Earlier this month, the Boston Globe published a piece that discussed the connection between Harvard Kennedy School professor, Calestous Juma, and the agrichemical giant, Monsanto. In 2013, Juma, who was a former head of the Cartagena biosafety negotiations and is an outspoken supporter of the use of GMOs in international development, received emails from Monsanto, which made clear the corporation’s strategy to win over the public and lawmakers by garnering support from academics.
In the emails to Juma, obtained via a public records request made by the US Right to Know, Eric Sachs, Monsanto’s head of regulatory policy and scientific affairs, suggested topics for potential policy papers, provided a summary of what those papers could say, and even suggested headlines. Monsanto encouraged Juma to write a paper called “Consequences of Rejecting GM crops,” and shortly thereafter, Juma published a paper titled “Global Risks of Rejecting Agricultural Biotechnology.” Juma claims that he did not perform new research or change his views for the company, and that he was not paid to publish the paper. Regardless of the effect that Monsanto’s emails had or did not have on Juma, it is unquestionable that the corporation is attempting to influence academics in order gain public support and ultimately increase the profitability of their products.
Gaining support in the public debate is one thing, but doing so by secretly targeting individuals who have been heavily subsidized by the public in establishing their current level of prestige and respect is another. Yet again, the agrichemical industry is using public resources to gain an advantage in the market, and AGRA Watch feels that this is unacceptable.