On April 16, 2010, Marketplace announced that it was soliciting listenersâ€™ comments as to whether the program should announce Monsantoâ€™s sponsorship when airing programs discussing Monsanto and their products.Â The public comment inquiry was spurred on by Marketplace airing a programÂ on April 13, 2010 (“Farmers profit off gene-modified crops”)Â which concernedÂ genetically-modified crops without openly acknowledging the â€śsupportâ€ť from Monsanto.Â According Kai Ryssdal, more than a usual number of listeners voiced their complaints.
When soliciting listener comments, Kai Ryssdal asked:
Forget Monsanto for a second and think about when should we do those acknowledgments — whatever the company is.
Or do we have to do them at all? I mean, you don’t see newspapers or magazines or television newscasts doing it when they cover an advertiser.
On the public comment page, Marketplace explained its underwriting policy, which has been:
to acknowledge that relationship on-air. We are reconsidering the policy, for this reason: There is no communication between Marketplace’s underwriters and Marketplace’s newsroom. There is no opportunity for an underwriter to try to influence news reports; a story involving an underwriter is reported in the same way as any other story.Â And credits throughout each show already identify Marketplace’s sponsors that day.
So, according to Marketplace, theÂ money and the reporting are separated by a wall which protects the integrity of the reporting.Â We shouldn’t then worry, right?!
From our perspective here, Kai Ryssdalâ€™s analogy to newspapers, magazines or television, unintentionally perhaps, highlights one of the biggest problems in American media, mainly, that there are fewÂ independent and reliable sources of news left standing.Â All corporations spend money on advertisement and the bigger the corporation, the bigger the marketing budget and the more insidious are the place ads.Â The ads are so pervasive in our society that they become a staple of our conversation, our way of thinking and living, often times, without consciously noticing it.
And thatâ€™s the whole point.Â Coke wants you to instinctively think of of ÂCoca-Cola when you are thirsty, 3M wants you to think of Scotch tape when you need adhesive tape, and Monsanto wants you to believe that their genetically modified creations are great so that the consuming public continues to consume without afterthoughts as to all the drawbacks caused by genetically modified foods.
Is it working? Or is it true that Marketplace remains entirely unaffected by Monsantoâ€™s RoundUp Ready dollars? You decide.Â And while you are ruminating on the concept, consider this.Â The April 13 piece, while makes an attempt at being objective by representing a talking point from Center for Food Safety, suffers from the defect of first discussing GMOs without identifying the debate.Â The title of the report is also misleading and one-sided (especially considering that the Department of Justice and at least seven other states are investigating Monsantoâ€™s seed pricing practices).
Lastly, we wonder why the Organic Centerâ€™s Dr. Charles Benbrook’ study, faulting GM crops in causing a significant increase in the use of pesticides, including glyphosate (i.e., Roundup) and which was publishedÂ in November 2009, was not reported by Marketplace.
May be money, like water, finds a way to seep through the cracks?!
GMO Journal invites everyone to read the informative listeners comments on the issue.