"Anti-GMO (genetically modified organism) scientists and activists are increasingly having their credibility attacked through a campaign orchestrated by the biotech industry," investigative reporter Andy Rowell writes. In two in-depth stories Rowell and Jonathan Matthews, of Norfolk Genetic Information Network, examine the dirty tricks Monsanto has played to promote its gene altered food.
The science journal Nature says an article it published last year on genetically engineered corn growing in Mexico was not sufficiently researched and should not have been published reports the Washington Post. The controversial article reported that corn growing in Mexico's southern state of Oaxaca contained genetically engineered material, although GE corn has been prohibited in Mexico since 1998.
A food industry website reports that lobbyist Rick Berman addressed Tuesday's annual meeting of the National Turkey Association. "What many of you don't understand is just how many different ways this industry is being attacked by groups. They are coming at you all from the animal rights side, as well as biotechnology, antibiotics hysteria, anti-corporate, labor and the factory farms angle. ...
The bold announcement from Advanced Cell Technology (ACT) that it had taken steps to create human embryos through cloning was more hype than reality. The methods used had already been done in animals, and some scientists insisted it wasn't cloning at all. Also, the few embryonic cells it had created had died. "This was a public relations campaign," said Arthur Caplan, director of the Center for Bioethics at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia.
According to Clive Cookson, science editor for the Financial Times, news coverage of biotechnology "often appears in a form that anyone who really knows about the subject recognizes as grossly exaggerated, either as positive stories in the time-honoured 'miracle cure' genre or as negative scare stories." Cookson offers tips to help companies make sure the spin goes their way: "The most important thing is to build up a good long-term relationship with journalists. Make friends with them ... Help journalists write stories about your company or research field.
Scientists as well as financial analysts caution that gene therapies may never come to fruition. If they do, they will be probably useful only for a handful of rare diseases. A Motley Fool financial columnist tells millions of readers, "There's no reason why the average investor should be invested in biotechnology companies.
Congress is on the verge of passing a new law (H.R. 3160) that would block public access to information about the US biological defense program under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). Secrecy will do little to protect public safety, since extensive information has already been widely published about bioweapons agents, most of which are naturally-occurring. The Sunshine Project explains the public relations agenda behind the drive for secrecy, which may have more to do with protecting corporate reputations than public safety.
In the last 20 years, corporate funding in the fields of information technology and biotechnology has grown faster than support from any other source, and there is growing concern over possible corporate interference and industrial pressures that could inappropriately influence the direction, interpretation, and outcome of research. This past summer, several organizations took measures to examine and address this situation.
Last year Michael Jacobson's Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI, also known as "the food police") received $200,000 from the pro-biotechnology Rockefeller Foundation to be a moderate voice in the raging debate over genetically engineered (GE) foods. CSPI has since made many statements very favorable to GE foods and recently called for government action against companies marketing non-GE foods. Ironically, CSPI's Integrity in Science Project criticizes and reveals the special interest funding and agendas of other nonprofit organizations.
In yet another blow to the biotech food industry's pretense of papal infallibility, scientists have found some unexpected DNA next to the inserted gene in the Monsanto Company's Roundup Ready soybeans, casting doubts on the biotechnology industry's assertions that its technology is precise and predictable.