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Ag Right: In the lair of an international criminal? (Or not)

ST. LOUIS -- I'm on the electronic mailing list of a group that calls itself the International Monsanto Tribunal. It consists, far as I can tell, of some European critics of Monsanto, the giant agrochemical company based in St. Louis. Now and the...

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ST. LOUIS - I’m on the electronic mailing list of a group that calls itself the International Monsanto Tribunal. It consists, far as I can tell, of some European critics of Monsanto, the giant agrochemical company based in St. Louis. Now and then I receive unsolicited emails from the group informing me of its plans to put Monsanto on trial for “crimes against humanity.” The whole thing is over-the-top, and simply not writing about. Ordinarily, that is.

On Tuesday I received another mailing from the group - at the very time that I was in Monsanto’s main research facility in the St. Louis area listening to presentations by top company officials. The International Monsanto Tribunal had no idea I was there - the timing was pure coincidence - but I was there nonetheless. I’m one of 20 journalists selected for a National Press Foundation fellowship on the Future of Food and Agricuture, and the training includes a trip to Monsanto’s research facility.

I debated briefly with myself whether to ignore the email, then decided I should at least ask Monsanto for comment. I mentioned it to a top company public relations official, who nodded and said, yes, she’s familiar with the International Monsanto Tribune. She said one of her colleagues was preparing an official response, which would be emailed to me.

It was. Monsanto noted the so-called trial isn’t a real trial and called it a “publicity stunt.” The company also says it keeps an open mind, and that the International Monsanto Tribunal does not.

Well, decide for yourselves if I was in the lair of an international criminal. I do know this: St. Louis is really hot, and part of the National Press Foundation event at Monsanto was held outdoors. No doubt the photo above - taken quickly as the journalists were about to leave - reflects that I was sagging a bit in the heat.

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Look back here for more entries on my time in St. Louis. And look to future editions of our magazine for stories on what I’m learning.

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