U.S. Right To Know FOIAs Profs Who Wrote for GMO PR Website

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News Release

For Immediate Release: Wednesday, February 11, 2015
For More Information Contact: Gary Ruskin (415) 944-7350

U.S. Right To Know FOIAs Profs Who Wrote for GMO PR Website

U.S. Right to Know filed state public records requests two weeks ago for correspondence and emails to and from professors at public universities who wrote for the agrichemical industry’s PR website, GMO Answers [or its campaign against GMO labeling in California. Amended 2/13]  The GMO Answers website was created by Ketchum, a public relations agency that also represents Russia and its president, Vladimir Putin.

The state Freedom of Information Act requests are an effort to understand the dynamics between the agrichemical industry’s PR efforts, and the public university faculty who sometimes are its public face.

“We taxpayers deserve to know the details about when our taxpayer-paid employees front for private corporations and their slick PR firms,” said Gary Ruskin, executive director of U.S. Right to Know. “This is especially true when they do work for unsavory entities such as Ketchum, which has been implicated in espionage against nonprofit organizations.”

According to investigative reporting by James Ridgeway of Mother Jones, in 2000, Ketchum was linked to an espionage effort against nonprofit organizations concerned with GMOs, including the Center for Food Safety and Friends of the Earth. In a related scandal, Ketchum also targeted Greenpeace with espionage.

In a video recently removed from the Internet, Ketchum bragged about its success in spinning the media to get positive coverage of GMOs, and admitted, “we closely monitor the conversation” on social media accounts of GMO skeptics.

The public records requests filed by U.S. Right to Know covered correspondence to and from professors who work for publicly-funded universities and agrichemical companies such as Monsanto, as well as to and from PR firms such as Ketchum or Fleishman Hillard, and to and from trade associations such as the Grocery Manufacturers Association and the Council for Biotechnology Information. The requests are not an effort to obtain any personal information or academic research involving the professors.

U.S. Right to Know is a new nonprofit food organization that investigates and reports on what food companies don’t want us to know about our food. For more information, please see our website at usrtk.org.


We also sent FOIA requests to obtain the correspondence of professors who aided the No on 37 campaign against labeling of genetically engineered food in California, including:
(1) A professor who penned an op-ed that closely paralleled the wording of No on 37 talking points; and,
(2) Two professors who wrote a paper that was “undertaken with partial funding support from No on 37,” and released two months before election day.
For more information about the many deceptions of the No on 37 campaign, see, for example:
* Front Groups Against Prop 37: Foes of Honest Labeling Pose as Fake Cops and Phony Democrats to Trick Voters
Documented Deceptions of No on 37 Campaign