As universities encourage researchers to collaborate with industry, activists are looking to discredit academics they declare to be compromised. This week, an American anti-GMO activist organization, U.S. Right to Know, convinced someone at CBC that University of Saskatchewan professor Dr. Peter Phillips has been compromised by Monsanto.
The attack is similar to others carried out by U.S. Right to Know, where the activist group obtains access to emails sent by scientists who work at publicly-funded universities through public records requests, and then selectively shares pieces with media to paint the scientist in a negative light.
Many in the academic community have leapt to the support of Dr. Phillips, saying he has not done anything wrong and has been fully transparent with his association with the seed company.
— Kevin Folta (@kevinfolta) May 8, 2017
Some of the allegations would be considered a head scratcher in terms of their level of seriousness. For example, Phillips attended social media training involving Monsanto. In the CBC story, US-RTK co-founder Gary Ruskin says “the documents show Monsanto has recruited a team of top academics in a ‘Machiavellian’ effort to sway public opinion.”
Shaun Haney reached out to Robert Wager, a Vancouver Island University faculty member in the biology department, to get his opinion on the CBC piece and the accusations made in it.