As the founder and executive director of the Genetic Literacy Project (GLP), Jon Entine bills himself as an objective authority on science even though his contribution to the field centers on attacking scientists, journalists, and others at the behest of the corporations that pay him.
Demonstrative of this cozy relationship is a 2015 Monsanto PR plan that identified Genetic Literacy Project as one of its “industry partners.” Monsanto planned to engage GLP and numerous other similarly affiliated “independent” third parties to “protect the reputation” of Roundup and “orchestrate outcry” about the International Agency for Research on Cancer’s (IARC) conclusions about glyphosate. In 2015, IARC performed an exhaustive scientific review on glyphosate and concluded the chemical is a “probable human carcinogen.”
As of today, GLP has posted over 280 articles about IARC. Some of these articles include personal attacks concerning the scientists who served on the IARC Working Group tasked with evaluating glyphosate, calling them “frauds,” “liars,” and “greed-driven.”
Tax records show that the Council for Biotechnology Information (CBI), a chemical industry trade group, paid Ketchum public relations firm more than $11 million from 2013-2016 to run GMO Answers, a website where consumers purportedly get straight answers from “independent experts” about genetically engineered foods.
A CBI / Ketchum document unearthed in the Roundup litigation lists Jon Entine, Bruce Chassy, Kevin Folta and others as“target authors.” Entine was to rebut the review, ‘GMO Myths and Truths’ by Dr. Michael Antoniou, which asserted, “Roundup has never been tested or assessed for long-term safety for regulatory purposes but independent studies show it is highly toxic to animals and humans.”
Monsanto (now Bayer) was and is a member of CBI and provides funding to GMO Answers. According to the website, the independent experts on GMO Answers “are not paid by GMO Answers to answer questions.”
The notion that “experts” like Entine were not paid for their contributions to GMO Answers runs counter to an internal email from Monsanto’s Eric Sachs. Sachs worked on a plan for Monsanto and other companies to support an “Academic Review” (a similar website where pro-industry academic Bruce Chassy and others could respond to and attack the work of those critical of GMOs). In the email, Sachs wrote: “From my perspective, the problem is one of expert engagement and that could be solved by paying some experts to provide responses…The key will be keeping Monsanto in the background so as not to harm the credibility of the information.”
In 2014 and 2015, Entine partnered with Chassy and Folta to organize industry-funded conferences at the University of Florida and UC Davis “to train scientists and journalists to frame the debate over GMOs and the toxicity of glyphosate,” as Paul Thacker reported in The Progressive.
Litigation documents show that Chassy and other pro-industry experts like him aren’t known for pulling any punches in the framing of the GMO / glyphosate debate. To the contrary, his inflammatory language discussing the pro-industry side of the debate is downright abusive.
In one document, Chassy likens reporting from a journalist discussing health risks associated with GMOs to “playing Whack-a-mole at the carnival.” He tells Daniel Goldstein, a Monsanto executive, “[w]e’ll be working on this too. Isn’t freedom of speech wonderful?”
In another email, Chassy discusses the Open Letter to Monsanto from Moms Across America, a non-profit organization critical of Monsanto and Roundup. “That’s your enemy,” Chassy says to another academic and Goldstein. “Beat the shit out of them and put them on the defensive and you won’t have this problem.”