Debunked: Monsanto canteens (cafeterias) serve non-GMO foods


Senior Member.
Back in 1999, a story by the UK press Independent reported:
...that Monsanto employees don't eat their very own GM (genetically modified) foods, in their High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire UK facility.

Of the 1999 article, Greenpeace locked on to the news story, reportedly exposed by Friends of the Earth, was subsequently spread by the local and international media.
(no reference found on the FoE site)
"The firm running the canteen at Monsanto's pharmaceuticals factory at High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire, serves only GM-free meals, Friends of the Earth said. In a notice in the canteen, Sutcliffe Catering, owned by the Granada Group, said it had taken the decision "to remove, as far as practicable, GM soya and maize from all food products served in our restaurant. We have taken the above steps to ensure that you, the customer, can feel confident in the food we serve."
The notice was posted by the Sutcliffe Catering Group......not their employers, Monsanto.
That UK facility is now closed

That was 1999...more on that later. ***

But let's look at the facts as described by the initial story.....
1) One Monsanto facility, in the UK, in 1999
2) The decision was posted by a contracted caterer, employed by Monsanto.
3) This story was never confirmed. (denied later)

Lately, the current anti-GMO activists have renewed (recycled) this story.

Now it is quite popular that the kindergarten school-game of "The Telephone Game", or Chinese_whispers is inadvertently played here on the net.

So now in 2012 we see the story reported as :
-- all Monsanto's facilities practice this non-GM diet
-- is a great juxtaposition of company values, exposing the real threat of GMO's
-- even the Monsanto employees won't eat GMO's

There's a story doing the rounds again, about how Monsanto, one of the world’s largest profiteers of genetically engineered (GE) food, banned GE food from its own corporate canteens!
(notice the plural, "canteens")

Here is a rebuttal of that initial story...
Flash forward 13 years. Greenpeace, always interested in recycling, recycles this 1999 news story. People get excited, and tweet it as a current story.
The fact is, it wasn’t true in 1999, and it’s not true today.
All foods can be found in Monsanto cafeterias – conventional and organic. None of it is singled out as conventional or organic. It’s just food served in our cafeterias, the same food that everyone else eats.

In fact, the only time any food was removed from Monsanto cafeterias was a few years back, when a produce company announced a voluntary recall of spinach because of possible E. coli contamination. We remember it because spinach leaves suddenly disappeared from our salad bars.

...yes, that was from a Monsanto blog. I feel like employees have a right to defend themselves, and to attempt to expose the truth.

*** OK, back to 1999 in the UK, when the original news article was written, and the claims issued....
Yes, the GMO issue in the UK and the EU was hot then.
In fact, in 1999, the UK parliament banned GM foods from their work-supplied meals and resturants...

...and the 1999 public in the UK was also very unsure of GM why wouldn't an independent catering company (who happened to also worked for Monsanto) have and share the current public outcry for "testing before serving" ?? After all, as an independent catering company (not only serving to Monsanto), their reputation is based on their actions. Those actions would surely reflect upon their other catering jobs, outside of Monsanto.
It's not too hard to imagine that they may have took a small amount of pride, in beating down the giant (GMO = Monsanto) by offering only non-GM food, to a GM giant. This is of course my own guess, and I have found no data to back-up that guess. But as a cook, and who has friends as caterers, I know their "healthy goal". Healthy is part of their business attraction, otherwise people would not hire them, they'd hire deep-fry chefs.

Jay Reynolds

Senior Member.
So many myths persist in anti-GMO circles. Another that has cropped up for over a decade is that Monsanto company seeds contain a "Terminator" gene which makes seeds produced by their crops sterile. While Monsanto does own such patented technology, the trait has never been sold in any seed the company sells.

There is an interesting connection between the early genesis of the Monsantodevil cult and the present anti-geoengineering pressure groups.

Having followed both issues for over a decade, I recall that in the 1990's, when the internet was very young and basic, the prime mover who developed much of the irrational Monsantodevil material was known as RAFI, Rural Advancement Foundation International.

Essentially, RAFI was a Ludddite organization opposed to technology advances in general, and headed by Pat Mooney.

It later morphed into the ETC group, now a prime mover in the production of anti-geoengineering material.

Together with Cary Fowler and Hope Shand, Pat Mooney began working on the "seeds" issue in 1977. In 1984, the three co-founded RAFI (Rural Advancement Foundation International), whose name was changed to ETC group (pronounced "etcetera" group) in 2001. ETC Group is a small international CSO[disambiguation needed ] addressing the impact of new technologies on vulnerable communities. Mooney’s more recent work has focused on geoengineering, nanotechnology, synthetic biology and global governance of these technologies as well as corporate involvement in their development. ETC has offices in Canada, the United States, and Mexico; and works closely with CSO partners around the world.

Pat Mooney is credited with coining the word "Terminator Technology".


Senior Member.
Interesting, Jay.
BTW.....I am not some "Monsanto lover". Their legal practices bother me greatly, as I have posted before.

Also, I often see complaints from "open pollinator" farmers (farmers that save some seed for the next year's planting), that their crops are being "infected" by neighboring farms' GM corn pollen....and that the seed harvest from their carefully protected heirloom varieties are now ruined. I do have sympathy there. But if that IS the case...>> that their heirloom crop is being pollinated by a neighbor's non-heirloom crop (a different variety).....does it matter that the infection comes from a GM plant, or just another "organic" variety ? ....either way, their corn flower may be pollinated by either, or both.
I'm getting off subject though....

Back to the subject....
Regardless of the difficulties when dealing with mass/corporate agriculture industries, and their real issues.....the public "eats-up" false stories more hungrily than the investigated truth.

Jay Reynolds

Senior Member.
Also, I often see complaints from "open pollinator" farmers (farmers that save some seed for the next year's planting), that their crops are being "infected" by neighboring farms' GM corn pollen....and that the seed harvest from their carefully protected heirloom varieties are now ruined. I do have sympathy there. But if that IS the case...>> that their heirloom crop is being pollinated by a neighbor's non-heirloom crop (a different variety).....does it matter that the infection comes from a GM plant, or just another "organic" variety ? ....either way, their corn flower may be pollinated by either, or both.
I'm getting off subject though....
Exactly right. To produce good seed with 99%+ true type requires more than most people think. many thousands of mosty young people earn good money to do this job. Here is a 3 minute documentary showing part of the process:

In this one, the machine you see getting stuck is the detasseling machine:

If you want to grow seed corn, you can't complain about the other guy, you simply have to take the steps necessary to protect your own crop:
All or portions of seed corn fields may be surrounded by extra rows of male plants if it is likely that wind may carry foreign pollen into the seed corn field. These extra rows are called "buffer" or "isolation" rows depending on the area of the country

Knowledgeable small farmers can easily control pollination to produce seed by shoot bagging the silking ears and pollinating with the desired pollen. If someone tries to make the claim that their corn was "contaminated" by another variety, they simply don't know what they are doing. Here is how the process is done:


Senior Member.
My main issue with GMO crop producers (including Monsanto) is with the concept of chemical poison resistance. It's the decision of the customer to pay "double" for seeds and poison, but the real problem is that the use of the matching poison is encouraged, which may lead to health problems for workers and possibly to a growing resistance of weeds, pushing the poison usage even further up.

I consider this a failed concept.

And yes, other farmers (and consumers, obviously) should be able to easily "opt out" of getting their crop polluted with engineered gene material.
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