Academic scientists’ participation in GMO debate neither new nor ‘inappropriate’

| | September 10, 2015
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Academic scientists have played key roles in the history of “GMO crops,” including an important role in communicating with the public in the face of significant disinformation.

On September 5th, the New York Times published an article by Eric Lipton titled “Food Industry Enlisted Academics in G.M.O. Lobbying War, Emails Show.” Lipton misleadingly implies that there is some sort of recent and inappropriate industry influence on science communication.

Academic scientists were deeply involved in the dialog about how to regulate GMOs so that their benefits could be achieved without environmental or health issues.  This was a public conversation, but since most of this occurred prior to the internet age it tends to go unrecognized.

Before and soon after the technology was commercialized, academic scientists became involved in voluntary efforts to explain the new crops.  They gave talks, they wrote books, they set up lecture series and they started blogs and discussion forums.  These were not efforts solicited or funded by biotech companies. They were motivated by a sincere desire to counteract rampant disinformation that has severely limited the application of this technology.

In 2013, a biotech industry association decided to launch a website called “GMO Answers” to allow consumers to get answers to their questions. Logically, those running the website went to the  already-active biotech science communicators to see if they would be willing to field some of the questions as unpaid participants.

With some of the latest breakthroughs and reductions in research costs, now even small entities could bring new things to market or those in need via a non-market avenue.  What stands in the way is the very well funded anti-GMO machine. The current pro-biotech academic scientists participating in this debate aren’t doing anything inappropriate or new.

Read full, original post:  Why Do Some Academic Scientists Stand Up For GMO Crops?

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