Besides the obvious lies about dioxin, rBGH, glyphosate, NutraSweet, PCB’s and DDT being safe, Monsanto has been busy lying about the benefits of GMO’s. They have lied to Congress, bought many politicians/academics when lying is not enough, and falsified numerous reports to cover their nefarious ways in shutting down opposition. This strategy has served them well for decades and so they still routinely use it as their business model. But every so often, the truth will slip out as has happened last week when New York Times writer Eric Lipton wrote the following article: “Food Industry Enlisted Academics in G.M.O. Lobbying War, Emails Show” exposing collusion between Dr. Kevin Folta, a respected Chairman of the Horticultural Department at the University of Florida and Monsanto to advance the GMO agenda.
This article is an exercise in damage control as it severely understates the struggle between the corporations promoting GMO’s and those producing Organic foods. It most certainly is anything but that. This is part of the “surge” the supporters of GMO’s are doing before the Senate takes up HR 1599, affectionately named the “DARK Act” because it will effectively put consumers in the dark about the food they eat.
Lipton and the NY Times were able to get hundreds of emails from the nonprofit group “Right to Know” after they submitted a Freedom of Information Act request. From them, the article paints a very incestuous relationship between the “independent” Folta and the GMO corporations. However, the article falls far short on exposing the vast scale of the collusion.
“Things like the U of F has received Syngenta (>$10million), Monsanto (>$1million), Pioneer (>$10million), and BASF (>$1million) which no doubt allowed Folta to roam like the Nazgûl over the internet, via his twitter account, blog, podcast, and Op-eds, squelching dissent and ridiculing GMO critics wherever he prowled.
The other thing Lipton and the NY Times failed to bring out was the army of “independent” academics also working with the biotech industry. Names like:
- Bruce Chassy (University of Illinois) and Alan McHughen (University of California, Riverside) who were able to destroy the credibility of a Russian scientist and GMO critic Irina Ermakova through malignant subterfuge.
- Calestuous Juma (Harvard University) longtime advocate of GMOs for Africa and Prof. Wayne Parrott (University of Georgia) a serial intervener in academic GMO debates.
- Roger Beachy (Danforth Center, formerly USAID). Beachy is the proverbial example of the biotech industry strategy: to respond rapidly to a report or publication critical of some aspect of the technology with a multi-author “rebuttal”
- CS Prakash (Tuskegee University) is the convener of the influential listserv AgBioWorld. AgBioWorld was the all-important channel for a petition signed by three thousand scientists calling for the retraction of a 2001 scientific paper showing GMO contamination of Mexican corn.
- Ron Herring (Cornell) who has helped to promote GMOs in India and fought to stifle the farmer suicide debate in India.
Nina Fedoroff (Penn State) as the 2011-2012 President of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) is the most prominent of the scientists mentioned in the Times emails and, coincidentally is also a contributor to the NY Times. The AAAS is the foremost scientific body in the US and from her Presidency position, Fedoroff, coordinated and signed a letter on behalf of 60 prominent scientists that was sent to EPA as part of an effort to defeat a pesticide regulatory effort. Working with prominent lobbyist Stanley Abramson, Fedoroff is credited in the emails with “moving the ball far down the field”. Yet Fedoroff’s name is kept out of the main article and her position is not mentioned at all.
So the most important aspect of the story is missing from Lipton’s article, that academia’s most vocal GMO defenders, and some of its most prominent scientists, are part of this campaign of lies and deceit sponsored by the biotech industry. By omitting this and other aspects of the story, the NY Times shows it is part of the consortium to discredit those wanting to label GMO’s.
More supposedly “independent” academics who speak in favor of biotechnology, self-reportedly out of personal passion are included in the emails. Names like Dr. Steve Savage, Karl Haro von Mogel of Biofortified, Mischa Popoff (of the Heartland Institute) and Jon Entine (then affiliated with George Mason University and now head of the Genetic Literacy Project and a Forbes Magazine columnist). All are exposed as biotech insiders by the emails but omitted in the article.
But perhaps the biggest of all revelations within these emails is the connivance of senior university administrators, especially at Cornell University. The NY Times article focuses on the misdeeds of Mississippi State University Vice President David Shaw. But, looped into one email string, along with the PR firm Ketchum and Jon Entine are various Cornell email addresses and names. These are ignored by Lipton, but the email addresses belong to very senior members of the Cornell administration. They include Ronnie Coffman (Director of Cornell’s College of Agriculture and Life Science) and Sarah Evanega Davidson (now director of the Gates-funded Cornell Alliance for Science).”
This string of email’s are a godsend to those opposed to GMO and the false labeling guidelines contained in the DARK Act. It is time to fight the good fight and get involved in stopping this tragedy or we will forever be in the DARK about our food.
“Monsanto should not have to vouchsafe the safety of biotech food…. Our interest is in selling as much of it as possible. Assuring its safety is the FDA’s job” — Phil Angell, Director of Corporate Communications, Monsanto