Smear Factor

by Michael Goard, Sustainable Plant Systems major

Agricultural researchers rattled by demands for documents from group opposed to GM foods (by Keith Kloor, Science 11 Feb. 2015)

Reading through this article opened my eyes to the new standard that anti-GMO (Genetically Modified Organisms) activists are willing to fall to so that they can further their fear campaign.  The USRTK (United States  Right To Know) group has asked pro-GMO scientists across the United States to disclose records of their communication with GE companies.  For good reason scientists are scared to present this information due to the USRTK being known to smear the reputations of people that oppose what they believe is truth.

Scientists have conducted research that disproves anti-GMO concerns and aided biotech companies in furthering their progress with making better crops.  The USRTK wants to take the information of the scientist’s involvement with GE companies and say that the scientists are hiding secrets about the dangers behind GMO’s. This smear campaign is just another low attempt by anti-GMO activists to promote organic farming and further the false idea that GMO’s can cause health problems for the people that consume them. By asking scientists to disclose information, just so they can smear their reputation, this puts scientists in a catch twenty-two because if they cooperate they get smeared, but if they don’t the USRTK says they are hiding something and smear them anyway.

I don’t know what advice I could give scientists because they are in a very tough spot. Many universities are advising their scientists to refuse the request to present information and I think this is the best possible situation for the scientists. By refusing the request they can still publish factual findings without this fear group smearing their good name.


This blog post was an assignment for Societal Issues: Pesticides, Alternatives and the Environment (PLNTPTH 4597). The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the class, Department of Plant Pathology or the instructor.

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