ngin - Norfolk Genetic Information Network
2 December 2002


In his letter to the Guardian (below), Monsanto's former head of Public Affairs and chief internet strategist, Jay Byrne, fails to directly deny any of the allegations George Monbiot made in his recent article (THE COVERT BIOTECH WAR, November 19, 2002) about Monsanto's direct involvement in a dirty tricks campaign of character assassination against its scientific and environmental critics.

Byrne boasts instead about the awards Monsanto has apparently received for its internet related activities saying they have been "lauded by the media, government and consumer groups for openness, educational value, commitment to dialogue, and acknowledgement of opposing views".

Well, fine, and doubtless Enron in its day won awards for its contribution to public utilities, and Arthur Anderson for financial probity. The whole point about covert operations is that they're covert - until you're caught!

In this case, actions speak louder than words. Within 24 hrs of the latest article on Monsanto's cyberwar, the website of the Center For Food and Agricultural Research (CFFAR) was down.  No point getting on the phone to find out the nature of the glitch, though, as this is an agricultural research center without phone number, address or even named personnel. Its existence, as George Monbiot and others have shown, has only ever been virtual; its subtext: the association of Monsanto's critics with violence and terrorism via lies, innuendo and straight fabrication.

In his Guardian letter Jay Byrne also tells us that the idea that the internet is a weapon with which to kill one's opponent was first articulated by Michael Dell and was only quoted by Byrne in his presentation on Monsanto's internet mission.  That hardly changes the sentiment!

This quotation was used by Byrne to conclude his powerpoint display to the PR industry on how Monsanto protected its assets. In an earlier slide, Byrne shows the handful of websites Monsanto wanted the public to find when it did a search on "GM food". On Byrne's list was CFFAR.

If they don't now reinstate CFFAR (, then you can still see the site via an internet archive:

As George Monbiot noted in an earlier article, the CFFAR site is registered to an employee of Monsanto's PR firm, Bivings.

Below Byrne's letter is the text of the Byrne ppt slide which lists CFFAR.

For all the background on Monsanto's dirty cyberwar:


The GM harvest of hearts and minds

Wednesday November 20, 2002
Letters, The Guardian,3604,843423,00.html

George Monbiot's crusade to expose non-existent internet conspiracies led by nefarious biotechnology companies continues to be misguided (Comment, November  19).

He attributes to me a quote: "think of the internet as a weapon on the table. Either you pick it up or your competitor does, somebody is going to get killed." I am unable to take credit for this, which I referenced at a conference and attributed to Michael Dell, CEO of Dell Computers.

Mr Monbiot also concludes that during my tenure at Monsanto our attention to the internet's information sharing value regarding biotechnology was improper. In fact, during this time Monsanto's award-winning internet-related outreach programs and websites were lauded by the media, government and consumer groups for openness, educational value, commitment to dialogue, and acknowledgement of opposing views.

Jay Byrne
St Louis, Missouri, USA
Byrne's ppt can be downloaded here [for the moment!]:

It can be viewed as html via google here:,+integrated+approach+to+Monsanto%27s+Internet%22&hl=en&ie=UTF-8

[Byrne ppt slide]

Take Action, Take Control 'hits' for GM food search

Before            &            After

Friends of the Earth -- boycott site

'Harmful' GMOs article

Health concerns of GM Foods site

Mother Jones negative Magazine article

Greenpeace Perils of GM foods

Rage against GMOs


Glossary of biotech terms  [Bivings]

Ag Bio World    [Bivings designed and previously ran archive from
Bivings server]

Ag Care


Biotech Knowledge Center        [Bivings]

CFFAR   [registered to a Bivings employee]

Food Biotech Center     [???]

Biotech Basics  [Bivings]

ngin bulletin archive