at 11:42 am #

      Thanks Anjanette! I know your momma raised you right too! :)

  2. cdmiller07 February 11, 2014 at 9:41 am #

    I’ve only been working professionally in the Ag industry for a year, and at first I used to not like telling people I create content for the Monsanto seed brands. Most people don’t voice or hint at any objection, but occasionally there are those whose faces will flash their concern and even those who will try and ridicule me for it. Now though, I’ve taken pride in the work that I do and the industry that I’m in. There is a lot to be proud of.

    • Janice Person February 11, 2014 at 11:43 am #

      Thanks Colby. And I hope you find that where you ask what there concerns are, you can move into real dialogue that is productive! So much better to move things forward than to simply butt heads!

  3. Mark Lathrop February 11, 2014 at 11:10 am #

    Although not to this level, Janice, I understand how it feels working in public relations for an “evil timber company” who clearcuts. There are so many out there who love to perpetuate the rumors and untruths. We need to keep our broad shoulders and tell our story to those who may not necessarily agree with us but are at least willing to listen and have a discussion. Keep up the good work, Kid!!! :)

    • Janice Person February 11, 2014 at 11:44 am #

      You make me smile so big by calling me kid! Thanks for that and for the empathy. Having had a chance to see a small part of what you guys do, I am in awe of the timber industry! Makes me wanna sing Keshia. ;)

  4. bocafrau February 11, 2014 at 11:39 am #

    Great post, Janice! Where you work shouldn’t affect how people treat you in your private life – we are all human and we all deserve respect! I think it’s great that you enlighten people and share what you do!

  5. Brian February 11, 2014 at 11:46 am #

    Great job, Janice. I’m so glad you can be open about your job, and that your employer doesn’t have a problem with you doing it! I think that says a lot!

    • Janice Person February 11, 2014 at 1:03 pm #

      Gotta admit, I just assume they are fine with it most of the time. LOL! Seriously, we are real people, regular folks and being able to talk about what we do is just part of the social world we live in these days. Thanks for speaking up so often Brian. You make a real difference!

  6. Sally February 11, 2014 at 12:29 pm #

    The general public barely understands science, let alone agriculture, so I can see how rumors are started (and perpetuated). Thank goodness for JP and others who work so hard to spread the good word about how American farmers are feeding our nation and the world.

    • Janice Person February 11, 2014 at 1:01 pm #

      Not understanding something makes it easy for people to pull the wool over your eyes (sheep reference just for you!) I think its easy to see how this can happen and a lot more difficult to see how to make changes for the better but acting is what it takes! Thanks for doing your part!

  7. vincenton February 11, 2014 at 12:59 pm #

    Greenpeace, EDF, WWF and eco-terrorists actually make Monsanto look good…

    https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10151855779049458&set=pb.400511429457.-2207520000.1392144884.&type=3&theater

    • Janice Person February 11, 2014 at 1:58 pm #

      Too often people assign good & evil labels without really looking into actions and impacts. That’s the brush we have been painted with. I while appreciate the thought but not sure speaking poorly of the others helps, and I know at least one of them is supportive of biotech. WWF is fairly progressive on the discussion and has been a vocal proponent of GMOs for years. But I get what you are saying.

  8. Jeremy February 11, 2014 at 5:39 pm #

    It really pisses me off how people hate Monsanto for coming up with better solutions to the issue of hunger than what we had before. Do these anti-GMO Luddites actively WANT people to go hungry? IS THAT WHAT THEY WANT?

    • Janice Person February 11, 2014 at 8:52 pm #

      There may be a few people that careless but there are more people who are simply susceptible to the BS because they don’t have the background and experience to understand some of the things they hear about agriculture. Hopefully we will get them there though!

  9. Amanda February 11, 2014 at 8:11 pm #

    Janice – As a lawyer, I get that reaction out the public too. ;) I appreciated your article!

  10. Bruce February 11, 2014 at 11:00 pm #

    I also appreciate your article. I find it a bit tiresome defending what I do (in the supply business to Agriculture – Monsanto is a major supplier) to friends and family. Too often they’re almost violently opposed to anything GMO. Generally I find they have no clue about farming, but they’re sure experts on what we’re all doing wrong.

    • Janice Person February 11, 2014 at 11:29 pm #

      I hear you. It can get tiring but I have to say, it’s a lot or understand for folks with no background in ag & who likely didn’t get enough science education either. So I take a deep breath and ask questions!

  11. Cheyenne February 18, 2014 at 11:15 pm #

    I’m so glad to be tuned into your blog — you are extremely well written & I appreciate your views on ‘good dialogue.’ I think not only letting the name calling go, but having a humble attitude towards things goes a long way.

    It was neat to see Sarah’s blog featured here too, she doesn’t live too far away from me.

    I think it’s so important for producers to be transparent in what they do and as Agriculture More Than Ever puts it ‘Speak up. Speak positively.’

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