Monsanto’s PR – attempting to control science
By Dr Vandana Shiva, 2 November 2015
Around the time The New Yorker published a personal attack on me, in 2014 (my response – Seeds of Truth), there was also an effort to quickly approve field trials of 12 GMO crops, illegally. Currently, as Monsanto’s push in India, through corruption and lobbying, to get approval for Genetically Modified Mustard becomes stronger, Monsanto’s ‘typewriters for hire’ are preparing another attack on me to distract from the science and international laws, in a bid to rush the approval of Terminator GM Mustard, illegally.
I had to look up Kavin Senapathy when I got this email from her.
She is obviously a bright girl, in her thirties, full of promise. A college graduate from the University of Wisconsin and resident of Madison, Kavin studied Business and Marketing. But lists herself as a “science defender” and “science popularizer”- whatever that means?!
Kavin has an account at academia.edu, where she publishes her work, in her area of study.
Her undergraduate education, in Business and Marketing helps/ed her as a gifted Business Development Manager at Genome International Corporation (GIC),a bioinformatics corporation that provides IT solutions for genome mapping and has various patents, which I’m certain, are licensed by/to/from/with Monsanto – the company Kavin will defend in her forthcoming blog post.
Either she still works for GIC, or is so gifted at her Business Development work, that she has found a richer, new employer – Monsanto. To help with their Business Development, i.e. propaganda or “pro-GMO writer”.
In a blog post attacking Vani Hari (on Biology Fortified, a small biotech propaganda outlet), she states:
“I’m a mother and science writer, and I’ve been critical of Hari’s work over the last several months. I am not a scientist by the traditional definition. I don’t have a PhD., nor have I authored peer-reviewed research publications. Still, I have a unique perspective afforded by the intersection of a sound working knowledge of genomics, genetics, and bioinformatics. I’ve garnered this knowledge being raised by a molecular biologist, working for a small private-sector genomics R&D company, and via coursework and extensive reading on the subject.”
Kavin must have an awful lot of energy – dedicating her life to attacking outspoken critics of GMOs like Vani, while getting all that reading done on “genomics, genetics and bioinformatics” as the science itself evolves.
Note the lack of subjects like Biosafety in her bibliography.
Following her attacks on Vani Hari (aka Food Babe), Kavin was invited, by NPR, to discuss the “scientific backlash against Food Babe”. Kavin’s criticism of the Food Babe — criticism from a self-described science-illiterate — were being discussed as “scientific backlash”, with Kavin herself. NPR was forced to invite a non-scientist, known GMO shill, as a scientific expert to discuss science?! This is Monsanto’s PR muscle at work.
Yielding what looks like a katana, which she’s named “Science”, Kavin herself feels no need to be a scientist. Having a Bachelor’s Degree in Marketing, and claiming the word “science” for “business development”, without the need to understand underlying scientific realities, all the while crushing real science with Monsanto muscle (e.g. Gilles-Éric Séralini, whose research was retracted by Monsanto by replacing the editor of the journal), is not a mission unique to her.
Blissfully ignorant of the interconnected nature of the universe, not having science on their side, nor science education, Kavin and other SCIENCE-writers-for-hire, mostly Bachelor Degree holders (e.g. Mark Lynas – Bachelor’s Degree in History and Politics) – rely on the word “science” instead.
They get paid to reinforce each other’s delusions, and propaganda, peddling failed technologies to the most marginal farmers in the world – for corporate profit. Directly contributing, in no minor part, to the deaths of farmers, and people in general, worldwide. Science Denialists.
A quick Google search for “Kavin Senapathy” will spit back groundedparents.com, skepchick.com (basically the content from groundedparents.com, with another skin), geneticliteracyproject.org, GMOanswers.com, biofortified.org, chowbabearmy.com and science20.com. Catchy name – Science 2.0. Science 2.0 seems to rely on a non-science, marketing major for their Science insights. Kavin’s proGMO writing gets echoed by the websites mentioned and Kavin references them, in return, to amplify the propaganda on behalf of Monsanto.
Kavin’s other attack was on Dr Oz, for saying pesticides are bad for us. Pesticides are terrible for us and the entire ecosystem! Her piece was repeatedly linked and spread across social media by a few hundred accounts. These are the same accounts and websites that support the forced experimental vaccination of women in India and Africa in the name of “science” and the ones denying the very clear causation between Glyphosate and Autism. These are the #hashtag defenders of science, the word.
The link from Kavin’s LinkedIn Resume, to that attack on Dr Oz, seems to have been removed. Probably because of the holes in her argument.
She attacked him:
“With dramatic music in the background, Dr. Oz gave an over-simplified explanation of GMOs as being created only for pesticide-resistant traits. He lamented that because of superweeds evolving to resist regular glyphosate (the pesticide commonly known as Roundup), new pesticides are required.”
The only traits in GMOs are Bt, and Ht – herbicide (RoundUp, a known carcinogen) tolerant traits. All the R&D dollars spent by Monsanto have only yielded 2 failed technologies. Not including the biopiracy based, broad, climate resilience patents they have acquired by stealing farmers’ varieties, probably using GIC technology for their mapping needs.
“Unfeasibly, she claimed that within six weeks of going “completely GMO-free and organic, his autism symptoms were gone and the level of glyphosate was no longer detectable.”
Whether it was feasible to Kavin or not it is Zen’s undeniable reality.
GMO and Vaccine propagandists, like Kavin, are blind to reality. Especially the reality of others, including the others who suffer at the hands of Monsanto, or in the case of tribal women who died from forced experimental vaccinations, the Gates Foundation.
Though removed from the original website, this post can still be found on the website of The Genetic Literacy Project, another small biotech propaganda outlet, run by Jon Entine (Who had access to my confidential email from David Remnick -Editor, The New Yorker- as soon as I had received it). He missed the copy of my Masters Degree (in Physics) that I sent to David Remnick as well. For some reason, an old woman’s Physics degrees, are an irritant to Monsanto. The education section of my Wikipedia page is monitored, and any corrections made are undone almost instantaneously. This is Monsanto’s PR muscle at work.
Jon Entine, “a corporate propagandist and pseudo-journalist who utilizes his media savvy to promote the opinions and positions of chemical corporations”. Armed only with Bachelor degrees, they have the unique privilege of pretending to be scientists. Monsanto and friends contribute generously to providing these science-denialists a stage for their performances. Whether it is a Conde Nast publication – with established ties to Monsanto – or the websites I’ve mentioned – run by marketing professionals posing as scientists – they are attempting to destroy any space for scientific discourse around the safety of GMOs, Climate damage caused by industrial Agriculture, or Glyphosate’s effects on our health, soil and water. This is Monsanto’s PR muscle at work.
If Kevin Folta, Jon Entine, Kavin Senapathy, Mark Lynas (who doesn’t seem to exist prior to 2007) were, in fact, “science for hire”, it would be a step up. This is more like tele-marketers moonlighting as scientists.
A recent NY Times article exposed the GMO lobby having “published dozens of articles, under the names of prominent academics, that in some cases were drafted by industry consultants.” The NY Times article is slowly creeping it’s way down in the Google search results. The ability to drown the NY Times, is Monsanto’s PR muscle at work.
The one exception amongst the #hashtag defenders of “science” is Dr Kevin Folta. He’s educated in science (PhD Molecular Biology) but tries to pass off Biotech Advertising as “science”.
Kevin is a more dangerous breed of pseudo-scientist than Kavin. He has stooped to lows only imaginable to a mind with no conscience. Kevin Folta, while at the University of Florida – to which Monsanto donates generously – also contributed to another little propaganda website called GMOanswers – where he published industry generated propaganda, as science, under his name. He also runs Talking Biotech podcasts, described by himself as “Evidence-Based Discussion with Dr Kevin Folta”. In his podcast Kevin interviews himself pretending to be other scientists, using voice modulation filters (without informing his listeners, who are expecting a real scientist talking to Kevin). The use of the word “science”, ignoring scientific evidence, and claiming to be “Evidence-based”, while playing radio-show with himself, does not make Folta a reliable source for information of any kind, especially scientific information.
Luckily for Kevin, when he was found out for having fake evidence-based discussions with himself, Kavin’s Skepchick friends were ready to spin Kevin Folta’s podcast misadventure as blazing new trails in “Sci Comm Satire”.
At a time where climate change threatens global food production, and industrial agriculture is threatening our very survival, Kavin, and her Sci Comm Satirists, are selling Industrial Agriculture and a globalised food system – a Climate Change culprit, directly responsible for 50% of the Climate Crisis – as a false solution, cleverly branded “Climate Smart Agriculture”.
Abusing and destroying science, journalism and democracy, to sell more chemicals or patented terminator seed, will starve the world and poison every last one of us fortunate enough to get some food. This may well be what Kevin Folta, Kavin Senapathy, Jon Entine, Mark Lynas, CS Prakash and the other supporters of Big Chem and Big Biotech want, unless it’s all part of their “Sci Comm Satire”.
You can’t expect to slap “science” onto the blade of a katana and become the defender of science, or even begin to understand science.
If Kavin and her propagandist echo chambers really want to know how Monsanto is carrying out a genocide, while distracting people with their “Scientists” – like Business Development Manager, Kavin Senapathy herself – they would speak to more people than Kavin’s clones in India. If they had the guts, they would go meet the Monsanto has left behind in Vidarbha since 1999. If they had the guts, they would sit with the farmers in Punjab who have lost their entire cotton crop because of failed technologies, and have blocked trains in protest of the failure of BollGard II (Monsanto’s Bt-Cotton, Version 2.0 – still failing!). Non-scientists like Kavin are peddling these failures and carcinogenic poisons, in the name of science.
Thousands are being born with birth defects caused by Glyphosate. 300,000 farmers have lost their lives because of Monsanto’s seed monopoly, illegal royalties and crop failure’s. Millions are being displaced because Monsanto’s chemicals have destroyed their land. The handful of people (some of them mentioned here) that echo each other’s scientific illiteracy, are blind to these realities.
Even Stephane Le Foll, Agriculture Minister of France – one of the powerhouses of agriculture – has said that Ecological Agriculture is the future in the face of Climate Change and the threat of extinction. Industrial Agriculture has already done too much damage. Sci Comm Satirists are phrasing ‘Organic vs GMO’ as the only debate. There is no talk of Biosafety violations, the damage to ecosystems already caused by GMOs, and the climate damage done by agrochemical giants like Monsanto.
GMOs themselves, along with legislation like the Dark Act in the US, directly threaten ecological organic farming, and the availability of organic food. GMOs through contamination, and the legislation, by making farmers’ varieties of seeds illegal. Organic farming, on the other hand, does not threaten GMO farms in any way. But who would choose GMOs in their food if allowed to choose? Organic threatens the core of GMOs – profit based on exclusion, royalties.
There is a violent contest between real knowledge and propaganda, real food and the toxic commodities of industrial agriculture. Commodities being served up with a side of propaganda from a dispenser. Propaganda and this fake food rely on distancing – the producer from the consumer, the knowledge from the farmer – and distancing us from the ability to tell real food from the fake.
The Global Movement for Food Democracy is real. People are taking back control over their food, their agriculture and their knowledge, globally. Fake knowledge leads to failed technology. BollGuard failed, so a more potent BollGuard II was sold. BollGuard II is failing year after year. The Pink Bollworm, which BollGuard is supposed to control, is now resistant to the Bt in BollGuard and BollGuard II. Monsanto needs to release new products, hence the push for GMO Mustard, using public institutions of India as a mask. The house of Monsanto is crumbling with failure, losing $156 million in the final quarter of last year alone. Hence, the desperation. Hence, another attack on my work. Work that has shown the failures of the Green Revolution and it’s relation to the currently sky high prices of legumes in India. Work that has shown that neoliberal policies allowed Monsanto to carry out a genocide that continues. Work that has shown Ecological Organic Agriculture to be the one common solution to the climate crisis, the malnutrition crisis and the health crisis.
Kavin will be talking to her clones in India, who will echo Kavin, repeating once more, the same two things:
1)Green Revolution helped India produce more food.
False. Green Revolution helped India produce marginally more wheat and rice, grabbing land that would be used to grow multiple other crops – in effect, lowering India’s output of food.
2) Bt Cotton has not contributed to Farmer Suicides.
False again. Bt Cotton was released in India illegally. Monsanto charges illegal royalties for a fake patent as “technology fees”. BollGuard failed at controlling bollworm, leaving farmers with failed crops and debts for chemical inputs. Farmers committed suicide. Monsanto sold BollGuard II at higher cost claiming higher royalties, pushing farmers further into debt. In Punjab, farmers are blocking trains, in protest of the failure of their Bt Cotton crop. The Navdanya team was there, on the ground.
It’s heartening to see Kavin endure in the male-dominated world of Biotech Shills, but it saddens me to think that a woman is unable to see the destruction we are causing to the world our children will inherit. I hope, for the sake of Kavin’s child/ren (if any) that the future of food we pick, as humanity, is nourishing, sustainable, equitable, climate mitigating and diverse – a future of food based on Agroecology.
Assigned reading for Kavin:
Response to Kavin’s email (Violence of the Green Revolution will be a good starting point)