Monsanto CEO pledges more biotech responsibility

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WASHINGTON – Monsanto Company CEO Hendrik A. Verfaillie offered a “New Monsanto Pledge” Nov. 27, outlining Monsanto’s policy for the development, use and stewardship of new agricultural technologies.

Speaking before the fifth annual Farm Journal Forum in Washington, Verfaillie said Monsanto is committed to “respecting and working with all interested parties, developing technology with benefits that are meaningful to farmers and consumers throughout the world, and only developing products that we are confident are safe and will provide value to our customers.”

The New Monsanto Pledge includes five areas of commitment – dialogue, transparency, respect, sharing and delivering benefits.

Verfaillie said the company will create an external Biotechnology Advisory Council from a range of constituencies with an interest in biotechnology to help the company make decisions.

He also said the company will make published scientific data and data summaries on product safety and benefits publicly available and accessible. Monsanto research and external research by universities and other institutions will be available through the Internet and other public venues.

The Monsanto CEO also said the company will commercialize commodity grain products only after they have been approved for consumption by both humans and animals and will not use genes taken from animal or human sources in agricultural products intended for food or feed.

He also underscoring a commitment not to pursue technologies that result in sterile seeds.

Verfaillie said the company will support science-based regulatory systems that make timely decisions. But, he added, If the regulatory systems are not functional, “we cannot allow the breakdown to deny U.S. farmers the choice of new technologies.”

“We have reached a critical crossroads in the debate about biotechnology,” said Verfaillie. “We recognize that people in all arenas have looked to us to explain and defend this technology publicly. We recognize that our role as a leader in this technology means we have to do more than react to what is said publicly-we have an obligation to take a solid stance and look to set benchmark policy on how this technology is developed, used and communicated.”

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