Monsanto covertly funding pro-GM campaigns
Company accused of paying academics for positive coverage
Monsanto has been accused of covertly funding a pro-GM advocacy group and website in the US while also contributing the work of a pro GM academic.
The US consumer group Right to Know has obtained evidence of "extensive collaboration between agrichemical industry giant Monsanto Co. and University of Illinois food science Professor Emeritus Bruce Chassy on projects to promote GMO crops".
Email communications obtained through Freedom of Information Act requests reveal that Monsanto 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.
Right to Know alleges that emails also reveal that:
"Monsanto and a public relations operative helped Chassy set up a non-profit group and website called Academics Review to criticize individuals, organizations and others who raise questions about the health or environmental risks of GMOs."
In one example, Chassy is said to have co-authored a series of articles that argue GMO labeling is a “disaster in waiting” — with no disclosure of his collaboration with GMO developer Monsanto.
US Right to Know called 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.
Gary Ruskin, co-director of U.S. Right to Know:
“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 . “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.”
Find out more about Monsanto featured in our recent gardening report.
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