A university professor who defends pesticides and GMOs and is generally presented as independent was offered an "unrestricted gift" by Monsanto
Andrew Kniss is professor of weed biology and ecology at the University of Wyoming. He regularly appears in media outlets defending GM crops and pesticides, where he is described by his public affiliation. Kniss himself has been transparent about some of his research being sponsored by agrochemical firms, though not about the specific amounts he receives from particular companies.
These links to industry are generally not mentioned in the news stories. Nor have the media outlets that have uncritically quoted his views disclosed that he has personally been offered an "unrestricted gift" by Monsanto.
The wit and wisdom of Andrew Kniss
Kniss featured in an LA Times op-ed co-authored by the Hoover Institution’s Henry I. Miller last year. Titled, "No, California, Roundup won't give you cancer", the article aimed at discrediting the decision of California's Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment to add the weedkiller glyphosate to its list of chemicals that can cause cancer.
Kniss is not a toxicologist or an expert in public health. Nonetheless he was not shy about weighing in with his opinion that "even though glyphosate use has increased greatly over the last 25 years, my analysis suggests the relative contribution of glyphosate to the chronic toxicity hazard has remained relatively low. Glyphosate has a very low chronic toxicity compared to most other herbicides."
This statement reflects the decades-old industry PR line on glyphosate's toxicity, which has been rubbished by more up-to-date independent science that attests to the cancer-causing and liver-damaging effects of herbicides formulated with the chemical, among other toxic effects.
Kniss is also the author of a blog piece published on Jon Entine's Genetic Literacy Project (GLP) website. Kniss's blog criticized an influential article by Danny Hakim in the New York Times which questioned the hyped benefits of GM crops, notably that they increase yields and reduce pesticide use. The GLP tried to give an objective air to Kniss's critique by describing him as "an internationally respected independent plant scientist and weed specialist".