GMO panel event September 10, 2015

09/22 Full length event video with annotations. Now on Youtube here. Some classic quotes: “None of us has what might be termed a major conflict of interest” (Prof. Steven Strauss), even though ALL the panel members take money from industry, and so it went, on and on.

09/09 New development: Much more is revealed about improper connections between Kevin Folta (tomorrow’s panelist), Monsanto,The Cornell Alliance for Science (tomorrow’s organiser), and numerous academics, including the President of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in The Puppetmasters of Academia (or What the NY Times Left out). Out today.

09/06 The NY Times emails (attached to the NY Times article) reveal that “Ask Me Anything” events on GMOs originated as a Monsanto/Folta PR proposal.

09/05 Panelist Kevin Folta is the principal subject of a highly revealing NY Times article out today on the subject of compromised academic independence. He emailed, after receiving $25,000 from Monsanto: “I am grateful for this opportunity and promise a solid return on the investment,” The article significantly errs, however, because it omits to say Folta had repeatedly and explicitly denied any Monsanto connection. Hope to see you on Thurs. PS, some mischievous people on social media and elsewhere are alleging we have tried to suppress the “Ask Me Anything” debate. This is untrue. We asked GreenStar to not to host or endorse the event, knowing that Ithaca/Cornell are full of venues.

09/02 Cornell’s Alliance for Science chooses Ithaca Unitarian Universalist Church (306 N Aurora St) as new venue for the “Ask Me Anything About GMOs” event. Mark your calendars for 10th Sept, 6pm. We await to see whether the panel or the moderation will be more balanced in any way. Joe Romano of GreenStar has dropped out. So far there is no sign that the Alliance is publicising the event locally. Please come and show the “Global Leadership Fellows” what real debate is.

08/31 Having said that it did not endorse the event, Greenstar Coop has now published, jointly with the Cornell Alliance for Science, a letter. “Tolerance is required for true co-operation”. The letter is being touted by the Alliance as evidence that critics of the event were intolerant and uncooperative in spirit (as per the title) and: “the event was seized upon by a few vociferous people, mischaracterized, and misrepresented.” Except that the event WAS a promotional one and the Alliance does exist SOLELY to promote GMOs. One look at its upcoming speaker list or its twitter account (@ScienceAlly) would convince anyone of this. Not a single one of these talks is about anything other than GMOs and none of them from skeptics. Greenstar has so far not sent this letter to concerned members.

08/29. 2nd Saturday Update: Jonathan Latham will be discussing this event, the Cornell Alliance for Science, and the GMO propaganda machine onTues (9/2/2015) on WRFI at  4:30-5pm AND on 9/8/2015 7:25-8am with Jim Murphy, also WRFI (88.1 FM)

08/29. Saturday Update: EVENT CANCELLED. Greenstar or The Alliance have cancelled or pulled out (their accounts conflict). However, the Alliance has said it will restage the event, possibly on the same day. Therefore, we encourage attendance. The time and venue will be posted here and on our social media pages. Updates to follow.

08/28 Friday Update: The Cornell Alliance is bringing in 25 “Global Leadership Fellows” from Indonesia, The Philippines, Tanzania, India, Bangladesh, and various parts of Africa who are going to be trained up in GMO promotion in those countries (this is the “international workshop” referred to below. The Greenstar “Ask me Anything” evening is intended to model activities they could do.

Cornell’s Alliance for Science is holding a GMO “Ask me anything” event at Greenstar’s The Space. The event will be at 6pm on Sept 10th. What is wrong with having an informational event? Sometimes, rather a lot:

1. The Cornell Alliance for Science is misnamed. It is purely a promotional service for the biotechnology industries. For example it has been holding international workshops to teach people from other countries how to promote GMOs. It was formed with a $5.6 million grant from the Gates Foundation, which strongly supports GMOs, especially in developing countries.CM37B8WWIAARxoc

2. The Alliance misrepresents its activities as “depolarizing” the GMO debate when in fact it has used its access to the national media primarily to ridicule and misrepresent public opinion. As Tufts university professor Tim Wise put it last week: “Who would have known that depolarization could feel so polarizing—and so stifling of scientific inquiry.”

2. The Panel for the event is entirely composed of Alliance-selected scientists. There is no one representing organic or non-GMO food production systems. No scientists critical of GMOs are on the Panel.

3. With one exception (Prof. Margaret Smith), the scientists on the panel are well known for publicly promoting GMOs, and Dr Smith is no sceptic. There is no need for a moderator and there will be no debate among them. The other presenters all routinely present proGMO views in the media and science press. Tony Shelton works with Oxitec, which is the Monsanto of GMO insect companies (and has plans to release GMO moths in the Ithaca area) . Allison van Eenennaam is a former Monsanto employee.

4. Kevin Folta. Dr Folta, chair of the Horticulture Dept. at the University of Florida was famous, and is now notorious, as the most aggressive scientist who spends time on social media promoting GMOs. He is notorious because he has long claimed not to receive money from biotech companies for doing so. E.g.:

Ms, Anne, I hate to break it to you, but YOU are my boss! I’m proud to be part of public science. Check my record- all transparent. No “biotech bosses”. Plus, no company will ever tell me what to do.” – Kevin Folta (Jan 2015)

To the surprise of few, it was last month revealed that Folta had received $25,000 from Monsanto (plus travelling and other expenses) and was working with the PR company Ketchum to promote pro-GMO views online.

5. Greenstar Coop has a good name in the Ithaca area. It should expect that organizations with corporate or other agendas might seek to use that good name to greenwash their own aims. Greenstar should take steps to ensure such greenwashing does not happen. It should withdraw permission to use its facilities (no hardship since the Alliance for Science has free use of equal or better Cornell facilities). Certainly, Greenstar should remove its name and withdraw Joe Romano (Greenstar Marketing Manager) from acting as a “moderator” for what is, at bottom, a simple propaganda event for GMOs. This will also be no hardship since without an independent viewpoint and only vetted questions, there will hardly be a debate to moderate.

This event will be live-streamed by Cornell.