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‘Evil empire’ or ‘force for good’? An Agweek visit to Monsanto

Monsanto, the giant agrochemical and biotechnology company, has been described as both an "evil empire" and a "force for good." Hate it or love it, Monsanto plays a leading role in U.S. agriculture.

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Reuters file photo.

Monsanto, the giant agrochemical and biotechnology company, has been described as both an “evil empire” and a “force for good.” Hate it or love it, Monsanto plays a leading role in U.S. agriculture.

I’ll be visiting Monsanto’s research facilities in St. Louis during the week of July 24. I’m among 20 journalists, who come from USA Today, CNN, Politico and a number of large daily newspapers, among other news organizations, selected for a four-day National Press Foundation fellowship on the future of food and agriculture.

We’ll hear from experts on how food is grown, marketed, sold and sometimes wasted. We’ll learn more about labeling, growing food, GMOs, pesticides and herbicides, antibiotics, global trade and government regulation.

Funding comes from Monsanto, the American Farm Bureau Federation, the National Pork Board, and the Organic Trade Association. Given that, it’s probably no surprise that the program includes the trip to Monsanto research facilities and a number of sessions on organic food. The latter includes a visit to an organic farm in the St. Louis area. I’ve visited and written about organic farms before, but welcome the opportunity to learn more about this fast-growing segment of agriculture.

As for the trip to the Monsanto research facilities, well, any journalist - or at least any ag journalist - would jump at the chance for that.

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I’ll keep you updated on what I see and hear in St. Louis. Check back here in the week of July 25 to read what I’m finding out.

And, of course, I’ll be writing stories based on what I learn. Look for them in upcoming editions of our magazine.

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