Freelance writer Haspel admits that she receives "plenty" of money from corporate front groups
EXCERPT: Tamar [Haspel]'s payments for speaking at GMO seminars had created allegations that she is buckraking on the beat.
Sourcewatch, accessed 1 Feb 2018
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Tamar Haspel is a freelance writer, best known for her Washington Post columns, where she advocates for genetically modified organisms (GMO) agriculture, and for her conflicts of interest in receiving speaking fees from GMO interests. Food and Water Watch describes Haspel as an opinion writer who has not been shy about trumpeting what she sees as the benefits of GMOs.
While Tamar writes about food for the Washington Post, she has written repeatedly about GMOs, every time in a manner which seems to defend corporations, while seldom disclosing that the sources she quotes work for industry. For example, in one column, she wrote about Monsanto's pesticide glyphosate, quoting Keith Solomon, an environmental toxicologist and professor emeritus at the University of Guelph in Ontario. Tamar did not disclose that Keith Solomon is a consultant to Monsanto.
In a second example, Tamar's column that downplayed the food movement was oddly timed to coincide with Monsanto's attempt to stop labeling of GMO foods. In a report titled "A Short Report on Journalists Mentioned in our FOIA Requests" US Right to Know mentioned that Haspel has been critical of attempts to uncover hidden industry ties of academics.
Along with Keith Kloor, Kevin Folta, and Jon Entine, Tamar served as a panelist at the 2014 conference on GMOs hosted by Academics Review and the Genetic Literacy Project. The conference was funded by industry, and the organizers described the journalists attending as "partners" and offered them honoraria of $2500.
When Ketchum PR sponsored a panel on science and the public at the National Press Club, Tamar Haspel was one of the three journalists chosen to appear on a panel, along with Keith Kloor. When Atlantic contributor David Freedman, found out that the panel had been sponsored by Ketchum PR, he canceled his appearance.
Buckraking on the Beat
Tamar's payments for speaking at GMO seminars had created allegations that she is buckraking on the beat. She has also spoken at the Cornell Alliance for Science which has been noted as a PR front for GMOs, junk food, and pesticides. When questioned about her speaking fees from industry, Haspel replied in a sarcastic manner that she receives "plenty" of money from corporate front groups.
Discussing Haspel's speaking, Food and Water Watch noted that Haspel does not disclose who actually pays her, nor how much she receives for speaking gigs that often cheerlead for GMO agriculture. "For all the ethical rationalizations some science writers make to justify their participation in industry-backed GMO events, there is a big blind spot. You don’t hear them discussing the appropriate level of financial engagement with GMO critics. That’s because GMO critics don’t have anywhere near the resources as the biotechnology industry, which spends untold sums of money wooing journalists, lobbying Congress, and funding academic research."
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