Originally published September 9 2015
GMO activist group exposes Big Biotech's academic prostitution ring involving so-called 'scientists' who take money to say anything
by J. D. Heyes
(NaturalNews) In recent years, sales of Monsanto's genetically modified seeds have steadily risen, but executives at the St. Louis-based bio- and agri-giant were becoming increasingly concerned about attacks on the safety claims of their GMO products.
As such, the world's largest seed company and its partners in the industry decided to reshape their lobbying and public relations strategies to focus on a previously seldom-used resource – academics who were tapped for their presumed impartiality and authoritative voice that comes with being a professor, The New York Times reported:
"Professors/researchers/scientists have a big white hat in this debate and support in their states, from politicians to producers," Bill Mashek, a vice president at Ketchum, a public relations firm hired by the biotechnology industry, said in an email to a professor from the University of Florida. "Keep it up!"
And so, the industry has done just that.
Bought-and-paid-for "science"The Times reported further:
Corporations have poured money into universities to fund research for decades, but now, the debate over bioengineered foods has escalated into a billion-dollar food industry war. Companies like Monsanto are squaring off against major organic firms like Stonyfield Farm, the yogurt company, and both sides have aggressively recruited academic researchers, emails obtained through open records laws show.
The Times noted that the emails provide a rarely seen glimpse into tactics and strategies employed via a lobbying campaign that has turned academic elites into key players in the "debate" over GMOs and their effects on nature, humanity and ecosystems.
The use of bought-and-paid-for "science" and scientists has only intensified as the U.S. Senate is set to take up Monsanto-backed legislation this fall that has already been passed in the House – a measure that effectively bans states from passing their own legislation requiring foods containing GMOs to include them in labeling.
The lobbying and the buying of scientists have paid off, as evidenced by the recent approval by federal regulators of new GMO seeds after academics intervened on behalf of the industry with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, according to a Times review of the emails.
Monsanto officials defended their practice. In a statement to the Times, spokeswoman Charla Lord claimed her company's longstanding partnership with academics has helped "demystify" (the Times' word) the science surrounding GMOs.
"It is in the public interest for academics to weigh in credibly, not only to consumers but to stakeholders like lawmakers and regulators as well," she said.
"A key part of Big Food's PR strategy..."On the other side of the issue, the biotech giants have pushed scores of articles "written" by prominent academics that were in fact penned by industry consultants (like Jon Entine, whom Natural News editor Mike Adams, the Health Ranger, has also exposed).
The bought-and-paid-for chicanery is "a key part of Big Food's PR strategy," says U.S. Right to Know, a food industry watchdog organization that seeks to expose the biotech giants' use of academia. "The agrichemical and food industries are spending vast sums of money to convince the public that their food, crops, GMOs, additives and pesticides are safe, desirable and healthy."
The group has filed several Freedom of Information Act requests in an attempt to obtain the emails and other documents of at least 14 public university faculty and staff to see how large a public relations role they have played for the biotech industry.
Learn more about their effort here.
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