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'Independent' GMO expert busted for receiving $25,000 from Monsanto


Science for sale

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(NaturalNews) Huge corporations like Monsanto that have suspect agendas - such as selling poisons worldwide and screwing with the very fabric of Nature - have learned long ago how to implement a number of dirty tricks designed to fool authorities and the public into believing that their methods and products are safe.

One of the ways this is accomplished is through enlisting the services of "independent experts" who publicly back the claims of a company, assuring everyone that the products and practices of such a company have been proven to be safe or harmless through their own impartial scientific research.

The problem is that far too often, these so-called experts are anything but independent. In many cases, they are nothing more than paid shills who are hired to stack the deck in the company's favor.

Independent expert or corporate shill?

A recent case involving Monsanto and one of these allegedly objective scientific researchers is a perfect illustration of just how far from being independent many of these "experts" really are.

An August 6 article published by Nature.com details some of the results of an ongoing investigation by activist group US Right to Know, which aims to reveal "collusion between the agricultural biotechnology industry and academics who study science, economics and communication."

Part of the focus of the investigation is on a website called GMO Answers, which is financed by GMO industry giants including Monsanto, DuPont, BASF, Bayer and Syngenta.

One of the frequent contributors to the site is a University of Florida plant scientist named Kevin Folta, who labels himself as an "independent expert" in the field of GMOs.

Through the use of freedom of information laws, US Right to Know has been able to obtain the contents of thousands of emails exchanged between scientists such as Folta and GMO Answers, whose site the activist group considers a "straight-up marketing tool to spin GMOs in a positive light".

Folta's email correspondence revealed that he accepted a $25,000 grant from Monsanto last year and was told that the money "may be used at your discretion in support of your research and outreach projects."

He maintains he has no ties to Monsanto. As recently as two months ago - well after receiving the grant, the existence of which Folta has never personally disclosed - he said: "I have nothing to do with Monsanto." Earlier this year (also after receiving the money), he was quoted as saying that he has received "no research money from Monsanto, never any personal compensation for any talks."

He has avoided direct questions about the grant and has gone to lengths to deny any compensation, ridiculing allegations to the contrary.

It also appears that Folta was being prompted about what to say regarding their agenda by Monsanto's PR firm, Ketchum, which operates the GMO Answers site. In some cases, Ketchum even scripted his "responses" on the website.

From Nature.com:

...Folta's e-mails show him to be frequent contributor to GMO Answers. Ketchum employees repeatedly asked him to respond to common questions posed by biotechnology critics. In some cases, they even drafted answers for him. 'We want your responses to be authentically yours,' one Ketchum representative wrote in a message on 5 July 2013. 'Please feel free to edit or draft all-new responses.'

Part of Folta's response to this allegation was "I don't know if I used them, modified them or what."

It's abundantly clear that in this case, a private-sector scientist has completely compromised his credibility by denying that he was a paid propagandist for Monsanto. If it weren't for the efforts of US Right to Know, we would probably have never learned the truth.

Tip of the iceberg

What's important to understand is that Folta is just one of many sellouts who receive compensation from companies like Monsanto. Of course, the industry and the recipients of such compensation do their best to conceal their ties, but often legislators and regulation agencies depend on the the testimony of these scientific prostitutes when determining which policies to implement.

Pushing for transparency in these matters is an important part of the fight against Frankenfood companies like Monsanto. Organizations such as US Right to Know deserve the public's wholehearted appreciation and support.

Sources include:

Nature.com
GMWatch.org

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