It’s hard to turn to any mainstream news outlet without hearing something related to Russian interference in American politics. Researchers at Iowa State University think that Russia is also infecting American’s perceptions of biotechnology by promoting anti-GMO propaganda.
The Des Moines Register reported this week that the former communist nation is funding online articles that question the safety of genetically engineered food in an effort hurt U.S. agriculture and bolster its position as a “ecologically clean alternative,” Shawn Dorius, an ISU assistant sociology professor, told the newspaper.
In the wake of the reports, the popular website GMO Answers released a statement from spokesman Michael Stebbins addressing the misinformation that is coming in from foreign and unsubstantiated sources:
“We know GMO misinformation abounds — from food marketing to messages in pop culture and click bait social media posts. The spread of this misinformation isn’t a new phenomenon,” said Stebbins, whose site is funded by is funded by the members of The Council for Biotechnology Information and invites people to ask its experts even the toughest questions on the topic. “GMO myths have been spread and shared for years, and that is precisely why GMO Answers was founded. In an era when the truth can be hard to find, we at GMO Answers are constantly striving to answer questions about GMOs with information backed by valid, independent, peer-reviewed science.”
The Register said that the Iowa State researchers found that the U.S. versions of RT and Sputnik, which are news sites funded by the Russian government, produced more articles containing the word “GMO” than five other news organizations combined: Huffington Post, Fox News, CNN, Breitbart News, and MSNBC.
Because roughly 90 percent of corn and soybean farmers in the U.S. grow genetically engineered varieties, any Russian campaign to undermine consumer confidence in those products would have a significant impact on the agricultural economic. Research released earlier this month affirmed the decades-long safety of genetically engineered products. There are currently only 10 GMO crops grown commercially in the U.S.