Friday, 1 April 2016

Monsanto: Strong Ties, Strong Media and the challenge of editorial integrity and independence

According to Huffpost , the media and partnerships division of the venerable magazine Scientific American hosted a panel Thursday at the National Press Club featuring journalists and scientists. The event, cosponsored by a group called GMO Answers, focuses on whether science is “explained fairly in the media.” What might be less apparent is that GMO Answers requires some explanation itself: The group is a project of agricultural biotech firms meant to buttress the industry’s reputation.
GMO Answers, which was launched in the summer of 2013 to help improve the impression of genetically modified foods in the U.S., is a project of PR giant Ketchum. Funding for the effort comes from agricultural biotech companies, including Monsanto and Syngenta.
Monsanto, which sells seeds that have been genetically altered so crops can survive the company’s glyphosate weedkiller, was facing pressure in many states to label foods containing GMOs, or genetically modified organisms. GMO Answers was created as a website where people could have questions answered by supposedly “independent” scientists.
The New York Times reported in 2013 that GMO Answers would embrace a more “transparent” approach in addressing critics, who accuse big agricultural companies of “purposely hiding information.” Around the same time, Politico reported that Monsanto shook up its internal PR shop and began a “charm offensive,” visiting newsrooms across Washington.

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