By Stacy Malkan
Today Monsanto posted a blog by its global communications lead Sara Miller making the case that the company deals only in facts with reporters. Unfortunately, Miller’s blog itself is sorely lacking when it comes to facts.
Miller’s blog was a reaction to an interview posted Tuesday in the Huffington Post, by freelance journalist Paul Thacker with former Reuters reporter Carey Gillam, who is now research director at the nonprofit consumer group U.S. Right to Know.
In her blog, Miller states incorrectly that U.S. Right to Know is an “anti-GMO organization.” USRTK’s position on GMOs is stated clearly on our website: We are not opposed to GMOs; we advocate for transparency and precaution for genetic engineering and all new food technologies. Monsanto and Miller “very much disagree with this perspective,” according to her blog.
Miller states incorrectly that U.S. Right to Know is funded by the organic industry. Our major donors are listed on our website, and do not include any companies or trade associations. Indeed, our Board of Directors prohibits U.S. Right to Know from taking any funding at all from for-profit corporations.
Miller accuses Gillam, who covered agricultural issues for more than 17 years at Reuters, of being a biased reporter, and admits that Monsanto scrutinized Gillam’s stories and contacted her editors to pressure them to alter coverage – yet she provides no evidence of inaccuracies in Gillam’s reporting.
Miller asserts that Monsanto provides reporters only with accurate information. In fact, U.S. Right to Know and many other groups, historians, academics and reporters have documented that the company has a long history of misleading the public, regulators and the media. Documentation and examples are provided below, along with Gillam’s response to the Monsanto blog.
U.S. Right to Know is a nonprofit consumer group standing up for truth and transparency in our food system. We invite you to sign up for our free newsletter and join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.
Further reading on Monsanto deceptions:
As Monsanto’s own documents show, the company went to extraordinary efforts to keep the public in the dark about PCBs, and even manipulated scientific studies by urging scientists to change their conclusions to downplay the risks of PCB exposure.
- Monsanto knew about PCB toxicity for decades, Chemical Industry Archives
- “Monsanto hid decades of pollution,” by Washington Post reporter Michael Grunwald
In a Vanity Fair exposé entitled “Monsanto’s Harvest of Fear,” Donald L. Bartlett and James B. Steele describe the heavy-handed tactics used by Monsanto and allies to push the company’s agenda.
Monsanto was the leading contributor, with over $22 million in donations, to deceptive campaigns to defeat GMO labeling ballot initiatives in four states. Dishonest tactics used by the anti-labeling campaigns to mislead voters and the media included fake front groups, inaccurate ads and false affiliations.
“Lies, Dirty Tricks and $45 million kill GMO labeling in California,” by Michele R. Simon
“Agrichemical companies have a long history of concealing health risks from the public,” by Gary Ruskin, U.S. Right to Know
Seedy Business: What Big Food is Hiding with its Slick PR Campaigns on GMOs – report by Gary Ruskin
Spinning Food: How Food Industry Front Groups and Covert Communications are Shaping the Story of Food – report by Friends of the Earth
Carey Gillam’s response to Sara Miller’s Monsanto blog on May 11, 2016:
“Again, Monsanto can point to nothing in what I have said that is inaccurate, so the effort is to smear the messenger. Perhaps I went to work for a consumer organization because after 17 years of covering the agrichemical industry I saw the extent of the intentional dis-information spread by corporate PR agents through media outlets, and hoped I could in some small way add more balance to the conversation. Monsanto is filled with super-smart people who get demonized often for things they don’t deserve. I am more than aware of that, and don’t want to contribute to that. But the company also has a self-interest that doesn’t always coincide with consumer interests. Surely no one would argue otherwise. It’s the job of journalists/researchers/writers to ask the questions and seek the answers that enlighten and educate — even if that doesn’t help sell product or pad profits.”