Biology Fortified, Inc.
Biology Fortified, Inc. (Biofortifed or BFI) is a non-profit organization based in Middleton, Wisconsin that states that its mission is "to strengthen the public discussion of issues in biology, with particular emphasis on genetics and genetic engineering in agriculture." It says it "does not accept funding from private companies, for-profit corporations, or political interests." Its mascot, "Frank N. Foode" -- "your friendly neighborhood genetically modified organism" -- "help[s] make the science of biotechnology fun and approachable." It runs the Biofortified blog. The organization and its bloggers, such as Mary Mangan, unabashedly promote the use of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and downplay the dangers of pesticides such as glyphosate.
Ties to Monsanto
The group regularly denies having any ties to Monsanto. However, in late 2017 documents were released as part of a lawsuit against Monsanto regarding the possible carcinogenicity of the pesticide glyphosate. One document detailed Monsanto's battle plan against the World Health Organization, which was planning to classify glyphosate as a possible carcinogen. On page five, Monsanto's plan listed strategies and tactics for discrediting the World Health Organization before it released it's ruling, and named several "industry partners" they would work with that included Biofortified, Sense About Science, Genetic Literacy Project, and Academics Review/
Ties to Jon Entine and Genetic Literacy Project
Karl Haro von Mogel, BFI co-founder, is an associate of Jon Entine, author of Let Them Eat Precaution: How Politics is Undermining the Genetic Revolution and Crop Chemophobia: Will Precaution Kill the Green Revolution? and founding director of the Genetic Literacy Project. Bloomberg and The Progressive have reported that lawyers suing Monsanto state in court documents that companies funnel money to the Genetic Literacy Project in order to "shame scientists and highlight information helpful to Monsanto and other chemical producers.”  In a report that examined corporate attacks on science, Congress found that to discredit the World Health Organization (WHO), Monsanto "turned to industry trade groups, such as CropLife and industry front groups, such as Genetic Literacy Project and Academics Review as platforms of support for industry spokespersons."
As described in a "Biofortified" blog post, von Mogel met up with Entine on the side of a rode in Puna, Hawai'i on their way to meet Dr. Dennis Gonsalves, the developer of GMO papayas. The two spoke together at a June 2013 GMO panel organized by the Cato Institute. And Entine regularly mentions von Mogel and BFI in articles published in Forbes and elsewhere.
Board of Directors
As of 2017
- Karl Haro von Mogel (Ph.D. Candidate in Plant Breeding and Plant Genetics at UW-Madison), Co-Founder, Executive Director and Chairman of the Board
- Anastasia Bodnar (PhD in genetics with a minor in sustainable agriculture from Iowa State University), Co-Founder
- Pam Ronald (Professor of Plant Pathology and Chair of the Plant Genomics Program at the University of California, Davis; co-author of Tomorrow's Table, a book about including genetic engineering into organic agricultural systems -- currently a banned practice)
- David Tribe (Professor of Microbiology and Immunology at the University of Melbourne; author of the blog "GMO Pundit")
- Kevin Folta Professor of Plant Biology, University of Florida
According to BFI's website, "currently the majority of financial support for these overhead costs comes from individual personal donations. BFI is not supported by any companies, government entities, or political parties." It goes on to add, "In the fall of 2009, while still just a blog named 'Biofortified,' we won the Changemakers 'GMO Risk or Rescue' contest, a user-voted competition organized by Ashoka Changemakers. As a result, we received a $1,500 Changemakers grant. In the summer of 2012, Biology Fortified, Inc. won a peer-reviewed Education Foundation Grant from the American Society of Plant Biologists (ASPB) for the proposal, 'Communicating Risk with Genetic Engineering Risk Atlas (GENERA).' This $10,000 grant supports our efforts to stimulate accurate science communication, a goal shared by ASPB."
According to GMWatch, during the 2009 Ashoka Changemakers competition, the Council for Biotechnology Information (a "Big 6" GMO and pesticide corporation trade group) and a Monsanto PR flack drummed up support for the "Biofortified" entry on Twitter. After such promotion had begun, "the votes for Biofortified have suddenly exploded, more than doubling in a matter of hours in a completely unprecedented pattern," GMWatch noted.
Biology Fortified, Inc.
6907 University Ave. #354
Middleton, WI 53562
Phone: (608) 284-8842
Email: _karl AT biofortified.org
Articles and Resources
- Stacy Malkan "Academics Review: The Making of a Monsanto Front Group," US Right to Know, May 31, 2018.
- Stacy Malkan "AgBioChatter: Where Corporations, Academics Plotted Strategy on GMOs, Pesticides," US Right to Know, May 31, 2018.
Related SourceWatch Articles
- Biology Fortified, Inc., About, organizational website, accessed March 2014.
- Biology Fortified, Inc., Financial Information, organizational website, accessed March 2014.
- Biology Fortified, Inc., Brink Frank N. Foode to Life, Kickstarter fundraising campaign, accessed March 2014.
- Carey Gillam, "How Monsanto Manufactured Outrage At Chemical Cancer Classification It Expected" , Huffington Post, September 19, 2017.https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/how-monsanto-manufactured-outrage-at-chemical-cancer_us_59c17c88e4b0f96732cbc9f3
- Monsanto: Glyphosate IARC, Draft dated February 23, 2015. http://baumhedlundlaw.com/pdf/monsanto-documents/72-Document-Details-Monsantos-Goals-After-IARC-Report.pdf
- Peter Waldman, Bloomberg Businessweek, Does the World’s Top Weed Killer Cause Cancer? Trump’s EPA Will Decide, July 13, 2017 https://www.bloomberg.com/news/features/2017-07-13/does-the-world-s-top-weed-killer-cause-cancer-trump-s-epa-will-decide
- Paul Thacker, The Progressive, July 21, 2017 http://progressive.org/magazine/how-the-biotech-industry-cultivates-positive-media/
- U.S. House of Representatives, Committee on Science, Space & Technology: "Spinning Science & Silencing Scientists: A Case Study in How the Chemical Industry Attempts to Influence Science" February 2018 https://democrats-science.house.gov/sites/democrats.science.house.gov/files/documents/02.06.18%20-%20Spinning%20Science%20and%20Silencing%20Scientists_0.pdf
- Karl Haro von Mogel, GMO Papayas Are About People, Biofortified blog, March 7, 2014.
- Cato Institute, Biotechnology: Feeding the World, or a Brave New World of Agriculture?, organizational panel discussion, June 4, 2013.
- See e.g. Jon Entine, Grist Challenges Its Own Shaky Crop Biotechnology Reporting, Sets Stage For GMO Science Journalism Conclave, Forbes, July 18, 2013.
- Biology Fortified, Inc., Board of Directors, organizational website, accessed March 2014.
- Fixing the competition!, GMWatch, accessed March 2014.
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