The big players in the GMO and agrochemical industry – Monsanto, Bayer, Dow, Syngenta, DuPont – are engaging in an extensive public relations, advertising, lobbying and political campaigning to make sure that genetically engineered crops (GMOs), and the chemical pesticides they require, continue to proliferate in the U.S.
To improve their public image, they are attempting to manipulate everything we see and hear about GMO crops and pesticides in the media and on TV, the internet and print articles – using propaganda-laden commercials, “mommy-blogger” articles, farmer endorsements, hired operatives to change Wikipedia, and front group websites. The biotech industry is feeling threatened, and their profits hang in the balance. They are trying to silence the truth.
We now have evidence that the website Snopes.com is being manipulated by the industry too. But first, let’s examine what Snopes really is…
A lot of people trust the website Snopes.com and use it to fact-check things they hear on the internet. For no reason whatsoever, this mom-and-pop website has been put on a pedestal as if they are the be-all and end-all of truth on the internet.
Facebook recently teamed up with Snopes, allowing them become an arbitrator of fake news circulating on their network, essentially elevating them as an authoritative source of information. I find this development alarming on many levels:
- While there is some fake news on the internet, this opens up the possibility that op-ed’s and independent journalism will get labeled as “fake news” if Snopes doesn’t agree with an opinion.
- Articles can be deemed “false” if Snopes conducts sloppy fact checking. When it comes to the topic of food, it is imperative that everyone understands that this field is rampant with corrupt paid-off scientists and front groups that are working to protect profits of corporations at the expense of our health. You can not always trust information coming from self-proclaimed independent experts, and sources must be vetted extensively.
- We all have the ability to use critical thinking skills while reading news on Facebook or any other online platform – and should determine for ourselves what is false and what is the truth – instead of relying on the work of websites like Snopes to do that for us.
- Everyone should feel empowered to seek out the truth on their own. Especially when it comes to our health, we need to be our own advocates and investigate the food that we are eating.
- This is treading too close to the line of censorship and can stifle our freedoms to express our ideas.
Is Snopes a credible and authoritative source of information?
- Snopes is now 50% owned by an ad agency (Proper Media) and they make money by generating millions of views on the 3rd-party advertisements on their website. It simply makes sense for them to seek out articles that are viral to “debunk”, so that they can piggy-back on that traffic and generate more advertising revenue.
- Snopes was founded by a husband and wife team who are now in the middle of a contentious divorce in which founder David Mikkelsen has been accused of embezzling $98,000 of company money to spend on “himself and prostitutes”.
- Snopes now has a hired team of suspect fact checkers who collaborate to debunk falsehoods that are trending on the internet.
- These fact checkers reportedly have no editorial oversight and do not follow standard journalistic procedures such as interviewing the authors of articles they are trying to debunk to get all sides of the story.
- Snopes doesn’t have a formal screening process for hiring fact checkers and for evaluating applicants for any potential conflicts of interest. Without such standards, it is very easy for them to be infiltrated by those who work with the industry and who have a hidden agenda.
The recent series of events below demonstrates how Snopes has been influenced by Monsanto into manipulating the public opinion about the dangers of their bestselling product, Roundup weedkiller (aka glyphosate).
Monsanto has made BILLIONS off of the weedkiller Roundup (aka glyphosate) along with their Roundup-Ready GMO seeds, but sales have been plummeting since the truth about this toxic product is coming out. They are doing everything they can to keep those profits coming in!
Food Democracy Now! and The Detox Project conducted a report showing how this popular weedkiller is present in many popular American foods. Snopes came out with an article claiming that it was a “MIXTURE” of truth and fiction.
Snopes suddenly changed their assessment to FALSE about 24 hours later:
Did the facts really change?
When you compare both versions of Snopes’ article, you see that they edited it to suit a narrative that fits Monsanto’s agenda. It’s as if Monsanto edited it themselves and sent it off to Snopes for publication. Entire sentences and paragraphs were removed that were hurtful to Monsanto. Important data was removed entirely. The wording was changed to make the findings of an independent FDA-registered laboratory seem less scientific or credible…
The data about how Cheerios and Stacy’s Pita Chips were found to have MORE glyphosate than the level permitted by the U.S. government in drinking water (700 ppb) was completely removed! Apparently Snopes believes it’s not factual or important to mention that some foods were found to have more weedkiller in them than even our lax regulations allow…
In this first revision, Snopes makes a huge mistake in stating that the World Health Organization’s International Agency For Research on Cancer’s (IARC) finding that glyphosate is probably carcinogenic to humans was “overturned in March 2016”, which is NOT TRUE…
IARC’s 2015 assessment has not been overturned, this is just what Monsanto dreams would happen. In reality, the team of international independent cancer scientists at IARC who made the finding that glyphosate “causes cancer in humans” are defending their decision, while being attacked by Monsanto with their lobbying group attempting to cut off IARC’s funding. The 17 independent scientists at IARC came to an unanimous decision that isn’t muddled by industry ties, and Monsanto is trying to shut them up.
The subsequent 2016 Joint FAO-WHO Meeting on Pesticide Residues (JMPR) is not reliable as the scientists on the panel have a giant conflict of interest in working with ILSI Europe, a group funded by Monsanto, CropLife, and big food companies, along with a board of trustees comprised of industry execs from Monsanto, Syngenta, DuPont, Nestle and others. Snopes is wrong to say their finding is the “current consensus amongst the world’s regulatory agencies”.
A large body of peer reviewed research links glyphosate to cancer, reproductive problems, liver, kidney and skin cell damage, antibiotic-resistance, and more – but Monsanto doesn’t want the world to know the truth. The industry has a long history of of concealing health risks about their products from the public.
“In April of this year, Monsanto’s international regulatory affairs manager Amelia Jackson-Gheissari emailed FDA asking to set up a time to talk about “enforcement of residue levels in the USA, particularly glyphosate.” ~ Huffington Post, September 2016
Monsanto also had secret talks with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) about glyphosate and are trying to hide the documentation from the public.
“The plaintiffs’ attorneys say at least four specific documents they have obtained are clearly in the public interest and “illuminate that one of Monsanto’s chief business strategies is its secret and untoward influence on EPA.” – Huffington Post, January 2017
Likewise, the industry group CropLife (which represents Monsanto and agrochemical companies) tried to stop the EPA from convening their scientific panel to review the carcinogenic potential of glyphosate. Read their August 24, 2016 letter to the EPA here. (The meeting took place in December, and the EPA’s findings have not yet been made public.)
Who is really speaking the truth here? Who is distorting the facts? Why is Snopes helping Monsanto bury this story? Remember: Snopes makes all of their money from advertising.
It was brought to my attention that after Snopes first called our piece a “MIXTURE” of truth, Monsanto’s operative (aka Kevin Folta) swept in and started bullying the reporter at Snopes into changing his article to claim that the information we presented was “FALSE”.
Kevin Folta is the scientist that has been widely discredited in the New York Times for his secret dealings with the industry and Monsanto.
He is not independent and works right along with Monsanto executives, industry consultants, and lobbyists to spread their propaganda…
Here, Kevin Folta solicited for and received a $25,000 grant from Monsanto to help them with their “3rd party approach to developing advocacy”.
In other words, this is how Monsanto quietly paid Kevin Folta to advocate for them…
Kevin Folta will now gladly point you to his funding page in an attempt to show that he is “independent” and “transparent”, however it shows he receives funding from…
- The American Seed Trade Association – self described “advocates for the industry” led by corporate executives from Bayer, AgReliant Genetic, Dupont Pioneer.
- The Oregon Farm Bureau – a powerful lobbying group for the industry and Big Ag.
- Manitoba Canola Growers – funded by canola check off program, a major GMO crop.
- In 2016, he was paid a $5,000 honorarium by the Florida Agrichemical and Fertilizer Association – an industry trade group for makers of pesticides and herbicides, of which he claims the funds are used to support his “science communication outreach program”. How is this outreach “independent” again?
For more on Kevin Folta’s connections to Monsanto and the industry, READ THIS:
- Food Industry Enlisted Academics in G.M.O. Lobbying War, Emails Show – New York Times
- The problem with science journalism: we’ve forgotten that reality matters most – The Guardian
- Seed Money: True Confessions Of A GMO Defender – BuzzFeed
- Kevin Folta’s Problem With Ethics – GM Watch
- Our Investigation of Big Food and its Front Groups – U.S. Right To Know
It’s apparent from this series of events that Snopes edited their article to be favorable to Monsanto at the request of Kevin Folta.
Just as I had reported, Monsanto is scrambling to bury this story and Snopes is just one channel that they are using to make people believe that any story speaking negatively about Roundup and GMOs is false. This is a dirty fight and Monsanto’s propaganda is in full force. This Snopes piece is all marketing. Marketing for Monsanto!
We contacted Snopes, but they refuse to correct their story:
Snopes response: “The change in rating was mainly the result of my narrowing the focus of the claim to the alleged conspiracy to suppress residue data. This was in response to criticism from ‘both sides’ about a lack of clarity my original approach took. The issue with the FDN study, of course, is that its methods have not been peer-reviewed or even made public, outside of the fact that the report states the tool was an LC-MS-MS in an FDA-certified lab… My approach is to take the totality of these data, which argues that at environmentally relevant concentrations there is no harm through diet, while allowing that debate still exists within the the scientific community. That remains my position.”
After all of this… Kevin Folta admits that the glyphosate tests that we reported on were 100% CORRECT. That’s right. He contacted Anresco Laboratories and found that their testing was done 100% correctly and obtained honestly. In fact, in his podcast he admits he should have contacted them first. Yet Snopes still calls this report FALSE. Isn’t this ridiculous?
Our Call To Action:
1. Contact Snopes here and tell them that their article about glyphosate in food is spreading misinformation propagated by discredited scientist Kevin Folta and should be retracted.
2. Spread the word that Snopes.com is NOT to be trusted. Share this post now!
If you have friends or family that use Snopes as a factual source of information, please share this post with them! This is how we cut the legs off of Monsanto’s propaganda machine. We need to expose who Snopes really is and what they stand for. The truth will set you free!
SINCE YOU’RE HERE…
… we have a small favour to ask.
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