Saturday, September 15, 2012

Researchers Linked to Big Ag in Study De-Valuing Organics

Majia here: A few days ago I published a critique of a New York Times article covering recent research on organic food.

The study was touted as independent and the headline in The New York Times emphasized no nutritional benefits from organic foods. I critiqued the article and the study for failing to address the real reason many people prefer organic, which is the absence of pesticides, herbicides, and fungicides:

The NYT article: Stanford Scientists Cast Doubt on Advantages of Organic Meat and Produce by Kenneth Change Sep 3, 2012

Majia here: Now there are revelations that the some of the study's researchers work for an institute that receives big money from the "big" agricultural industry:

Big Ag Allegedly Funded Stanford's "Spin" on Organics Study By The Cornucopia Institute 14 September 12

Scientists Tied to Tobacco Industry Propaganda, and Funding from Monsanto, Turn Attention to Organic Food

[Excerpted] A recent study by Stanford University researchers made international headlines when it claimed that organic foods are no more safe or nutritious than conventional foods. Organic researchers, farmers and advocacy groups immediately recognized the study as woefully flawed, and alleged underlying political motivations....

Academics and organic policy experts, including at Cornucopia, immediately recognized that Stanford's research in fact substantiates dramatic health and safety advantages in consuming organic food, including an 81% reduction in exposure to toxic and carcinogenic agrichemicals. Unfortunately, readers would never know it by the headlines, since the results of the study were spun by the Stanford researchers and public relations staff, and accepted without the necessary fact-checking by journalists in a rush to file stories over the Labor Day weekend....

[Examining] financial ties between Stanford's Freeman Spogli Institute, which supports the researchers, and the chemical and agribusiness industry....

...."So we were not one bit surprised to find that the agribusiness giant Cargill, the world's largest agricultural business enterprise, and foundations like the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which have deep ties to agricultural chemical and biotechnology corporations like Monsanto, have donated millions to Stanford's Freeman Spogli Institute, where some of the scientists who published this study are affiliates and fellows."

Stanford researchers had touted their independence by stating they had not received outside financial support for their study, but failed to delineate the close ties between their internal funding sources and industrialized agriculture and biotechnology interests.....

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