Pro-GMO Researchers Attempt to Use Anti-Russian Sentiment to Attack Media

Posted on Feb 27 2018 - 5:12pm by Sustainable Pulse

Iowa State University (ISU) researchers have attempted to use the current anti-Russian sentiment in the U.S. to attack the Russian media over their coverage of GMOs, in research released this week.

The research found that RT and Sputnik produced more articles containing the word “GMO” than five other news organizations combined: Huffington Post, Fox News, CNN, Breitbart News and MSNBC.

The research was carried out by ISU assistant sociology professor, Shawn Dorius, and associate professor in ISU’s departments of agronomy and genetics, development and cell biology, Carolyn Lawrence-Dill, whose laboratory is partly funded by the pro-GMO U.S. National Corn Growers Association (NCGA).

Turning the U.S. or world against GMOs “would have a clear negative effect on an industry in the U.S. and could advantage Russia,” Dorius told the Des Moines Register.

Iowa State University researchers sadly have a long history of receiving massive funding from the GMO industry and its supporters, as revealed by Food and Water Watch.

Sustainable Pulse Director Henry Rowlands stated Wednesday; “The ISU researchers failed to ask the question as to why the U.S. media does not cover the GMO issue regularly, despite a growing consumer interest in and backlash against the technology. It may seem unusual to some but on this topic the Russian media has more freedom than the U.S. media.”

Why was this research published now?

The ISU research seems to have been carefully timed to coincide with Russia’s antitrust regulator’s review of the $ 64 Billion Monsanto-Bayer mega-merger, which is reported to not be going well for the two companies.

Earlier in February Reuters reported that Bayer had taken Russia’s antitrust regulator to court over the watchdog’s investigation into Bayer-Monsanto merger.

A Bayer spokesman said the German company was petitioning the court in Russia to be given more time to discuss demands made by the regulator about the deal, which would create the world’s largest seeds and pesticides company.

Russia’s Federal Anti-Monopoly Service (FAS), has yet to issue a ruling on the takeover, but they will almost certainly not allow the merger to go ahead in the form Bayer and Monsanto would like, which would strike a huge blow to both companies as Bayer is a growing force in Russia.

In November the FAS conditionally approved the merger but stated that they will require the companies to share certain agricultural technologies and data with others to ward off competition concerns.

Is Russia Anti-GMO?

In 2016 Russia’s State Duma introduced a total ban on the cultivation and breeding in Russia of genetically modified (GM) plants and animals, except for scientific research purposes. However, this is not an anti-GMO stance, it is a stance that adheres to the precautionary principle and is in line with over 30 other countries around the world.

The Russian Government managed to stand strong in the face of increasing pressure from U.S. biotech companies and they also managed to see through the Russian pro-GMO forces’ misleading claims and pseudoscience.

Also in 2015, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovich stated that it is not necessary to use genetic modification to feed the world, at the 12th International ‘Science and Technology in Society (STS) forum’ in Kyoto, Japan.

Rowlands concluded; “If you see anything wrong in the pro-consumer and pro-health position of the Russian Government on GMOs you may be one of those who has fallen in to the trap of thinking everything Russia does is anti-American.”

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About the Author

Sustainable Pulse is a global news outlet covering sustainable agriculture, GMOs and pesticides.

1 Comment so far. Feel free to join this conversation.

  1. Jeff March 1, 2018 at 14:08 - Reply

    GMWatch posted an informative criticism of the research that was published by ISU which I recommend. These researchers from ISU were obviously promoting corporate pro-GMO propaganda talking-points and doing so while characterizing certain anti-GMO publications as a type of Russian propaganda that were created with nefarious intent. They failed to offer an explanation for the criteria they used in selecting the ten specific sources for review and why they only used the search term “GMO”. To highlight one example of the bias of the researchers, The New York Times was excluded without explanation, but if they had searched for articles published by the NY times during 2016 using the term “GMO”, they might not have found anything since the Times always uses “G.M.O.” Of course, there may be another reason for this exclusion: according to the Des Moines Register, “The researchers encourage consumers to look for credible sources, such as the National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine, to better understand genetic engineering.” That’s interesting considering the New Times published an article critical of the NAS (“National Biotechnology Panel Faces New Conflict of Interest Questions,” by Stephanie Strom, New York Times, December 27, 2016). If the researchers had expanded their search parameters a little, they might have also found other articles by the NY Times that didn’t meet their confirmation bias; for example, “Scientists loved and loathed by an agrochemical giant,” by Danny Hakim, New York Times, December 31, 2016; “Doubts about the Promised Bounty of Genetically Modified Crops,” by Danny Hakim, New York Times, October 29, 2016; “Bayer Deal for Monsanto Follows Agribusiness Trend, Raising Worries for Farmers,” by Leslie Picker, Danny Hakim and Michael J. de la Merced, New York Times, September 14, 2016.
    The ISU researchers also didn’t really justify why they limited their review to only selected publications during 2016. We now know that Russian bots were already trying to influence public perception in the U.S. as early as 2014 (see, “Trolling for Trump: How Russia Is Trying to Destroy Our Democracy,” by Andrew Weisburd, Clint Watts and JM Berger, War on the Rocks, November 6, 2016 and “Disinformation: A Primer in Russian Active Measures and Influence Campaigns – Statement Prepared for the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence hearing,” by Clint Watts, March 30, 2017). The ISU researchers should have also included articles from 2015, but if they did, they would have had to explain away other articles that didn’t meet their biased criteria. For example: “Another ‘Too Big to Fail’ System in G.M.O.s,” by Mark Spitznagel and Nassim Nicholas Taleb, New York Times, July 13, 2015; and of course – who could forget “A Florida Professor Works with the Biotech Industry,” by Eric Lipton, New York Times; September 5, 2015. Obviously, the ISU researchers weren’t focused on scientific truth; they pre-selected a conclusion and then cherry-picked “evidence” that supported their bias. The most obvious proof of the ISU’s bias in favor of GMOs was inadvertently pointed out by the Des Moines Register: “The professors recently presented the research at Iowa State University Crop Bioengineering Center’s annual meeting.” Hey, money talks.

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