Monsanto’s PR Campaign Aimed At Targeting NPR Listeners


Monsanto is the latest underwriter/sponsor of one public radio’s most popular shows, Marketplace, which broadcasts daily on most NPR stations. But the new relationship between the popular business and economic news radio program and the controversial biotech company hasn’t sat in very well; instead it has shocked and angered many listeners, including me.

The baffling new association is perhaps an attempt by American Public Media, which produces Marketplace, to get more money for the show. We all know that three or four times a year public radio stations bombard listeners for contributions to keep their programming going. Public and community radio is only able to survive by receiving grants, some government funding, listener donations, and corporate underwriting. But it seems like Marketplace may have gone too far to allow Monsanto to pitch in.

Monsanto is a 107-year-old corporation that has catered to the entire world by producing and selling dangerous and poisonous chemicals (such as Agent Orange), artificial sweeteners (such as saccharin), and powerful and well-known pesticides such as Roundup, which can be toxic and damaging to the environment.

In the mid-1980’s, the company shifted its focus to agriculture, creating the first genetically modified crop. Now Monsanto leads the way in genetically modifying crop seeds worldwide. The latest controversy was its “Terminator” seed, which causes plants to be sterile and produce seeds that will never flower or bloom. The idea there is to force farmers to depend on Monsanto to buy these damned seeds every year. The company has back off from marketing the product, but who knows until when.

Perhaps the folks at Marketplace were too busy editing audio for their next radio show that they overlooked the risk they were taking of letting Monsanto be a supporter of public radio. Naw, I don’t think so. It was about misplaced priorities. To American Public Radio producers, keeping the show on the air comes first, the listeners and the rest of society, last.

The thing is that Monsanto’s real intentions to underwrite Marketplace is all about PR — they want to clean up their image by showing their “good side.” They want the educated listeners of public radio to see that they’re not bad because they’re “trying to make the world a better place.” Monsanto’s disingenuous message is sickening:

“Marketplace is supported by Monsanto, committed to sustainable agriculture, creating hybrid and biotech seeds designed to increase crop yield and conserve natural resources. Learn more at”

I mean, was the board of directors at American Public Media on crack to allow such a partnership to take place and thus allow the show to be the mouthpiece of Monsanto’s PR campaign?

To allow Monsanto to underwrite public radio programming is irresponsible and it goes totally against what the purpose of listener-supported radio is all about! NPR is one of the few places that people want to go for news that is free from corporate interest. And so, to allow Monsanto to support a radio show aired on NPR, it’s an outrage. I call on every public radio supporter to suspend their pledges until Marketplace kicks Monsanto off their list of corporate underwriters. Write and call American Public Media to put the interest of listeners first!

It’s imperative that we don’t continue to allow this to happen, I mean, who is going to be next? Dupont? Halliburton? Blackwater (now known as “Xe”)? Many shows on NPR already take money from defense contractors such as Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman. If listener-sponsor radio is to survive, people need to stop corporations from guttering it from inside out. The madness has to stop.


2 Responses to Monsanto’s PR Campaign Aimed At Targeting NPR Listeners

  1. Vote -1 Vote +1Kelly Porter Franklin
    July 20, 2009 at 9:07 am

    I’m a Canadian involved in a class action suit naming Monsanto (which now calls itself Pharmacia) over the spraying of Agent Orange here so maybe I’m a little biased, but here’s what I think.

    I once saw a protester holding up a sign saying,
    “Hey Monsanto, how’s about knocking off some of that EVIL?”

    And evil they are. So if Monsanto wanted to hurt NPR, couldn’t it have done so most cheaply by simply announcing it supports Marketplace? I wouldn’t put it past them.

  2. -1 Vote -1 Vote +1Gary Denton
    July 22, 2009 at 8:43 am

    Marketplace is only the most pro mega-business of the National Public Radio shows. Nearly all of their shows have a conservative bias. Repeated surveys through the years show that for guests, commentators and voices heard conservatives outnumber progressives almost two to one on NPR. Republicans outnumber Democrats no matter who controls Congress and who controls the presidency. Because NPR speaks for the educated class and is not socially conservative they have a reputation of being liberal. They are not, they are the educated Republicans. NPR is really an acronym for Nice Polite Republicans.

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