By Dr. Mercola | mercola
All eyes are on California where Proposition 37, which, if passed, would require labeling of foods produced using genetic engineering.
It will be put to voters on November 6th. In recent weeks, the battle over GMO labeling has taken an ugly turn.
In a true David versus Goliath battle, the opposition will apparently stop at nothing to defeat the measure.
What are they so afraid of?
A common corporate tactic, well-honed by the tobacco industry, is to hire “third-party experts” to bring your message to the public, especially through the media. The idea is that academic types carry much more credibility than the likes of Monsanto when it comes to defending genetically engineered food.
University of California at Monsanto?
It’s no accident that the “No on Prop 37″ campaign has many academics on its side at the University of California at Davis. The school enjoys millions of dollars in research grants and other largesse from the biotech industry.
A 2004 story in the Sacramento Bee1 describes UC Davis as a research incubator for Big Biotech:
“You name it, and biotechnology companies help pay for it at UC Davis: laboratory studies, scholarships, post-doctoral students’ salaries, professors’ travel expenses, even the campus utility bill.”
According to Bill Liebhardt, former director of the UC system’s sustainable farming program:
“‘The public is having a hard time figuring out where the corporate door ends and where the university door begins.’ And UC Davis cell biologist Eduardo Blumwald says that biotech companies ‘are influencing the way we do research.’”
That would certainly explain why so many UC Davis professors profess support for the “No on 37″ campaign.
One article, co-authored by University of California at Davis professor Colin Carter,2 not only defends genetically engineered (GE) foods, but also makes unsubstantiated claims while mischaracterizing the language of Prop 37, as Tufts professor Parke Wilde pointed out in August.3 Another pair of UC Davis professors were paid by the “No on 37″ campaign, which released their report4 with this dramatic headline:
“UC Davis Professors of Agricultural Economics Release New Report that Shows Proposition 37 Will Increase Costs for California Farmers and Food Processors by $1.2 Billion.”
The Los Angeles Times5 reported that the No campaign paid UC Davis professors Julian Alston and Daniel Sumner at least $30,000.
“This article would never stand to peer-review scrutiny, which explains why the report isn’t published anywhere but on the ‘No on 37′ website,”6 he says.
Professor Alston is no stranger to Monsanto largesse. According to the Sacramento Bee:7
“In July 2002, UC Davis farm economics professor Julian Alston found a patron in the private sector: Monsanto, one of the world’s five largest crop biotechnology firms. The official announcement came in the form of a letter. ‘Dear Dr. Alston,’ it read. ‘Please find enclosed a check for $40,000 that represents an unrestricted gift in support of your research program.’”
Next, UC Davis Professor Kent Bradford penned a curious op-ed in the Woodland Daily Democrat8 opposing Prop 37 that listed talking points bearing striking resemblance to the “No on 37″ campaign’s arguments.9 That similarity just might be explained by Bradford’s deep ties to Monsanto.
According to the Sacramento Bee,10 Branford is “director of the Seed Biotechnology Center at UC Davis, and a leader of Seed Central, a university-led initiative to attract seed industry to the Davis area.” He recently trumpeted Monsanto’s $31 million expansion at the Woodland, California campus, saying the investment, “capitalizes on UC Davis and the research capacity of the companies.”
Most recently, two UC Davis professors appeared on an episode of the Dr. Oz show defending genetically engineered foods.11 One of them, Martina Newell-McGloughlin is director of the University of California Biotechnology Research and Education Program,12 while the other, Alison L. Van Eenennaam, has worked for Monsanto.13
It’s no wonder the funders of “No on Prop 37″ would keep dipping into the UC Davis deep well of alleged academic experts. They obviously made an excellent investment, and it’s payback time.
Monsanto Expert, Henry Miller: “I am Not a Stanford Professor, But I Play One on TV”
“No on Prop 37″ has been putting Henry Miller front and center of its campaign. Miller has a long and sordid history14 of defending toxic chemicals such as DDT, in addition to working for Big Tobacco. He also tends to misrepresent himself quite a bit. As the Los Angeles Times15 reported, a “No on 37″ ad had to be pulled off the air because Miller was identified as, “Dr. Henry I. Miller M.D., Stanford University, founding dir. FDA Office of Technology.” Behind him in the shot was Stanford’s recognizable vaulted campus walkway.
Just one problem: Miller is not a Stanford professor but a research fellow at the Hoover Institution, a conservative think tank that happens to be housed on the Stanford campus. Adding insult to injury, Stanford has a policy to not take positions on candidates or ballot measures, and does not allow political filming on campus.
Oops. The campaign admitted its error and edited the ad.
But the Stanford deception did not end there. Recently, the “Yes on 37″ campaign complained16 that Stanford’s policy was being violated once again, this time in at least two different “No on 37″ flyers sent to California voters that identify Miller as, “Henry Miller, MD, Stanford University.” The campaign claimed it wouldn’t happen again… Right.
False Claims and Misrepresentations Used to Mislead Voters
The “No on 37″ campaign has been caught using fraudulent misinformation to confuse voters again and again over the past several months. For example, on October 18, the “California Right to Know Yes on 37″ campaign requested the U.S. Department of Justice conduct a criminal investigation of the “No on 37″ campaign “for possible fraudulent misuse of the official seal of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.” According to the press release:17
“‘The Justice Department should investigate this fraudulent dirty trick perpetrated by the ‘No on 37′ campaign,’ said Gary Ruskin, campaign manager of ‘California Right to Know Yes on 37.’ ‘They are running a campaign of lies, deceit and trickery, and some of it may be criminal.’
The ‘No on 37′ campaign affixed the FDA’s seal to one of the campaign’s mailers. Section 506 of the U.S. Criminal Code states: ‘Whoever… knowingly uses, affixes, or impresses any such fraudulently made, forged, counterfeited, mutilated, or altered seal or facsimile thereof to or upon any certificate, instrument, commission, document, or paper of any description… shall be fined under this title, or imprisoned not more than 5 years, or both.’
The letter also provides evidence that the ‘No on 37′ campaign falsely attributed a direct quote to the FDA in the campaign mailer. The quoted attribution, which appears below, is entirely false and fabricated. The FDA did not make this statement and does not take a position on Prop 37.”
According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (the world’s largest organization for food and nutrition professionals), “No on 37″ also misled the public about the Academy’s stance on genetically engineered foods in the Secretary of State’s Official California Voter Information Guide.
The press release18 issued by the Academy reads in part:
“…the California Official Voter Information Guide regarding Proposition 37… inaccurately states that the Academy ‘has concluded that biotech foods are safe.’ The statement is false… We are concerned that California voters are being misled… Voters need accurate information in order to make an informed choice.”
Fuzzy Logic Used to Confuse You on the Basic Issues
The anti-choice campaign likes to claim that Prop 37 was written by trial lawyers in order to hit small grocers and growers with lawsuits. The truth is that “Yes on Prop 37″ is a grassroots effort, started by a concerned California grandmother who saw that there was no way of avoiding genetically engineered foods even if we wanted to, since they didn’t have to be labeled.