• Female Bloggers Paid By Monsanto To Attend Panel

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    The genetically modified crop and agrochemical giant Monsanto has drawn of the ire of countless thousands of health bloggers and alternative media sources in recent years as more information and studies have come out about the never-ending health and environmental risks of their special breed of  “crop science.”

    This past weekend, biotech giant Monsanto paid bloggers $150 each to attend “an intimate and interactive panel” with “two female farmers and a team from Monsanto.” The strictly invitation-only three-hour brunch, which took place on the heels of the BlogHer Conference, promised bloggers a chance to learn about “where your food comes from” and to hear about the “impact growing food has on the environment, and how farmers are using fewer resources to feed a growing population.”

    Writers are often barraged with email invites to attend conferences to become better writers with promises that, in time, their efforts will produce a lucrative income. There are niche writing workshops as well, such as “food blogging.” The hitch, of course, is that one must pay for tickets to enter said workshop.

    It was Anna Lappé of who made the event well known and delved deep into the PR tactics surrounding this event. She really dissects the dizzying methods that Big Food corps use to build relationships to sponsor events like these in order to mold public opinion and “dress up” advertising as news or use “panels” with the appearance of a two-way conversation.

    Anna also notes:

    Another invite-only event in August will bring bloggers to a Monsanto facility in Northern California for a tour of its fields and research labs. Again, while no media coverage is expected, the unspoken goal is clear.

    Stealth marketing techniques, such as these by Monsanto, reveal how the food industry — from biotech behemoths to fast-food peddlers — is working surreptitiously to shape public opinion about biotechnology, industrialized farming and junk food.

    She mentions similar events. Not that these tactics are really all too surprising, considering the vast resources of a global corporate giant, which according to one of Lappé's sources, now build in entire budget lines for such networking. That is, as soon as they started taking the blogosphere seriously.

    Nestle, for instance, has a “cyber army,” complete with state-of-the-art high tech headquarters ready at the helm to address criticism through social media. They also had to pay a fine for infiltrating an activist group that spoke out against them….

    Monsanto is not the only food company engaging with the blogosphere. Mommy bloggers are the food industry’s newest nontraditional ally. Framed as a two-way conversation about nutrition, but more likely a gambit to garner the support of a powerful group of influencers.

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