The American Council on Science and Health have debunked the anti-GMO “grassroots” folks. Hint: It’s astroturf. Excerpt:
Based on a year-long investigation of tax records and annual reports from hundreds of anti-GMO advocacy groups and their donors, the GLP tracker reveals that, instead of underdogs taking on the corporate establishment, many activist groups are highly skilled public relations operations with big budgets working to demonize crop biotechnology. Over the five-year period 2012-2016, anti-GMO groups received $850,922,324 in donations from organic food companies and wealthy foundations.
The tracker features an interactive network map illustrating the financial relationships between donors (yellow circles) and recipients (blue circles), as well as exportable financial data and detailed profiles of the top 50 organizations. All the data can be toggled by year and size of the organizations (top 10, 25, 50 etc.) (See this article for an in-depth explanation on how to use the tracker.)
A network map depicting donors and recipients.
These nonprofit groups comprise a highly organized movement that promotes a similar message, shares many of the same donors and, in some cases, the same leadership. Veteran Greenpeace researcher Charlie Cray, for instance, sits on the board of directors at U.S. Right to Know, an organic industry-funded activist group known for attacking biotech scientists as agrichemical industry “shills.” Likewise, the Environmental Working Group (EWG), creator of the infamous “Dirty Dozen” list, is funded by an industry lobbying outfit called Organic Voices Action Fund (OVAF). EWG president Ken Cook sits on OVAF’s board of directors.
Beyond the extensive latticework of activism laid bare by GLP’s tracker, there are more illuminating facts consumers, policymakers and journalists should be aware of.
Here’s something the report doesn’t mention; see that big blue funding source at the bottom left? The Tides Center? That’s a Soros-funded operation.
Now, George Soros has the right to spend his money as he pleases, same as anyone. And we have the right to detest him for his choices. And I won’t speak for you, True Believers, but I find Soros eminently detestable.
But that’s not the point of this article.
Here are a couple of later excerpts that lay out the real takeaways:
Anti-GMO activists are wont to complain that the biotech industry has spent enormous sums of money lobbying politicians to block regulation of its genetically engineered seeds and pesticides. This is simplistic, since biotech and plant protection products are tightly regulated by the FDA, USDA and EPA, at considerable cost to the industry. But the more important point is that the activist groups have spent far more on lobbying than ‘Big Ag,’ and the reason is simple, as GLP points out:
“Based on the data we’ve been able to ferret out … pro-GMO spending is sizable but remains a fraction of the expenditures of anti-GMO groups … While anti-GMO groups spend hundreds of millions of dollars lobbying through the media and the internet to make their case that transgenic and gene-edited crops are unhealthy or unsustainable and therefore should be banned or labeled, biotechnology companies spend most of their money on product development.”
Anti-GMO activism is funded to a large extent by the organic food industry, which sees biotechnology as a threat to its profitability. Nonetheless, a sizable portion of the donations collected by anti-crop biotech groups comes from foundations that otherwise fund mainstream scientific research and education.
The Packard Foundation, for instance, has contributed to a variety of science-based organizations, noting on its website that it “supports creative, timely research to spark fresh thinking and produce effective, innovative solutions.” However, the foundation also gave the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) $1,250,000 between 2012 and 2016.
NRDC hasn’t been shy about opposing the scientific consensus on GMOs, reciting the familiar talking point that biotech companies “have a stranglehold” on the federal agencies that should be regulating them. The environmental group has also worked with journalist Paul Thacker, who refers to pro-science groups, including the Genetic Literacy Project and ACSH, as Monsanto’s “spies” for educating the public about GMOs.
For many foundations, this tracker should spark some reflection and reconsideration of its funding practices, as the GLP notes:
Even some of the most aggressive anti-GMO groups devoted solely to attacking biotechnology have received sizable grants from otherwise pro-science foundations … Are these foundations aware that they are funding activist groups that rely on scientifically unsound research and reject the overwhelming scientific consensus that GMO technology is safe?
So the anti-GMO groups cry “victim” status while outspending the actual science side by orders of magnitude – and some of the money they are spending come from people and organizations that really ought to know better. What a debacle.
The real tragedy in all this is that GMO crops like golden rice could solve food shortages all over the Third World by producing high-yield crops that can be more easily grown on the marginal lands that many Third World nations seem to be cursed with. But well-meaning yet ignorant activists in the U.S. and Europe campaign against these crops for no good reason.
And people like the detestable George Soros fund them.