Last week, the University of Illinois’ College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences (ACES) in Champaign-Urbana made a momentous announcement: it has accepted a $250,000 grant from genetically modified seed/agrichemical giant Monsanto to create an endowed chair for the “Agricultural Communications Program” it runs with the College of Communications.
The university’s press release  quotes Monsanto’s vice president of technology communications giving a taste of its vision for the investment:
With the population expecting to reach 9 billion by 2030, farmers from Illinois and beyond will be asked to produce more crops while using fewer resources. At Monsanto we are committed to bringing farmers advanced ag technologies to help them meet this challenge. Effectively communicating farmers’ efforts to feed, clothe and fuel a rapidly growing population is a major part of the solution.
A cynic might translate that statemenpt this way: In order to maintain highly profitable and hotly contested business model, we’ll need a new generation of PR professionals to construct and disseminate our marketing message.
Monsanto’s latest gift isn’t its first dalliance with the prestigious college, which is located smack-dab in the middle of tens of millions of acres of fields planted with Monsanto’s GMO corn and soy seeds and treated with regular doses of the company’s Roundup herbicide. Back in 2002, Monsanto donated  $200,000 to ACES for the Monsanto Multi-Media Executive Studio, to be “used by faculty and staff of the college for presentations and seminars and for conferences involving companies and organizations with ties to the college and its mission.”