Marketplace Radio is Accepting Public Comments on Monsanto Endorsements

Marketplace-radioOn April 16, 2010, Marketplace announced that it was soliciting listeners’ comments as to whether the program should announce Monsanto’s sponsorship when airing programs discussing Monsanto and their products.  The public comment inquiry was spurred on by Marketplace airing a program on April 13, 2010 (“Farmers profit off gene-modified crops”) which concerned genetically-modified crops without openly acknowledging the “support” from Monsanto.  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.  And credits throughout each show already identify Marketplace’s sponsors that day.

So, according to Marketplace, the  money and the reporting are separated by a wall which protects the integrity of the reporting.  We shouldn’t then worry, right?!

From our perspective here, Kai Ryssdal’s analogy to newspapers, magazines or television, unintentionally perhaps, highlights one of the biggest problems in American media, mainly, that there are few  independent and reliable sources of news left standing.  All corporations spend money on advertisement and the bigger the corporation, the bigger the marketing budget and the more insidious are the place ads.  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 that’s the whole point.  Coke wants you to instinctively think of of ­Coca-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 Monsanto’s RoundUp Ready dollars? You decide.  And while you are ruminating on the concept, consider this.  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.  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 Monsanto’s seed pricing practices).

Lastly, we wonder why the Organic Center’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 published 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.

  • M. Davis

    If the reporting is fair and unbiased, then there is no need for knowing who is paying for it. However, how likely is that? Not very!
    If you know you report something bad about Monsanto for example, you also know that you will lose their $$$ next time around. I ask you, MarketPlace, would you even consider saying something bad about Monsanto?
    We the public will. Monsanto is one of the most reviled companies in existence. It’s like taking money from the Nazis and slave masters to promote their goals.

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  • Valorie McLain

    There should be an announcement either before or after stating something like “The following program has been paid for and sponsored by… [in this case Monsanto]“. Infomercial is the long and short of it, regardless of how it’s disguised as a news item or informational programming. Furthermore, the factual evidence of GMO’s and their long-lasting effects should be allowed in such programming, as well as the fact that the top leaders of the corporation have been employed by the government entities that police, govern and set the rules and standards for safety in our food supply. This should be enough evidence for any half-witted listener to put the pieces together and figure out there is definitely a HUGE conflict of interest – in all facets of this GMO disaster – start to finish. The public deserves the truth.

  • Anhaga

    It seems to me that in this situation full disclosure is essential. Marketplace Radio would do well to seek different sponsorship. This is like carrying cigarette ads when you are broadcasting material that is supposed to describe medical research into the effects of tobacco on human health!

  • Sushila Mertens

    If you are having concerns about announcing a sponsor, maybe you should look deeper into having that sponsor at all. Even if your business depends on Monsanto’s support, can you justify money from a company that is intent on ruining our natural food supply? This is massive genocide. Did deeper into your values and do the right thing.

  • Devon Cromeens

    We’re a group of volunteers and starting a new scheme in our community. Your website provided us with valuable information to work on. You’ve done an impressive job and our whole community will be grateful to you.

  • Dawn Babcock Papple

    Oh hey, well if Monsanto doesn’t have to label their poison foods, why should the radio have to label their affiliations. Right?  

  • Dawn Babcock Papple

    Yeah, or like Coca-Cola’s ownership of The Beverage Company’s school for dietitians.  Insane!!!!

  • Dawn Babcock Papple

    Sadly, that’s not even much of an overshot either.  People are DYING because of this company.