The Des Moines Register’s #FakeNews GMO Story

In an article published in The Des Moines Register today, Scientists at Iowa State University (ISU) allege Russia is supporting fake news reports online to undermine US GMO production.

According to Doctors Shawn Dorius and Carolyn Lawrence-Dill, both scientists state their research shows Russia is funding propaganda in the US in order to bolster their agricultural sector, which is said to be significant next to the country’s fossil fuel industry.

The ISU researchers, already looking at how U.S. media portrayed genetic engineering and biotechnology, decided to include GMO news articles published on the U.S. versions of [Russia Today] and Sputnik, news sites funded by the Russian government.

They found RT and Sputnik produced more articles containing the word “GMO” than five other news organizations combined: Huffington Post, Fox News, CNN, Breitbart News and MSNBC.

RT accounted for 34 percent of GMO-related articles among the seven sites; Sputnik articles made up 19 percent.

The researchers also found RT and Sputnik used “GMO click bait” embedded in articles that most people would consider “negative or distasteful” to create an intentional negative reaction.

First of all, name one website that doesn’t use clickbait articles. A quick review of RT’s website shows either a balanced or relatively neutral position on GMO’s, while Sputnik News has articles updated four years ago and it does not seem to be an area of interest to them.

Russia Today‘s video channel might be an indication of anti-GMO news but the last observable video released on the topic is from two months ago. Others are dated a year to seven years and reports overall seem sporadic. Their content is not consistent with RT‘s full website and it is looking like the channel is sloppy and not due to any overriding agenda.

If Russia is to be criticized, it should be due to either the country’s government directly or through elements of it are funding environmentalist groups that conduct protests and other activities to stop hydraulic fracturing (i.e. fracking) in the US and abroad.

However, the claim that Russia is funding anti-GMO news is spurious if not fake at best and this kind of report is unbecoming of a major media news outlet like The Des Moines Register. For US media to allow themselves to be easily influenced by a foreign source is more their fault for not fact-checking their sources than it is on the source itself. Shame on the paper for such fake news and the ISU scientists for such sloppy research!