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.


Image: Flickr

Categories: Campus News
  • Independent

    The fascists are back at it. When is this going to end?

  • Robert

    These students would feel right at home with the worst of the climate change denialists and anti-vaxxers. Big pharma is clearly suppressing the truth and covering up Dr. Wakefield’s important research!

  • Dissenter

    “Not only this, but the company has been known to silence other research that doesn’t fit their agenda!” HA, sound familiar cry bullies? #hypocrites

  • Tom Saltzman (CMC ’64)

    It is true the Monsanto’s top gun lawyers have won some decisions that turn long established patent and property law upside down. But what do you expect from judges whose only skill was bowing before the PC lefties who appointed them? No doubt this child idiot will someday ill serve us in a similar position.

    Ever thought of shutting up, going and listening, maybe asking some good questions in a civil manner. You file the results under “know your enemy.” Shouting them down does nothing to them, but it greatly reduces your future job chances, interferes with your peers’ education, harms the schools’ reputations, and generally brings disdain (and reduced donations) from alumni.

    Even if you were totally right (and you most certainly were not), you did nothing but harm your own interests and those from whom you demand respect and admiration as if they were your birthright. No wonder you feel marginalized. You live on the margin and seem likely to fall over the edge soon.

    • Greg

      Hello Tom,

      Students did EXACTLY what you posed in your article.

      There was no protest, there was no interruption during her presentation.

      Students asked informed questions after the talk finished. This article is an outright lie, and an example of horrible journalism. I am appalled at the outright lies WRITTEN BY SOMEONE WHO DID NOT ATTEND THE TALK.

  • JWAE

    The School is to blame, but as pointed out before. The school no longer sees these kids as students, but rather customers. The parents and alumni need to shut off the money.
    Disgraceful and dumb.

  • get over yourself

    You really want to know what is wrong with the college campuses and those who wish to take them over, THEY DO NOT KNOW ENOUGH TO MAKE INFORMED DECISIONS. This is why you are supposed to be in college.

    Your professors have made a mockery of education, telling you that you are always right and those with differing opinions are an enemy with no right to tell you of anything that disagrees with the dogmas you have established.

    Have to wonder how it will be when you have to go hat in hand to beg those same companies to hire you with no experience and no real education. Of course, you could always work for the government, it takes no real experience or knowledge to work for them.

  • Freddy




    I am deeply disgusted by your false and ill informed article.

  • Chris Bray

    When did students at the Claremont colleges start communicating so poorly?

    “…committing mass genocide onto…”

    “Monsanto, who…”

    “…whose values are better equipped and informed.”

    “Monsanto has too much disproportionate power…”

    Could they have too little disproportionate power? Just the right amount of disproportionate power?

    The inability to write and speak clearly is related to the inability to think.

    • freddy

      It is shameful that you climb up a grammar pedestal in order to make a claim.

      Whether or not the words are scrambled in a manner more poetic than you prefer, the meaning behind those messages remains clear.

      Your elitist and self affirming attitude is not unique to you, and will soon be diminished with effective activism.

    • freddy

      It is shameful that you climb up a grammar pedestal in order to make a claim.

      Whether or not the words are scrambled in a manner more poetic than you prefer, the meaning behind those messages remains clear.

      Your elitist and self affirming attitude is not unique to you, and will soon be diminished with effective activism.

      • Chris Bray

        “…climb up a grammar pedestal.”

        Adults who speak like eight year-olds.

  • A

    Are you fucking serious? Heavy protests?

    The students asked well thought out critical questions when it was time for Q & A.

    This is an outright lie.

    • Greg


  • Truth

    As someone who actually attended these events (unlike those who wrote this article), I urge those who read the Claremont Independent to always check with the true subjects of their falsified journalism. I am consistently appalled by the uninformed and biased presentation of critical events on campus that silences the truth with false accusations and ad hominem arguments. This publication has a long track record of skewing information to fit their own agenda and does not speak for the student body at the Claremont Colleges.

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