In response to questions put to the newspaper by The Hindu, an editorial spokesman for The Times of India asserted: “The reports (of 2008) were written very honestly and in good faith…” He said the 2008 page was the outcome of “a field visit organised by Monsanto for journalists from Nagpur.” The spokesman held that “as is the practice on such paid trips, the report mentioned” that it was arranged by the concerned company. He said he was “clueless” as to how the same story “appeared in Mumbai editions three years down the line as a consumer initiative too. It must have been picked up by Response.” He also had no idea about the full page in August 2011 being “followed by several advertisements.”

On the question of where some of those photographs were really taken, the spokesman said that was “something we don't have an answer [to] as of now.” Other journalists were indeed on that trip. But the full-page, repeated three years later as an advertisement was exclusive to the TOI. The spokesman asserted that “the reporters were not paid for the reports that appeared in Nagpur.” (However, it was neither The Hindu's query nor case that the reporters had been paid anything. The question was whether the news stories had also been sponsored).

The MMB spokesperson asserted: “It is incorrect to refer to their news report as paid news, as this was editorial coverage based on the visit and interactions with farmers.”

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