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Reuters Versus UN Cancer Agency: Are Corporate Ties Influencing Science Coverage?

FAIR, a media critic group that scrutinizes media practices, is taking issue with the way media giant Reuters handles news on the pesticide industry. Specifically, FAIR is accusing Reuters of unbalanced coverage favoring industry on the United Nations’ determination that glyphosate — the product in Monsanto’s Roundup — is “probably carcinogenic to humans.” According to FAIR, Reuters’ reporter Kate Kelland not only has ties to Science Media Centre (SMC) — an industry front group — but is featured in SMC promotional videos and reports.

SMC, which has been denying scientific evidence on the dangers of glyphosate for years, is one of the more prominent industry front groups, along with its colleague, American Council on Science and Health (ACSH). Sadly, there are many dozens of industry front groups masquerading as independent information organizations claiming to be “independent” while actually being funded by the industries they promote. Both SMC and ACSH have defended everything from fracking to pesticides, bisphenol-A (BPA), and genetically engineered foods — all while receiving funding from many of the industries they “report” on.

What’s worse is that conflicts of interest don’t stop with industry. In the U.S. some of the worst conflicts occur right at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC), which has ties to industry shill groups like the International Life Sciences Institute (ILSI), a front group serving the interests of the food and beverage industries.

For example, instead of cracking down on corporations promoting products linked to poor health and disease, the CDC colluded with Coca-Cola in efforts to influence World Health Organization (WHO) officials to relax recommendations on sugar limits. When the news of the collusion leaked, the CDC’s director of the Division for Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention, Barbara Bowman, left the agency unexpectedly. She wasn’t the only person working with ILSI, however: Dr. Michael Pratt, senior adviser for Global Health in the National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion at the CDC, has also promoted and led research for the soda giant.

The bottom line is you have to do your own due-diligence. Question everything, including media giants. Look for the money trail and demand transparency in both media and government agencies.
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