25 May

Some GMO Supporters Have Links To GMO Producers

by GMO Skeptic


Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson came under attack last year for telling those concerned about GMO foods to “chill out”. (GMO stands for Genetically Modified Organisms. The term preferred by the GMO industry is Genetically Engineered.) Dr. Tyson’s Facebook page has a blow-by-blow account of the brouhaha that followed. If you need to get caught up, this link to his August 3rd, 2014 Facebook post is a good place to start.

As you can imagine, pro- and anti- GMO forces girded their loins for battle and a series of campaigns were waged in the never-ending Great GMO War. Some combatants even called Dr. Tyson a Monsanto shill, which is ludicrous and outlandish.

But what about your title? you may be wondering. You promised us links!! Well, keep reading as we poke a stick into the eye of the pro-GMO crowd by revealing that, in fact, some on their side have links to the GMO industry. Perhaps unpaid links, but links nonetheless.

If you’ve read many articles about GMOs, you may have seen the screenshot of a Tweet from Kevin Folta claiming “As a credentialed scientist, my thoughts are not welcome” on Food Babe’s Facebook page. Apparently, Food Babe, aka Vani Hari, who blogs about toxins and other controversial food topics, doesn’t like Dr. Folta and has banned him and others from her blog.

Who’s right? Well, he’s a credentialed scientist. Sounds good. She’s just a Food Babe. Sounds sketchy. To tell you the truth, we had never heard of either one of them before reading an article on an Internet site, so we started out by Googling information about Kevin Folta. As it turns out, Dr. Kevin M. Folta is Professor and Chairman of the Horticulture Sciences Department at the University of Florida. Sounds excellent.

It sounds excellent, that is, until you do a bit more Googling on Dr. Folta. From which we learn that he is a contributor to the Biology Fortified blog. Per the Source Watch entry:

According to GMWatch, during the 2009 Ashoka Changemakers competition, the Council for Biotechnology Information (CBI, a “Big 6” GMO and pesticide corporation trade group) and a Monsanto PR flack drummed up support for the “Biofortified” entry on Twitter. After such promotion had begun, “the votes for Biofortified have suddenly exploded, more than doubling in a matter of hours in a completely unprecedented pattern,” GMWatch noted.

Well, big fracking whoop, you might be thinking. The guy writes for a blog that was launched with support from the GMO industry. (Here’s one of the Tweets the quote above refers to and here’s more info on CBI, whose member companies include BASF, Bayer CropScience, Dow AgroSciences, DuPont, Monsanto and Syngenta.) Indeed, that fact in and of itself is hardly conclusive evidence of any ties between Dr. Folta and the “Big 6”. Until, that is, we learn Dr. Folta is also an Independent Expert for gmoAnswers.

This is getting interesting now. You see, gmoAnswers is …

… funded by the members of The Council for Biotechnology Information (CBI), which includes BASF, Bayer CropScience, Dow AgroSciences, DuPont, Monsanto Company and Syngenta. Our members are dedicated to the responsible development and application of plant biotechnology. — About gmoAnswers

Do any of those names ring a bell?

Now let’s be perfectly clear. We do not know Dr. Folta. We hope he is a very nice man and that he genuinely believes in the cause he helps promote. Is he a Monsanto shill? He claims he is not, and we believe him. But his direct and indirect links to corporations producing GMOs are, to put it mildly, a bit dodgy. What’s good for Big GMO is good for Dr. Folta, to paraphrase Engine Charlie.

On the other hand, we absolutely adore Dr. Tyson and think he’s the best thing to happen to science education in decades. As far as we know, Dr. Tyson is not now and has never been affiliated with any group or publication founded or funded by the “Big 6”. However, what do our friends at CBI think of him telling GMO critics to “chill out”? They seem quite pleased, if their Tweet about the kerfuffle is any indication. Perhaps Dr. Tyson himself now regrets involving himself in The Great GMO War. His August 6th, 2014 Facebook post was seen as backpedaling by some.

What’s the bottom line? Since the big players in the GMO industry and some of those promoting its goals are intimately intertwined, an apparent conflict of interest exists and that conflict must be taken into account when examining the GMO issue. This means that some level of skepticism about positive coverage of GMOs is warranted, as is skepticism about negative coverage. Although this article mentioned just one particular scientist, similar links exist for many others. In fact, 2/3rds of all GMO research is funded by industry.

Consider this: Would you unreservedly support climate change theory if much of the research was funded by the fossil fuel industry? And if some of its most ardent supporters were affiliated with ExxonMobil and ChevronTexaco? And if the solution they offered was, coincidentally, more fossil fuels?

How much skepticism should we have about the marketing campaign for GMOs? Well, as a teaser, in a future article, we discuss what our research turned up on the financial and personal links between the industry and a leading American scientific organization that has (surprise!) come down solidly on the GMO industry’s side of the battle.

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One thought on “Some GMO Supporters Have Links To GMO Producers

  1. Thanks for writing this article. It is most unfortunate that the brains of Kevin Folta were a source of information about GMO issues regarding HR 1599 to the sub-committee who voted in favor of allowing the next step, the vote in the House. (along with the “expert” Jon Entine, executive director of the Genetic Literacy Project – he has zero qualifications on any issue related to GMOs, just ties to the biotech companies).

    So, what prompted me to want to comment is this whole thing about equating climate change science with GMO science. You are correct that anti-GMO advocates are not climate change deniers, oh sure, there are a few stragglers out there, but that’s the exception not the rule.

    But here’s the juicy part, I want to quote from Dr. Belinda Martineau, a genetics engineer, about this:

    “But comparing the issues of climate change and genetically modified (GM; AKA genetically engineered, GE) foods in terms of “scientific consensus” is not a valid comparison.

    Climate change is a phenomenon, a phenomenon being studied by many scientists, using many techniques, publishing many studies. Scientific consensus as to whether that particular phenomenon is real may be ascertained based on the resulting body of science.

    GE food crops, on the other hand, are not a single phenomenon. They are the products of a technology. And it is not possible to ascertain whether all products–past, present and future–developed using a technology, any technology, are safe. And to make such a general claim is not scientific; it is absurd.”

    Please see her article, “The Absurdity of Claiming that “All GMOs are Safe” | Biotech Salon;

    it can be found here: http://biotechsalon.com/2015/06/16/the-absurdity-of-claiming-that-all-gmos-are-safe/

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