Dirty work - Chemical industry attack machine in high gear
And I'm the target
Here we go again. The propaganda playbook orchestrated by the corporate chemical industry has decided it’s time to target me again. The goal is, as always, to sling muddy falsehoods so fast and furiously that the dirt covers up the facts my stories bring to light.
The tactics have been employed for years now to try to harass and silence scientists, journalists and others who publish information unfavorable to corporate interests.
I became the target recently after daring to write about CDC data released June 30 that found glyphosate residues in 80% of samples collected from people around the United States. You can see that July 9 story here in The New Lede and in The Guardian.
The story went ‘viral,’ so to speak, with millions of views and a July 11 share by the popular public figure Joe Rogan that garnered more than 15,000 likes on Rogan’s Twitter page, and close to 5,000 retweets.
That made it game-on for the cast of usual characters charged with defending glyphosate, a weed killing chemical that has long been the main ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup herbicides and other brands. Monsanto was purchased by Bayer AG in 2018.
First out of the gate was Florida academic Kevin Folta, a professor with a documented history of collecting funds from both Monsanto and Bayer that he failed to properly disclose when touting the safety and benefits of Monsanto’s products.
On July 12, Folta published a piece attacking the truthfulness of my CDC story. Folta alleging distortion is what some might call “projection,” and what my late grandmother would have called “the pot calling the kettle black.”
Folta was not only caught discussing in email communications how Monsanto could send money his way in a manner that would not need to be publicly reported, but he was caught allowing his name to be used on columns posted on an industry website that were actually written by industry public relations teams, and engaging in numerous other questionable activities in defense of Monsanto.
There are too many emails to share here between Folta and Monsanto, but you can see a taste in this 2014 email in which Folta writes to a Monsanto manager: “I’m glad to sign on to whatever you like, or write whatever you like.”
In another communication about Monsanto funding for Folta work, he wrote to a Monsanto executive, “I’m grateful for this opportunity and promise a solid return on the investment.”
And just where did Folta published his attack piece on me? Why, the Genetic Literacy Project (GLP), of course. GLP is the old standby for these types of attack pieces, a website that has harassed many people whose work raises concerns about glyphosate. GLP has reliably defended glyphosate and anything sold by Monsanto, Bayer and other pesticide companies for years.
Guess who was the largest funder of GLP in its most recently reported fiscal year? Hint: Five letters, starts with a B.
But one GLP piece attacking the story wasn’t enough. So Folta’s article was followed up on July 19 with a podcast discussion of the story and another article in GLP attacking me personally with more lies and innuendoes.
The author of the July 19 GLP slander was one Geoffrey Kabat, the author of books arguing that the health hazards of pesticides, secondhand tobacco smoke and other environmental exposures are overblown. Kabat helped launch Genetic Literacy Project. (See page 17 of the GLP annual report.)
Kabat also has served as a member of the board of scientific advisors of the American Council on Science and Health (ACSH), another corporate front group. Emails made available through litigation show correspondence in which ACSH asked Monsanto for additional funding, citing how much work ACSH had done to defend and promote glyphosate. A Monsanto executive in an email string noted the “DOZENS of pro… and glyphosate postings” from ACSH, and wrote that “You WILL NOT GET A BETTER VALUE FOR YOUR DOLLAR than ACSH.”
Kabat also wrote an article published in, but then retracted by, Forbes magazine that attacked three scientists who found “compelling” links between glyphosate and cancer. Forbes removed the article after determining Kabat had hidden his ties to the Monsanto-funded ACSH group.
GLP took a minute from focusing on me this week and managed to slip into its pages an attack on award-winning journalist Paul Thacker on July 25, but was right back at me with yet another piece today. This one is a doozy, filled with so many falsehoods that I wonder if a libel lawyer could have a field day with it.
GLP’s Jon Entine texted to ask me to comment for today’s piece. I asked that he quote me with the following comment: “The $100,000 you took from Bayer in Fiscal Year 2020/2021 is clearly being put to use in these false allegations. You’re so far from any nugget of actual fact there is nothing further for me to say. I assume you’ll be disclosing to readers the donation?” (Spoiler: Entine did not include my comment in his write-up.)
At least I’m in good company. GLP has 23 articles on its site aimed at discrediting international toxicologist Christopher Portier, six seeking to refute research published by Lianne Sheppard, a Professor at University of Washington’s Departments of Environmental & Occupational Health Sciences, and Biostatistics, and one lengthy piece alleging that the team of elite international cancer scientists working for the World Health Organization “plotted attacks on Monsanto” and engaged in a “scheme” when they found the weight of published, peer-reviewed science showed glyphosate probably caused cancer.
It’s entertaining for those of us who know the what, why, who and how of it all. But the scary part is that sometimes it sticks. Creating lots of noise, muddying the waters, and confusing every-day folk who just want and need to find out the truth, is dirty work aimed at nothing more than deception. That dirty work serves those who cash big checks from big corporations. But it does so at the expense of the rest of us.
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