Palaces For The People
Thursday, January 08, 2004
SANET-MG Archives -- January 2004 (
From: Lion Kuntz
Subject: The Enemy Never Sleeps: AgBioView, Prakash, CEI,
Corporate Serial Murderers, and Trewas
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The Enemy Never Sleeps: AgBioView, Prakash, CEI, Corporate Serial Murderers, and Trewas
--- Joel Gruver
The Enemy Never Sleeps: AgBioView, Prakash, CEI, Corporate Serial Murderers, and Trewas
The following link has Prof. Anthony Trewavas passing the buck to AgBioWorld for his instigation of Libel, which caused a conviction, fine, and public apology/retraction... http://www.i-sis.org.uk/Trewavas.php
This following link details AgBioView's Prakash's collaboration in the corrupt scheme... http://www.gmwatch.org/profile1.asp?PrId=106
Addition posts made previously on SANET (in the ARCHIVES) and http://p4p.blogspot.com add further details: http://lists.ifas.ufl.edu/cgi-bin/wa.exe?A2=ind0312&L=sanet-mg&P=R17887&I=-3 http://lists.ifas.ufl.edu/cgi-bin/wa.exe?A2=ind0204&L=sanet-mg&P=R31663&I=-3 http://lists.ifas.ufl.edu/cgi-bin/wa.exe?A2=ind0312&L=sanet-mg&P=R16179&I=-3 http://lists.ifas.ufl.edu/cgi-bin/wa.exe?A2=ind0311&L=sanet-mg&P=R9388&I=-3 http://lists.ifas.ufl.edu/cgi-bin/wa.exe?A2=ind0311&L=sanet-mg&P=R7119&I=-3 http://lists.ifas.ufl.edu/cgi-bin/wa.exe?A2=ind0207&L=sanet-mg&P=R14077&I=-3 http://lists.ifas.ufl.edu/cgi-bin/wa.exe?A2=ind0206&L=sanet-mg&P=R6718&I=-3 http://lists.ifas.ufl.edu/cgi-bin/wa.exe?A2=ind0202&L=sanet-mg&P=R2178&I=-3
...[Dr C. S.] Prakash is best known for his AgBioWorld campaign, which was launched in January 2000, involving the agbioworld.org website and the heavily-subscribed AgBioView e-mail list, which Prakash personally edits. ...
...As with other aspects of Prakash's campaigning, however, serious questions have been raised over his collaborators, his tactics and, not least, the accuracy of the information that Prakash puts into circulation.
For instance, Prakash is reported as having told a Tanzanian audience that GM 'doubles production' (The Express, Tanzania, Aug 21, 2002). In fact, as University of Minnesota economist Vernon W. Ruttan has noted: 'Thus far, biotechnology has not raised the yield potential of crops'. There is also some evidence for yield losses rather than gains, particularly with the main GM crop in global production.
As with other aspects of Prakash's campaigning, however, serious questions have been raised over his collaborators, his tactics and, not least, the accuracy of the information that Prakash puts into circulation.
For instance, Prakash is reported as having told a Tanzanian audience that GM 'doubles production' (The Express, Tanzania, Aug 21, 2002). In fact, as University of Minnesota economist Vernon W. Ruttan has noted: 'Thus far, biotechnology has not raised the yield potential of crops'. There is also some evidence for yield losses rather than gains, particularly with the main GM crop in global production. ... Aaron deGrassi at the Institute of Development Studies, at the University of Sussex, provides another striking example of the unscientific nature of some Prakash claims. In his report Genetically Modified Crops and Sustainable Poverty Alleviation in Sub-Saharan Africa deGrassi notes, 'Another surprising example of advocacy trumping facts is C.S. Prakash, the influential biotechnology advocate who has advised the US Trade Representative. Prakash has repeatedly cited [GM] sweet potatoes [in Kenya] as a positive example of the benefits of GM for African countries, but has confessed to having no knowledge of the results of scientific trials in Kenya.'
Prakash told the press in the Philipinnes that GM crops can help reduce farmers' post-harvest losses because 'most genetically-modified crops have longer shelf life'. This is simply untrue. It is possible that Prakash was misreported, but if so he appears to have made no effort to correct the misleading impression created.
Dubious claims are not the only aspect of Prakash's campaign which have led to questions. AgBioWorld presents itself as a mainstream science campaign 'that has emerged from academic roots and values' and which carefully eschews corporate support. Yet according to the annual report (2000) of the Washington-based Competitive Enterpise Institute (CEI), the centre piece of AgBioWorld's campaign - Prakash's declaration supporting the use of GM crops in the developing world - was part of CEI's much wider campaign against 'death by regulation'. The same anti-regulatory CEI campaign has been directed against U.S. government efforts to discourage smoking because, according to the CEI, 'there are things more valuable than health'...
...Recently Prakash has been more open about the fact that Greg Conko, Director of Food Safety Policy at CEI, is a 'co-founder' of AgBioWorld. Conko appears to have a high level of involvement in AgBioWorld. He was at the U.S. government's press conference as an invited guest when it announced its WTO action against the EU. Prakash was the principal orator. He co-authored a Prakash op-ed article supporting the WTO action that appeared in the European Wall Street Journal the same day. On AgBioWorld press releases Conko at the CEI is often a media contact.
CEI has a multi-million dollar budget that comes from corporate sponsors and the Center for Media and Democracy describes it as 'a well funded corporate front'. All of which makes Conko's role in the birth of AgBioWorld somewhat at odds with claims of 'academic roots and values'. ...
...Prakash also shares the antipathy of the extreme right towards those with environmental concerns. Some of the material he has posted on his AgBioView list has accused critics of GM crops of fascism, communism, imperialism, nihilism, murder, corruption, terrorism, and even genocide; as well as of being worse than Hitler and on a par with the mass murderers who destroyed the World Trade Centre.
As the list's editor Prakash has control over what items are included and the prominence each item is given. It is perhaps symptomatic of his editorial approach that on one occasion he headed an AgBioView bulletin with a 'letter' from the Daily Telegraph which had been intended as a satire on strident support for GM crops. Despite the letter proclaiming profit and the public interest to be identical, and labelling the majority of the British people 'instinctive Luddites, sunk in the darkness of medieval superstition', Prakash seems to have been unaware that it was anything other than a commendable letter of support for GM crops (see Paul Ohm).
AgBioWorld's press releases have often aroused controversy. In one instance, a press release issued by Prakash and Conko appeared to imply anti-GM activists had killed 10,000 people in the Indian state of Orissa through their opposition to GM contamination of food aid, when, in fact, those who died were victims of a cyclone. Although the Indian trade and policy analyst Devinder Sharma publicly remonstrated with Prakash over 'the obviously fabricated and mischievous' implications of his press release, no attempt was made to correct the impression it created. (GM food and Orissa - the real story)...
...In April 2002 the Washington Post broke the news that the journal Nature, in an unprecedented move, had apparently disowned the research of UC Berkeley scientists, Ignacio Chapela and David Quist, which it had earlier published. Their research had demonstrated the contamination of traditional maize landraces in a remote part of Mexico by GM maize. Prakash has admitted that AgBioWorld 'played a fairly important role in putting public pressure on Nature' (Seeds of dissent). In a fund-raising message put out on his list he went further and claimed AgBioWorld's campaign led directly to the disavowal of the research.
The AgBioView list had taken the lead in promoting and coordinating attacks on the two scientists. The inflammatory series of e-mail attacks that kicked off AgBioView's campaign came from a Mary Murphy and an Andura Smetacek . These e-mails claimed Dr Chapela was politically motivated and that his research could only be understood in the light of his collusion with 'fear-mongering activists' with whom, it was insinuated, he had designed the research. And just how much money was he getting in 'expenses' from the anti-biotech 'industry', Smetacek asked.
Mary Murphy has subsequently been shown to be an e-mail front for Monsanto's PR company, Bivings, while the postings of Andura Smetacek have been traced back directly to Monsanto in St Louis (Monsanto's web of deceit ). In all Prakash posted over 60 of their attacks on his list, and their attacks on Chapela were all placed at the top of his AgBioView bulletins.
Although Prakash claims to have no connections with PR firms or biotech companies, his connections with Monsanto and its PR people have turned out to be much more direct than even the Murphy/Smetacek mails might suggest. An error message received while we were searching the messages in Prakash's AgBioView archive indicated that the AgBioView database was held at the time on Monsanto's PR company's main apollo server. A technical audit which we commissioned of the AgBioWorld.org website also indicated it showed the technical hallmarks of having been designed by Bivings .
The Monsanto fake persona, 'Andura Smetacek', felt able to act in AgBioWorld's name. An online petition, calling for the jailing of the French GM crop protester Jose Bove, stated it had been created by Those who oppose terrorists and support science - this statement was directly linked to agbioworld.org. The writer of the peition was identified as Smetacek. There is no indication that Prakash was not party to this collaboration with a 'corporate phantom'. He was one of the petition's earliest signatories (no. 18 of nearly 300), writing 'Good job! Let Jailbird Jose serve his time and help the humanity!' nterestingly, Jay Byrne, while Monsanto's chief Internet strategist, told a PR publication that he offered advice and information to the AgBioWorld campaign to help the company make its case. There is evidence suggestive of Byrne's involvement in an aggressive Internet strategy that included use of AgBioWorld for corporate PR purposes.
There is much to suggest that CS Prakash's AgBioWorld campaign has since its inception been the product of close collaboration with ideological extremists and others who are paid to promote corporate interests.