UC Davis Sued for Failing to Release Public Records on GMOs and Pesticides

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News Release

For Immediate Release:  Thursday, August 18, 2016
For More Information Contact: Gary Ruskin (415) 944-7350

Consumer group U.S. Right to Know filed a lawsuit late Wednesday to compel the University of California, Davis to comply with requests for public records related to the university’s work on genetically engineered food, pesticides and its relationship with the agrichemical industry.

Since January 28, 2015, U.S. Right to Know has filed 17 public records requests with UC Davis as allowed under the California Public Records Act, but the university has provided a total of merely 751 pages in response to all of these requests, while similar requests at other universities have yielded thousands of pages each.

UC Davis has provided no estimate of when it will comply with the unfilled requests, as required by law.  It originally estimated production of documents in April 2015.  It has completed only one response – regarding the soda industry – but none of the 16 requests related to the agrichemical industry.

“We are conducting a wide-ranging investigation into the collaboration between the food and agrichemical industries, their front groups and several U.S. universities,” said Gary Ruskin, co-director of U.S. Right to Know. “So far, documents obtained from other universities have shown secretive funding arrangements and covert efforts to use taxpayer-funded university resources to promote the products of various corporations. The public has a right to know what is going on behind the scenes.”

These revelations have been covered in the New York Times, Boston Globe, the Guardian, Le Monde, STAT, Mother Jones and other outlets.

To underscore the agrichemical industry’s unease about U.S. Right to Know’s public records requests, a law firm that is allied with the agrichemical industry, Markowitz Herbold, has taken the unusual step of filing a public records request for all of U.S. Right to Know’s correspondence with UC Davis, including the responses to all public records requests.

Just over fifty years ago, on July 4, 1966, President Lyndon Baines Johnson signed the Freedom of Information Act into law. “Fifty years later, FOIA is a crucial tool for uncovering corruption, wrongdoing, abuse of power, and to protect consumers and public health,” Ruskin said. The California Public Records Act is the California state version of the federal Freedom of Information Act.

The plaintiff for the lawsuit is Gary Ruskin, in his capacity as co-director of U.S. Right to Know.  A copy of the complaint is available at: http://usrtk.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/UCDaviscomplaint.pdf

U.S. Right to Know is a nonprofit organization that investigates the risks associated with the corporate food system, and the food industry’s practices and influence on public policy. We promote the free market principle of transparency – in the marketplace and in politics – as crucial to building a better, healthier food system.

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Congress Backs Big Food Over Consumers; President Should Veto GMO Anti-Labeling Law

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News Release

For Immediate Release: Thursday, July 14, 2016
For More Information Contact: Gary Ruskin (415) 944-7350

Today’s vote by the U.S. House of Representatives to approve a law that allows food companies to avoid clearly labeling foods made with genetically engineered ingredients cheats consumers out of information they are entitled to have, and should be vetoed by President Obama, according to the consumer advocacy group U.S. Right to Know.

The measure passed the House in a 306 to 117 vote on Thursday.  The Senate approved the measure on July 7 after months of negotiations with a range of food industry players. It nullifies a mandatory GMO labeling law that took effect in Vermont on July 1, and prevents any other state from enacting its own mandatory labeling law.  Rather than requiring food makers to state the presence of genetically engineered ingredients in plain English, as the Vermont law provides, the new federal law would allow food companies instead to use codes, or to offer phone numbers or website addresses that consumers would need to access for the information.

“This bill is a sweetheart deal for the food and agrichemical industries, who want to keep consumers guessing about the contents of their food,” said Gary Ruskin, co-director of U.S. Right to Know. “There are legitimate questions about the health and environmental risks genetically engineered crops, including the glyphosate herbicide that many are doused with. President Obama should veto this legislation and champion the consumer’s right to know what’s in our food,” Ruskin said.

Backers have said the bill is supported by leading organic industry players such as the Organic Trade Association, and organizations such as the Environmental Working Group and Just Label It have lauded Sen. Debbie Stabenow, one of the architects of the anti-GMO labeling bill. But those organizations do not speak for the overwhelming majority of consumers who polls have shown want clear, on-label language regarding genetically engineered foods.

The bill contains numerous loopholes that would likely allow food companies to avoid even the codes or website links for countless food products.

U.S. Right to Know is a nonprofit organization that investigates the risks associated with the corporate food system, and the food industry’s practices and influence on public policy. We promote the free market principle of transparency – in the marketplace and in politics – as crucial to building a better, healthier food system.

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U.S. Right to Know’s Position on GMOs

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U.S. Right to Know is a consumer group. We are not opposed to genetic engineering or genetically engineered foods or crops; we advocate for a precautionary and transparent approach for all new food technologies.

New food technologies that involve genetic engineering should proceed only with robust testing for health and environmental risks, as well as with full transparency, including clear on-package labeling, open access to scientific data, and disclosure of industry influence over science and academia.

Genetically engineered foods may someday provide benefits to consumers; however, at this time, the overwhelming majority do not.

Most genetically engineered crops on the market are designed to confer tolerance to herbicides, a trait that allows for – and has resulted in – large increases in herbicide use on corn, soybeans and other crops. This use of large volumes of herbicides raises concerns about health risks of food made with these crops. Multiple scientific studies, and the World Health Organization’s cancer research unit, have validated these concerns.

It is incorrect to report that the science is settled on the safety and benefits of genetic engineering.  For details, see:

Media Reports That GMO Science Is Settled Are Flat-Out Wrong

U.S. Senate Declines to Advance Anti-Consumer Bill to Stop Mandatory GMO Labeling

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News Release

For Immediate Release: Wednesday, March 16, 2016
For More Information Contact: Gary Ruskin (415) 944-7350

Statement of Gary Ruskin, Co-director of U.S. Right to Know

Today’s Senate vote is a victory for consumers and everyone who wants the right to know what’s in our food.

The Roberts measure, backed by the food industry, shows the contempt of our nation’s large food companies for their own customers, who overwhelmingly support labeling of genetically engineered food.

The industry campaign for the DARK Act will only accelerate consumer distrust of large food companies and their processed food.  In other words, the bill’s proponents will reap what they have sown.

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U.S. Right to Know is a nonprofit organization that investigates the risks associated with the corporate food system, and the food industry’s practices and influence on public policy. We promote the free market principle of transparency – in the marketplace and in politics – as crucial to building a better, healthier food system.

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Consumer Group USRTK Calls on Jon Entine to Reveal Funding, Ties to Industries He Defends

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News Release

For Immediate Release: Wednesday, March 2, 2016
For More Information Contact: Gary Ruskin (415) 944-7350

Jon Entine, a leading chemical industry PR operative who has written dozens of articles defending corporate interests, today attacked the Columbia University’s Journalism School, stating that it “smeared Exxon,” engaged in “advocacy journalism,” and hired “an activist” to run the Journalism School.

In response, consumer group U.S. Right to Know called on Entine to reveal in full detail his funding and ties to the industries he defends in his writing.

“Who is funding Jon Entine and the Genetic Literacy Project?” asked Gary Ruskin, co-director of U.S. Right to Know. “Will Jon Entine disclose his funders?  If not, what is he hiding?”

In his New York Post article today, Entine attacks award-winning journalist Susanne Rust, who is an investigative editor at the Columbia Journalism School.  Entine fails to mention that Rust and co-author Meg Kissinger exposed undisclosed industry ties of Entine’s group STATS in a 2009 Milwaukee Journal Sentinel article, which reported that “STATS claims to be independent and nonpartisan. But a review of its financial reports shows it is a branch of the Center for Media and Public Affairs. That group was paid by the tobacco industry to monitor news stories about the dangers of tobacco.”

The Genetic Literacy Project previously declared that it is “affiliated with the non-profit Statistical Assessment Service (STATS).”  However, the Genetic Literacy Project has removed the reference to STATS from its website.  Entine’s New York Post byline previously referred to him as “a senior fellow at STATS,” and Entine has referred to STATS as “the organization that houses the Genetic Literacy Project, where I work.”

Entine is executive director of the agrichemical industry front group Genetic Literacy Project, a group with unknown funding that regularly attacks activists, journalists and scientists who raise concerns about the health and environmental risks of genetically engineered foods and pesticides.

Entine’s New York Post article is his second recent foray into the arena of climate politics, defending oil companies and attacking climate change heroes.  On February 1, Entine penned an attack on Harvard Professor Naomi Oreskes, co-author of Merchants of Doubt: How a Handful of Scientists Obscured the Truth on Issues from Tobacco Smoke to Global Warming.

Entine is an influential spokesman for the agrichemical industry. FOIA requests by U.S. Right to Know revealed Entine’s ties to New York Times reporter Amy Harmon, Washington Post food columnist Tamar Haspel, and pro-GMO journalist Keith Kloor.

In 2012, Entine claimed he had “no idea” that Syngenta was funding the organization (American Council on Science and Health) that published his book defending Syngenta’s herbicide, atrazine, according to reporting by Tom Philpott in Mother Jones.

Entine has made a career of defending the chemical, pesticide, fossil fuel and nuclear power industries.  For more background on Jon Entine, read U.S. Right to Know’s fact sheet about him.

U.S. Right to Know is a nonprofit organization that investigates the risks associated with the corporate food system, and the food industry’s practices and influence on public policy. We promote the free market principle of transparency – in the marketplace and in politics – as crucial to building a better, healthier food system.

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FDA Plan to Measure Weed Killer Residues on Food Only a First Step

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News Release

For Immediate Release: February 17, 2016
For More Information Contact: Gary Ruskin, 415-944-7350, gary@usrtk.org

Consumer advocacy group U.S. Right to Know applauded the U.S. Food and Drug Administration today for declaring that it plans to start testing for glyphosate residues in soybeans, corn, milk and eggs among other potential foods as concerns about the popular herbicide mount around the world. Though the FDA has responsibility for food safety and for routinely measuring for pesticide residues on certain foods, the agency has not routinely looked for glyphosate in its pesticide chemical residue monitoring regulatory program in the past.

Glyphosate is the chief ingredient in Roundup weed killer, made by Monsanto Co., and is also the active ingredient in hundreds of herbicide products sold around the world. It is the most widely used herbicide globally, and its use has surged in the United States with the spread of genetically engineered crops that have been designed to tolerate being sprayed with glyphosate. But concerns about the chemical’s impact on human health and on the environment have been growing, and in March 2015 the World Health Organization’s cancer experts classified glyphosate as a probable human carcinogen.

“The FDA move is a good first step, but the testing must be thorough and widespread,” said Gary Ruskin, co-director of U.S. Right to Know. “USDA also should get on board.”

The U.S. Department of Agriculture conducts its own annual testing of foods for pesticide residues through a “pesticide data program,” that typically tests for several hundred different pesticides each year. But only once in the history of the 24-year program has the agency conducted tests for glyphosate residues. Those tests, in 2011, were limited to 300 soybean samples and found that 271 of the samples had glyphosate residues.

U.S. Right to Know is a nonprofit organization that investigates the risks associated with the corporate food system, and the food industry’s practices and influence on public policy. We promote the free market principle of transparency – in the marketplace and in politics – as crucial to building a better, healthier food system.

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New Documents Uncover Monsanto’s Secret Role in Illinois Professor Bruce Chassy’s Academics Review Website

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News Release

For Immediate Release: Monday, February 1, 2016
For More Information Contact: Carey Gillam (913) 526-6190 and Gary Ruskin (415) 944-7350

New Documents Uncover Monsanto’s Secret Role in Illinois Professor Bruce Chassy’s Academics Review Website

The consumer group U.S. Right to Know today called for improved transparency and public disclosure of industry funding for and coordination with public university professors.

Email communications obtained by U.S. Right to Know through state Freedom of Information Act requests show extensive collaboration between agrichemical industry giant Monsanto Co. and former University of Illinois food science Professor Bruce Chassy on projects to promote GMO crops. The emails disclose that Monsanto, the leading developer of GMOs, was making financial contributions to the university for Chassy’s use over the same period that Monsanto or Monsanto-affiliated public relations operatives were providing Chassy pro-GMO content and/or editing for presentations, papers and videos.

The emails also reveal that Monsanto and a public relations operative helped Chassy set up a nonprofit group and website called Academics Review to criticize individuals, organizations and others who raise questions about the health or environmental risks of GMOs.

In a recent example, Chassy co-authored a series of articles that argue GMO labeling is a “disaster in waiting,” again with no disclosure of his collaboration with GMO developer Monsanto.

U.S. Right to Know calls on Congress to require disclosure of food and agrichemical industry payments to universities and professors, just as pharmaceutical and medical device companies are required to disclose payments to physicians and teaching hospitals under the Physician Payments Sunshine Act.

“Professors shouldn’t be able to lobby or do PR for agrichemical companies while representing themselves as independent, and they should have to disclose any money they receive from those companies,” said Gary Ruskin, co-director of U.S. Right to Know. “Congress should expand the Physician Payments Sunshine Act to require disclosure of payments from food and agrichemical companies to professors and universities.”

Other documents obtained by U.S. Right to Know show similar collaboration with other U.S. academics, including University of Florida Professor Kevin Folta. Folta received an unrestricted $25,000 grant from Monsanto and told Monsanto he would “write whatever you like.”

Read Carey Gillam’s article on the Bruce Chassy emails, “Following an Email Trail: How a Public University Professor Collaborated on a Corporate PR Campaign.”

U.S. Right to Know is a nonprofit organization that investigates the risks associated with the corporate food system, and the food industry’s practices and influence on public policy. We promote the free market principle of transparency – in the marketplace and in politics – as crucial to building a better, healthier food system.

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Veteran Food and Agriculture Reporter Joins U.S. Right to Know

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News Release

For Immediate Release: Tuesday, January 5, 2016
For More Information Contact: Carey Gillam (913) 526-6190 or Gary Ruskin (415) 944-7350

Veteran Food and Agriculture Reporter Joins U.S. Right to Know

Carey Gillam, a veteran journalist with more than 20 years of experience covering corporate America, with a special focus on corporate food and agricultural systems and policies, has joined U.S. Right to Know as Research Director. Gillam was previously a senior journalist with Reuters, one of the world’s largest news organizations.

In her role at U.S. Right to Know (USRTK), Gillam will coordinate research projects and reports, media partnerships and written communications that represent and advance USRTK’s mission to better inform the public about food industry practices and the industry’s often-hidden role in public policy.

“There is little else more important than the food we eat, and the health of the environment in which we live,” said Gillam. “But too often corporate interests control the narrative about the American food production system, and too often they downplay or ignore the risks while focusing solely on promoting what they see as the rewards. I want to help to level the playing field by illuminating information that people can use when making decisions about the food they consume.”

Gillam has been recognized as one of the top food and agriculture journalists in the United States, winning several awards for her coverage of the industry, and appearing as an expert commentator on radio and television broadcasts.

U.S. Right to Know is a nonprofit organization that investigates the risks associated with the corporate food system, and the food industry’s practices and influence on public policy. We promote the free market principle of transparency – in the marketplace and in politics – as crucial to building a better, healthier food system.

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Journalists Fail to Reveal Sources Funded by Coca-Cola: A Short Report

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During the investigation and subsequent collapse of the Coca-Cola front group Global Energy Balance Network, the New York Times and Associated Press discovered that prominent university professors working on obesity issues had been funded by The Coca-Cola Company.

This is not just a public health scandal.  It is a journalistic one as well.

Journalists have quoted two of these professors at least 30 times in news articles, after the professors had received their Coca-Cola funding, but without mentioning that funding in their articles.  Many of the news outlets that published these articles are influential, such as The New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, USA Today, Boston Globe, The Atlantic Monthly, U.S. News and World Report, Newsweek and National Public Radio.

It is a conflict of interest for professors working on obesity issues to accept funding from Coca-Cola. There is now substantial medical evidence that soda and the soda industry – and especially Coca-Cola and PepsiCo – are in part responsible for our nation’s obesity epidemic, and increase the incidence of diabetes and heart disease.

If a professor takes money from one of these soda companies, that is crucial context for their views on obesity, and journalists disserve their readers by failing to report it. Readers need to know who pays sources to evaluate the legitimacy and biases of these sources.

The net effect of quoting these professors without disclosing their Coca-Cola funding is to unfairly enhance their credibility, while undermining the credibility of public health and consumer advocates.

This short report reviews news coverage quoting two leaders of the Coca-Cola front group Global Energy Balance Network: Professors James O. Hill and Steven N. Blair.

James O. Hill was president of the Global Energy Balance Network.  He is a professor of pediatrics and medicine at the University of Colorado, and director of their Center for Human Nutrition.  According to Associated Press, Professor Hill wrote privately to a Coca-Cola executive, “I want to help your company avoid the image of being a problem in peoples’ lives and back to being a company that brings important and fun things to them.”

According to the New York Times, Coca-Cola “last year gave an ‘unrestricted monetary gift’ of $1 million to the University of Colorado Foundation … the university said that Coca-Cola had provided the money ‘for the purposes of funding’ the Global Energy Balance Network.”

According to Associated Press, “Since 2010, Coke said it gave $550,000 to Hill that was unrelated to the [Global Energy Balance Network] group. A big part of that was research he and others were involved with, but the figure also covers travel expenses and fees for speaking engagements and other work.”

Steven N. Blair was vice president of the Global Energy Balance Network.  He is a professor at the Arnold School of Public Health, in the departments of exercise science and epidemiology and biostatistics at the University of South Carolina.  According to the New York Times, when Professor Blair was announcing the Global Energy Balance Network, he made the following incorrect claim: “Most of the focus in the popular media and in the scientific press is, ‘Oh they’re eating too much, eating too much, eating too much’ — blaming fast food, blaming sugary drinks and so on… And there’s really virtually no compelling evidence that that, in fact, is the cause.”

According to the New York Times, “Dr. Blair had received more than $3.5 million in funding from Coke for research projects since 2008.”

Following is a list of 30 news articles written after Professors Hill and Blair received funding from Coca-Cola (after January 1, 2011 for Hill, and January 1, 2009 for Blair) in which journalists failed to disclose that Professors Hill and Blair were funded by Coca-Cola.

  1. Los Angeles Times: Steps, Time, Distance: However Measured, Walking Can Reach Health Goals. By Mary MacVean, September 6, 2013.
  2. Los Angeles Times: ‘Fed Up’ Documentary Lays Blame for American Obesity on Food Industry. By Mary MacVean, May 9, 2014.
  3. Los Angeles Times: Obesity Rates in U.S. Appear to Be Finally Leveling Off. By Shari Roan, January 17, 2012.
  4. Los Angeles Times: Halloween’s Dilemma: Candy vs. Healthful Treats. By Karen Ravn, October 31, 2011.
  5. Los Angeles Times: Swimming with the Fittest? By Judy Foreman, July 19, 2010.
  6. Los Angeles Times: Stay Moving, Not Still. By Jeannine Stein, July 13, 2009.
  7. Los Angeles Times: Cities Try To Cut The Fat With Weight-Loss Programs. By Karen Ravn, January 31, 2011.
  8. USA Today: Retirement: The Payoffs of an Active Lifestyle. By Nanci Hellmich, April 16, 2015.
  9. USA Today: Holiday Weight Gain Isn’t Inevitable. By Nanci Hellmich, December 2, 2013.
  10. USA Today: Flex Your Metabolism and Melt Off Pounds. By Nanci Hellmich, August 19, 2013.
  11. USA Today: Adidas MiCoach, Nike+, Sensor Devices Get People Exercising. By Janice Lloyd, January 27, 2010.
  12. USA Today: Americans Fighting Fat, But Odds Stacked Against Them. By Nanci Hellmich, November 5, 2012.
  13. National Public Radio (NPR): How We Store Food at Home Could Be Linked to How Much We Eat. By Angus Chen, May 19, 2015.
  14. National Public Radio (NPR): Exercise Studies Find Good News For the Knees. By Allison Aubrey, September 5, 2009.
  15. National Public Radio (NPR): Sitting All Day: Worse For You Than You Might Think. By Patti Neighmond, April 25, 2011.
  16. U.S. News and World Report: What Do Coloradans Know About Fitness That You Don’t? By Elisa Zied, October 8, 2013.
  17. U.S. News and World Report: How to Sit Less and Move More. By Elisa Zied, September 11, 2013.
  18. Boston Globe: Want to Get in Shape? Just Move! By Gareth Cook, January 22, 2012.
  19. Boston Globe: Healthy Steps. By Deborah Kotz, June 27, 2011.
  20. The Atlantic Monthly: How Obesity Became a Disease. By Harriet Brown, March 24, 2015.
  21. Forbes: The 6 Weight-Loss Tips That Science Actually Knows Work. By Alice G. Walton, September 4, 2013.
  22. Forbes: How A Model Figured Out Childhood Obesity. By Trevor Butterworth, August 22, 2013.
  23. Newsweek: Viagra the New Weight Loss Pill? By Trevor Butterworth, January 29, 2013.
  24. The Atlantic Monthly: The Perfected Self. By David H. Freedman, June 2012.
  25. New York Times: Tossing Out the Diet and Embracing the Fat. By Mandy Katz, July 15, 2009.
  26. Washington Post: Is It Possible To Be Fit and Fat? By Rachael Rattner and Live Science, December 16, 2013.
  27. Associated Press (AP): Study Says Even Being a Bit Overweight Is Risky. By Stephanie Nano, December 1, 2010.
  28. Denver Post: Combating Obesity on Several Fronts Helps Reverse Trend in Colorado. By Ally Marotti, August 7, 2013.
  29. Charleston Post and Courier: Study Links Obesity to Work. By David Slade, May 28, 2011.
  30. Peoria Journal-Star: Sedentary Behavior Is a Health Risk That Needs to Be Addressed at All Ages. By Steve Tarter, July 24, 2015.

Why did so many reporters and news outlets fail to disclose the conflicts of interest of these two prominent professors?

How can we prevent similar journalistic failures in the future? One answer is clear: reporters and editors must be on their guard for corporate-funded professors who pose as issue experts but are really acting as mouthpieces for food companies like Coca-Cola.

Readers, too, should be aware that some influential news outlets do not always disclose their sources’ conflicts of interest, which makes their coverage of food and agriculture issues less fair and credible.  It gives readers a legitimate reason to be skeptical of some mainstream media coverage of food and agriculture issues because of pro-industry biases sometimes contained in it.

In November, we wrote a similar report about how journalists failed to disclose sources’ ties to the agrichemical giant Monsanto. Both of these reports highlight the same problem: academics who appear in the media as independent sources when they are actually taking money from companies to promote particular views. Journalists have a responsibility to know and to reveal if their sources are working on behalf of industry.

Journalists Failed to Disclose Sources’ Funding from Monsanto: A Short Report

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Following a Columbia Journalism Review article on whether science journalists should accept money from corporate interests, and whether there is adequate disclosure of sources’ corporate ties and conflicts of interest, U.S. Right to Know reviewed recent articles to assess how often journalists and columnists quote academic sources without stating that they are funded by the agrichemical giant Monsanto, which produces pesticides and GMOs.

Our review found 27 articles quoting (or authored by) university professors after they received Monsanto funding, but without disclosing that funding.

This is a collapse of journalistic standards. When reporters quote sources about food issues such as GMOs or organic food, readers deserve to know if the sources have been funded by Monsanto or have other conflicts of interest.

The principal effect of failing to reveal these conflicts of interest is to unfairly enhance the credibility of Monsanto-funded academics, and their support of GMOs and criticism of organic food, while detracting from the credibility of consumer advocates.

Our review found that many top media outlets quoted either University of Florida Professor Kevin Folta or University of Illinois Professor Emeritus Bruce Chassy without disclosing that the professors received funding from Monsanto. According to documents published by the New York Times, Professor Folta received Monsanto funding in August 2014, and Professor Chassy in October 2011, if not before.

Many of these journalistic failures occurred at influential news outlets: newspapers such as the New York Times, Washington Post and Chicago Tribune; science publications such as Nature, Science Insider and Discover; magazines such as the New Yorker, Wired and The Atlantic; as well as broadcast outlets like ABC and NPR.

Following is a list of news articles quoting (or authored by) Professors Folta and Chassy — after they received their Monsanto funding – but failing to disclose that they had received the Monsanto funding.

  1. New York Times: Taking on the Food Industry, One Blog Post at a Time. By Courtney Rubin, March 13, 2015. (Also ran in the Sarasota Herald-Tribune.)
  2. New York Times: Foes of Modified Corn Find Support in a Study. By Andrew Pollack, September 19, 2012.
  3. Washington Post: Kraft Mac & Cheese Just Got Duller. You Can Thank (Or Blame) ‘The Food Babe.’ By Michael E. Miller, April 21, 2015. (Also ran in the Chicago Tribune.)
  4. Washington Post: Proof He’s the Science Guy: Bill Nye Is Changing His Mind About GMOs. By Puneet Kollipara, March 3, 2015.
  5. Nature: GM-Crop Opponents Expand Probe Into Ties Between Scientists and Industry. By Keith Kloor, August 6, 2015.
  6. NPR: Is The Food Babe A Fearmonger? Scientists Are Speaking Out. By Maria Godoy, February 10, 2015.
  7. New Yorker: The Operator. By Michael Specter, February 4, 2013.
  8. The Atlantic: The Food Babe: Enemy of Chemicals. By James Hamblin, February 11, 2015.
  9. Wired: Anti-GMO Activist Seeks to Expose Scientists Emails with Big Ag. By Alan Levinovitz, February 23, 2015.
  10. ABC News: Scientists Developing Hypo-Allergenic Apples. By Gillian Mohney, March 22, 2013.
  11. Science Insider: Agricultural Researchers Rattled by Demands for Documents from Group Opposed to GM Foods. By Keith Kloor, February 11, 2015.
  12. Columbia Journalism Review: Why Scientists Often Hate Records Requests. By Anna Clark, February 25, 2015.
  13. Discover: Open Letter to Bill Nye from a Plant Scientist. By Keith Kloor, November 10, 2014.
  14. Discover: How to Balance Transparency with Academic Freedom? By Keith Kloor, February 27, 2015.
  15. Discover: Anti-GMO Group Seeks Emails from University Scientists. By Keith Kloor, February 11, 2015.
  16. Forbes: Zombie Retracted Séralini GMO Maize Rat Study Republished To Hostile Scientist Reactions. By Jon Entine, June 24, 2014.
  17. Forbes: Did The New Yorker Botch Puff Piece On Frog Scientist Tyrone Hayes, Turning Rogue into Beleaguered Hero? By Jon Entine, March 10, 2014.
  18. Forbes: You Can Put Lipstick On A Pig (Study), But It Still Stinks. By Bruce M. Chassy and Henry I. Miller, July 17, 2013.
  19. Forbes: Anti-GMO Scientist Gilles-Eric Seralini, Activist Jeffrey Smith Withdraw from Food Biotech Debate. By Jon Entine, May 29, 2013.
  20. Forbes: Malpractice On Dr. Oz: Pop Health Expert Hosts Anti-GM Food Rant; Scientists Push Back. By Jon Entine, October 19, 2012.
  21. Forbes: Scientists Smell a Rat In Fraudulent Genetic Engineering Study. By Henry I. Miller and Bruce Chassy, September 25, 2012.
  22. Forbes: The Science of Things That Aren’t So. By Bruce Chassy and Henry I. Miller, February 22, 2012.
  23. Des Moines Register: Consumers Are Misled About Organic Safety. By John Block, October 10, 2014.
  24. Gainesville Sun: Genetically Modified Foods Face Hurdles. By Jeff Schweers, June 29, 2014.
  25. Peoria Journal Star: Hybrid Crops That Used to Offer Resistance to Rootworm No Match for Mother Nature. By Steve Tarter, June 21, 2014.
  26. Gawker: The “Food Babe” Blogger Is Full of Shit. By Yvette d’Entremont, April 6, 2015.
  27. Louis Post-Dispatch: California Labeling Fight May Raise Food Prices for All of Us. By David Nicklaus, August 19, 2012.

This is merely one example of two professors who were not identified as received funding from Monsanto, and yet these two professors received major traction in the media as “independent” experts on GMOs and organics. The only reason the professors admitted to receiving Monsanto funding was due to emails uncovered by Freedom of Information Act requests filed by U.S. Right to Know, a consumer group.

How often does it happen that journalists present other academics funded by food or agrichemical companies as “independent” sources and without disclosing their corporate funding?

One remedy for this problem is that when journalists write about food, that they carefully ask their sources whether they have any conflicts of interest, where they get their funding from, and whether they receive any funding from food or agrichemical companies like Monsanto, or their PR front groups.

That, however, may not be enough. Professor Kevin Folta received Monsanto funding, yet repeatedly denied ties to or funding from Monsanto. Reporters – and readers — should be aware that such deceit by Monsanto-funded academics has recently occurred, and be on their guard against it.