Monsanto Speaker: Claremont is “By Far the Worst Student Audience” Ever Encountered

After students heavily protested her lecture at Harvey Mudd College last night, Dr. Chrissy Lawrence of Monsanto Company, an agricultural biotechnology corporation, canceled the lecture she was slated to give at the Keck Science Center. “I don’t know how many of you attended last night’s talk from a Monsanto scientist, but some of the students behaved unprofessionally,” noted a Harvey Mudd College professor in an email obtained by the Claremont Independent. “The Monsanto speaker said that in all her years of presenting to students in colleges/universities that last night’s student audience was by far the worst student audience she had ever encountered.”

Much of the backlash against the Monsanto representative came from Pitzer College students. In an open letter published in The Student Life, Adin Bonapart (PZ ’16) criticized the decision to allow Dr. Lawrence a platform to speak since she is associated with “private interests from monopolistic corporations.”

“Because of the controversial nature of this topic, I urge you to postpone Dr. Lawrence’s visit and invite her to return as a panelist alongside knowledgeable academics and a more diverse set of voices, or revoke her invitation completely,” Bonapart writes. “As the most-hated corporation on earth, Monsanto and its subsidiaries should NOT be freely allowed to promote themselves at our academic institutions.”

“Monsanto’s products and policies are unsafe, unjust, unsustainable, violent and undemocratic,” Bonapart continues. “It would be a great shame to myself and to many of my peers if Dr. Lawrence was allowed to speak on campus.”

Several other Pitzer students expressed similar concerns regarding Dr. Lawrence’s lecture in a Student Talk email thread. “Monsanto’s legacy on land and people all over the world has been horrific,” notes one student. “I do not flinch when arguing that they have, and are still, involved in committing mass genocide onto our entire biosphere.”

In the same email thread, another Pitzer student stated, “This is not a matter of refusing to listen to the other side. It is about standing up for human and land rights… and holding our colleges accountable for doing the same.”

“Monsanto, who not only creates their own research, but has proprietary rights over it, has unmitigated discretion over what studies get, and don’t get published,” the student continues. “Not only this, but the company has been known to silence other research that doesn’t fit their agenda!”

The student closes by stating, “I understand the importance of listening to, and grappling with differing points of view. This type of dialogue creates important critical thought, as well as individuals whose values are better equipped and informed. I will argue however, that Monsanto has too much disproportionate power: this conversation will not be equal, or truthful. To welcome them to our campus is an expression that we welcome and approve of crimes they have, and continue to commit.”

A physics professor from the Keck Science Department responded to this student by pointing out that, “There’s unfortunately a lot of misinformation floating around about Monsanto and GMOs in general. Specifically, the highlighted quote from the final article in [name redacted]’s first email is from 2009 and out of date. Articles further investigating that issue show that Monsanto does not have any veto power over independent research at US universities.”

“The current situation is not perfect, but it’s not nearly as bad as that Scientific American article made it out to be,” the professor continues. “And it’s certainly not the case that Monsanto has ‘unmitigated discretion’ over what research gets published.”

In place of Dr. Lawrence’s lecture, the Keck Science Department will host an open discussion tomorrow focusing on exchanging ideas on college campuses.

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Image: Flickr