The power of corruption and money are at it again – this time in academia. David Bronner, CEO of Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps, is a quirky, fun-loving activist. He is known for being outspoken on genetically modified crops, and a resilient supporter in the anti-GMO fight – often donating corporate funds to try to promote labeling when biotech interests are going all in with millions to prevent labelign
Some scientific journals aren’t too happy about Bronner’s vocal stance on biotechnology, though, and they made it all too clear recently when he tried to run an advertorial in some of their publications. Two of the most renowned English science journals, Science, and Nature, have refused to publish him – even though publications as diverse as Scientific American, The New Yorker, Harper’s, The Nation, Harvard, and Mother Jones accepted Bronner’s ad.
Are they afraid of presenting a stance against GMOs for fear of retaliation from Monsanto and the biotech industry?
Bronner’s ad (PDF) focuses on how GMO crops have led to a net increase in pesticide use in the United States, citing an analysis by Ramon Seidler, a retired senior staff scientist at the Environmental Protection Agency. It doesn’t read like an advertisement, but a brief synopsis of a scientific paper.
Bronner wrote this essay in response to Michael Specter’s recent New Yorker takedown of anti-GMO crusader Vandana Shiva. He first published his critique on Huffington Post, and then decided to publish it as an ad in a variety of high-profile magazines because he felt that The New Yorker is highly influential among liberal elites, and he wanted to get another view to the public.
We are supposed to have a ‘free’ press in the U.S. – are we not?
An ad sales manager for Science wrote in an email:
“We’re concerned about backlash from our members and potentially getting into a battle with the GMO industry.”
Just to clarify – we are talking about a journal of SCIENCE – not a trade magazine, not the Grocery Manufacturer Association’s Convention speaker notes – a reputable, well read scientific journal that should be presenting unbiased opinions from both sides of the GMO debate.
The journal Science was close to accepting Bronner’s ad, and emails shared with a wrtier from Mother Jones showed an ad sales manager for the American Association for the Advancement of Science, which published the magazine, emailed on September 15 that she would send over paper work “in a bit,” adding that:
“[a]fter you sign it, I can take your credit card info by phone and submit to accounting.”
The total cost of Bronner’s ad? $9,911.00. But hours later, she wrote back, revoking the deal:
“Sorry to say there has [been] a reversal opinion. This has gone up the ladder quite far and our CEO along with the board have come back saying that we cannot accept the ad. We’re concerned about backlash from our members and potentially getting into a battle with the GMO industry.”
A similar set of events happened when he submitted his ad to Nature, a UK-based publication with ad sales operations in the United States. On September 16, an ad sales rep told the Bronner team via email:
“I will have an IO [insert order—the contract for an advertisement] for you once I get the thumbs up from Editorial (usually takes them a day or two). Once that’s signed, he added, I can call and get your credit card information over the phone, [and] then we are all good.”
Instead of following through with this plan, the representative for Nature asked Bronner to instead place his ad in a smaller journal, also with a lower readership, called Nature Biotechnology. After declining the offer and reasserting his desire to have the ad placed in Nature, the company turned him down cold.
The Nature ad rep responded:
“We have to do a detailed process for all ad approvals, especially if the ad is not within specs (our terms and conditions). We have passed on the ad for Nature, that’s why the emails about seeking out other options [i.e., Nature Biotechnology] for you.”
The representative spoke no more with Bronner, nor with Tom Philpott who contacted them in order to write an article about Bronner’s ads being refused.
The main point of all of this? Both of these publications were cowering under a biotech influence.
Science‘s management found it “a little bit controversial,” and worried that “if we allowed that kind of a piece to be printed in Science, then maybe we’d be subject to the GMO world coming after us.”
A representative from the publication added:
” Ironically, it’s not that anyone in the organization disagreed with what it [the ad] said. It’s just that we had to consider that the opposite side of the coin might want to start a war in our magazine.”
Perhaps she isn’t aware the war has already begun.
Stan Schmidt, an ad rep for Scientific American, which accepted the ad, remarked that his magazine maintains a broader policy on advertorials—it accepts them unless they contain offensive or “wild-eyed” material, and the Bronner ad easily passed the test, he said. Odd, since they also recently bashed GMO labeling as unscientific. That’s a pretty ‘wild-eyed’ claim, but it sided with the biotech industry, so they published the article in full. It wasn’t even an ad, but an editorial.
“I’m concerned how lame and weak the leading scientific publications in the world are being here, although I appreciate Science‘s upfront explanation,” Bronner said. “Science and Nature magazines, like the scientific enterprise in general, are not above the fray.”
So, when biotech shills comment on anti-GMO campaigns and try to get consumers to believe we should just keep eating our GMOs, labeled or not, quoting scientific journals that support genetically modified crops – we know who is calling the shots. There is no free and open press. It is all a money game, and biotech has millions to sway ‘science.’
This is one big propaganda campaign. Remember this the next time a ‘scientific’ journal tells you GMOs are good for you. The GMO scientists are the new pushers of Lucky Strikes, this time instead of cancer in a lighted stick, its infertility, gut-wrenching intestinal issues, and DNA alteration in a kernel of GMO corn.
||Christina Sarich is a humanitarian and freelance writer helping you to Wake up Your Sleepy Little Head, and See the Big Picture. Her blog is Yoga for the New World. Her latest book is Pharma Sutra: Healing the Body And Mind Through the Art of Yoga.