GLP interactive infographic: Which GMO experts should you trust?

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Who do you trust in the debate over genetically modified crops and foods?

In the discussion of transgenic crops, the most outspoken opponents of GMO technology, usually aligned with anti-GMO advocacy groups like Greenpeace, Union of Concerned Scientists or Center for Food Safety, portray themselves as genetic experts and selfless public servants working for the good of society, pure as snow. On the other hand, scientists speaking in favor of the technology are usually ignored, as reporters “balance” their stories by juxtaposing advocacy scientists with industry spokespeople. In fact, the overwhelming majority of biotechnology experts support crop innovations and have no industry connections, yet are portrayed as corporate-owned shills who publish have some unstated vested interest in subverting the public interest.

What do the facts show?   

The Genetic Literacy Project has made an interactive infographic that compares the experts—the leading and most vocal opponents of GMOs versus the most visible and widely quoted independent defenders of the technology. The table below looks at their appointments, scientific records and public/private financial ties.

The analysis is eye opening. It shows that those tending to favor the technology are typically actively publishing and paid as public scientists whereas those opposing GMOS usually have had no direct training in this specialty and are mostly compensated privately, profiting by their activism. Scientists active in the pro-GMO camp tend to have completely independent scientific careers and use education about transgenic crops as part of their scholarly outreach. This is not true of those aligned against the technology.

If you hover your mouse over the name of any of the experts, an information box pops up with the picture and background of the person. You can draw your own judgements about who are the most experienced, trained, independent and trustworthy experts.

This graphic in jpg form can be downloaded here.

  • thefermiparadox

    Well isn’t that interesting :-) Sad this won’t influence the pseudo crowd one bit. I always see educated folks googling GMO’s and read Shiva’s posts. I told my one co-worker to stay aware from her work. She is biased and corrupted.

    • crush davis

      Facts don’t matter to the anti-GM gangstas. Legit, unbiased fact-finding isn’t as fun as “Genetic Roulette” or Don Huber’s raging against the dying of the light.

    • Oh Vandana… i used to love you, but then some of your writings were going a tad impractical, and the bias of traditional = good, modern = bad was becoming absurd. And now you are lost to me. (dabs eyes with hanky).

    • agliterate

      I read (here) and saw a confirming memo that Shiva gets $40k per lecture. Yup, $40,000. Talk about a shill. Sensationalism for sale.

  • Sinclair

    Kevin Folta doesn’t get paid from Monsanto? – yeah right! This list is a crock of shit with no truth.

  • Randomosaur

    Show us proof that he is paid by Monsanto.

  • Jay

    We’ll just take your word for it, Sinclair. Just kidding.

  • cha ching

    i trust monsanto and other large corporations. they would never lie to make a profit, right?

    • Westcoastsyrinx

      That is a rather ignorant comment, cha ching. Of course companies are in business to “make a profit” or they wouldn’t exist. That is such a phony argument. And yes, they finance the studies being done on products they offer because they are required to do so before the product can be approved by the government. AND they are they only people able to deduct R&D from taxes reported as they have a vested interest in the research. They ALSO have an obligation to insure the study results are accurate so that they don’t end up getting sued because their shareholders don’t like that sort of thing much. This is such an ignorant line the anti-science crowd is fooling very silly people with, cha ching.

      • cha ching

        it’s amazing how many varieties of gmo’s that have been developed that increase nutrition, bio diversity, and sustainable farming practices

  • Christopher Willis

    How do we know you aren’t payed by Monsanto!?

    • I apparently get paid by Monsanto, at least so i was told because i made 1 skeptic comment in a FB group. I wish I knew where the payments are though… Oh but I also work for the Prince of Darkness so he may be processing them.

  • Westcoastsyrinx

    Anyone who has to make a rude comment like Sinclair’s doesn’t have the education enough to understand what he/she is reading, so is not likely to be providing useful information.

  • How does Seralini not have a Ph.D. in a biotech field? According to your own infographic, he “holds a Ph.D. in biochemistry and molecular biology from the University of Montpellier 2.” Also, how does he not have peer-reviewed research?

    His research may be bogus. And that’s something the scientific community as a whole has responded to nearly each time he has published. But that doesn’t change the fact that he somehow got the credentials and has pushed a number of papers through the peer-review process.

    Is that embarrassing? Perhaps. But let’s not let embarrassment get in the way of the evidence.

    As a heuristic, I think these are valuable indicators for assessing credibility. But always we must look at the individual research. Just because someone passes these criteria doesn’t mean they’re doing good research, and vice versa.

    I haven’t spot-checked the others, but that one stood out specifically and makes me question the research that went into this post.

    • Mr Grogg

      His only peer reviewed published work in the past twelve years has been retracted. Thus, it is not longer peer reviewed published work. Your point about his degree does seem valid, though. Hopefully just a checkmark oversight?

  • Kelly Johnston

    I was a little surprised Mark Lynas wasn’t listed here, since he’s not a scientist but is clearly expert on both sides of the GMO issue, especially on labeling. And while this may miss a few people, it’s outstanding and on point. Here I always thought the anti-GMO crowd automatically rejected studies with funding from sources taking sides (Wait,that’s limited only to “corporate” interests).

    • Mark Lynas would, unfortunately, demonstrate the flaws in their heuristic. This infographic was designed with an agenda and not an objective yardstick. I may be “pro” GMO but I can’t support cherry picking data to make a point, even if (especially if?) it’s a point I otherwise agree with.

  • I’d change the first column on Ph.D. in Science for Vandana Shiva to a +/-

    She has a Ph.D. in the Philosophy of Science from the University of Western Ontario. Because it’s philosophy it shouldn’t merit a checkmark, but because it’s philosophy of science the graphic would more accurately recognize that it’s a related field.

  • agliterate

    Kevin Folta doesn’t take any $$ from Monsanto. He’s an academician. If you have proof to the contrary, show it.

  • agliterate

    I debated Jeffrey Smith once. What an idiot. Full of self-important sound and fury; a classic narcissist.

  • Steve Wylie

    The most telling column is the one on source of income, because we scientists are so often accused of dipping into a cash trough provided by big bad business. In fact it is the anti-GMO lobby who are slurping from a trough provided by anti-science lobbyists (who are careful to remain unnamed ). The parallels between this anti-science crowd and the creationist anti-science crowd are startling – or perhaps they are the same crowd with the same funding?

  • SJFriedl

    Isn’t an MD more or less equivalent to a PhD in a science-related field? I don’t take Dr. Oz seriously about anything, but it seems really disingenuous to conveniently exclude medical doctors.

    • Rosalind Dalefield

      Not really, because to get a PhD a person has to undertake independent research, whereas it is possible to get an MD purely by rote-learning.