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Biotech's Assault on Balanced Journalism

For related articles and more information, please visit OCA's Genetic Engineering page and our Million Against Monsanto page.

Good journalism is founded on balance and fairness. This means presenting several sides of a story or points of view to help readers gain a more comprehensive perspective on a topic. Without balance, news can be skewed to a particular point of view.

Reuters' journalist Carey Gillam has covered issues surrounding genetically modified foods for the past 16 years, no easy task with the growing GMO controversy and its polarized pro- and anti-GMO perspectives. But Gillam's reporting has been balanced and objective, giving both sides equal treatment. Civil Eats, an award-winning daily news source focusing on food issues, recently cited Gillam in an article, "24 Women Food and Agriculture Reporters You Should Know About."

In an April 9th Reuters article, "Bill seeks to block mandatory GMO food labeling by states," Gillam wrote: "Advocates of labeling say consumers deserve to know if the food they eat contains GMOs, or genetically modified organisms." A paragraph later she wrote: "Makers of biotech crops and many large food manufacturers have fought mandatory labeling, arguing that genetically modified crops are not materially different and pose no safety risk."

That is balanced journalism, presenting both sides to the story.       

Attacks by GMO proponents

Unfortunately, GMO proponents object to Gillam's balanced reporting and have pressured her editors at Reuters to remove her from covering GMO topics and to even fire her.

In an attack on Gillam's April 9th article, Val Giddings, former executive vice president of the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO), accuses Gillam of fueling the "astroturf" anti-GMO campaign with her articles. Giddings then criticized Gillam for writing that "some scientific studies warn of potential human and animal health problems, and GMO crops have been tied to environmental problems, including rising weed resistance." Giddings wrote: "the claim is false and flagrantly so."

But the reality is that there have been studies published that show harm to human health and the environment. Even though GMO proponents consistently tear apart any studies that show harm, such studies have been published in peer reviewed journals.    


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