Documents show agri-business coached Peter Phillips, edited academic articles.
The University of Saskatchewan and one of its well-known professors are acting like “sock puppets” for agri-business giant Monsanto, says a U.S. researcher.
Gary Ruskin of U.S. Right to Know has obtained thousands of pages documenting North American university ties to corporations involved in genetic engineering.
Ruskin recently shared with CBC News nearly 700 pages of U of S emails and other material. Ruskin said the documents show Monsanto has recruited a team of top academics in a “Machiavellian” effort to sway public opinion.
But a Saskatchewan professor featured in the documents says there’s nothing inappropriate about his work with Monsanto. The U of S agrees.
Peter Phillips, a distinguished professor in the U of S Johnson Shoyama Graduate School of Public Policy, said no money ever changed hands, and academics are mandated by their universities and granting agencies to partner with industry and other groups.
“We don’t do research in isolation,” Phillips said. “Where appropriate, we have been fully transparent.”
The documents show Monsanto coached Phillips on social media and public relations strategies. It also enlisted Phillips to help solve its problems with U.S. government agencies.
According to the documents, Monsanto edited U of S academic articles with no public mention of the corporation’s role. As well, the documents indicate the company’s executives oversaw the guest list and content of a U of S symposium.
(Click here for a summary of selected correspondence between Monsanto and Phillips.)
Ethically complicated field, says consultant
CBC News asked Saskatoon consultant Steven Lewis to review the documents. Lewis served a lead author of the widely-cited journal article, “Dancing with the Porcupine: rules for governing the university-industry relationship.”
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