Consumers Union knows this anti GMO activist is a “loon”, but keeps helping her
Michael Hansen is a senior scientist for Consumers Union, the consumer advocacy group that publishes Consumer Reports. He has also been fighting against the use of biotechnology in agriculture for more than twenty years.
An email from Hansen, part of a Freedom of Information Act request, details his encounter with Moms Across America founder Zen Honeycutt. On May 27, 2014 Hansen went with Honeycutt to the EPA to discuss her organization’s concerns with glyphosate. Specifically they wanted to convince the EPA that breastfeeding mothers were exposing their children to the popular herbicide.
(A peer reviewed study would later discredit the hypothesis put forward by Moms Across America.)
According to Hansen’s email, he is well aware that Honeycutt is not only wrong about glyphosate in breast milk but goes on to refer to her and those like her as “loons”.
While I normally ignore such loons, they are very dangerous since significant portions of the grass roots activists buy into their nonsense. One of them is Zen Honeycutt, founder of Moms Across America, a big anti-GE group. I got roped into going to an EPA meeting with her and a number of other members at the last minute (there also was a scientist from NRDC there). They opened the meeting with Honeycutt demanded that all the members at the table say how many kids they have and whether they have ever worked for industry. The top EPA official in the room said that was unacceptable, yet also the staffers answered those questions. The EPA sat there for over 2 hours (the original meeting was only supposed to be for an hour), while the 6 mothers all told stories of how their kids had autism, multiple allergies and other health problems that magically went away as soon as they went on a non- GE diet. They also claimed that glyphosate concentrated in breast milk and EPA needed to take immediate action. EPA tried to talk rationally to them without success.
In her book, Unstoppable, Zen Honeycutt claims the EPA representatives were “glued to their seats” during the meeting.
There were eleven of us and nine EPA staffers and people from across the country listening to the meeting live. The EPA staffers were glued to their seats and the meeting went two hours instead of one, with not one person attempting to leave.
Michael Hansen’s email details a different version of events. Not only did some try to leave, but Honeycutt demanded that they remain.
When a couple of the officials tried to leave the meeting after 1 1/4 hours, Honeycutt demanded that they stay to hear what all the mother had to say, and they. I was amazed at the patience of the EPA officials, but suspect they stayed because these were supposed “victims” and also because they had organized 30,000 folks to call EPA over this.
Bottom line, stay far away.
Hansen continued the email by warning about Anthony Samsel, Stephanie Seneff, and Jeffrey Smith (all being described as not scientifically credible). He wanted to make sure that more mainstream anti-GMO scientists like Charles Benbrook and Phillip Landrigan stay away from them, and to have no contact.
Robin Mesnage and Michael Antoniou, other anti-GMO scientists that received the email from Hansen, would go on to publish a report discrediting Samsel and Seneff. Honeycutt thanked Hansen, Antoniou, Samsel, Seneff, and Smith for their assistance in writing her book.
Yet Michael Hansen didn’t take his own advice. According to Honeycutt (also described in her book Unstoppable) Hansen would again assist her in a meeting three years later with the California Office of Health Hazard Assessment. According to Honeycutt he helped her work out the math used to manipulate OEHHA into thinking glyphosate exposure in food was some type of health concern. The meeting took place on July 7, 2017.
Consumers Union claims in their mission statement that they bring:
trustworthy guidance with nearly eight decades of unwavering commitment to helping consumers make informed decisions. By solely focusing on the needs of consumers now and in the future, Consumer Reports serves as the gold standard for information and advocacy.
How can Consumers Union be trusted on anything when one of their senior scientists knowingly assists a “loon” in the propagation of misinformation to consumers? When the scientist who bravely worked to confirm whether or not glyphosate was present in breastmilk suffered a campaign of harassment and intimidation by the allies of Honeycutt, why did they not speak up?