Cover-up, intimidation and ‘paid-for research’
Entine’s involvement with ACSH (Defense of atrazine)
Entine connections and funding organizations
Entine as journalist hit-man
Entine’s legal issues
I. Jon Entine – Introduction
Jon Entine is a media-savvy corporate propagandist and pseudo-journalist who fronts the opinions and positions of chemical corporations by pretending to be an independent journalist. He has ties to biotech companies Monsanto and Syngenta while playing a key role in another industry front group known as the American Council on Science and Health, a thinly-veiled corporate front group that Sourcewatch describes as holding “a generally apologetic stance regarding virtually every other health and environmental hazard produced by modern industry, accepting corporate funding from Coca-Cola, Kellogg, General Mills, Pepsico, and the American Beverage Association, among others.” (Sourcewatch.org)
Entine knowingly and repeatedly publishes false and fictitious information in mainstream publications including Forbes.com, and his posts are often retracted after being challenged on their lack of factual basis. His actions against targeted individuals or companies are systematically abusive and resemble “revenge journalism.” Entine takes a “hit man” approach to single out individuals – especially critics of GMOs – for accusations and abuse, often calling them names or implying they are sociopaths or a danger to society.
Entine’s deep involvement in the propaganda of poison-pushing corporations is also reflected in his own personal life, where he remains embattled in a bitter seven-year divorce during which he engaged in highly questionable behavior such as threatening his young daughter’s therapist with a lawsuit if he continued to provide therapy sessions. At one point during the divorce, Entine’s ex-wife pleaded with the court to demand a psychiatric evaluation of Entine, for which he refused to volunteer.
Jon Entine is currently a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research in Washington, D.C., a columnist for the British-based international magazine Ethical Corporation, and co-founder of E.S.G.Metrics, which advises business and NGOs on Environmental, Social, and Governance issues, including sustainability and executive leadership (Sourcewatch). His most recent clients have included KKR, The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Proctor & Gamble, American Greetings, Monsanto, DHL/Deutsche Post, Fischer Homes, and Pomeroy IT Solutions.
Entine writes for academic and popular publications around the world and is a frequent television and radio commentator on business issues, including CNN, MSNBC, Fox Business, NPR, and BBC. He has written and edited five books, most recently No Crime But Prejudice: Fischer Homes, the Immigration Fiasco, and Extra-judicial Prosecution (TFG Books, 2009), which focuses on the dangers of overzealous government prosecutors and the threat they pose to American civil liberties.
Before launching his consulting and writing career, he spent 20 years as a network television news producer, winning more than twenty awards including Emmys for specials on the reform movements in China and the Soviet Union. He has produced news magazine programs at ABC News and CBS News, an entertainment special for NBC, and was Tom Brokaw’s long-time producer at NBC News, where he was also the executive in charge of documentaries.
One of Entine’s books, “Let Them Eat Precaution: How Politics Is Undermining the Genetic Revolution in Agriculture”(AEI Press, 2006), purports to examine the debate over genetic modification (GMOs), food, and farming. But it is clear that the book is critical of anyone who questions the safety of GMO foods or otherwise supports further regulation of it, perhaps through legislation requiring GMO foods to be labeled, or by limiting the proximity of GM crops to fields planted with non-GM crops.
Though he is listed as a “visiting scholar”…http://therefusers.com/refusers-newsroom/meet-jon-entine-pro-monsanto-gmo-activist-and-pro-bill-gates-activist/#.U4zcivldWSo
III. Cover-up, intimidation and ‘paid-for research’
History of atrazine controversy. Over the past decade there has been growing controversy concerning atrazine, an herbicide of the triazine class. Atrazine is manufactured by Syngenta, a major biotechnology company, and the chemical is widely used in the United States and Australia to stop pre and post-emergence broadleaf and grassy weeds in crops such as sorghum, maize, sugarcane, lupins, pine and eucalypt plantations, and triazine tolerant (TT) canola.
As of 2014, in the U.S., atrazine was the second-most-widely used agricultural chemical after glyphosate (which goes under the trade name of Roundup, which was developed and is sold by Monsanto). Nearly 80 million pounds of atrazine is applied to U.S. crops annually [http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A3733-2004Aug15_2.html]. As noted in an August 15, 2004, Washington Post story (see above link), atrazine is, according to the EPA, “the most prevalent herbicide in ground and surface water, remaining stable and toxic for decades in some environments.”Further, “It is also a major source of revenue for Syngenta, a Swiss company with U.S. headquarters in Greensboro, N.C., that sells hundreds of millions of dollars’worth of the chemical every year.”
The Post story noted that for years, the primary concern regarding atrazine was cancer, noting that “the chemical clearly causes cancer in rats.”Further, the Post reported, “male workers in Syngenta’s production facility in Louisiana have experienced much higher rates of prostate cancer than other men statewide. But studies supported by Syngenta recently convinced the EPA that the mechanism by which atrazine causes cancer in rats probably does not occur in people.”The company’s reasoning for the higher rates of prostate cancer among its Louisiana workers “is that it has an aggressive screening program that finds cases that would otherwise go undetected.”
The Post story further reported that previous studies on frogs were performed by biologist Tyrone Hayes, a U.C./Berkeley professor who found that tiny doses of atrazine affects frogs’sexual development. When Hayes “sought to publish his work and have the data considered by the EPA, the company told him to run the tests again, said Hayes and Tim Pastoor, a Syngenta vice president. When repeated studies confirmed the worrisome link, Hayes was reminded that his contract forbade him to publish without Syngenta’s approval. He was told that his data ought to be passed to a company-selected statistician for double-checking.”Hayes quit the company he was working for at the time, EcoRisk, and published his findings on his own in a pair of peer-reviewed journals (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in 2003)
Enter Entine, Syngenta intimidation and the American Council on Science and Health.
Intimidation. (Per Wikipedia) “In 2014, New Yorker writer Rachel Aviv reported that Syngenta might have been orchestrating an attack on the “scientific credibility”of not just Tyrone Hayes, the lead critic of atrazine use, but other scientists as well whose studies have shown atrazine to have negative effects on the environment and/or human and animal health [http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2014/02/10/140210fa_fact_aviv?currentPage=all].
“Paul Winchester, a professor of pediatrics at the Indiana University School of Medicine, wrote a paper that was published in Acta Paediatrica [http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1651-2227.2008.01207.x/full] reviewing national records for thirty million births, found that children conceived between April and July, when the concentration of atrazine, mixed with other pesticides, in water is highest, were more likely to have genital birth defects. Professor Winchester subsequently received a subpoena requesting that he turn over to Syngenta every e-mail he had written about atrazine in the past decade.
“Deborah Cory-Slechta, a professor at the University of Rochester Medical Center, and a former member of the EPA’s science advisory board, said that she, too, had felt that Syngenta was trying to ‘undermine’her work, after she published a study showing that the herbicide paraquat may contribute to diseases of the nervous system. “The folks from Syngenta used to follow me to my talks and tell me I wasn’t using ‘human-relevant doses’,”Cory-Slechta said. ‘They would go up to my students and try to intimidate them. There was this sustained campaign to make it look like my science wasn’t legitimate.’
“In one of the e-mails obtained by class-action suit plaintiffs, the company’s communications consultants had written in 2005 that they “wanted to obtain Hayes’s calendar of speaking engagements,”so that Syngenta could “start reaching out to the potential audiences with the Error vs. Truth Sheet,”which would provide “irrefutable evidence of his polluted messages.”Syngenta subsequently stated that many of the documents unsealed in the lawsuits refer to “ideas that were never implemented.”
Scientific abuse. By 2012, a lot had happened regarding atrazine. As of 2001, Atrazine was the most commonly detected pesticide contaminating drinking water in the United States. By 2004 it had been banned for use by the European Union. Later, scientists would learn that the endocrine system was the system in humans and animals alike that atrazine targeted most heavily, while a 2008 study would report that tadpoles developed deformed hearts and impaired kidneys and digestive systems when exposed to atrazine in their early stages of life. Tissue malformation may have been induced by ectopic programmed cell death, although a mechanism was not identified [http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2235211/]. The following year, in 2009, The New York Times discussed how atrazine could be a potential cause of birth defects, low birth weights and menstrual problems when consumed at concentrations below federal standards [http://www.nytimes.com/2009/08/23/us/23water.html?_r=2&hp=&pagewanted=all&].
In 2012 an epidemiological study showed that women who lived in counties in Texas with the highest levels of atrazine being used on agricultural crops were 80 times more likely to give birth to infants with choanal atresia or stenosis compared to women who lived in the counties with the lowest levels [https://www.bcm.edu/news/hematology/study-exposure-herbicide-risk-rare-disorder]. The same year Syngenta Corporation, manufacturer of atrazine, was the defendant in a class action lawsuit concerning the levels of atrazine in human water supplies. Syngenta agreed to pay $105 million to reimburse more than a thousand water systems for “the cost of filtering atrazine from drinking water”, although the company denied all wrongdoing [http://www.environmentalhealthnews.org/ehs/news/2013/atrazine].
IV. Entine’s ties to Syngenta, involvement with ACSH and defense of atrazine
Entine, the American Council on Science and Health offer to ‘help’Syngenta. An internal email disclosed in documents obtained by the Center for Media and Democracy (CMD), as part of a major lawsuit against Syngenta, shows that the ACSH received regular money and even asked for additional funding from “Syngenta friends”to commission a book that would, in large part, be a defense of atrazine:
[Enter screen shot of this email here: http://www.sourcewatch.org/images/5/55/Syn_email_ACSH_Whelan_Say_Syngenta_Is_Financial_Lifeblood.pdf]
“As we made clear, ACSH is eager to commission a literature review on the general subject of pesticide exposure and human health. The paper would, of course, not be exclusively about atrazine, but the recent and ongoing “controversy”would be a primary focus.”
ACSH said it was committing $100,000 to the project –funding that was “separate and distinct from general operating support Syngenta has been so generously providing over the years, which we request to continue at current or increased levels.”
Entine was the author of the commissioned book.
In 2011 the ACSH produced its “companion friendly”paper called, “Scared to Death: How Chemophobia Threatens Public Health.”The book attacks the EPA and “harmful, unnecessary regulation”as well as the precautionary principle. It contains a chapter-long “case study”defending atrazine, just as members of the Syngenta PR team had been seeking. (http://acsh.org/2011/01/scared-to-death/)
An investigative report by PR Watch also links Entine to the book: http://www.prwatch.org/news/2012/02/11277/syngenta-pr%E2%80%99s-weed-killer-spin-machine-investigating-press-and-shaping-news-about
Mother Jones magazine further reported:
CMD’s investigation does not establish whether ACSH ever got Syngenta funding for that project. But CMD raises the possibility that Entine’s slim volume Scared to Death might be the very booklet that ACSH’s executive director envisioned in his letter to Syngenta. Entine flat-out denied this suggestion in an email exchange. “Syngenta is not a client and never has been. I have no clients in the agricultural or chemicals businesses,” he wrote.
Michael F. Jacobson, the executive director for the Center for Science in the Public Interest, said this about the ACSH in a letter to the editor at the Washington Times: “The group is a receptacle for payments from pharmaceutical, chemical, biotechnology, food and other companies who appreciate the convenience of having their grantees and former employees serve on government science panels.”And the Center for Media and Democracy discovered that Syngenta’s public relations division operated in part to protect the company’s lucrative sales of atrazine (in a two-part report here and here). Entine’s name shows up in these reports.
It’s important to further note that, before ACSH stopped revealing donors in 1991, this online source reports that the “Monsanto Fund”was a corporate donor of $25,000 and above. Another donor was “The NutriSweet Company,”which was owned by G.D. Searle & Co., which in turn also funded Enzine-linked STATS. Pfizer, which held the NutriSweet brand, was also a donor to ACSH. This source is called the “Integrity in Science Project.”
In this Forbes piece further touting atrazine, Entine claims that Hayes’research was not “reproducible,” but this assessment [http://www.ucsusa.org/scientific_integrity/abuses_of_science/atrazine-and-health.html] by the Union of Concern Scientists notes that the hand-picked industry scientists chosen to “replicate”Hayes’research did not accurately copy Hayes’methods:
Dr. Tyrone B. Hayes of the University of California at Berkeley, originally hired by the chemical company Syngenta to review studies to help certify the herbicide for re-registration with the EPA, was at first surprised when he found that African clawed frog tadpoles were “chemically castrated”when exposed to even trace amounts of atrazine –levels one-thirtieth the amount currently permitted in US drinking water. Hayes’findings were published in both Nature and the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Hayes, who eventually resigned from the Syngenta review panel out of concern that his worrisome lab results were being buried, later charged that industry-supported scientists produced “a number of studies that were purposely flawed and misleading, and that changed the weight of the evidence.”The two remaining members of Syngenta’s atrazine review panel claimed that they had each tried but failed to replicate Hayes’data. In the scientific world such a claim is an insult or worse, implying that the original experiment may have been dishonest or flawed. In this case, the two scientists had both experienced difficulties raising the frogs—many of which died before metamorphosis because of being overcrowded and underfed. One scientist reported that he had contaminated the water with too much atrazine.
In other words, the new studies did nothing to disprove Hayes’results, which have been “echoed by at least four other independent research teams in three countries.”When Hayes offered to help the Syngenta panel members and the EPA repeat his experiments to see for themselves whether atrazine posed a danger, the EPA declined. Nonetheless, the failed studies served to bolster the argument that the science linking atrazine to hormone disruption was uncertain.
So, Entine’s claim that Hayes’experiments were “not reproducible”is not accurate because the research attempt at replicating Hayes’results was flawed from the start and was not conducted under the exact conditions Hayes first used to reach his conclusions.
Further, and under a byline stating that he was the “Director, Genetic Literacy Project, Statistical Assessment Service, George Mason Univ.,”Entine authored a piece for The Huffington Post attacking atrazine critics and defending the chemical: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jon-entine/frog-day-afternoon-choose_b_853776.html
And as noted here, Entine has a history of defending chemical use, GMO foods and other industry initiatives on behalf of the chemical/biochemical/biotech industries on behalf of ACSH: http://acsh.org/?s=jon+entine&cat=0&x=31&y=22
In an investigative piece, Mother Jones revealed how heavily financed ACSH is by the very industries the “independent”organization defends: http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2013/10/american-council-science-health-leaked-documents-fundraising :
According to the ACSH documents, from July 1, 2012, to December 20, 2012, 58 percent of donations to the council came from corporations and large private foundations. ACSH’s donors and the potential backers the group has been targeting comprise a who’s-who of energy, agriculture, cosmetics, food, soda, chemical, pharmaceutical, and tobacco corporations. ACSH donors in the second half of 2012 included Chevron ($18,500), Coca-Cola ($50,000), the Bristol Myers Squibb Foundation ($15,000), Dr. Pepper/Snapple ($5,000), Bayer Cropscience ($30,000), Procter and Gamble ($6,000), agribusiness giant Syngenta ($22,500), 3M ($30,000), McDonald’s ($30,000), and tobacco conglomerate Altria ($25,000).
See the document listing these donations here: http://www.motherjones.com/documents/809483-acsh-financial-summary#document/p4/a128808
More from the Mother Jones investigation:
Dr. Gilbert Ross, the group’s executive director, declined to answer specific questions about ACSH’s fundraising. He did not dispute the authenticity of the documents provided to Mother Jones. (Multiple corporations listed as donors on these documents confirmed they had supported ACSH.) Ross says the group doesn’t disclose its backers because “the sources of our support are irrelevant to our scientific investigations.”According to Ross, “Only science-based facts hold sway in our publications, even if the outcome is not pleasing to our contributors.”
As Mother Jones reported in 2005, Ross was previously convicted for defrauding New York State’s Medicaid program of roughly $8 million. His medical license was temporarily revoked and a jury sentenced him to 46 months in prison, of which he served 23 months. Ross currently has his license and is allowed to practice.
The ACSH was founded in 1978 by Elizabeth Whelan, a Harvard-trained public-health scientist, as a counterweight to environmental groups and Ralph Nader’s consumer advocacy movement. At the organization’s founding, Whelan stated that the council “intends to remain free from financial ties with corporations with a financial interest in the topics we are investigating.”
“ACSH calls the U.S. ban on DDT one of the 20 worst unfounded health scares of the 20th century. It ridicules the risks that chemical ‘endocrine disruptors’pose to human health and fertility. In addition to pesticides and chemical food additives, it has defended asbestos, Agent Orange and nuclear power. Whelan’s nutritional advice has also raised eyebrows among health experts, many of whom take exception to her claims that there is ‘no such thing as ‘junk food,”and that ‘There is insufficient evidence of a relationship between diet and any disease.’”– Source
From the start, ACSH has faced questions about its funding:
By the early 1980s, ACSH’s donors included Dow, Monsanto, American Cyanamid, Mobil Foundation, Chevron, and Bethlehem Steel. In 1984, Georgia-Pacific, a leading formaldehyde maker, funded a friend-of-the-court brief filed by ACSH in an industry-backed lawsuit that overturned a ban on formaldehyde insulation.
ACSH claims it does not seek donations from corporations or trade groups that are earmarked for specific research projects –in short, there is no quid pro quo. But at Mother Jones reported:
[I]n a March 1992 internal memo obtained by Consumer Reports, Whelan wrote that ACSH staffers would ask the Calorie Control Council, a trade group backed by diet food and drink companies, and McNeil Specialty Products, a Johnson & Johnson subsidiary that owned the US marketing rights to Splenda (an artificial sweetener), for contributions to underwrite the dissemination of a research paper touting artificial sweeteners. (Splenda was then seeking approval for sale in the United States.)
Entine’s book (“Scared to Death: How Chemophobia Threatens Public Health”) and chapter singing the praises of atrazine followed along with the Syngenta PR team’s wishes.
In a piece for Forbes.com, published February 9, 2012, Entine attacked Mother Jones magazine for its earlier exposé of Hayes; Entine’s piece in Forbes was critical and an attempt as well to discredit Hayes’research, but again it was based on faulty premises.
This Chicago Now piece dissects Entine’s (and Forbes’) claims: http://www.chicagonow.com/high-gloss-and-sauce/2013/08/forbes-atrazine-jon-etine-082013/ The piece charges that an EPA-recognized study on the effects of atrazine on frogs which claimed not to be able to refute or confirm Hayes’studies is “mainly because of the limitations of the study designs and uncertainties in the data.”It was a problem with the EPA’s own processes.
In Forbes, Entine argues that atrazine is “so gentle”it can be applied right after a “crop’s first shoots”appear. But this is misdirection; the issue is that atrazine is harmful once it runs off into ground water, as Hayes’data show. Per Chicago Now: “The EPA is so aware of this and eager to dodge upsetting Syngenta, the makers of Atrazine (as well as avoid upsetting the public and showing their incompetence) that for the 2013 report on Atrazine, the EPA took the groundwater measurement in January, when toxin levels are typically low. (Atrazine is applied to farm crops in Spring.)”
As the EPA itself notes:
–“Atrazine is a commonly reported groundwater contaminant.”
–“Drinking water from a contaminated groundwater or surface water source can be a significant medium of exposure for children.
–“Exposure to children can occur primarily from ingestion of contaminated drinking water, and from dermal contact or ingestion following agricultural and lawn applications.”
–“Atrazine is the most commonly detected pesticide in U.S. surface waters, particularly in the U.S. Midwest Corn Belt region.”
The source for these EPA statements is here: http://www.epa.gov/teach/chem_summ/Atrazine_summary.pdf
In his Forbes piece, Enzine made these claims:
The EPA’s assessment reflects the consensus by many scientific bodies around the world, including the World Health Organization and regulatory agencies in Australia, Canada the European Union’s safety review: atrazine has a short half-life, does not bio-accumulate in organisms, is not carcinogenic and study after study has shown it does not cause abnormalities and deformities at levels occurring in groundwater.
As noted by Chicago Now:
— Atrazine has been banned by the EU.
— The problem is not that it bio-accumulates in organisms, the problem is that exposure around the time of ovulation can cause adverse effects on embryos including chromosome aberrations (to quote the EPA, “Reproductive effects are the most sensitive effects observed in atrazine toxicity tests”also, “Change in hormone levels is the most sensitive health effect observed in an extensive battery of atrazine toxicity tests”)
A National Institutes of Health study found that surface water atrazine and nitrate levels were related to increased incidences of abdominal wall defects. Source: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17560200
Also, an independent panel of scientists convened by the EPA recommended that the agency revise its assumption that atrazine “is unlikely to cause cancer.”Pointing to what it called “strong” epidemiological evidence linking atrazine to thyroid cancer, the panel states that the agency is currently acting with “inadequate information to assess carcinogenic potential.”
Entine essentially is defending the indefensible.
As reported by Mother Jones here:
Last week, the EPA released the minutes of the panel’s final meeting, which took place July 26-28. Its conclusions were stark. The panel criticized the EPA for lumping all forms of cancer together in its atrazine assessment, noting that “it would be useful and appropriate to make conclusions for individual cancers as opposed to making a blanket determination for cancer in general.” It then gave a list of cancers for which there is “suggestive evidence of carcinogenic potential”: ovarian cancer, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, hairy-cell leukemia, and thyroid cancer. For other cancers—prostate cancer, breast cancer, liver cancer, esophageal cancers, and childhood cancers—the panel found that “there is inadequate evidence” to determine whether or not atrazine is a cause.
At another point in the minutes, the panel pointed to “strong” epidemiological evidence linking atrazine to thyroid cancer and “suggestive” evidence linking it to ovarian cancer. “Many on the Panel believed that the epidemiology data failed to provide compelling evidence that atrazine is not carcinogenic,” the minutes stated.
Documents in the atrazine lawsuit revealed that Entine was one of the “third party outreach” people that Syngenta’s PR contractor, the White House Writers Group, was in communication with over a pesticides conference that the AEI hosted.
This report by PR Watch confirms the “third party outreach”allegation. Here is the relevant passage:
“Unsealed e-mails reveal (PDF) that earlier that same week WHWG had reported to Syngenta that a third party the PR team was in communication with was Jon Entine of the American Enterprise Institute. Entine is a former producer with NBC and ABC News, whose books attacked the idea of socially responsible investing and the precautionary principle (Let Them Eat Precaution).”
V. Entine connections and funding organizations
Entine is founder of ESG MediaMetrics, “an alliance of strategic partners, to address an unfilled frustration voiced by corporations, business groups and civil society organizations: how
to manage the complex nexus of media, public policy and sustainable management. This is a PR group aimed at attacking anyone and any group or company that dares to challenge the “scientific orthodoxy”of ESG clients.
One of EGR’s clients is Monsanto, according to this source.
Entine’s EGR site discusses the firm’s role:
We manage and create reputations. We bring to every challenge our vast experience as active journalists, public relations and media specialists, international scholars, and advisers for Fortune 500 corporations.
One of the company’s specific roles is “Communications and Public Relations Strategy,”but in an email to Mother Jones, Entine denied EGR was a PR firm:
I consult with organizations, from fair trade groups to the Environmental Defense Fund to corporations. I’m committed to science. I do no corporate PR work. You can misrepresent what I do and call it PR work, but that would be deceitful. People who do what I do are generally called “green consultants,” which I’m sure you’d never use as then I’d seem like a good guy and it’s much easier to put people and what they do in neat little boxes that prevent real thinking.
As for listing Monsanto as a client on the ESG website, Entine wrote: “Nine years ago, I did a $2000 research project for v-Fluence, a social media company formed by former Monsanto executives. That’s the entirety of my Monsanto relationship.”
Entine has also worked with Jay Byrne’s PR firm v-Fluence, which was set up by former Monsanto executives.
Genetic Literacy Project. Entine is also executive director of the Genetic Literacy Project [http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php/Genetic_Literacy_Project], which is affiliated with George Mason University. One of the organization’s purposes is to promote GMOs. The GLP is also associated with STATS, or the Statistical Assessment Service and the Center for Media and Public Affairs. GLP has another “sister”organization besides STATS, and that is EconoSTATS, which promotes privatization and discourages government regulation [http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php/Statistical_Assessment_Service]. STATS has been funded in the past by Searle Freedom Trust, an organization founded by Big Pharma G.D. Searle & Co., makers of (among other things) aspartame (trade name “NutriSweet”) and is now part of Pfizer [http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php/Searle_Freedom_Trust]. The Searle Freedom Trust funds a number of organizations and think tanks aimed at promoting corporate bottom lines, even over sound science.
According to an email he sent Mother Jones magazine, Entine derives the bulk of his income from the GLP:
To hear Entine tell it, his defenses of atrazine and other pesticides are entirely pro bono and driven by his own initiative. He told me he gets “almost all” of his income from the Genetic Literacy Project, which, he added, is funded by what he called the Templeton and Searle foundations. The project is housed at the Statistical Assessment Service program at George Mason University, where Entine is a fellow. Though Entine would not specify which Searle trust funded the GLP, the Searle Freedom Trust’s 2010 tax form lists a $154,000 grant to STATS for a “Gene Policy and Science Literacy Project,” which sounds an awful lot like Entine’s.
Entine is also listed as a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute [http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php/American_Enterprise_Institute] Entine uses his AEI platform as a “visiting fellow”to give himself credibility [http://www.aei.org/scholar/jon-entine/], but he says he receives no money from the organization.
VI. Entine as journalist hit-man
The Body Shop. One of Entine’s crowning achievements was the “take-down”of a business known as The Body Shop (TBS) during his waning days as a news program producer at ABC, in 1994. Unable to get the program aired at ABC, Entine eventually convinced a small-time journal, the Minneapolis-based Business Ethics magazine, to publish what can only be described as a hit piece against TBS. This was a long-term “investigation”by Entine, who seemed locked into TBS for some reason. Immediately prior to the publication of his piece in Business Ethics, TBS responded to his reported allegations, which were reported by Britain’s Independent newspaper: [http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/besieged-body-shop-comes-out-fighting-1386286.html]
“Mr. Entine was accused by the company of using questionable methods, and making ‘misleading statements which are seriously defamatory of The Body Shop. It added that he ‘has been engaged in a single- minded campaign of vilification against The Body Shop’.
“Mr. Entine is alleged to have described Anita Roddick, the company’s founder, as a ‘schizophrenic and a sociopath.’
“He is said to have denounced the company in approaches to investors, franchisees and potential supporters. Yesterday’s statement also accused him of pestering Anita Roddick at home, a claim Mr. Entine denies.
Among allegations to surface in the past 10 days are claims that the company’s ‘Trade not Aid’policy of buying goods from indigenous peoples was not as vigorously pursued as The Body Shop had claimed, that Ms Roddick ‘stole’the company’s concept from a tiny American outfit, and that it had been responsible for pollution in New Jersey.”
TBS’share prices fell on news of the report.
However, according to environmental activist, writer, lecturer and organizer Lorna Salzman [Source: http://www.lornasalzman.com/collectedwritings/unwise.html] there was more to Entine’s TBS episode behind the scenes. She writes:
Entine’s lengthy CV on the web emphasizes his television news experience prominently. His last full-time TV stint was at ABC television’s Primetime Live, but what Entine doesn’t report is that he was fired from ABC during his investigation of TBS for “mistakes in methodology.” In a letter from London’s The Sunday Times, the Deputy Editor explains how his paper was misled by Entine and how he misrepresented himself.
“We now know what we did not know then: ABC discovered Entine had made a number of mistakes in his methodology so serious that they had in effect fired him some ten days before. Entine, probably unknown to ABC, was however still picking up his messages from a phone on his old desk in the ABC building. We now understand from ABC sources that Entine is regarded as out of control and has been running around saying some wild things”(Ivan Fallon, letter from Deputy Editor of The Sunday Times, October 8, 1993).
Entine then sold the idea to Vanity Fair, a publication with many cosmetic advertisers who compete with TBS (Sandra Earley, “The Woman Who Wants to Save the World”, Corporate Report Minnesota, June 1996). They rejected the story but paid Entine a $15,000 kill fee and $18,000 in expenses. (S.Earley, Corporate Report Minnesota, June 1996).It isn’t as if Entine is some Norman Mailer; his bio up until this article shows no other published stories but a recent book on black athletes got some media attention.
Entine tried to bring the story to other magazines without success, and finally Business Ethics, a small financially struggling publication, paid him $300 for the story and published it. Entine then turned around and made a $1000 donation to the magazine (S.Earley, Corporate Report Minnesota, June 1996). The publication of this story, to which Business Ethics would not allow a rebuttal, damaged TBS’image and stock value. Two years after the article appeared, Entine’s wife Ellen Turner was hired to be a marketing executive for The Limited, the parent company of TBS’largest US competitor, Bath and Body Works.
Then, to use a favorite Entine word, a bizarre thing occurred during a 1997 lecture at Trent University in Canada: Entine stated that “Of course, The Body Shop is better than 99% of companies”. But why doesn’t he WRITE that? When pressed at Trent about why he doesn’t pursue corporate criminals like Shell Oil over their Nigerian operations (an issue TBS has campaigned on since 1993), he had no answer.
Salzman adds this regarding Entine’s TBS “investigation”:
In Entine’s TBS attack, he referred to a Food & Drug Administration (FDA) investigation of a small shampoo spill from TBS’New Jersey operations. But he failed to say that it was HE who called in the complaint (later whiting out his name, a fact he concealed), that FDA found the TBS facility to actually be well-run, and that FDA, upon completing all inspections, is bound by law to make recommendations regardless of how clean the facility may be. (FDA Report Summary of Findings, 1123).
Walter Ritte. Writing in The Daily Kos, “Karen from Maui”dissects another hit piece written by Entine, in which he attempts to disparage another environmental activist: [http://www.dailykos.com/story/2013/09/21/1240329/-Corporate-PR-The-War-on-Environmentalists#]
Searle funded STATS shill, Jon Entine, wrote an entire article filled with unsubstantiated accusations against GMO activist, Walter Ritte. Walter Ritte is a long time Hawaiian activist who is respected for his role in reclaiming the island of Kaho’olawe from military bombing. In the article Jon Entine mixes up Ritte’s activist causes with his unsuccessful run for Office of Hawaiian Affairs. This article is a textbook example of this PR technique in action. It not only uses Destroying Personal Reputations but it is done through a corporate-sponsored Front Group.
In his capacity as Genetic Literacy Project, Entine levels non-specific and, at the time of his writing, unsubstantiated charges against Ritte:
Activist leaders opposed to crop biotechnology, such as Walter Ritte, the Molokai-based political activist, have attempted to frame this battle as David vs. Goliath, threadbare grassroots campaigners fighting Big Ag. Although they claim their opposition to the innovative technology is home grown, a Genetic Literacy Project investigation, still in its infancy, suggests that the opposition is flush with cash, getting hundreds of thousands of dollars each year from mainland anti-GMO organic organizations that have an ideological stake in blocking new farming technologies.
And, as the headline introduction to one portion of his piece, Entine prominently, and rhetorically, insinuates:
Did Walter Ritte violate Hawaii’s campaign spending law?
In a subsequent investigation by a local newspaper, The Molokai News, in reference to a piece Entine wrote at Forbes.com, in which he accused an anti-GMO group Ritte is associated with of illegally receiving more than 80 percent of its funds from non-Hawaii donors, a charge that records filed by Ritte with the Hawaii Campaign Spending Commission appear to substantiate. What Entine does not mention in his charges –either in his Forbes.com piece or on his GLP website, is that, according to The Molokai News, despite Hawaii law on the matter, it is moot:
Gary Kam, legal counsel for HCSC, would not comment on whether there is an active investigation being conducted on Ritte. This will not be public information, he said, unless it is referred to the Commission for action. He did say that there has been no past enforcement action taken against Ritte.
Kam also mentioned that the violation may be moot and unenforceable anyway. Apparently, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals decided, prior to 2012, that it was unconstitutional to limit contributions from out of state sources, said Kam. This was based on a case in which a University of Hawaii student contribution was considered valid even though the student had a permanent address on the mainland.
A report from the organization Campaign Freedom further found in April 2014 that, because of the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in McCutcheon v FEC, which invalidated the federal aggregate limit on contributions by individuals to candidate campaigns and political committees as unconstitutional under the First Amendment, “states with aggregate limits and proportional bans should strongly consider repealing these speech-stifling regulations in order to comply with the precedent set in the McCutcheon decision and avoid a likely successful legal challenge.”
A case that challenged a number of Hawaii’s campaign spending laws was being appealed by the state of Hawaii, but the state dropped its appeal in June 2011.
Gilles-Eric Saralini. Entine has also set his sights on French Prof. Gilles-Eric Saralini, whose University of Caen study found that GM maize and Roundup at very low doses caused organ damage, tumors and premature death in rats over the long term.
Entine, again in Forbes, criticized Saralini in a May 2013 piece for withdrawing from a planned debate regarding biotechnology (Saralini is a critic of Monsanto, Roundup and GMOs, largely as a result of his findings) at the libertarian-leaning CATO Institute. Entine, in his critical piece, claimed that he wanted to use the debate forum to “present both sides of the issue”regarding genetically modified foods and GM biotechnology in general, but his history suggestions otherwise, as he is a regular, vociferous defender of GMO foods and the biotechnology that created them.
GM Watch reported that these articles are dishonest in the extreme. “For example, Entine described Seralini’s findings as “anomalous” even though Seralini’s was the only long-term toxicity study ever carried out on this particular GM maize and the herbicide it is grown with. It’s hard not to produce “anomalous” findings if there is only one experiment.”
Entine has also worked to undermine Saralini on Wikipedia, using the handle “runjonrun”(Incidentally, Entine’s email address is email@example.com). GM Watch was alerted by Wikipedia users to the fact that Entine was one of the early editors on a one-sided and originally potentially libellous Wikipedia article called “The Seralini affair”, which denigrated Seralini’s study and Seralini himself.
Entine, under the Wiki user name “runjonrun”, was active in vandalizing the article by rapidly deleting balancing information, for example, about the scientific support for Seralini’s study and the conflicts of interest among critics of the study.
In a previous Wiki spat, “runjonrun” had revealed his true identity as Jon Entine after upsetting other Wiki users by allegedly contravening Wiki conflict of interest guidelines and vandalising articles without justification.
VII. Entine’s legal issues
Entine has been involved in a seven-year divorce battle with his wife. And, according to court documents, there has been an order of protection filed against him:
Each party supplemented its position with a subsequent affidavit. And Humbert introduced the affidavit of Entine’s ex-wife, along with copies of her application for protective orders against Entine made in the course of their recent divorce.
VIII. Entine refuted
— One of Entine’s books, “Taboo: Why Black Athletes Dominate Sports and Why We Are Afraid to Talk About It,”has been called the “go-to”piece of work for mainstream sports writers when the subject turns to race in sports. But in a scholarly work countering Entine’s claims, Ian B. Kerr from Western Michigan University concluded “that science and genetic experimentation have proven that natural biological variation amongst and between peoples cannot be used to validate claims of innate racial superiority in athletic competition.”
Kerr further notes:
When Entine does cite supposed “genetic”data on the differences between Blacks and Whites, he is in fact citing biological data. These include studies on African fast twitch muscle fibers and development of motor skills. Entine includes these studies to demonstrate irrevocable proof of embedded genetic differences between populations but refuses to accept the fact that any differences may be due to environmental factors or training. Entine then is unfairly giving an undue strong preference to genetic factors while disregarding social and environmental factors (Harpalani, 2004).
Moreover, external differences like height or weight, which play an instrumental role in helping define an individual’s athletic prowess, have not been proven to be exclusively rooted in biology or genetics. Genetic differences among people cannot solely account for why certain people are more athletic than others, as scientists cannot find any specific genetic markers that define the characteristics of athleticism (speed, height, strength) in one group or “race”more than any other.
Yet why has the genetic theory of Black athletic dominance been so difficult to debunk? Part of the problem are the roles of professional athletes and the media in reinforcing negative stereotypes regarding race and athletic ability.
He makes this conclusion, among others:
Entine and other quasi-genetic determinists fall into a mode of thinking wherein physical differences between individuals are read as proof that separate races of people exist. By focusing on physical differences and insignificant genetic variations rather than providing insight into the biodiversity among humans, Entine muddies the waters of racism and racial superiority.
Writing in American Scientist, University of Georgia’s Paul Achter and Celeste Condit also refute Entine’s conclusions:
The bulk of the book blends historical anecdotes about the intersection of race, science and sports with genetic research underwritten by a supposed objectivity of observation. Entine refutes deterministic environmental explanations for athletic superiority. Too often, he argues, such accounts completely ignore the contribution of genes in our ability to dunk a basketball, run long distances or elude a defensive back. But Entine goes too far in the opposite direction. Although he occasionally gives lip service to the idea that nature and nurture both contribute to athletic ability, Entine ultimately dismisses substantive consideration of environmental factors as ideological or self-censoring. He leaves the impression that there are clear racial differences in athletic abilities and that all such differences are traceable to genes.
Regrettably, Entine’s version of genetics constitutes a caricature of that science. His account of the debate over the “out-of-Africa” hypothesis is lopsided and reflects the hastiness and sloppiness that also bedevils the proofreading, organization and argumentative structuring throughout the book. Ultimately, Entine takes what may be a kernel of truth—that there are very small differences in frequencies of particular physical structures in some geographically localized populations—and distorts it into the claim that “blacks” are universally better athletes because of their genes.
The flaws in this larger claim are illustrated by Entine’s use of Tiger Woods as an example of the physical superiority of black athletes. Entine admits Tiger Woods’s multiracial origins but then lumps him back into a mythical racial group called “blacks.” Throughout, Entine plays fast and loose with categories in this fashion. He proves that a local group of Kenyans dominate middle-distance running, then uses this to make generalized statements that “blacks” are better “athletes.” Sports where “blacks” do not dominate (swimming, cricket, gymnastics, polo) are quickly dismissed on grounds of nurture or environment (for instance, blacks don’t have access to polo ponies), but in either case, the difference somehow is treated as support of his claim that “blacks are innately superior athletes.”
If taken seriously, Entine’s claims could only support the silliest of propositions. Entine maintains that the “disparity between blacks and whites in sports is at least as pronounced” as the disparity between women and men. Do we need, therefore, a separate “white men’s league” for basketball and tennis? Should Title IX agents worry about the inadequacy of opportunities for young white boys to play basketball or go bowling? Any other suggestions? As long as white-skinned boys, even those who are relatively untalented, continue to have greater opportunities for athletic self-development than boys of all other cultural and geographic heritages and than all girls, Entine’s argument will remain one undeserving of much concern
— Arthur E. Berman, a petroleum geologist and consultant to the energy sector; editorial board member of The Oil Drum; Associate Editor of the AAPG Bulletin; Director of The Association for the Study of Peak Oil, wrote a letter to George Mason University dated July 4, 2011, that he also posted online on his blog, in which he sought to refute claims and assertions made by Entine in his Real Clear Politics column published a few days earlier, on July 1, “Natural Gas “Bubble” Report: Market Tinkering or Shoddy Reporting?”
His post contains errors, exaggerations and untrue statements that cannot be substantiated, and thereby jeopardize George Mason University’s legal position and reputation as an honest broker of information.
I demand that Mr. Entine post public corrections to the many incorrect and unsubstantiated claims that he makes in this post. I further request that he write to me directly acknowledging that his post contained the many incorrect and undocumented claims that I specify below. He never contacted me or my clients to verify these claims and, apparently, did no research to document his many specious allegations.
Berman then goes on to list the errors, exaggerations and statements he says are untrue. Those are here: http://petroleumtruthreport.blogspot.com/2011/07/letter-to-george-mason-university-re.html