College Professors Told to Fork Over Email Exchanges with Monsanto

In an unprecedented use of Freedom of Information laws, an anti-GMO group wants to read the emails of forty university professors with professional associations to biotechnology firms.

The politicking of the biotechnology industry seems to have gone a little too far. 


Now, an anti-GMO group is requesting to read the professional emails of 40 university professors with alleged ties to biotech firms such as Monsanto.

Called US Right to Know, the group alleges that a select group of university professors are actively promoting biotechnology products like genetically modified crops in exchange for financial compensation.

There are no briefcases of cash here, but rather generous research grants given to outspoken proponents of GMO foods. Kevin Folta, a plant scientist at the University of Florida in Gainesville, for example, received an unrestricted $25,000 research grant from Monsanto last year.


It's not just large grants, however, that cause concern among anti-GMO groups like US Right to Know. Biotechnology companies are given to hiring ambitious public relations firms like Ketchum of New York, which manages the website GMO Answers.

While appearing as a neutral source for information on GMO crops, GMO Answers is managed by Ketchum and to create a well-credentialed sited, Ketchum reached out to professors friendly to the GMO industry to respond to queries posted by online users.

Ketchum even went so far as to draft responses for certain academics, including Folta, telling him it's important that his responses be "authentic" and encouraging him to alter the scripted answers to suit his preference.

US Right to Know says that when professors on the public doll are indirectly working for private companies with private interests, the public has a right to know. Hence the request to sift through the professors' email.

At least one institution, the University of Nebraska, has refused to hand over the emails requested by the anti-GMO group, which is filing Freedom of Information briefs in state courts.

Dr. Lee M. Silver, professor of molecular biology at Princeton University, gives essential context to the GMO debate, explaining the complications of defending natural foods by prioritizing natural products.


Read more at Nature.

Photo credit: Bloomberg / Contributor

LinkedIn meets Tinder in this mindful networking app

Swipe right to make the connections that could change your career.

Getty Images
Sponsored
Swipe right. Match. Meet over coffee or set up a call.

No, we aren't talking about Tinder. Introducing Shapr, a free app that helps people with synergistic professional goals and skill sets easily meet and collaborate.

Keep reading Show less

10 books to check out from Jordan Peterson's 'Great Books' list

The Canadian professor has an extensive collection posted on his site.

Jordan Peterson with Carl Jung and the cover art of Jaak Panksepp's 'Affective Neuroscience' (Image: Chris Williamson/Getty Images/Big Think)
Personal Growth
  • Peterson's Great Books list features classics by Orwell, Jung, Huxley, and Dostoevsky.
  • Categories include literature, neuroscience, religion, and systems analysis.
  • Having recently left Patreon for "freedom of speech" reasons, Peterson is taking direct donations through Paypal (and Bitcoin).
Keep reading Show less

Your body’s full of stuff you no longer need. Here's a list.

Evolution doesn't clean up after itself very well.

Image source: Ernst Haeckel
Surprising Science
  • An evolutionary biologist got people swapping ideas about our lingering vestigia.
  • Basically, this is the stuff that served some evolutionary purpose at some point, but now is kind of, well, extra.
  • Here are the six traits that inaugurated the fun.
Keep reading Show less

Should you invest in China's stock market? Know this one thing first.

Despite incredible economic growth, it is not necessarily an investor's paradise.

Videos
  • China's stock market is just 27 years old. It's economy has grown 30x over that time.
  • Imagine if you had invested early and gotten in on the ground floor.
  • Actually, you would have lost money. Here's how that's possible.