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Hear That, Monsanto? It's the Sound of Growing Consumer Awareness
Posted on August 29th 2013
This summer has yielded a booster crop of alarmed consumers. New revelations of the science behind Monsanto’s GE and GMOs products, labeled ‘satanic’ by the French and other nations, have been widely debated in social media forums. Yet France in particular offers a case study both for the food titans and consumer groups. For last month, despite overwhelming public rejection of GMO cultivation there, a French high court overturned the ban on specific GMO corn by Monsanto, allowing Monsanto to grow GMOs or produce GE seeds in France.
The chart below from our NetBase French GMO listening platform shows an informed public leading a consumer food safety protection movement and wary of the dangers of GMO and GE contamination.
The keywords here are “étude,” or study, and Séralini. French public debate and resounding opposition to GMOs has been fueled by scientific studies—in particular one secretly conducted over several years by French professor Gilles-Eric Séralini linking Monsanto’s GMOs and GEs to tumors in rats. According to the study, the consequent risks to human and animal health extend even to the extinction of the bee population.
French public opinion is revealed in the NetBase word cloud below and provides a lens on leading emotions surrounding GMOs. “Manger,” to eat, connects to public shock over the tumor-ridden rats in Séralini’s study who’d been fed Monsanto’s infamous Roundup herbicide. Monsanto’s policy of burying its “risk to human consumption” studies in deep underground silos has spawned nothing short of an emotional backlash in France. Even French President François Hollande has vowed to uphold the ban.
The French court’s action followed on the heels of the European Commission’s ban last May of three Neonicotinoid insecticides, a class of neuro-active insecticides chemically related to nicotine which act on the central nervous system of insects by binding with the postsynaptic nicotinic acetylcholine receptors. In short, this relatively new class of Neonicotinoid insecticides has been linked to bee Colony Collapse Disorder, posing a potential extinction threat.
In Italy, GMOs remain a hot topic. Last month, Italy summarily banned GMO production and GE seed cultivation, following a huge consumer social action campaign which we tracked in Italian in NetBase.
In the U.S., opposition to Monsanto’s GMOs and GE seeds has also been reignited. New reports attribute Monsanto’s GMOs to the alarming increase in the incidence of autism and other chronic diseases. One study cites agricultural contamination by Roundup, Monsanto’s “Darth Vader,” as the root cause in the development of chronic and life-threatening disease. Because Monsanto’s GMOs and GEs are so heavily doused with Roundup, there’s a further problem in that some studies report the crops have become resistant to the weed killer.
Our English-language NetBase GMO LISTENING TRACKER pinpoints human safety, environmental and toxic food chain concerns as leading the social debate. We also hear a broader call for corporate responsibility and food labeling transparency.
As I’ve recently blogged in several Monsanto social media posts derived from insights analyzed on the NetBase platform, a fierce consumer protection campaign is erupting on a global scale. Largely waged in social media, the campaign is fueled by broad health concerns ranging from the threat to the food chain and human health from Monsanto’s GMOs and GEs to more generalized issues of food safety and food manufacturers.
Social media is again spelling the advent of true democracy. Here social issues quickly gain a global kinship. What’s more, users form a new order capable of forcing the hand of corporate public policy. To wit, in our listening strategy on public sentiment toward GMOs, the leading global food manufacturers share the forum with Monsanto—shown in the NetBase brand cloud above—but also with the devastation wrought by Agent Orange and Fukushima. And that is bound to get further attention from consumers, if not from Monsanto itself.