Leaked Email Reveals Dietitian’s Murky Relationship with Monsanto

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Alex Orlov, Mic, March 22, 2017

Monsanto, a multinational company and the world’s largest producer of genetically modified seeds, pays a group of dietitians to spread its controversial GMO gospel.

It’s pretty standard for a company to pay experts to support a corporate cause. But one dietician who receives funding from Monsanto argues for the company’s line while, not publicly disclosing her ties to the company.

Mary Lee Chin, a registered dietitian, is part of Monsanto’s Leaders Engaged in Advancing Dialogue (L.E.A.D.) initiative, which, according to Monsanto’s site, consists of a “group of 15 communications leaders” who “communicate with consumers … about how food is grown.” Monsanto’s site noted that members receive funding from the company.

Mic obtained emails that reveal Chin highlighting the group’s outreach capabilities — making it seem as though the dietitians are more like spokespeople than consultants. What’s more concerning, however, is Chin’s own behavior online. In the emails, she touts the network’s ability to generate buzz online, yet she often fails to disclose her Monsanto partnership to her social media followers.

The U.S. Right to Know, a food industry watchdog group, shared the emails with Mic after obtaining them from a Freedom of Information Act request to the University of Florida in 2014.

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