Did Monsanto Secretly Fund a ‘Non-Partisan’ Report Attacking Organics?

monsanto company glyphosate is used to treat gmo soy

A seemingly non-partisan April 2014 report attacking the organic food industry was in reality funded by Monsanto Company, according to new information obtained via state Freedom of Information Act requests.

The original 30-page report, published by non-profit Academics Review, seemed to show that consumers were only paying top prices for organics due to deceptive marketing practices, leading media to report that the organic industry had achieved its fast growth and popularity through fear and disinformation.

It has since been proven, as detailed by the Huffington Post, that executives for Monsanto Company engaged in fundraising, strategic collaboration, and dissimulation of industry funding for this report. In addition, at least one of the two co-founders of the publication, Bruce Chassy, Ph.D., professor emeritus at University of Illinois, had previous ties with Monsanto.

The e-mails released through FOIA showed that while Chassy had been representing himself as an independent academic working for the public University of Illinois, he had also been quietly collaborating with Monsanto Company on promoting biotech crop products, and Monsanto was funneling money into the university.

Two 2010 e-mail exchanges show that Academics Review, which claims to only accept donations from non-corporate donors, planned to find corporate funding through such sources as Val Giddings, former vice president of the Biotechnology Industry Organization, as well as representatives from Monsanto Company, for the publication of this research.

“The key will be keeping Monsanto in the background so as not to harm the credibility of the information,” wrote Eric Sachs, a senior public relations operative for Monsanto Company, in one of the now-public e-mails.

Academic Review describes itself as being led by “independent academic experts in agriculture and food sciences.” The findings in the report were supposedly “endorsed by an international panel of independent agricultural science, food science, economic and legal experts from respected international institutions,” according to the group’s 2014 press release.

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Spraying soybean field image via Shutterstock

Emily Monaco is a food and culture writer based in Paris. Her work has been featured in the Wall... More about Emily Monaco