Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Using Social Media

Planting cyber seeds
By Jeffrey Tomich


Earlier this month, a blogger named Brad fired a virtual salvo at Jeffrey Smith, the author of "Seeds of Deception" and one of the most vocal crusaders against genetically modified foods.

In a 600-word post, Brad questioned the credibility of an online petition on Smith's website, urging the administration of President Barack Obama to require labeling of biotech foods. He called the petition "sheer political theater" and prodded the activist for purportedly being a yogic flying instructor.

More than 30 comments followed in the next few weeks. On one level, the exchange was just another online debate about GMOs. But this one was notable because of who initiated and hosted it: Monsanto Co.

For years, environmental and food activists have made good use of YouTube video and Facebook to skewer Monsanto in the blogosphere. Now, the biotech giant is turning the tables.

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Social media is an enormous force that can’t be ignored. Our side of the debate has been, and probably always will be, slow to adopt things like this. However, we can’t ignore it. It’s things like blogging and twittering and just going online to comment on articles that are misleading about agriculture that have become things that are almost necessary. It will be hard to win this fight if we aren’t there where the battle’s are taking place. All of these little things add up and make a difference.

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