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Gary Ruskin and Jon Entine tangle over the GMO corporate connection

What does it mean to have “corporate connections”?

The GLP has faced that question numerous times, as it is often accused by anti-GMO activists, particularly quack websites such as Mike Adams’ NaturalNews, as being a “front” for the crop biotechnology industry. In fact, 50 percent of GLP’s content and more than 60 percent of its funding focuses on human genetics. The GLP is transparent and posts all its funding sources: here; none of its funding comes from corporations or industry sources.

Nonetheless, GLP has been under attack, most recently by Gary Ruskin, co-founder of the US Right to Know (USRTK profiled by GLP here), which receives almost 100 percent of its funding from corporate or industry sources; its central funder, the Organic Consumers Association (OCA) represents many organic activists. But OCA also promotes many fringe beliefs that are contrary to consensus science and data including opposing vaccinations and suggesting that Ebola victims should treat their disease with homeopathic products instead of medicine.

Ruskin’s attacks prompted Corporate Crime Reporter — a Washington, DC based non-profit, which has been in existence for 30 years, and has co-authored articles with Ruskin — to run one of Ruskin’s attack pieces on the GLP’s Jon Entine. CCR’s founder, Russell Mokhiber, asked Entine if he’d like to respond, and Entine agreed.

The full commentary by Mokhiber and Entine’s response are only available in print form through Corporate Crime Reporter. A summary using selected quotes from Ruskin and Entine can be found at CCR’s website, here. CCR has allowed GLP to reproduce some of it here:

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In March 2015, Ruskin filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request with UC Davis asking for any correspondence between Entine and a string of corporate interests, including Monsanto, Syngenta, Bayer, BASF, Dow, the Biotechnology Industry Organization, and the Grocery Manufacturers Association.

Ruskin wrote … to UC Davis Chancellor Linda Katehi asking her “reveal the sources of UC Davis funding for Jon Entine, the Genetic Literacy Project, the UC Davis Institute for Food and Agricultural Literacy, and its parent unit, the UC Davis World Food Center.”

“We are concerned that UC Davis may be acting as a financial conduit to enable corporations to direct third-party public relations attacks against targeted academics, individuals and institutions,” Ruskin wrote. “There is a significant body of evidence that Entine acts as a chemical industry public relations operative. Perhaps you are aware that he has written dozens of articles defending corporate interests, and attacking a range of targets whose work criticizes or detracts from the profit interests of the chemical and fossil fuel industries. … Alongside his role as senior fellow at the UC Davis Institute for Food and Agricultural Literacy, Entine is also executive director of the Genetic Literacy Project, which regularly attacks activists, journalists and scientists who raise concerns about the health and environmental risks of genetically engineered foods and pesticides.”

Related article:  GLP radio interview: Girl Scouts refuse to bow to activist pressure to go non-GMO

Entine says Ruskin is engaged in a “juvenile witch hunt.”

“The irony is that the Genetic Literacy Project receives 97 percent of its funding — the rest via the Internet — from non-partisan foundations with no connection to the debate over GMOs, while Ruskin’s USRTK gets $274,500 from the Organic Consumers Association. Ruskin is a paid arm of one of the most extremist anti-science organizations in the US whose members directly benefit from the scare he can create around independent science.”

“And here’s the Alice in Wonderland world we live in,” Entine said. “We have a dramatic new technology called genetic engineering. It’s not risk free because nothing is. Research is expensive so governments are not in a position to take the lead on it. Corporations pursue research in this, costing hundreds of millions.”

“Reasonable regulations in place start getting distorted by anti-technology activists even though thirty years of research has shown an almost perfect record of safety and compliance. Smaller corporations drop out of development because it’s too expensive. Now anti-technology activists complain GE has been taken over by large corporations, because they could control the food supply. Governments begin developing smaller projects such as GE eggplant and wilt resistant banana and vitamin enhanced rice, with no corporate connections. They are condemned as Trojan Horses for Big Biotech. Food researchers develop inexpensive ways to tweak individual genes to stop browning in potatoes, apples and mushrooms. They are condemned as tools of the devil. A small company develops a sterile mosquito which could help prevent a Zika crisis, and the same brainiacs believe it should be stopped, because it’s part of a larger plot of corporate takeover of the world.”

For the rest of the summary, visit Corporate Crime Reporter here. For a full copy of Ruskin’s attack on Entine and Entine’s interview reply, contact CCR for a written copy.

The GLP featured this article to reflect the diversity of news, opinion and analysis. The viewpoint is the author’s own. The GLP’s goal is to stimulate constructive discourse on challenging science issues.

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