May 11th, 2012
How Your College Is Selling Out to Big Ag
By Tom Philpott
Last week, the University of Illinois’ College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences (ACES) in Champaign-Urbana made a momentous announcement: it has accepted a $250,000 grant from genetically modified seed/agrichemical giant Monsanto to create an endowed chair for the “Agricultural Communications Program” it runs with the College of Communications.
The university’s press release quotes Monsanto’s vice president of technology communications giving a taste of its vision for the investment:
With the population expecting to reach 9 billion by 2030, farmers from Illinois and beyond will be asked to produce more crops while using fewer resources. At Monsanto we are committed to bringing farmers advanced ag technologies to help them meet this challenge. Effectively communicating farmers’ efforts to feed, clothe and fuel a rapidly growing population is a major part of the solution.
A cynic might translate that statement this way: In order to maintain our highly profitable and hotly contested business model, we’ll need a new generation of PR professionals to construct and disseminate our marketing message.