After selling his start-up Climate Corp. to Monsanto last year, former Google Adwords executive David Friedberg has become a vivacious advocate for Big Ag’s biggest player, according to an article in the Wall Street Journal.
David Friedberg, a former Google executive, sold his tech startup to Monsanto. Now, he defends genetically modified crops. Photo: Jason Henry for The Wall Street Journal
Does Monsanto think this new persona will counteract public demand for GMO labels? Friedberg gives Monsanto a trustworthy face, all while peddling the same propaganda the company always has always used to counter public outcry. What’s his game? According to the article, “Monsanto, Under Attack for GMOs, Has a New Defender,” Friedberg has been talking to organic industry leaders and throwing dinner parties prominent food critics and supporters of GMO labels. (Be sure to give a shout out to Tom Spier, a former executive of the Bear Naked granola and an advocate for GMO labels on foods, who took tour of a Monsanto molecular breeding facility.)
One of the best quotes in the piece comes from Monsanto’s president, Brett Begemann (and by best we mean absurd, hilarious and ironic):
“For years we had viewed ourselves as a company that helps farmers increase their productivity, and food companies were the ones that took the product to the consumer.”
“We have nothing to hide, we just weren’t talking about it.”
If you don’t have anything to hide, then why do you oppose GMO labels? If you don’t have anything to hide, then why do you need to employ a propaganda persona to repurpose your message? What company doesn’t need to talk about their product? The public wants GMO labels. They have a right to know and to choose what kinds of food they put into their bodies. It doesn’t matter if their choices are based in fact or opinion, they still have the right to know.
Monsanto, Under Attack for GMOs, Has a New Defender
After Selling His Tech Startup to Monsanto, David Friedberg Takes Up the Cause of Modified Crops in Silicon Valley
by Jacob Bunge, Wall Street Journal, Sept. 3, 2014
When Monsanto Co. MON -0.04% purchased Climate Corp. for $930 million last year, it got a San Francisco-based startup that crunches weather data to improve crop yields and design insurance. It also got David Friedberg, the company’s 34-year-old co-founder, who may prove an even more valuable asset.
Mr. Friedberg, a former Google Inc. GOOGL +0.75% executive, now oversees the “precision agriculture” services Monsanto sells to farmers, a major initiative encompassing high-tech planting equipment, soil and seed analysis, and weather modeling.
The lifelong vegetarian has also emerged as an unlikely champion of Monsanto at a time when the company—and the business of genetically engineering crops that it pioneered—face intensifying attacks.
State ballot initiatives have sought to compel companies to label foods containing genetically modified organisms, or GMOs—which the industry fears would be a scarlet letter. Vermont in May became the first state to unilaterally adopt such a measure. Meanwhile, companies like General Mills and Chipotle are stripping GMOs from some foods in response to consumer groups raising health and environmental concerns.
To learn more about Friedberg’s history and his pro-Monsanto agenda, read the full article on the WSJ.