Podcast: ‘Disinformation feedback loop’: GLP’s Jon Entine and geneticist Kevin Folta expose web of anti-biotech groups — and their anti-vaxx, cult-promoting funding sources

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Credit: Emma Cionca
Credit: Emma Cionca
The Genetic Literacy Project is a popular and respected science organization that promotes innovation and research using the cutting-edge tools of biotechnology in sustainable agriculture and biomedicine, including vaccine development. It’s flagship website is geneticliteracyproject.org. The GLP presents diverse viewpoints with original articles and news aggregated from the internet.

Over the last decade, a small but fierce group of biotechnology rejectionists have accused the GLP of being a “front” for the biotechnology industry, even though the evidence rebutting that claim is abundant. In contrast, the nonprofit has an exemplary record of transparency and disclosure. Such accusations are levied by websites that reject biotechnology. Among their targets: the GLP, Jon Entine and University of Florida plant scientist Kevin Folta.

A recent exposé in the Genetic Literacy Project analyzed the organizations and their funding, and dissected the accusations against the GLP (which echo ones made previously against Dr. Folta). It turns out that the fiercest critics of the GLP have direct and intricate links and connections to less-than-credible extremist factions in the pro-organic farming movement.

As Jon and Kevin discuss, we now have the bizarre situation where the leading opponents of biotechnology are an amalgam of science-denying crackpots (Organic Consumers Association, Joe Mercola, Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.), ambulance-chasing cultists (Baum Hedlund law firm found by cult members from the Church of Scientology) and conspiracy-embracing fringe activists and ideologues (SourceWatch, USRTK, Carey Gillam, Paul Thacker). Yet, bizarrely, some news organizations and other ‘progressive groups’ and universities not only treat claims by these clown car ideologues as credible, they uncritically disseminate their views and often promote them.

Related article:  Our microbiome: Separating hype from health

It’s predictable, if disheartening, that the far left and far right are now in sync on some science issues. United by their righteous zealotry and suspicion of biotech-based medicine and agriculture, anti-GMO leftists are ideological bed fellows with Trumpists.

The take home message is that the disinformation these groups present is echoed by the other related “disinformation feedback loops.” Multiple presentations in the media that appear to be independent actually part of a connected and intricate scheme to tarnish actual scientific information, the scientists that produce it, and the outlets that present it.

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Jon Entine is the founder and executive director of the Genetic Literacy Project, author of 7 books and winner of 19 major journalism awards, including two Emmys. Twitter: @JonEntine

Kevin M. Folta is a professor in the Horticultural Sciences Department at the University of Florida. Twitter: @kevinfolta

A version of this article was originally posted at Talking Biotech and is reposted here with permission. Find Talking Biotech on Twitter @talkingbiotech

The Talking Biotech podcast, produced by Kevin Folta, is available for listening or subscription:

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