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Monsanto Recruited Scientists to Write about Benefits of GMOs

Published: October 22, 2015
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Agricultural biotechnology giant Monsanto has paid academic experts, many of whom worked for public institutions, to write positive accounts of genetically modified crops.

Monsanto recruited at least nine prominent researchers at universities—chosen “because of their influence on public policy, GM crop regulation, and consumer acceptance”—to craft “short policy briefs on important topics in the agricultural biotechnology arena,” according to Mother Jones.

Among the nine was Kevin Folta, chairman of the horticultural sciences department at the University of Florida, who was recruited to travel around the country to defend genetically modified foods. Folta became a group of industry consultants who worked to block state efforts to mandate GMO labeling, according to The New York Times. The group also pushed Congress to pass legislation that would preempt states from taking such a step.

For his efforts, Folta received a $25,000 grant from Monsanto to fund his travel and “outreach.” But once news of the grant became publicized, the University of Florida donated the $25,000 to charity.

Another expert brought on board by Monsanto was Bruce M. Chassy, a professor emeritus at the University of Illinois, who received a grant for an undisclosed amount to support “biotechnology outreach and education activities.” Chassy’s activities included efforts to persuade the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to abandon a plan to tighten the regulation of pesticides used on insect-resistant seeds, according to the Times.

-Noel Brinkerhoff

To Learn More:

How Monsanto Solicited Academics to Bolster Their Pro-GMO Propaganda—Using Taxpayer Dollars (by Katherine Paul, AlterNet)

These Emails Show Monsanto Leaning on Professors to Fight the GMO PR War (by Tom Philpott, Mother Jones)

How Monsanto Mobilized Academics to Pen Articles Supporting GMOs (by Jack Kaskey, Bloomberg)

Oklahoma Scientists Agreed to Keep Quiet about Fracking-Earthquake Link for 5 Years (by Danny Biederman and Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)

Your Tax Dollars at Work…State Dept. Lobbies Abroad for Monsanto Biotech Seeds (by David Wallechinsky and Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov) 

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