“I have no ideological grounds against Monsanto. For me it’s the scientific argument. They have not done a proper job of testing, and they are just using their political and economic muscle to foist it on us.”(Professor Arpad Putsztai, quoted in The Guardian, 2008)
“Censorship of research into the risks of a technology so intertwined with global food safety undermines the value and credibility of science.” (Professor Dr. Jonathan Lundgren, 2013)
Numerous new medicines and medical devices have been marketed with claims that declare them to be “safe and effective” – which is a compelling marketing slogan, though devoid of scientific proof. Such claims are facilitated by collusion between the pharmaceutical industry and authoritative government agencies, aided by leading scientists (“key opinion leaders” known within industry as KOLs) and renowned scientific institutions. Internal FDA documents confirm that genetic engineered/modified food products (widely known as GMOs), entered the U.S. food supply without having been subjected to scientifically rigorous safety tests as is mandated by law.
Flawed risk assessment of pesticide infused GE food products
One of the confounding issues in establishing chemical toxicity is the limited focus of industry-sponsored research that examines only acute toxic reactions in laboratory animal trials. Failure to measure the cumulative effects of chronic ingestion of minute residue amounts of a poisonous chemical over a long period of time has enabled the pesticide and GMO industry to deny that these poisonous chemicals pose any serious health risks. This flawed risk assessment criteria is used to determine the risks posed by the systemic neurotoxic pesticides – neonicotinoids – which are absorbed into a plant’s roots, stems, leaves, flowers, pollen, and nectar. They are genetically implanted into the seed where they are fully incorporated into the plant’s DNA tissue, and are present in pollen and nectar exposing not only pests, but bees and butterflies to their poisonous effects.
GMOs entered the market through the perversion of science, the corruption of government by politically appointed bureaucrats whose allegiance was with industry. (Read AHRP Post How Monsanto Rigged the System through politics and propaganda) In 2003, a congressional committee report, documented political interference and manipulation of scientific research at federal agencies charged with developing science-based public health policies.
“The Administration’s political interference with science has led to misleading statements by the President, inaccurate responses to Congress, altered web sites, suppressed agency reports, erroneous international communications, and the gagging of scientists.”
The American public has been systematically deceived about the safety of GMOs by promotional pieces that were penned by prominent academics who were secretly in the service of the GMO industry. Often the pronouncements were issued by prominent scientific institutions, including the American Academy of Sciences and the British Royal Society who regard their role as “filtering the news” – filtering is the equivalent of censoring inconvenient evidence.
Michael Antoniou, a molecular geneticist from King’s College London, and two colleagues recently published an extensive review of several hundred previous GM food studies. He concluded that the technologies used to produce GM foods were imprecise, and despite assurances of total safety, the current licensing mechanisms – even in the EU – are perfunctory, with much research funded by the producers themselves using only short-term studies that gave no insight into the long-term effects. He also noted the lack of large-scale human trials.
“The world of GMO studies is not what it seems at first glance. For example, a list of several hundred studies that were claimed to show GMO safety turned out to show nothing of the sort on closer examination (see Myth 2.3). It is padded with articles irrelevant to GMO safety and contains many papers that provide evidence for harm. We aim to equip members of the public with the tools to make their own judgments on such lists of studies.” (GMO Myths and Truths: An Evidence-Based Examination of the Claims Made for the Safety and Efficacy of Genetically Modified Crops and Foods, by John Fagan, PhD, Michael Antoniou, PhD and Claire Robinson, 2012; Second edition, 2014)
The suppression of GMO science is enforced not only by an echelon of corporate henchmen, but by government and academic institutions which depend on funding from both of these intertwined sources. Under the Obama administration, the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) has taken the position of dictating what science is permissible. The USDA guidelines admonish scientists from drawing science- based conclusions that have “real-world implications.”
“[Scientists] should refrain from making statements that could be construed as being judgments … on USDA or any other federal government policy, either intentionally or inadvertently.” In other words, “You can do whatever science you like, so long as it doesn’t have real-world implications…The rules allow for scientists to be silenced based on the content of their science.”(The Washington Post, Oct. 2015)
If scientists are prevented from drawing science-based conclusions that have “real-world implications,” then public policies formulated under such restrictions are not applicable in the “real-world” either. If these policies are not applicable in the “real-world”, they are, by definition, irrelevant and unsupportable.
“The USDA has relied on industry-friendly interpretations of science in several recent high-profile actions, including approvals of new genetically modified crops and criticisms of an Environmental Protection Agency neonicotinoid review. (The Atlantic, Nov. 2015)
The agrochemical industry and its financially compromised academics and government agency officials regard scientists who challenge the “GMOs are safe” mantra as posing an intolerable threat. Daniel Glickman, who served under the Clinton Administration as Secretary of USDA from 1995 until 2001, said that when he dared to question the lax regulations for GM food, he “got slapped around a little bit by not only the industry, but also some of the people even in the administration.” (The World According to Monsanto (2008) Glickman confirmed that an imposed institutionalized “group think” prohibits any critical analysis when risky new technology is involved:
“It was almost immoral to say that [biotechnology] wasn’t good, because it was going to solve the problems of the human race and feed the hungry and clothe the naked. . . . If you’re against it, you’re Luddites, you’re stupid. That, frankly, was the side our government was on. . . . You felt like you were almost an alien, disloyal, by trying to present an open-minded view on the issues raised.” (Dinner at the New Gene Café: How Genetic Engineering Is Changing What We Eat (2002) by Bill Lambrecht, p. 139)
The War against honest scientists who question the science & safety of GMOs
Scientific disagreements about the safety of GMOs quickly devolve into ad hominem attacks; and scientists who dare to question the scientific basis for declaring GMOs safe, are quickly ostracized, marginalized, discredited and relegated to the ranks of pervaders of “junk science.” They are subjected to vicious personal attacks, and smear campaigns.
“Recent disclosed documents have [ ] exposed numerous scientific experts [who were] enlisted in Monsanto’s messaging. But what is most pernicious is that a whole new rhetorical talking point has come to the forefront, which threatens anyone – particularly scientists – who speak out against their “tent pole” technology: If you are anti-GMOs you are anti-science…[It’s] a brilliant strategy to promote genetic engineering.” (GMO Propaganda by Kristine Mattis. Counter Punch, October 2015)
Wall of secrecy, deception & collusion hampers independent scientists
A major hurdle hampering independent scientists from studying the impact of GM seeds and pesticides is industry’s refusal to share either the ingredients of its products for independent analysis or to disclose its own safety data, by invoking patent protection. What’s more, pesticide manufacturers are required to disclose only the chemical structure of their declared “active” ingredients, while concealing the identity of the adjuvants, which they claim are confidential, proprietary information. Industry has thereby erected a wall of secrecy. For many years no one knew what other chemicals in addition to glyphosate were in products such as Monsanto’s herbicide Roundup, let alone how these chemicals might affect either health or the environment. (Counter Punch, 2015)
When President Obama took office in 2008, he pledged to restore a scientific integrity corroded during the Bush Administration. The evidence, however, demonstrates that under the Obama administration the scientific integrity and basis for US food policies have suffered further corrosion. The agrochemical industry, its hired academics, and government officials who set public policies regard scientists who challenge the mantra that “GMOs are safe” as posing an intolerable threat to industry’s financial interests and to the policies that promote these interests. However that pledge never materialized. The public continues to be deceived; the mainstream corporate media has mostly failed to report the nature and magnitude of fraud documented in these internal FDA memos.
Marie-Monique Robin is an award winning French journalist whose highly acclaimed, prize winning book and documentary – The World According to Monsanto (2011) has been compared to Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring. The book was the catalyst for an international debate, having been translated into 13 languages. In an interview with Organic Consumers Association, she observed:
“It’s very strange: whenever scientists have decided to start a serious toxicological study on the effects of GMOs, they have lost their jobs. This happened to the biochemist Arpad Pusztai in Scotland and Manuela Malatesta when she was a researcher at the University of Urbino. It is a recurring phenomenon. It is alarming, people wonder, what will happen to me? Monsanto has silenced academics, journalists and anyone who has ventured to criticize or expose them. That’s why I say there is a real problem with GMOs, otherwise there would be transparent and accessible studies.”
Honest scientists whose scientific explorations raise concerns about uncertainties and potential risks that industry vigorously denies, risk their professional careers. Scientists who deviate from the GMO mantra that declares GMOs to be proven safe are considered heretical because their independent scientific explorations pose a threat to industry’s financial interests. Scientists who diverge from the “GMO are safe” slogan are attacked by a coalition of stealth industry front groups and a posse of industry-supported scientists. Scientists who step out of line on this issue are savaged in a manner that is out of all proportion. Legitimate science is relegated to the ranks “junk science.”
In 2009, the journal Nature acknowledged that attacks on biotech researchers are regularly orchestrated by a “… large block of scientists who denigrate research by other legitimate scientists in a knee-jerk, partisan, emotional way that is not helpful in advancing knowledge and is outside the ideals of scientific inquiry”.
1999: the first & most polarizing politically orchestrated GMO witch hunt against an internationally esteemed scientist
Dr. Arpad Pusztai was a defector from communist Hungary who became a world renowned professor of biochemistry at the Rowett Research Institute in Scotland for 36 years and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh. Dr. Pusztai’s area of expertise is lectins, a protein found mostly in plants that can be toxic; initiating a cascade of immune and autoimmune events leading to cell death. (Krispin Sullivan, 2016) In 1996-97, he was awarded a £1.6 million government grant to conduct a GMO study that derailed his career.
“He had been an enthusiastic supporter of genetic engineering, working on cutting edge safety research with genetically modified (GM) foods. But to his surprise, his experiments showed that GM foods were inherently dangerous. When he relayed his concerns during a short television interview in the UK, things got ugly. With support from the highest levels of government, biotech defenders quickly mobilized a coordinated attack campaign trying to distort and cover up the evidence…” (Anniversary of a Whistleblowing Hero” by Jeffrey Smith, Huffington Post, 2010)
The study involved three groups of rats who were fed three different potato diets. One group was fed natural potatoes; another group was fed GE potatoes that had a lectin gene inserted; another group was fed non-GE potatoes injected with the same lectin. The result of the study showed that: “the young rats fed the genetically modified potatoes grew smaller livers, hearts, and brains than the rats fed regular potatoes or non-GM potatoes spiked with lectin.”
The results were first disclosed in a television interview approved by the head of the Rowett Institute, in which Dr. Pusztai stated that more research was needed about the health impacts of GMOs, and that he would be reluctant to eat GMO foods until more was known. This challenged the widely promoted mantra that the safety of GMOs have been proven by science — case closed. He then stated:
“If I had the choice I would certainly not eat it [GMO foods]. We are putting new things into food which have not been eaten before. The effects on the immune system are not easily predictable and I challenge anyone who will say that the effects are predictable… I find it’s very unfair to use our fellow citizens as guinea pigs”. (Scientists Under Attack, 2014)
For this “crime” of discussing the findings of his research publicly, Dr. Pusztai has been subjected to consequences far beyond scientific norms of discourse. His team was dismantled, his laboratory closed, his academic appointment rescinded, and he has been under a binding gag order.
Dr. Pusztai made no extravagant claims about cancer or about the long-term safety of GM foods to lab animals or human beings. But within days of the interview, Dr. Pusztai was suspended from his job and forbidden to speak about his work to anyone in the press. A few months later he was fired; and not long after his wife and co-researcher was also forced out of her senior position at the Rowett. He was accused of unprofessional conduct because his work had not been peer-reviewed.
Shadowy commercially driven political forces propelled efforts to muzzle Dr. Pusztai
“he upset Prime Minister Tony Blair and — reputedly — President Clinton, and he upset a scientific establishment that had already decided that GMOs were perfectly safe, on the basis of virtually no evidence.”
“prior to publication the Lancet’s editor Richard Horton received a phone call from Peter Lachmann, the former Vice-President of the Royal Society. According to Horton, Lachmann called him “immoral” for publishing something he knew to be ‘untrue’. Towards the end of the conversation Horton says Lachmann also told him that if he published Pusztai’s paper, this would “have implications for his personal position” as editor.
Horton stated that the Royal Society, the UK’s premier scientific body, had acted like a Star Chamber over the Pusztai affair and talked of a GM ‘rebuttal unit’ operating from within the Royal Society.
‘We have an organization that filters the news out there…to keep an eye on what’s happening and to know what the government is having problems about ‘” (Read more about the Royal Society’s suppression of legitimate scientific inquiry at: Public Interest Investigations, 2003)
The brass knuckle tactics used to persecute, discredit and shatter Dr. Pusztai’s career were likely intended to send a message; a warning to other scientists not to engage in research that might undermine the mantra: “GMOs are safe.” In an effort to justify their actions, the Rowett published an audit criticizing Pusztai’s results, and sent the raw data to six anonymous reviewers who, as directed, attacked Pusztai’s work. The Royal Society even set up a “rebuttal unit” which was briefed to discredit the Rowett team’s research.
Despite these concerted efforts by shadowy forces in the GMO industry and the UK and US governments who sought to prevent its publication, the study subsequently passed rigorous peer-review by a far larger than usual panel of scientists, and was published in the leading scientific journal, The Lancet (1999) Dr. Stanley Ewen, co-author of the study, stated that after publication, his career options were ‘blocked at a very high level” so he retired. (Rowell, Andrew. Don’t worry, it’s safe to eat: the true story of GM food, BSE and foot and mouth, 2003)
“The Pusztai Affair” did immense damage to the standing of science and the reputation of scientists and scientific establishments in the UK. The attacks on Pusztai were vitriolic, whereas his statements on the record were tentative and responsible, and had been approved and supported initially by Professor Philip James, the head of the Rowett Research Institute. Prof. James then led the attacks against Dr. Pusztai.
Of note, Dr. Ronald Finn, past president of the British Society of Allergy and Environmental Medicine, defended Dr. Pusztai when he stated: “Dr. Pusztai’s results, at the very least, raise the suspicion that genetically modified food may damage the immune system.” (Lean, 1999)
“In spite of the activities of the baying pack of hounds from the UK scientific establishment, and in spite of an absurd “gagging order” from his erstwhile employers, Pusztai was not silenced, and he went on to become a hero to many who believe that truth and honesty are more important than the commercial interests of biotechnology corporations or GM research teams who live off streams of government grants — paid for by the taxpayer. Over the years he has given more than 200 lectures on GMOs and has made many expert submissions to GMO regulatory bodies across the globe.”
In 2005, Dr. Pusztai received a whistleblowers award from the Federation of German Scientists. In 2008, on the tenth anniversary of the scandal, Dr. Pusztai stated in an email:
“We must not underestimate the financial and political clout of the GM biotechnology industry. Most of our politicians are committed to the successful introduction of GM foods. We must therefore use all means at our disposal to show people the shallowness of these claims by the industry and the lack of credible science behind them, and then trust to people’s good sense [ ] to see through the falseness of the claims for the safety of untested GM foods.”
In 2009 he and his wife Susan Bardocz (who was also a colleague in the Rowett research project) were jointly awarded the Stuttgart Peace Prize.”
Within the last fifteen years, though the corporate media paid no attention, a flood of published studies back up Dr. Pusztai’s contention that in the crude process of genetic modification something happens within the plant (via a process called mutagenesis) which makes the plant potentially dangerous to unintended creatures –including humans – who might consume it. (GMO Myths and Truths. Michael Antoniou, Clare Robinson, John Fagan, 2012)
The unrelenting War against honest scientists who question the science & safety of GMOs The sustained defamation campaign against Professor Gilles-Eric Séralini
In 2007, Prof. Séralini and two colleagues published a re-analysis and risk assessment of Monsanto’s only long-term 90-day rat feeding study after obtaining the data following an order of the Appeals Court in Germany (2005).
“It appears that the statistical methods used by Monsanto were not detailed enough to see disruptions in biochemical parameters, in order to evidence possible signs of pathology within only 14 weeks. Moreover, the experimental design could have been performed more efficiently to study subchronic toxicity, in particular with more rats given GMOs in comparison to other groups. Considering that the human and animal populations could be exposed at comparable levels to this kind of food or feed that has been authorized in several countries, and that these are the best mammalian toxicity tests available, we strongly recommend a new assessment and longer exposure of mammals to these diets, with cautious clinical observations, before concluding that MON863 is safe to eat. (Archives of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology, 2007)
In September 2012, Prof. Séralini and his research team at France’s Caen University and Italy’s University of Verona published a groundbreaking peer-reviewed, first-ever, two-year toxicity study documenting the effects of feeding rats not only GMO Monsanto Roundup-tolerant maize, but also of Monsanto’s herbicide Roundup. The study was published in the authoritative Food and Chemical Toxicology (2012). The scientists demonstrated that Monsanto’s flagship herbicide, Roundup, and one its GM corn products, NK603, are having disastrous effects on rats’ health. Not only did the rats fed Roundup die earlier than the control group, only they developed severe tumors and kidney and liver pathologies.
The study sent shock waves throughout industry, underscoring the fact that these catastrophic effects only emerge when the rats are studied over their 2-year lifetime rather than observed only during the short, industry-favored 90 days.
The Séralini study erupted in a sustained campaign of fierce criticism, unsubstantiated accusations that met the standard of defamation. The vitriol was generated by Monsanto’s PR propaganda machine and its hired academic hit squads.
The European Union’s Food and Safety authority (EFSA) declared: “Serious defects in the design and methodology… it does not meet acceptable scientific standards” But EFSA provided no details of any “defects” nor did it identify what “scientific standards” the study failed to meet. EFSA’s declaration echoed Monsanto’s claim: “there is no need to re-examine previous safety evaluations of genetically modified maize NK603.” In other words: they sought to close the case.
A magazine article written by Jean-Claude Jaillette said that “researchers around the world” had voiced “harsh words” about the Séralini research. And, the journalist wrote that “scientific fraud in which the methodology served to reinforce pre-determined results”. Attorneys for Séralini and his team filed a defamation lawsuit and won. After a criminal investigation lasting three years, the High Court of Paris ordered the journalist and magazine to pay fines for public defamation.
However, the scientific paper was retracted by a Monsanto plant who was named Associate Editor for Biotechnology at the journal six months after publication of the Seralini study. One of Goodman’s first actions was to retract the Séralini article (November 2013). The paper was re-published by Environmental Sciences Europe, 2014, with the raw data put in the public domain. The authors issued a statement:
“Censorship of research into the risks of a technology so intertwined with global food safety undermines the value and credibility of science.“
In Nov. 2015, Prof. Séralini and his team won two defamation lawsuits in France
The originators of the fraud charge against Seralini were revealed during court proceedings. They were identified as two Americans working surreptitiously as purveyors of Monsanto propaganda: Henry I. Miller and Dr. Bruce Chassy who made the fraud charge in an article in Forbes magazine. Miller had used similar defamatory tactics to discredit research linking tobacco to cancer and heart disease on behalf of the tobacco industry; he defended the pesticide industry; defended human exposure to radiation from nuclear power plants; defended the plastics industry; and has vehemently supported GMOs. Dr. Chassy’s cover was unmasked in a cache of internal Monsanto email correspondence. (Read more at USRTK; read also, New York Times expose Academics in GMO Lobbying War (2015); and AHRP post How academics promoted GMO propaganda & perverted science
A second lawsuit filed against Marc Fellous, former chairman of France’s Biomolecular Engineering Commission (BEC) has authorized many GM crops for consumption and thus had an interest in promoting public opinion to believe that “GMOs are safe.” Fellous had authored a defamatory article accusing Séralini and his team with “scientific fraud in which the methodology served to reinforce the pre-determined results.” The court again ruled in Prof. Séralini’s favor, finding that Fellous had committed forgery and used forgery.
A review of the evidence by independent scientists, Anthony Samsel and Stephanie Seneff, concludes:
“Residues are found in the main foods of the Western diet, comprised primarily of sugar, corn, soy and wheat. Glyphosate’s inhibition of cytochrome P450 (CYP) enzymes is an overlooked component of its toxicity to mammals… Contrary to the current widely-held misconception that glyphosate is relatively harmless to humans, the available evidence shows that glyphosate may rather be the most important factor in the development of multiple chronic diseases and conditions that have become prevalent in Westernized societies…
Negative impact on the body is insidious and manifests slowly over time.…glyphosate’s ability to disrupt the gut bacteria, to impair serum transport of sulfate and phosphate, and to interfere with CYP enzymes, logically progresses to this multitude of diseased states, through well-established biological processes. And glyphosate’s disruption of the body’s ability to detoxify other environmental toxins leads to synergistic enhancement of toxicity.” (“Glyphosate’s Suppression of Cytochrome P450 Enzymes and Amino Acid Biosynthesis by the Gut Microbiome… Entropy, open access, 2013)
*An editor’s note suggests that the journal had received complaints about the review claiming bias in the choice of citation sources used in the article and that the journal been urged to retract the review. The authors substantiated their review citing 286 sources.
A disturbing dynamic of the Obama administration: suppression of honest science and harassment of government scientists
“The USDA has relied on industry-friendly interpretations of science in several recent high-profile actions, including approvals of new genetically modified crops and criticisms of an Environmental Protection Agency neonicotinoid review. (The Atlantic, Nov. 2015)
Dr. Jonathan Lundgren is a prominent scientist (entomologist) at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) who ran his own lab at the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) for eleven years. He is the author of almost 100 peer-reviewed articles published in scientific journals and was himself a peer reviewer of dozens of articles. Dr. Lundgren is the recipient of the 2011 Presidential Early Career Awards for Scientists and Engineers. His expertise is risk assessment of pesticides and genetically modified crops. “Bees are vital to U.S. agriculture, pollinating foods that make up roughly a third, and the most nutritious portion, of our diet, such as fruits and leafy greens”
The case sheds light on the corruption of science at the intersection of collaboration between government and industry, when billions of dollars are at stake. A disturbing dynamic of the Obama administration has been heightened suppression of honest science, and harassment of conscientious government scientists whose research findings are viewed as posing a threat to industry interests. In 2012, Dr. Lundgren published a report in the Journal of Pest-Science. His findings suggested that a class of widely used pesticides called neonicotinoids (manufactured by Bayer), not only did not improve soybean yields, they harmed butterflies. Their overuse and lack of crop diversity are to blame for the dwindling honeybee population. In 2014, he served on a panel of independent scientists convened by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to assess the risks of Monsanto’s new RNA interference technology. The panel report echoed the assessment of Dr. Lundgren’s paper. Another article, published in The Science of Nature (2015) suggested that the pesticide ingredient clothianidin could function as a stressor reducing the monarch butterfly populations.
Dr. Lundgren’s research drew national attention. Soon after, he was invited by the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) to present his research findings about the effects of genetically modified crops on farmland ecology. But Dr. Lundgren’s research was anathema to Monsanto and Bayer as well as to the USDA.
Honest scientific work triggered USDA campaign of scientific censorship and retaliation
USDA officials prevented Dr. Lundgren from attending the NAS conference as he was literally about to board the plane. He says, “I am not even anti-GMO or anti-pesticide. I just believe that if there are safer methods they should be used first. If you do things right, you don’t need them.”
His scientific work “triggered an official campaign of harassment, hindrance, and retaliation” from his superiors at the USDA who attempted to muzzle him by suspending him twice; whereupon he filed a complaint with the federal Merit System Protection Board, stating that his superiors at the USDA “impede or deter his research and resultant publications.” USDA officials even interfered with his ability to review the research of other scientists. His case was reported by The Washington Post, The Atlantic, Mother Jones.
“A paper published in Environmental Science & Policy, with the sole listed author Scott W. Fausti, includes the following footnote: “I would like to acknowledge Dr. Jonathan G. Lundgren’s contribution to this manuscript. Dr. Lundgren is an entomologist employed by the USDA Agricultural Research Service (ARS). However, the ARS has required Dr. Lundgren to remove his name as joint first author from this article. I believe this action raises a serious question concerning policy neutrality toward scientific inquiry.” (Washington Post, Oct. 2015)
Dr. Lundgren, filed a complaint with the USDA alleging that he was disciplined to suppress his scientific findings. The Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) filed an official Whistleblower complaint on his behalf. The Washington Post cites a recent scientific literature review conducted by researchers in the United Kingdom, France, Japan and Italy. The evidence “determined that pesticide exposure renders bees more susceptible to disease and increases mortality rates. Pesticides have also been linked to harming bees’ memory and navigational capabilities.”
Two key studies have found that feeding neonics to bees – even in amounts so low they couldn’t be detected afterward – render the bees more susceptible to infection. The co-author of one of those studies, Jeffrey Pettis, is a highly respected entomologist who led USDA’s bee laboratory in Beltsville for nine years. In April 2014, he testified before the House Agriculture Committee. Under questioning by the Chairman, Austin Scott, Dr. Pettis stated that neonics raise pesticide concerns for bees “to a new level.” Two months after his testimony, USDA stripped Dr. Pettis of all management responsibilities for the lab; and Austin Scott is no longer chairman of the Agriculture Committee.
The Washington Post reported that nine additional USDA scientists allege scientific censorship and harassment:
“The lawyers who filed Lundgren’s suit allege that nine additional USDA scientists have been ordered to retract studies and water-down findings, or have faced discipline in retaliation for their work. They further allege that three of those scientists, beyond Lundgren, were also working on pollinator-related research. The USDA’s inspector general just announced an audit, to take place later this year, in response to the “significant volume” of complaints they’ve had on their office’s hotline, alleging scientific censorship on pesticides and other issues.
This dynamic of government scientists claiming suppression extends across institutions… Such disputes show how complicated the intersection of government, science and industry can become when billions of dollars are at stake.” (Washington Post, March 2016)
Dr. Lundgren, who received a civic award in courage for his stand against the USDA, has come to the conclusion that:
“Yes, the bees are in crisis, and we need to help them. But what we have is not a bee problem. What we have is a biodiversity problem. We’re using all of these pesticides because we’ve created a pest problem, and bee health is a symptom of this underlying cause. The solution is to diversify American farming. Any other course is unsustainable. Pesticides, herbicides, fungicides should be something we resort to, not a first option.”
“I don’t think science can be done, at least on this subject, in any of the conventional ways. I think we need truly independent scientists — not funded by government or industry.”
After the story ran in The Washington Post (2016), the USDA convened a scientific integrity review panel which rejected the merit of Lundgren’s claims because under USDA’s policy, “USDA is entitled to prohibit scientists from speaking with reporters or even answering questions at conferences about the significance or ramifications of published studies.”
- “Suspended USDA Researcher Alleges Agency Tried To Block His Research into Harmful Effects of Pesticides on Bees, Butterflies,” by Steve Volk, Washington Post, October 28, 2015.
- “Is the USDA Silencing Scientists?” by Brandon Keim, The Atlantic, November 2015
- “This Scientist Uncovered Problems with Pesticides. Then the Government Started to Make His Life Miserable,” by Tom Philpott, Mother Jones, December 4, 2015
- “Was a USDA scientist muzzled because of his bee research?” by Steve Volk, The Washington Post, March, 2016
Other scientist who suffered persecution for reporting their scientific findings:
Monsanto’s nefarious strategies against scientists who express safety concerns were documented by Dr. Samuel Epstein, a noted geneticist and cancer prevention expert, the chairman of the Cancer Prevention Coalition whose distinguished academic research and teaching affiliations included Children’s Cancer Research Foundation, Harvard, Case Western, and the University of Illinois in Chicago. He is the author of 12 books and 270 scientific articles, and was instrumental in alerting about the dangers of BGH milk. Dr. Epstein documented Monsanto’s nefarious strategies against scientists who express safety concerns
These strategies of intimidation include: flooding the media with grossly misleading promotional reports; securing the support from “indentured scientists,” especially those at land grant colleges; hiring “hit squads” to marginalize, discredit and ostracize independent scientists; resorting to McCarthy-like smear campaigns against scientists and consumer advocates; pressuring and harassing reporters who present independent scientists’ findings; intimidating the media with threats of legal action; infiltrating securing close ties to high government officials; and exploiting the revolving door to hire ex-government officials as lobbyists. (What’s in Your Milk? by Samuel Epstein, MD, 2007) [Read more at AHRP: A GMO Debacle: Growth Hormone Contaminated Milk]