ngin - Norfolk Genetic Information Network

6 March 2002


In 'Part of the Network: How Prof CS Prakash and his AgBioWorld campaign are part of a network of pro-corporate extremists' (first published as an article in SPLICE, Vol. 7, Issue 6), NGIN first exposed how, since it's very inception, C. S. Prakash's AgBioWorld campaign had been tied into the Competitive Enterprise Institute - a rightwing thinktank funded by the likes of Philip Morris and Dow Chemicals and notorious for its extreme pro-corporate agenda.

In the article we exposed how the Prakash petition, AgBioWorld's launch pad, which had always been presented as a Third World scientist's rallying point for fellow academics, actually formed part of the Competitive Enterprise Institute's wider campaign against "death by regulation" - the same CEI campaign that has encouraged smoking as a political rejection of government education programmes because, according to the CEI, "there are things more valuable than health"!

Now, in the very thick of the attacks on Ignacio Chapela, Prakash has quietly gone public on AgBioWorld's CEI connection. A footnote at the end of an AgBioWorld press release, "Report of Transgenes in Mexican Corn Called Into Question" attributed to:
- Gregory Conko, Competitive Enterprise Institute , Washington DC;
- C. S. Prakash, Tuskegee University, Tuskegee, AL;
states, "Prakash and Conko are co-founders of the AgBioWorld Foundation
[ISB News Report, March 2002;]

This, of course, is but the tip of the iceberg. And as AgBioWorld continues to be the principal funnel of vicious attacks on those deemed the enemies of the biotech industry, it is surely time for Prakash to clean about all AgBioWorld's other corporate connections.
EXCERPT from 'Part of the Network'

...Prakash also runs the AgBioView e-mailing list[12]. The tone of its daily bulletins often ranges from the scientistic to the techno-euphoric and leading members of the Network, and like-minded corporate lobbyists, are among its key contributors. AgBioView's more extreme material accuses GM critics variously of fascism, communism, imperialism, nihilism, murder, corruption, terrorism, and even genocide; not to mention being worse than Hitler and on a par with the mass murderers who destroyed the World Trade Centre! When challenged over such attacks, Prakash invariably claims to be merely AgBioView's editor, as if that somehow absolved him of responsibility for the material he himself selects.

Prakash has drawn support from a large number of scientists for a petition calling for the judicious use of genetic engineering in the developing world [13], but there is little that is judicious about his naive techno-utopianism, nor his admiration for big business. Prakash eulogises the multinationals, expressing a preference for their control of food production and distribution in the developing world because of their "enormous skills, resources and investment". [14]

Though Prakash makes a big thing out of not actually taking corporate money, his total lack of distance from those who do is well illustrated by his longstanding collaboration with Julian Morris of ESEF fame. Prakash even lists Morris as one of the AgBioWorld experts available to guide the media on issues relating to biotechnology. [15]

Listed as a fellow AgBioWorld media contact on Prakash's press release attacking Sri Lanka was yet another AgBioWorld expert, Greg Conko of the Competitive Enterprise Institute. The CEI, like AgBioWorld, is part of the Network [16], and, according to its annual report, this corporate-funded lobby played "a key role in the creation" of Prakash's petition for scientists in support of genetic engineering [17].

The Prakash petition was AgBioWorld's launch pad and has always been presented as a Third World scientist's rallying point for fellow academics. According to the CEI, however, the Prakash petition formed part of its wider campaign against "death by regulation"[17] - the same CEI campaign that has been directed against government efforts to discourage smoking because, according to the CEI, "there are things more valuable than health"![18]

The Centre for Media and Democracy describes the CEI as a [19]. Currently with a turnover of $3+ million a year and with another million in assets [20], the CEI has been built up with the help of the kind of corporate giants whom many would see as having a powerful vested interest in defending their ability to profit out of human misery and environmental destruction, not least in the developing world.
"...the 'sound science' movement is not an indigenous effort from within the profession to improve the quality of scientific discourse, but reflects sophisticated public relations campaigns controlled by industry executives and lawyers whose aim is to manipulate the standards of scientific proof to serve the corporate interests of their clients."
Doctors Elisa Ong and Stanton A. Glantz writing in the America Journal of Public Health, November 2001,

ngin bulletin archive