Hypocrite GMO opponents are paying bloggers to shill. Here’s how to call them out.
As an outspoken biotechnology and genetic engineering advocate, my writing has garnered all types of feedback.
I receive flattering compliments:
“I enjoy your snarky but intelligent writings.”
Snarky AND intelligent? Why thank you!
“I really love your passion for science and science literacy. Your courage is very impressive and I see it as a great example.”
I blushed when I read this.
“You are doing a fantastic job promoting science, and ensuring all know the quacks are just that- people who are scaring and exploiting those who are gullible and looking for answers in all the wrong places.”
This is exactly my objective, so I’m glad this follower feels this way. Truly, the kind and encouraging messages I receive make me smile.
This might seem like a humble brag, but I need these bees in my bonnet to counteract the vitriol. Case in point: My followers have been dubbed the “Senapath Crew” because anti-biotech group GMO Free USA was spreading this rumor, but couldn’t bother to get my name right. At least my followers helped transform it into something positive:
I’m baselessly accused of awful things almost daily. Here are some examples:
“Very little of your writing is fact. You’re a paid shill from biotech.”
If I only had a nickel for every time I’ve had the word “shill” thrown at me, I’d have some literal shill bucks by now.
“Kavin’s scientific evidence? Probably in her pocket like everyone else against TRUTHFUL genetic literacy.”
“Best of luck, helping Mosanto, who probably wrote or supported the poor woman making her kids eat non-organic. The poor children may pay later for perscription .drugs because they believed their parents. Eat what you want, believe what you want, and live in peace. But help others to let your kids make the choice by supporting and educating them.”
Won’t someone think of the children?!! (I left the spelling errors.)
“Kavin Senapathy is linked to the Genetic Literacy Project which is linked to Jon Entine, who’s linked to George Mason University, who’s linked to the Koch brothers, it’s like how far back can we go on this?”
Who needs six degrees of Kevin Bacon when we have six degrees of Koch brothers?
Anyone see a common thread? That’s right – apparently science advocates like me are shilling for big agrochemical! The above is just a small sampling of the shill accusations science advocates like me, Yvette d’Entremont, Kevin Folta, Neil deGrasse Tyson, Stephan Neidenbach and those on this since unpublished “Monsanto Collaborators” hit list receive regularly. (Then again, as the founder of “We Love GMOs and Vaccines,” Stephan often receives messages from the cream of the extremist crop.)
So what’s my point? Behold:
That’s right, two of the biggest biotech opponents I know, Mamavation and Just Label It, are leading a campaign to PAY BLOGGERS FOR THEIR CAUSE. Let’s call these “Labeling Advocates” out for what they are: Shills. As I’ve said time and time again, the anti-GMO movement has become synonymous with the pro-organic movement. It’s not even a secret, just take a look at this list of Just Label It (JLI) partners. It’s pretty heavy on organic industry names. And Mamavation leads the “Bookieboo” blogging network, which touts itself as the “only GMO-free blogging network”. Its partners also include the who’s who of organic industry players.
Labeling proponents tout a so-called “right to know” from their Big Organic thrones on high. The GMO labeling issue trickles down to the masses framed as a “right”, riling up concerned consumers to take to the streets with figurative torches and pitchforks. After all, who doesn’t want to fight for their rights? But organic bigwigs know better. “Right to know” is a subterfuge. The labeling movement is a ploy to eliminate genetically engineered foods.
After paying bloggers to shill, JLI is encouraging the masses to take to social media with hashtag #concealorreveal to bully companies like Quaker Oats and Pepsi into supporting mandatory GMO labeling.
I suggest we crash their party in the name of science. Here’s how:
- Take to Twitter May 18th, 6pm PST/9pm EST for the #ConcealorReveal party and own that hashtag! (We’ve been successful at this before and we can do it again).
- Share this post and the meme above to spread awareness of the hypocrisy of biotech opponents shouting unfounded shill accusations while proudly advocating shilling.
- Co-opt this petition at Justlabelit.org/quaker. Change the subject heading to “Support science. Don’t support mandatory GMO labeling!” Here’s a suggested letter to use, or write your own:
“Dear Quaker and PepsiCo,
I understand that you’re being pressured by biotech opponents to support mandatory FDA labeling of GMOs. Please know that mandatory GMO labeling is an unscientific stance. Genetic modification is a tool, not an ingredient. Those who understand the science behind genetic modification (GM) know it’s not something to fear. Labeling GM ingredients will only serve to demonize them, and also makes no sense. Genetic modification is a set of methods that enable various benefits including reduced pesticide use, nutrient fortification, aesthetic improvements, and increased crop yields. Please stand your ground and don’t bow to pressure to support mandatory GMO labeling. Rational parents and families will support you in this regard.
That’s it! Easy enough, right? Until next time…
Featured image Andrey Burmakin via Shuttershock
Kavin, you know I love you, I just wanted to make a quick note here:
Your suggested template says “PespsiCo”, not “PepsiCo”.
Good thing I’m getting new glasses soon. Fixed it :)
Would someone receiving compensation for blogging be legally obligated to disclose that they are getting paid to do so?
There’s no law that covers blogging like that. However, it would be the ethical thing to do to disclose your sponsors. This is evident because many companies (particularly woo, scams, and “As Seen On TV” types) will pay people to create blogs giving their products positive reviews and say that their scam is Certifiably Not A Scam™. That is real shilling. And what Just Label It is doing is not any different, since they get their money directly from the people who benefit the most from GMO labels.
I could make a pretty cogent case that not disclosing direct industry funding in exchange for content would be a violation of the FTC endorsement rules in the US, just as not including the disclaimer you mention would be. People are not including those “free product for fair and honest review” caveats because they are good and ethical people, they are including them because otherwise the company and the blogger can be sanctioned for failing to note the relationship.
Love exposing hypocrisy. Count me in.
From Steve Novella at his NeuroLogica Blog:
I really don’t get what is wrong with labeling GMOs. I completely understand that much of the anti-GMO movement is not scientifically grounded, but food labeling just seems like a good idea. That’s where you guys lose me, because your excuse is that labels will only serve to demonize GMOs but that is not true. It would only make it easier to be an informed consumer. To me, companies like Monsanto do much more to demonize GMOs because when you spend millions of dollars to keep something off your label, it looks incredibly shady from the outside.
The attitude seems to be, “consumers are too stupid and lack the scientific literacy to know GMOs are good for them, so we will trick them into eating it by making it a secret.” Call me crazy, but if someone tells me “I can’t tell you how I made this because then you won’t want it,” yeah now I definitely don’t want it. Monsanto isn’t spending that money on an educational campaign to teach the benefits of GMOs, they are spending it behind closed doors on lobbyists in a very secretive and shady way that does not, in any way, earn my confidence as a consumer. I believe in science, education, and free information, so anyone paying big money to conceal information from consumers seems troublesome to me.
Hi Mario, thanks for the comment. I have addressed this in detail in other writing, but for me labeling wouldn’t only be problematic because it demonizes GMOs, but because none of the proposed labeling schemes make sense. GMO is a set of methods, not an ingredient. Labeling is great but labeling something “GMO” is like putting wine, beer, vodka, and rum in opaque bottles and calling them “booze.” Further, the organic and natural food industries spend plenty of money lobbying for GMO labeling, so that argument doesn’t really work. Here is a piece I wrote for Gawker, and another for Genetic Literacy Project if you’re interested:
I made this point in another thread- Monsanto has done a lot of corrupt business practices, but you cant link all of biotech to one bad behemoth. That’s like disliking computers because of Microsoft’s bad track record. The biotech industry would be MUCH better off if Monsanto was taken off the field.
I support the smaller biotech firms, they do a lot of good. The big corporations are the problem, they ruin it for the rest of us.
Nothing is wrong with GMOs, the science is ironclad, however a lot is wrong with Monsanto and their pesticide usage. The MAM crowd is focusing on the wrong thing. Disliking Microsoft for its business practices does not mean you dislike computers. Same goes with Monsanto. The biotech world would be a lot better off if Monsanto was removed from the industry. Same goes for Bayer and Dow and DuPont, but Monsanto is the most egregious offender. Glyphosate and now Enlist Duo ring a bell? The fact is a monopoly in any business is prone to corruption and that is what Monsanto is fast becoming- especially with their buyout of Synerga. Monsanto also has an extremely poor environmental record, dumping PCBs in ground water for 40 years, and trying to strongarm scientists at the USDA and being regulated by people who formerly worked for them is no formula for safety, no wonder they are allowed to regulate themselves. This is why EU has divested themselves of Monsanto and why Herr Bush had to try and threaten countries like France to open themselves up to this corporate cancer- speaking of which, the World Health Organization used a total of 30 studies to pronounce glyphosate a carcinogen, but Monsanto has already moved on to something even more dangerous- Enlist Duo. Does Agent Orange ring a bell? Fortunately, Monsanto cant hide behind its “science” anymore- Fraley himself admitted they were wrong about glyphosate and that they neglected to take into account weed evolution, must like the idiots who overuse antibiotics and feed them to animals. A Monsanto insider told me awhile back that their old leadership was far more corrupt than the new people there, but it’s a wait and see attitude for now.
You only have to see the disastrous effects Monsanto’s pesticides have had on Hawaii’s flora and fauna to know why it’s banned on Maui, and now in San Diego.
Also, let’s point out that Monsanto has spent far more money in lobbying, and has direct influence over regulators. The organic movement is full of misinformation and corruption no doubt, but Monsanto/Bayer/Dow/DuPont are just as bad in their business practices. This is exactly why it’s great that we can file for FOIA to find out who is being paid by whom.
Personally, I grow my own food, pesticide-free,hormone-free and antibiotic-free. It tastes better and is more nutritious than anything that can be bought in a store- and this is all because it’s fresher. I live close to NYC, anyone with a small plot of land can do this. And it costs less too.
It is sad to see so many people that have bought into the GMO propaganda. You seem really sincere but even if your not paid by Monsanto you are still promoting very destructive practices.
I know you may just delete this comment because we are challenging your system but please don’t.
No need to reply you will never convince us!
I am definitely not paid by Monsanto. If I ever accepted industry donations, I would shout it from the rooftops. If you’d like to discuss which practices, in particular, you think are destructive, I’m happy to chat. Either here or on Facebook. fb.com/ksenapathy
She doesn’t get paid by Monsanto but she thinks it’s okay what they do because “all corporations are like that.” Clearly she knows nothing about business. Some corporations are psychopathic (using Psych Today’s description)- like Microsoft, Apple, Google, AT&T, etc.- these commit rampant privacy violations and caved in to the NSA and were exposed by Snowden (a personal hero of mine.) But others like Yahoo and Twitter did not cave in. But all of them pale in comparison to Monsanto, Bayer, etc- who have a half century record of polluting the environment with PCBs, DDT, neocortinoids, glyphosate, etc.- and trying to sneak in exceptions into the TPP so they can keep on killing butterflies and bees with their poisons- and Fraley played dumb and pretended he didn’t know that weeds would develop immunity to glyphosate so easily and now he wants to use Enlist Duo?! Fraley should remember the 10 million dollars his company had to give to the survivors of Agent Orange and still did not admit responsibility for their crimes. Or the PCBs they were dumping in Anniston, Alabama. Just like the US Govt/Bristol Squibb Myers/Johns Hopkins will be doling out $1 billion dollars to Guatemalan survivors of their experiments where they intentionally infected people with syphilis. And Hilary Clinton had the gall to issue an “apology”- this is exactly why we need a huge change in Washington and why Bernie Sanders needs to be elected president. At least he has a backbone to be against the Keystone pipeline. Proud to see fracking banned here in NY State. And the country sees the corruption of public officials (and it’s also why Monsanto stocks are plummeting.) Corrupt regulators like Michael Taylor and the Monsanto patsy on the Supreme Court Clarence Thomas notwithstanding. And ask Herr Miller for his position on DDT and you’ll see how little he cares about the environment, he probably doesn’t care about the 500x increase in earthquakes and 5% methane leaks from fracking either. Euthanasia is his last best option.
Max Planck -“A new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die, and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it.”
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