How One Piece of Legislation Keeps Monsanto in Check

While the influence that Monsanto and other corporations can have over the legislation process can be alarming at times, an interesting article was recently published by the Huffington Post, which shed some light on one way legislation is actually currently being used to keep Monsanto and other organizations in check: through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).

As a journalism major who had heard about FOIA previously numerous times in journalism and media classes, the article particularly piqued by interest. In a nutshell, the Freedom of Information Act allows for the release of government documents, often to journalists and the media, effectively providing both media and citizens with transparency. It turns out, that FOIA has played a huge part in exposing Monsanto’s questionable lobbying practices. The article describes how, through documents obtained via FOIA, New York Times journalist Eric Lipton published an article revealing the ways in which Monsanto and other agrichemical companies have been paying publicly-funded scientists to lobby in favor of their products. According to the documents Lipton obtained, Monsanto had been paying a University of Florida professor $25,000 to lobby in favor of the company. When asked, the scientist reportedly denied his ties to the company, suggesting that this information would not have been revealed without the help of FOIA.

Personally, I find this information to be extremely reassuring. While it’s scary that Monsanto can find ways to commercialize science, we can take comfort in the fact that there are laws like FOIA as well as journalists and the media which allow us to remain informed about corporations and their business practices. While many laws provide benefits in favor of large corporation, laws like FOIA keep them in check.

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3 thoughts on “How One Piece of Legislation Keeps Monsanto in Check

  1. The Freedom of Information Act is a very good piece of legislation that has been around for a while now. It keeps companies like Monsanto in check and allows for people to learn more about the government. Many journalists do research on government activities that people would otherwise not know about if it were not for the Freedom of Information Act. The Florida professor being paid by Monsanto is ridiculous. Things like that deserve to be found out about and addressed. I am sure Monsanto is paying lots of professors and other people who have a big influence on many people. Professors are an easy target for Monsanto because of the huge influence they can have on students, especially since students would be the ones to most likely dislike Monsanto and their products. So much information is available to the public, and all it takes is a request. If more people took advantage of this, then much more information like the professor lobbyist would be exposed. The Freedom of Information Act should be taken advantage of by people here, especially since many other countries do not have laws similar to that for their citizens.

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  2. This Huffington Post article was a great find. Following your group’s posts, I was very concerned that Monsanto had a power over government and media that still had not yet been challenged. The Freedom of Information Act is an excellent source for both people that work in the media and the general public. It is definitely reassuring to know that Media can keep us informed on the power and problems of big business through this freedom of information act. The article by Eric Lipton just goes to show that Monsanto is doing exactly what the FOIA tries to prevent, interesting and alarming behind-the-scenes actions! I really liked your post, how great it read, and the information you presented. Thanks for another good read. Great post 🙂

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    1. I’m glad you liked it! I agree – I was increasingly concerned as I did my own research and read my group’s research in their own areas. Monsanto as well as a lot of large corporations in general tend to have a lot more political power than we realize, but I think the media does a great job of keeping us informed on the potential hazards of allowing big business to have too much power over the government.

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