Marc Lappe's early challenge GMOs. Publisher backs down after Monsanto threatens.

The late Dr Marc Lappe and colleague Britt Bailey wrote the first book, Against the Grain, published in 1998. These links reveal that, although the authors sought dialogue with Monsanto scientists before publication, the company refused to speak with them. Then, when their book was to go to press, Monsanto threatened and the publisher withdrew the book. After many months, Common Courage Press published it. Here are relevant website that chronicle this account. Monsanto and the First Amendment!

In February 1998, the staff of the Center for Ethics and Toxics (CETOS) located in Gualala, CA, put the finishing touches on our new book, Against the Grain,( a detailed, first-hand account of the perils of the new genetic technologies in agriculture). In late March 1998, just as the publisher was ordering the first printing, he received a threatening letter from the General Counsel's office at Monsanto Company. The Counsel's office claimed a short article (which included excerpted pieces of Against the Grain) in Coast Magazine was defamatory and potentially libelous against Roundup® herbicide, Monsanto's major product. We had already agreed to and performed a legal vetting of our book to protect against any unintentional errors or misstatements. But our publisher, fearing a major law suit, stopped the presses and folded his tent. In April, he told Monsanto he was no longer going to publish the book - and to address all of their concerns directly to us.

We have never liked the idea that writers need to mind their p's and q's in expressing themselves in a public forum. Now we were holding the quill and were faced with our own conundrum: without a publisher we had no forum. Without publishing insurance, we are vulnerable to a law suit which we can ill afford to defend. But if we were to bow to Monsanto's bullying tactics, our opportunity to express our views would disappear along with our book.

Our response has been to fight back. On April 27, we wrote the CEO of Monsanto, Mr. Robert Shapiro. We told Mr. Shapiro we deplored his company's actions that put the 'rights' of their product above the rights of those who questioned its potential impacts. We expressed our outrage at his censoring a book which no one at Monsanto ever read or even asked to see. At the end of our letter, we requested an apology and an explanation for Monsanto’s ill-considered actions.

The good news is that we got a new publisher. Greg Bates of Common Courage Press in Monroe, Maine, committed to publish our book! It will appear in the Fall of 1998, come hell or high water.

To order Against the Grain, call Common Courage Press (Monroe, Maine) at 1-800-497-3207 or or visit their website at

-- and what happened to The Ecologist Monsanto Files edition:


In the book, Dr Lappe made the case for labelling, something which the American public still sadly lack, in: Against The Grain: The Genetic Transformation of Global Agriculture Marc Lappe and Britt Bailey (1-8538-3576-5) – Conclusion: Against The Grain Chapter 12:

"But the worst case scenario of all is if we allow corporations to thwart the rights of consumers to know - and epidemiologists to track - the genetic footprints of their potential folly. The ultimate foolhardiness is if we bow to such pressures and fail to label and track this new generation of genetically adulterated products. Certainly, if we have learned anything, it is that our hubris in dominating nature often puts us in harm's way. If we fail to mark the path with suitable disclosures and labels, and instead allow it to be littered indiscriminately with natural and transgenic seeds alike, we may find that like Hansel and Gretel, we are unable to find our way out of the woods"

#gmo #grain