In an effort to keep the pressure on scientists who accept the biological science behind genetically modified organisms (GMOs), the hard-left political magazine Mother Jones has written another article using emails provided to the organic lobbying organization US Right To Know, run by long-time political activist Gary Ruskin, along with Lisa Graves, who controls the public relations and lobbying group that funds SourceWatch.
In this instance, the writer is Tom Philpott, but the name is unimportant, you don't get hired there unless you are firmly against science so it could have written by anyone they pay. Though the emails have nothing to do with the American Council on Science and Health he makes it sound like they do early on - by using a snippet of an email from Monsanto executive Eric Sachs, who tells the scientists he is writing to that he would try to get us to discuss their science.
The problem with the Mother Jones article is that unless you are firmly in the vast-corporate-conspiracy camp, what the executive wrote looks pretty reasonable. And if it doesn't look reasonable, what organic food executives write about using Philpott to sow doubt about conventional food looks far worse. We'll get to that in a moment, but first here is what Sachs stated:
"I understand and appreciate that you need me to be completely transparent and I am keenly aware that your independence and reputations must be protected," Sachs writes to the academics, and then suggests that to them that he might also ask the Council to communicate their work.
Welcome to Mother Jones journalism: You are either on their side in the anti-science scare story du jour or they will imply you are a shill. A Monsanto executive I have never spoken to, never even read the name before, said he would try to get the Council to promote science a few years ago.
Of course he would. We do that all of the time, that is why you are a reader here and not Mother Jones. I don't know how many emails my predecessor got in 2013, but I get 40 a day from groups asking me to promote their science. And I actually appreciate that. I can't know every study that comes out, nor know who is being attacked by activists, and public relations efforts keep me appraised of current issues in science and health.
Because science and health is what we do and Mother Jones seems to be concerned about any group that is a credible voice for policy-makers and the public. People like that we impartially note the difference between health threats and health scares.
Unlike Mother Jones.
You can bet if the pro-science side actually did have shills like Gary Ruskin and Lisa Graves doing investigative leg work about organic activists, there would be Freedom of Information Act requests going out all over the place, and plenty of emails where corporate executives say they will get Philpott to promote their work.
Perhaps like this one, from the same year Mother Jones implies we were ideological poodles for Monsanto:
See how it says DONE right next to Tom's name? That is far more damning than an executive hinting that they might be able to get us to do something for them.
But Tom laughs off any notion of him being a reliable shill for corporations - when the email is about him:
And organic food proponents defended him being on that list, saying it is common for reporters to be pitched stories...and he agreed.
Yet hypocritically he was willing to allege that by even being mentioned in an email by Monsanto - saying they would pitch us a story - we must have been willing accomplices.
Is it only wrong to have DONE next to your name when you are pro-science? That seems to be the case for organic food influencers and the publications that amplify their message.
Anyway, yes Dr. Sachs and Mother Jones readers, I proudly admit we are firmly behind the science of GMOs, and we cover that science even if corporations Mother Jones was founded to oppose are the groups doing it. Always have. Nobel Prize winner Dr. Norm Borlaug, the father of the Green Revolution, is in our Founder's Circle and we promote GMOs because they are a gigantic boon for agriculture, the poor, and public health.
Knowing that we are in the bag...for science and reason, anyway...if Monsanto or anyone else wants to fire off a check as a thank you for our 37 years of efforts, by all means do so. We will take money from anyone - but there are no strings attached.
We will keep on supporting science whether a company supports our outreach efforts or not - however, I am betting that Tom Philpott will stop writing these conspiracy articles if the corporate donors for the foundation that launders money for Mother Jones stops writing checks that make their way to him.