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AAAS Sells Out

Premiere Scientific Organization Captured

by RUSSELL MOKHIBER

Has one of the nation’s premiere scientific organizations been captured by big corporations?

Michelle Simon of Grist Magazine says yes.

Stacy Malkan of the Yes on 37 Campaign says yes.

Charlie Cray of Greenpeace says yes.

But the scientific organization in question – the American Association for the Advancement of Science – says no.

The issue was put front and center when the board of directors AAAS dropped a bomb this week – just a week before Californians go to the polls to vote on a law – Prop 37 – that would require the labeling of genetically modified foods (GM foods).

The AAAS board issued a statement claiming that foods containing ingredients from genetically modified (GM) crops “pose no greater risk than the same foods made from crops modified by conventional plant breeding techniques” and that legally mandating labels on GM foods could therefore “mislead and falsely alarm consumers.”

In response, Consumers Union senior staff scientist Michael Hansen told Grist Magazine that the AAAS statement was “filled with distortion and misleading statements.”

“If mandatory labeling of GM foods would ‘mislead and alarm consumers,’ does the AAAS really believe that 60 other countries are misleading and alarming their consumers?” Hansen asked.

The AAAS statement claims that “respected scientific and medical organizations have concluded that biotech foods are safe, including: National Academy of Sciences, American Council on Science and Health, Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, World Health Organization.”

Malkan says that “none of these groups – except presumably ACSH – a notorious front group – has taken that position.”

A spokesperson for the National Academy of Sciences told the Sacramento Bee that it “has not evaluated whether it’s safe to eat genetically engineered food.”

Simon points out that the chair of the AAAS Board is Nina Fedoroff.

Fedoroff is closely aligned with the corporate funded No on 37 campaign.

She has signed onto a No on 37 campaign statement and is quoted as being “passionately opposed to labeling.”

She served for five years on the scientific advisory board of Evogene, an Israeli-based biotech firm.

She served on the board of Sigma-Aldrich, a multinational biotech firm.

Fedoroff has been called “the U.S. ambassador for GE.”

AAAS spokeswoman Ginger Pinholster told Corporate Crime Reporter that Hansen, Cray, Malkan and Simon represent“advocacy groups with particular agendas” and that their criticisms are “unfair and without merit.”

“I was in the room when the statement was passed by the AAAS board,” Pinholster said. “We are not an advocacy group. We make our statements based on scientific evidence.”

“I can tell you that our statement is not the work of nor was it influenced by any outside organization,” Pinholster said.

AAAS might not be an advocacy group.

But the chair of the AAAS board surely is an advocate.

Who needs an outside organization to influence you when the chair of the board is the U.S. ambassador for GE?

Captured from the top down.

Russell Mokhiber edits Single-Payer Action.