Venerable Ivy League member Cornell University has been accused of running a pro-GMO campaign with funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. In what appears to be a farewell to scientific objectivity, the university seems to be saying hello to generous new funding, provided they provide a pro-GMO propaganda platform.
Long a well-respected, top-notch school, Cornell was founded on ideals of scholarship, a revolutionary spirit, and pursuit of the greater good. But upon founding the Cornell Alliance for Science (CAS) in 2014, the school seems to have all but abandoned any pretense to independent scholarship.
The CAS was launched with a $5.6 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and a mandate to “depolarize the charged debate” over GMOs. The problem is that, to all appearances, this “depolarization” is all leaning heavily in one direction: whitewashing an unsafe food system and risky technology.
Even just a cursory review of the group’s programs and materials shows clearly that their promise to ‘restore the importance of scientific evidence in decision making,’ is heavily tilted toward the smooth-talking PR practices developed by agrochemical corporations, intended to be employed in misleading the public about the science behind GMOs.
The director of CAS, Sarah Evanega, PhD describes her group as a “communications-based nonprofit organization represented by scientists, farmers, NGOs, journalists and concerned citizens” who will use “interactive online platforms, multimedia resources and communication training programs to build a global movement to advocate for access to biotechnology.” [Emphasis added]
Oh. Well, that last part is a bit of giveaway, wouldn’t you say?
Further review of the group’s materials reveals further GMO slick-talking chicanery. Backed by the Gates Foundation millions, the CAS is accused of:
- Making GMOs claims unsupported by science
- Teaming up with the chemical industry and their operatives to teach students junk “science”
- Offering journalism fellowships with cash awards, but only to journalists who show willingness to “promote in-depth, contextualized reporting” with regard to biotechnology (that is, GMOs).
- Offering a 12-week course for Global Leadership Fellows, as well as 2-day intensive courses designed to teach communication skills so that people can commit to “advocating for increased access to biotechnology” so they can “lead advocacy efforts in their local contexts.”
Do you smell a rat yet? If not, a promotional video* put out by CAS will definitely locate it for you. Slickly produced–no doubt using plenty of that sweet Gates loot–the program’s director Dr. Evanega breathlessly tells us:
“Recent innovations could play a critical role in helping to solve [global hunger]. And biotechnology is at the heart of this discussion.”