The misuse of FOIA

posted in: Science & Society | 91

Bullying a mother, scientist, nutrition and lactation expert

By Kavin Senapathy. Excerpted from the Genetic Literacy Project.

Dr. Michelle McGuire

The best way to get away with bullying is to blame the victim after punching her in the gut: “Principal, she did it first.”

Anti-GMO groups’ tactics are just a big-kid version of these playground antics. Led by organic industry-funded U.S. Right to Know (USRTK), these groups are now wielding Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests like hammers, demanding that public scientists turn over tens of thousands of innocent emails linked to their research efforts.

One of the latest targets of USRTK’s playground escapades is Washington State University nutritionist and mother of three Michelle (Shelley) McGuire, an expert on human milk and lactation. In July, Dr. McGuire publicly presented preliminary research findings that challenged a widely-touted anti-GMO activist assertion that the herbicide glyphosate, which they denounce as dangerously toxic, is present in mother’s milk, presumably posing harm to infants and children. The US Environmental Protection Agency, the World Health Organization and the European Commission, among dozens of global science oversight groups, have determined that glyphosate is mildly toxic to humans, not carcinogenic and safe when used as directed by home gardeners and farmers alike.

McGuire detailed her findings at the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB) Science Research Conference in Big Sky, Montana, in conjunction with a university-distributed press release. She found that glyphosate does not show up in mother’s milk, or is below the detection limit of a very sensitive, newly-developed assay. In addition, as McGuire explained to Genetic Literacy Project, although glyphosate and its metabolite AMPA were present in the urine of some of the mothers, their concentrations were extremely low, at harmless levels. Both the analytical methods and clinical study are being prepared for submission to peer-reviewed journals as soon as next week.

Protecting mothers’ milk

McGuire first became interested in the controversy over glyphosate in breast milk after the anti-GMO group Moms Across America published a “pilot study” in conjunction with the European anti-biotech website Sustainable Pulse, which is run by organic entrepreneur Henry Rowlands. The “study”, which claimed that Roundup is “now in mothers’ breast milk”, was based on ten self-collected breastmilk samples analyzed by a small lab–one that does not do university quality evaluations. MAA–that well recognized independent science research organization–concluded and publicized their “finding” that three mothers had high, “detectable levels of glyphosate in their breast milk.”

Read the rest of this article at the Genetic Literacy Project.

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  • Shelley McGuire

    Thanks Biology Fortified for helping get the word out about this misuse of US FOIA laws. Crippling public research and ruining careers of honest scientists was not the intent. FOIA needs some serious reform.

  • WeGotta

    Are you kidding? This is a perfect use of the FOIA. This is related to our food, our health, the environment, our economy, education, ethics, science, and government.

    The food industry has you and your universities by the purse strings.
    What is the public supposed to think?

    Things are now much more clear. You are tainted. Your work is tainted. Your universities are tainted.

    • Chris Preston

      I really don’t understand your response to this.

      In my opinion, bullying is never acceptable. When FOIA requests are being used for bullying, that becomes an unacceptable use of FOIA. Gary Ruskin of USRTK is wanting to bully researchers who’s opinion he disagrees with. Rather than trying to find evidence to support his opinions, he is wanting to discredit the researchers. And as was seen with Kevin Folta, Ruskin is willing to make things up if the evidence he wants is not there.

      • WeGotta

        “Bullying”?
        It’s a publicly funded position at a public university. We should be able to know what they are up to with these public funds.
        Have you read some of these things that came to light?
        It’s sickening to read some of the quotes from these scientists so willing to do the bidding of PR firms and crooked businessmen.

        • Chris Preston

          You think that because someone has a publicly-funded position it is OK to bully them?

          Some of the things that came to light were in fact invented by Gary Ruskin. I suppose you think that is OK as well?

          • WeGotta

            What I am saying is that some of these scientists were recruited by PR firms representing the food industry to try and sway the public opinion in favor of GMO. Specifically because they are scientists and might be seen as unbiased.

            That’s a fact, is it not?

            This is the same industry who funds the universities that do research into GMO, the same industry that bribes our government officials for more favorable legislation, the same industry that opposes GMO labels and the same industry that advertises these products to the public.

            Are you telling me you don’t see a problem with this?

            • Chris Preston

              What I am saying is that some of these scientists were recruited by PR firms representing the food industry to try and sway the public opinion in favor of GMO. Specifically because they are scientists and might be seen as unbiased.

              That’s a fact, is it not?

              I don’t doubt that there were.

              Just as there were scientists recruited by the organic food industry to attempt to sway public opinion against GMO.

              Neither of which matters that much. What matters is whether what the specific scientists said was correct.

              This is the same industry who funds the universities that do research into GMO, the same industry that bribes our government officials for more favorable legislation, the same industry that opposes GMO labels and the same industry that advertises these products to the public.

              Are you telling me you don’t see a problem with this?

              I don’t see any evidence that the industry bribes government officials for more favorable legislation. Perhaps you should provide an example of such a bribe?

              The fact that you personally do not like a company is not a good reason to applaud bullying of researchers who have received funding for scientific research from that company.

              • WeGotta

                Come on now Chris!
                How can you expect me to take you seriously if you don’t admit that our government is corrupted by money? It’s so obvious!

                Oh well, believe what you want. But this conversation is over if you won’t be truthful.

                • Chris Preston

                  Come on now Chris!How can you expect me to take you seriously if you don’t admit that our government is corrupted by money? It’s so obvious!

                  That is not the claim that I requested you provide evidence for. I was asking for evidence for your claim that the GMO manufacturers have bribed the US Government for more favorable treatment.

                  Whenever you are ready, I will be waiting.

                  • WeGotta
                    • WeGotta
                    • OrchidGrowinMan

                      Taking your hysterical comment at face-value, you believe that employees of a particular company should be prohibited from advising on issues within their expertise?

                      Should they be prohibited from voting if there are issues to decide that are within their expertise?

                      Should they be prohibited from voting at all?

                      Who decides which companies (or religions, ethnicities, creeds, etc.) are to receive this exclusionary treatment? Does the treatment extend to children? What about a child who has only one parent, or only one grandparent in the prohibited class?

                    • WeGotta

                      This is what I would like to see.
                      All communications between my government and its advisors be recorded and made available to the public instantly.
                      No more closed door meetings with lobbyists.
                      Public campaign financing.
                      Rules that prohibit public officials from getting a job in any industry that they had part in regulating.
                      An end to the warped notion that money is free speech.
                      That would be a good start.
                      What do you think?

                    • Mike

                      “Rules that prohibit public officials from getting a job in any industry that they had part in regulating”
                      So, scientists working for the government become completely unemployable in their field of study when a new guy gets elected and hands out new appointments?

                      If all science that is paid for is corrupt, then all science is corrupt. Either industry or the government pays for almost all of it. Both are corrupt per you.

                      Science is not that easily influenced, and colleagues aren’t apt to let fraudulent researchers off the hook.

                    • WeGotta

                      Yes. If you want to be a scientist, then be a scientist.
                      If you want to be a politician then dedicate yourself to the people you represent.

                      The “revolving door” is real and it’s not my fault.
                      It should be stopped and if some people are inconvenienced by a the rules intended to stop it then too bad. We are all inconvenienced by things.

                      If you want to be a scientist and advise our politicians than do so in a public forum so that we all could hear what it is your are advocating.

                    • Mike

                      So, no scientists making science policy? THis is getting worse. Only politicians get to make science decisions. This isn’t Europe.

                    • WeGotta

                      Deliberately misquoting me or trouble understanding?

                    • Charles Rader

                      WeGotta, I see your problem with a lack of transparency, but I think a much greater problem is a lack of accuracy or honesty. Put yourself in the position of someone who has knowledge and who sees the general public exposed to misinformation. Examples wrt GMOs are numerous. The public is told that Bt is toxic, that GMO genes can change our own genes, that GMOs cause cancer, autism, indeed all sorts of diseases. The public is told that all GMO plants of a given species are identical, that the scientists who develop GMOs do not eat them, that they have not been tested, that they cause allergies, etc. The absolutely false propaganda goes on and on. Worse is the propaganda which is carefully worded to be accurate and yet misleading at the same time.

                      This is all “done so in a public forum”. Yet it is far worse than quietly speaking to a politician and telling him the truth.

                    • WeGotta

                      Do you think Julie Kelly’s recent article is about truth?

                      I am a person with knowledge and I see misinformation and much worse coming from all directions about everything important to me.
                      Certainly this happens with things way more important than GMO.

                      So I wish that all of us could stand together and finally see the root of the problem and do something about it. Then let’s let the chips fall as they may. Some will certainly lose but I think the balance by far would be positive for all of us.

                      I object to the notion that geneticists have any special understanding of truth.
                      That is until I can find any that would admit that GM would be no where close to the top on a list of things that are “needed” in this world.

                    • Chris Preston

                      I don’t see any bribes there. That is a list of campaign donations, with the overwhelming majority of the money going to ballot campaign committees, not even to individual candidates and certainly not to the US Government.

                      So help me out. Which one specifically is a bribe? And what was the bribe given for?

                    • WeGotta

                      What are Monsanto employees doing sitting on “advisory commitees” for the Environmental Protection Agency, National Science Foundation, Department of Agriculture, Department of Commerce, Office of the United States Trade Representative, Department of Health and Human Services, Department of State, Department of the Interior, Department of Energy and the Office of Science and Technology Policy?

                      What is a Monsanto lobbyist doing as the deputy commissioner for foods at the Food and Drug Administration?

                      Why would they give so much money to our elected officials if they weren’t going to get a nice ROI?

                      Again, it’s impossible to have a rational discussion with someone who is not being truthful.

                      I found this information in minutes and it’s even worse than I thought.

                      I see you.

                    • Chris Preston

                      A whole lot of goalpost moving here.

                      Perhaps there is a Monsanto employee on an EPA advisory committee on pollinators because there are people within Monsanto that have expertise in the area and the EPA is interested in working with industry to get the best outcome.

                      There would not be a Monsanto lobbyist as Deputy Commissioner of Foods, because that is an FDA position and the employee would be working for the FDA.

                      So where is this bribe that you claimed had taken place?

                    • WeGotta

                      Have it your way.
                      Helpful Monsanto employees giving benign advice about bugs.
                      Monsanto generously supporting our politicians with no expectations or strings attached.
                      Poor scientists getting bullied.

                      What do I care what you think?

                    • What exactly is Monsanto doing that isn’t being done by every other greedy corporation in the U.S.?

                    • WeGotta

                      Nothing.

                    • qetzal

                      I assume that includes the organic foods industry too, then. Right?

                    • WeGotta

                      Of course. Why would it not?

                    • Doesn’t it help to have people on advisory committees who are actually familiar with the subject matter?

                    • WeGotta

                      If there was trust. But there is none.
                      I’m fine with them giving advice but let’s televise it and put them under oath.

                    • So, we are supposed to trust someone with a pseudonym criticizing professionals whose job it it to know about this topic? Can you tell us specifically which one is not qualified to offer a useful perspective on this topic?

                      @wegotta, skepticism is vital: cynicism is just lame.

                    • WeGotta

                      And here comes the set up and the insult.
                      Great work Peter. Way to twist things around to score points.

                      Like I’m the one trying to influence the government with money so that my business is more profitable.

                    • First Officer

                      So that’s you standing in the dark bushes with the lit cigarette?

                    • WeGotta

                      No. I wouldn’t be smoking in the dark bushes. Ruins your vision and gives away your position.
                      Maybe it was Gary Ruskin.

            • Mike

              How was this biased? Were they payed? Given political favors? Was it anything more than scientist gladly communicating factual science in concert with industry people that could benefit by the facts?

              • WeGotta

                It’s people advocating for things that would benefit themselves. That’s all. Lots of people do it.
                But the minute you think you are doing it for some other reason than your own self interest I have a right to ask questions, challenge your assumptions and disagree with your opinions.

          • SageThinker

            I do not see “bullying”. I see request for transparency.

            • Thanks for your comments. What do you think about the use of FOIA laws to harass climate scientists? The use of FOIA laws to harass tobacco researchers? Are these open records requests always a good thing?

              I think you are forgetting the political dimension of this. It has been more than six months since the initial FOIAs, and there has not been a single case of finding anything scientifically wrong with anything the FOIAed professors have said or published. However, we do know that the emails have been selectively used and quote-mined for politically-based attacks. This is not a fact-finding mission to get to the bottom of the safety of genetically engineered foods. This is a dirt-digging mission to try to undermine academics who communicate and educate the public about genetically engineered foods.

              • SageThinker

                I think that harassment in any form is horrible, but that transparency is another matter entirely. ClimateGate was stupid, anyway, as the thing that the deniers picked on was simply a correction to measurements made using different means of measurement, and it lacked integrity. In this case, the USRTK group seems to have been interested in finding out who funded scientists and how close the alliances are between some people and the industry, and they did so. Of course the emails were selectively used. They went through emails and found parts relevant to their questions. As for “attacked” i don’t see it as attacking. The strongest case for an “attack” seems to be Kevin Folta having an issue that they presented an email of his as if he had written the subject line “CONFIDENTIAL” whereas he had actually responded to an email by that subject line, and that they had gotten the state wrong in their report on the topic, for it was CO and not CA’s labeling campaign that was referred to. He also took issue with their presentation of him giving “strategic advice” to Monsanto, whereas he said he had just commented on their handling and responding to the labeling campaign. I see these as inaccuracies of a minor sort, and getting the state wrong was clearly a simple error. I haven’t seen anything i’d consider an attack. I’ve seen people pointing out that there is some alliance between Monsanto and certain scientists, and describing that alliance.

                • SageThinker, the harassment of climate scientists was not limited to the ClimateGate email hack, but a concerted campaign of using open records laws to investigate, stall, and intrude into climate scientists’ correspondence and records. It was also initiated by politicians. It was a drawn out affair, and not just the cherry-picking of a couple emails. The volume and nature of the open records requests was unprecedented. (Except, perhaps, by the use of these requests by tobacco companies prior to ClimageGate.)
                  http://www.ucsusa.org/center-science-and-democracy/protecting-scientists-harassment/freedom-bully-how-laws#.VfhsWpdq7Ms
                  Kevin Folta is being hit with repeated records requests, one of which wants every email with the word “Babe” in it. Tell me how that is about transparency and not politics?

                  • SageThinker

                    I guess Food Babe wants to know what was said about her. She’s been the target of a concerted campaign to destroy her reputation. I guess everyone is doing that kind of thing these days. As far as she goes, azodicarbonamide does convert in small amounts into a carcinogen when baked in bread, and that Vani Hari was on to something scientifically sound when she raised this issue in the world, and that she cites a peer-reviewed paper in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Science to support this position. Retrieving all emails with the word “Babe” doesn’t sound so time-consuming. I do appreciate your link to the UCS document on this topic. I still think there is a line between actual request for information, and harassment through requests for information, and i think USRTK is looking for the information, and not attempting to harass researchers through burdensome FOIA requests.
                    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21786817

                    • Captain Moonlight

                      The Food Babe misuses science to promote fear and as a side benefit accrue fame and fortune. You also routinely misuse science and you do so again here. Your link doesn’t validate Hari’s fear campaign. As scientists have repeatedly pointed out, we eat and breathe hundreds of toxins each and every day. Moreover, as BN Ames pointed out, every vegetable we eat contains a cocktail of known carcinogens, mutagens and so on. There are undoubtedly hundreds more that haven’t even been studied.

                      There are millions of studies in the science databases that can be used by the ignorant and the malicious to create fear about everything we eat, drink and do.

                      I also note that you’ve now been told dozens times that in most cases it is the does that makes poison, so exposure to small amounts of toxins usually unimportant, but you just shrug it off. You were banned from Science Based Medicine because of your robotic repetition of scientifically illiterate and fear mongering talking points.

                    • Ray Kinney

                      I beg to differ. The ‘dose makes the poison’ is a pretty outdated view in environmental and medical toxicology, since it conceptually errs in oversimplifying pathogenicity in the real world beyond the lab environment that must oversimplify in order to tease out the science of causation. In the real world, there is far more complexity of multiple stressors potentiating the toxicology and ultimately the pathology. Chronic low dose accumulative effects rule disease causation, far more than lab science has so far clarified. Lab focus can not deal with these complexities. The science is deficient until this conceptual error of ‘the dose makes the poison’ is expanded (e.g. expanded epidemiology, non-monotonic, epigentics, and hormone disruption sciences) clarifies multifactoral causation in the science. Until then our ‘science’ is still deficiently stuck back in the era of stating that ‘the dose is what makes the poison’. The other commonly used statement that is counter productive in modern ecotoxicology is ‘the solution to pollution is dilution’. The chronic low dose accumulation of contaminant dispersal, uptake, and toxic effect only reduces exposure to the few by increasing toxic exposure to the many… and this is not ‘a real’ ‘solution to pollution’ it just causes conceptual error in education while prolonging damage to social wellbeing.

                    • Captain Moonlight

                      The ‘dose makes the poison’ is not outdated, it is still the staple of toxicology, exceptions notwithstanding. There are various chapters from intro to toxicology textbooks on the web that you can check to confirm this point if you wish.

                      You talk about the “real world”. In the “real world”, everything you eat contains toxins and “natural” toxins and “synthetic” toxins are equally likely to be harmful. Nearly all the pestcides we eat are naturally occur in the edible portion of plant. You probably eat dozens of these each day and many are known carcinogens, see here: http://www.pnas.org/content/87/19/7777.full.pdf

                      Don’t be scared.

                    • If you are taliking about single toxicant, yes, of course the dose does relate to being the poison. But with all of the other stressors compromising the toxicologic picture, and potentiating the toxic effects of each other, the causation determination needs to be shared far more complexly than that in our chronic accumulative effects deterioration of public health outcomes. And non-monotonic characteristics of many toxicants do not conform to the oversimplistic statement in question. Those introductory level texts are only an oversimplification for introductory purposes, and would be misleading when taken out of the context of the more advanced study of toxicology.

                    • Captain Moonlight

                      Cancer rates are falling. We live longer than ever. Public health outcomes are mostly good but would be so much better if people would lose weight, east less junk food and exercise more.

                      Don’t be scared.

                    • Yes, exactly, eating less junk food is the point… there is a lot of junk added to food.

                    • Moonlight, The overweight epidemic may also be greatly infuenced by some of the obesogen contaminants and food additives that we are exposed to on a regular basis. Tributyl tin (from paint additives, plastcisers, and antifouling paint on boat bottoms, etc), PVC, and even MSG have research causing NIEHS to class them as obesogenic. The widespread dispersal of these contaminants could be having combined accumulative effects on physiology leading to obesity.

                    • Captain Moonlight

                      Ray, there is no evidence that obesogens play a significant role in the obesity epidemic. Obesogens are at best a marginal interest being pursued by a very small number of researchers who have had zero impact on mainstream obesity research. I note with a chuckle that nicotine, which is naturally found in tomatoes, potatoes, cauliflower, egg plants and many other vegetables has been labelled an obesogen, mostly as a pre-natal factor. While nearly all significant obesity researchers dismiss the significance of obesogens, quacks like Dr Oz have embraced the idea.

                    • Moonlight, wow, you certainly seem to have a different assessment of current public health than I do… best of luck with that.

                    • @Captain, I think you may have hit the nail on the head regarding fear, but I think many “doom-and-gloom” Internet commenters relish this fear, and no amount of information or reasoning can take that away from them.

                    • Captain Moonlight

                      I think they do relish the fear. Also the belief that they are attacking the forces of evil adds meaning and purpose to an otherwise empty life.

                    • Your comments do a good job at attacking the forces of evil—ignorance and misinformation.

                    • Ray, are there any examples of xenobiotics that are safe at high doses, but harmful at low doses?

                    • Yes, it happens often, because the different defensive mechanisms of the body often ‘trigger-in’ at different thresholds of contaminant presence and adverse effects levels. Sometimes, the ‘big guns of defense’ are not yet brought out because of the relative cost/benefit ratios involved. If cheaper defense strategies often are sufficient to deal with a pathogenic threat, the ‘bigger more expensive’ defensive effort can be saved for later use if needed… there is a bioenergetic gain. So for some types of threat, low doses can result in some adverse effects of toxicity until the next threshold of danger kicks in the ‘bigger guns’ that deal with the threat quickly but still have other costs metabolically. IMHO

                    • Also, some of the hormone disrupting chemicals have been seen to be toxic at low doses, before other defensive systems kick in to drop the toxicity. Damage can be done at low dose, even if there is larger dose later that becomes better defended by the body.

                    • Captain Moonlight

                      According to the Uni of Minnesota School of Public Heath “Endocrine disruptors are found naturally in our diet. There are many plant sources that are sources of estrogens called phytoestrogens.”

                      A partial list of foods containing endocrine disrupting chemicals:

                      “Alfalfa Animal flesh Anise seed Apples Baker’s yeast Barley Beets Carrots Cherries Chickpeas Clover Cowpeas (black-eyed peas) Cucumbers Dairy Foods Dates Eggs Eggplant Fennel Flaxseeds Garlic Hops Licorice Oats Olive oil Olives Papaya Parsley Peas Peppers Plums Pomegranates Potatoes Pumpkin Red beans Red clover Rhubarb Rice Sage Sesame seeds Soybean sprouts Soybeans Split peas Sunflower seeds Tomatoes Wheat Yams

                      Soybeans, and soy derivatives have large amounts of natural estrogens. Interestingly enough, soy sauce is not a major source of phytoestrogens.

                      Flaxseed, pulses, citrus fruits, wheat, licorice, alfalfa, fennel and celery also have fairly large amounts of natural estrogens.”

                      http://enhs.umn.edu/current/5200/estrogen/estrofood.html

                      Should I stop eating celery? Should I refrain from eating eggplant, which also has nicotine? Should I be scared that the long term impact of eating both eggplant and psoralen rich celery hasn’t been studied?

                      I’m going to go out on a limb and suggest that the “worried well” could benefit by concentrating more on the public health elephants like sugar intake and exercise and less on the ants like whatever issue Dr Oz, Dr Mercola and the Food Babe have latched onto and distorted this month?

                    • Bruce__H

                      It’s an interesting line of thought. An example would be welcome.

                    • Do you have any specific examples, or is this simply your hypothesis?

                    • Peter, a lot of my concern is well stated by the group at NIEHS on obesity, especially Jerry Heindel.

                    • Good. Just offer us a simple summary of your point.

                    • Peter, this brings up another area of great concern for a distinct lack of data demonstrating relative safety on nanotechnology, especially as currently used with food additives and personal care products. TiO2 added to foods and topical products as nano-sized particles can behave very atypically for toxicology of Ti particles that are larger. There are sorts of other nanoparticles being promoted for inclusion in products and foods. Many metals behave very differently at nonoscale than at slightly larger particulate sizes, which could greatly affect the ability of the body to defend from exposure, uptake, and toxic effects. a tiny exposure to nano Pb could be even more toxic than a larger uptake of larger sized Pb particulate, same for TiO2 used in sunscreens and even added to some foods without enough science to clarify differential toxic potentials.

                    • This seems irrelevant to what we were discussing.

                    • FB raised an interesting point about the scary-sounding chemical, azodicarbonamide, commonly used in bread making; but on further reading, this is not high on my list of food safety concerns.

                      Next, I wonder if she will try to block all baking, roasting and grilling, because of the potential toxicity of Maillard reaction products produced at high temperature?

                      FB is clearly a non-scientist “front”, but I’d love to know who is behind her, feeding her the issues.

                    • SageThinker

                      Wow, you really think that Food Babe is a “front” for an evil force that is out to get the saintly chemical industry?

                      By the way, i’d rather not have azodicarbonamide in my bread and i was thankful to Food Babe for speaking about this, and pissed off at Subway for including it in their bread that i have eaten in the past. It does indeed create a small amount of a carcincogenic chemical when baked, and it’s not needed to make bread. Thankful to Food Babe for doing what she does.

                      And strange to see people hating her so much. She’s a lightning rod for something that does seem rather evil, that does wish death upon her, that does want to “take her down”, that is so vile and vicious and hates her because she speaks about these things.

                    • Captain Moonlight

                      The Food Babe is laughing all the way to the bank, you nutter.

                    • SageThinker

                      Looks like i’ve got your goat.

                    • Captain Moonlight

                      Sage is currently campaigning to ban apples because they naturally contain formaldehyde, celery because it naturally contains psoralen, tomatoes because they naturally contain nicotine, soybeans because they naturally contain phytoestrogens, potatoes because they naturally contain glycoalkaloids ….

                      Oh wait, he isn’t. In the mindset of the food nutter, the toxin is apparently less important than the dose or how it got into your food.

                  • TZ

                    The Food Babe has the right to know exactly what transpired with the biotech industry and Folta in an effort to try to ruin her reputation and destroy her career!

                    • There was no effort to try to ruin her career, in fact Kevin has often said that he thinks she could be a very powerful ally for science if she became educated about it. FOIAing all his emails to look for the word “Babe” in it is just silly and paranoid.

                    • Karl, Karl… just review the posts to this blog to see that her carrer has been attacked vehemenently in attempt to ruin her carreer….. that does not mean she is totally right about everything she says, but certainly she is under incredibly heavy and nasty attack.

                    • Captain Moonlight

                      The Food Babe spreads woo and engages in “heavy and nasty attacks” (your words) on good scientists who produce vanilla mainstream science. Her modus operandi and ignorance is no different from that of many individuals who have made a living out of climate change denial.

            • WeGotta

              Well said.

            • Chris Preston

              I have worked on a research project using public money, from an ARPA-E grant. In that context, i would have been more than happy to have anyone FOIA my emails in regard to that project, to check whether there seemed to be anything untoward in the project.

              I suggest you would be a lot less sanguine about this if someone getting hold of the e-mails had taken one that was an innocuous discussion between participants in the project and leaked a claim to the press that the e-mail showed collusion to defraud the funder, by altering the header and lying about the contents.

              • SageThinker

                I would hope they’d use the emails with integrity. Where do you find this leak to the press that shows collusion to defraud a funder? What is the worst distortion of emails you’ve seen by USRTK? I would like to read the source that you refer to.

                • Chris Preston

                  Where do you find this leak to the press that shows collusion to defraud a funder?

                  That is an example situation of how information gathered under an FOIA could be used without integrity.

                  What is the worst distortion of emails you’ve seen by USRTK?

                  There was a blog post here, but it seems to have been removed. The information in the post came from USRTK.

                  • SageThinker

                    So your examples were hypothetical, i gather.

                    *IF* there were a collusion to defraud a funder, then i would hope that it would be exposed, no matter who or what group is the offending party. I’m not playing favorites here.

                    • Chris Preston

                      So your examples were hypothetical, i gather.

                      My example was hypothetical, because your example was hypothetical.

                      *IF* there were a collusion to defraud a funder, then i would hope that it would be exposed, no matter who or what group is the offending party. I’m not playing favorites here.

                      I didn’t write that there had been collusion to defraud a funder. I wrote of a situation where a false claim of such an activity being leaked to the press ollowing an FOIA release.

                      They are two quite different things.

                    • SageThinker

                      Well, i don’t see where we’re going. Clearly, a false claim would be a bad thing. But you seemed to be implying that USRTK had made such a false claim, based on the context of this discussion, and then it turned out to be a hypothetical. If there is a real false claim of collusion to defraud a funder, then it should come out. If there is a false claim of such, then it’s a slander on the part of the party who made the claim. Simple ethics, based on integrity and transparency.

                    • Chris Preston

                      But you seemed to be implying that USRTK had made such a false claim, based on the context of this discussion, and then it turned out to be a hypothetical.

                      No the false claim was real. USRTK handed information to journalists the led to them writing an article claiming that Kevin Folta had written an e-mail an email titled “CONFIDENTIAL: Coalition Update” to Monsanto in which he was advising Monsanto on ways to defeat the California ballot initiative to require labeling of GM foods.

                      None of this was true.

        • Mike

          What has come out? In context please.

          • WeGotta

            In the context where some scientists, whose research and salary is tied to (at least in part) the profitability and success of certain companies, who work for universities that depend on money from those same companies;
            It was revealed that those same scientists worked closely with PR firms and lobbyists from those same companies in efforts to sway public opinion in a direction which would increase the profits for those same companies.

            Feel free to think this is perfectly okay.
            But don’t be surprised if other people see this as a problem.

            Especially when the science behind GM is continually being used to justify laws and regations (such as labeling) in which those same companies have a financial interest.

            This opens the door for accusations (right or wrong) of collusion and corruption.

            • Mike

              That hasn’t come out, in that context. So, we’re okay.

            • Mike

              Is it bad for organic industry groups to get Chuck Benbrook to do similar things for them? I don’t for one minute doubt that Chuck believes what he says. I don’t think he ever was coerced to say anything he didn’t want to. And I think it’s fine. I disagree with what he says, but I don’t think anything wrong happened, or that he shouldn’t hold a seat at a public university.

              Many, many more parallels could be made. I don’t think that recruiting, and even paying (which didn’t happen) a scientist to defend science if it benefits a company is unethical.

              • WeGotta

                I think lots of people try and influence policy and that’s fine.
                But if the motives behind such attempts are self serving then it perhaps it should be questioned.
                Yes, even if it’s the organic industry.

                Would you feel better if I go and question them also?

                • Mike

                  No, I want you to get over a science company asking scientists to help them argue in favor of good science. Particularly when it was not for money.

                  I would rather you attack what the scientists said for scientific voracity, and feel free to do the same for any other industry including the organic industry.

                  The FOIA assault ignores content and tries to implicate good scientists for something they did not do. It’s ad hominem and innuendo at it’s very worst. When you find a scientist taking money for saying something that they weren’t on record saying before the money, and that doesn’t line up well with the majority scientific opinoin, then you should go express outrage.

                  But don’t be surprised when scientists team up with anybody willing to forward the cause of communicating science.

                  • WeGotta

                    I don’t think I need to get over anything since the biggest thing I preach is that the world just is. It doesn’t have to be the way I think it should be because that would be rediculous.
                    That would imply that this temporary form I mistake as “I”, using a limited number of inputs (my senses) which operate over a limited range (ie, range of audible sounds and visible light) could possibly be in a position to dictate to the universe how things should be.

                    Feel free to think that position is “new age” or anything else but that to me is ultimate truth, scientifically provable and immensely useful in everyday ordinary situations as well as in once in a lifetime extraordinary situations.

                    I don’t think I am attacking anyone. I’m just pointing out things that may be uncomfortable for some to hear. I hope you agree there is validity in what I say and that I am not unreasonable or malicious.

                    I don’t think I am doing anything different than you or other scientists. I am educating people about science in hopes it makes their life better.

                    If it were up to me I would put a panel of scientists in charge of this technology and any and all profits would be made available in their entirety to further science research. It would be 100% transparent and the public would be invited to weigh in on various things such as which problem to tackle next.

                    But it’s not up to me and neither should it be.

                    • Mike

                      I don’t have the faith in a socialistic form of science as you. Knock capitalism as a greed based system all you like, but it’s the most technologically productive system that the world has ever seen.

                      I’m fine with what you think you are doing. The problem is that what you say has been uncovered has not. What the FOIA’s requests have shown is a science company with an interest in correcting scientific misinformation, and scientist that share that interest collaborating.

                    • WeGotta

                      I don’t care what system is in place or what you want to call it. I would prefer an honest system. Capitalism can exist with greed or without.

                      All I’ve said as being uncovered is the close ties between these scientists and PR firms and lobbyists for the industry that funds these scientists and their universities.

                    • Mike

                      I find the system quite honest. What would you like to see being more honest?

                      The big “gotcha” from this whole FOIA thing has been how Kevin Folta accepted $25 K for the UF ag program’s science outreach fund. It was not hidden. It was disclosed like any other donation a company would make to a university program.

                      You should listen to him on Joe Rogan’s podcast #655. You’ll walk away wondering how the crazies made this guy sound like a liar or shill – it was recorded prior to the FOIA gotcha.

                      You seem like a reasonable person. Resist siding with the whackos.

                    • WeGotta

                      Thanks for that.
                      I’m sure that Folta is a smart guy with a good heart and trying to do what he thinks is right.

                      I guess why irks me most is when people claim to be “smarter” or “more knowledgable” than me and then proceed to say things that don’t make sense.

                      If Folta is as great as you say then I wish he was in charge of the USDA. But whoever is there, I just wish that person would conduct meetings in a public forum and never have any closed door meetings with any lobbyist.

                      In a world where communication is so easy (hooray for science!) we could be doing much more to get people involved in decisions that affect us all.