Kochs, Corps, and Monsanto Trade Group Have Bankrolled Group Attacking Dr. Oz

A group of ten doctors has called for NBC's Dr. Oz (Dr. Mehmet Oz) to be fired from Columbia University, where he is vice chairman of the surgery department.

The Center for Media and Democracy (CMD) has long tracked the group that is connected to several of the signers attacking Dr. Oz, and CMD’s Executive Director Lisa Graves spoke with the Dr. Oz show about the background of that group and some of the signers. (CMD does not receive any funding from Dr. Oz or NBC.)

One of the doctors, Dr. Gilbert Ross, is a convicted felon who works for the American Council on Science and Health (ACSH). CMD's updated review of ACSH's funding confirms that it has been funded by a trade group of food corporations that heavily opposes GMO labeling.

One of ACSH's most common activities is bashing people concerned about genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and chemicals used in factory farming.

ACSH poses as an independent science-based organization devoted to outing "junk science," but consumer advocates have called it "a consumer front organization for its business backers" that "glove[s] the hand that feeds it."

The majority of ACSH's funds have come from corporations and major foundations.

ACSH cartoon by Joe Mohr

CMD examined ACSH's funding last summer and also looked into the groups when its name surfaced in 2012 in litigation involving concerns about Syngenta's agricultural chemical, atrazine. CMD's investigation of unsealed court documents revealed that Syngenta's PR operation had identified ACSH as a way for it to attack and try to discredit those raising concerns about atrazine; and that ACSH was to be paid for its work defending Syngenta. Other documents that were subsequently leaked to Mother Jones confirmed that Syngenta has been funding ACSH, along with providing additional details on other corporate funders, as of two years ago.

An updated review of all available information about ACSH's funding sources by CMD reveals that some of the hands that feed the group are not only those of the Koch brothers, Charles and David Koch, through the Koch family fortune (Koch Industries profits from petroleum products like ammonia fertilizers and other agribusiness-related operations), but also those of the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA), a $41.4 million trade group representing such companies as Monsanto, Campbell Soup Company, Kraft Foods, Cargill, ConAgra, General Mills, Coca Cola, and Pepsi.

ACSH Spins Pesticides, GMOs, Fracking, E-Cigarettes, and More

In recent months, ACSH has:

  • published reports calling a Harvard School of Public Health report on pesticides' effect on men's sperm "full of faulty data and conclusions that it makes a perfect example of common study flaws";
  • attacked the International Agency for Research on Cancer (an agency of the World Health Organization and United Nations) for its conclusion that glyphosate--the primary ingredient in Monsanto's Roundup--is "probably carcinogenic," calling IARC "among the worst of the hyper-regulators... [with] a well-deserved reputation for breezing past or simply ignoring the latest (or even the consensus) science in the service of their precautionary principle-based agenda";
  • lambasted food columnist Mark Bitman's support for the precautionary principle when it comes to GMOS as "frothings" and "bilious insinuations" that go "overboard as usual"; and
  • called fracking "a safe and efficient path to energy independence," despite the hazardous chemical cocktail used in hydraulic fracturing, which uses and spoils millions of gallons of fresh drinking water each year in the fracking process.

And, of course, ACSH regularly criticizes Dr. Oz's policy position that GMOs in foods should be labeled as "GMO fear-mongering."

ACSH has published claims about GMOs that make outrageous statements like "opposition to agricultural progress . . . causes blindness and death worldwide." ACSH has also made patently false and easily disprovable claims such as, "[T]here are no alternative technologies available to plant breeders with which new improved varieties can be created to overcome the current limitations of global agriculture to produce sufficient food, feed, fuel, and fiber on available land."

Traditional plant breeding continues to develop crop varieties that are better adjusted to local conditions, produce more, and have other beneficial traits. Take, for example, the work done by the Organic Seed Partnership, a collaborative effort of Oregon State University, the University of Wisconsin, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Agricultural Research Service, Cornell University, and the Organic Seed Alliance.

For a period, tobacco was the rare consumer health hazard about which ACSH had publicly expressed concern. As a result, some of its funding from the food industry dried up after those companies were acquired by Philip Morris (now the global tobacco company Altria), which took umbrage at ACSH's position against tobacco. "ACSH's warnings about cigarette smoking resulted in the loss of substantial contributions from food manufacturers that had been acquired by tobacco companies," ACSH once stated on its website.

But ACSH has since received funding from Altria and at least one manufacturer of electronic cigarettes called "The Safe Cig."

With the rise of e-cigarettes--and ACSH's receipt of funding from companies selling them--ACSH has reversed course. It now advocates that "electronic cigarettes should be made as accessible as cigarettes. Electronic cigarettes should be sold widely and lightly regulated..." In another publication, it expresses the hope that the Food and Drug Administration will continue to "allow... millions of desperate addicted smokers continued access to this lifesaving technology."

E-cig companies have been making the rounds at groups like ACSH as well as the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and the State Policy Network (SPN) in search of third parties to help promote its product and derail regulation.

ACSH Buddy Henry Miller Lead Signer on Oz Letter

The letter calling on Columbia University to fire Dr. Oz includes among its signers Dr. Gilbert Ross, ACSH Acting President and Executive Director, who was convicted of the felony offense of Medicaid fraud and had his medical license revoked in 1995. The letter's lead signer, Dr. Henry I. Miller--like Ross, an outspoken advocate of GMOs--was a board member of ACSH and the founding director of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration Office of Biotechnology. He is now a senior research fellow at the right-wing Hoover Institution.

Miller gained recent notoriety for his appearance in a political ad by the "No on 37" campaign to squelch California voters' effort to label GMOs by way of a 2012 ballot initiative, as CMD reported. GMO corporations and other businesses spent over $40 million on the ad and outreach campaign that Miller was featured in. There is no public information about whether they funded him personally or through an organization or not, but there appear to be no legal restrictions on them doing so in the past or future.

The "No on 37" ad originally listed campaign spokesperson Miller as "M.D., Stanford" and showed Stanford University buildings in the background. The campaign had to pull that version off the air at the request of Stanford University and re-do it because "the Stanford ID on the screen appeared to violate the university's policy against use of the Stanford name by consultants," according to the Los Angeles Times.

What Miller is most notorious for are his unusual public positions. In 2003, Miller penned an op-ed for the New York Times defending DDT and arguing for its resurrection. This prompted a U.S.Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) response pointing out the estimated "increase in infant deaths that might result from DDT spraying."

Miller was also a founding member scientist of The Advancement of Sound Science Coalition, a now-defunct, tobacco industry-funded public relations front group run by the APCO Worldwide PR firm that worked to discredit the links between cigarettes and cancer.

Perhaps most outrageously, Miller wrote in a 2011 op-ed for Forbes that some of those exposed to radiation after the damage to the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant "could have actually benefitted from it."

Miller also penned a 2012 Forbes op-ed on GMO labeling suggesting that it is the supporters of GMO labeling who are engaged in "no-holds-barred advocacy ... to disparage farming methods and promulgate fraudulent health claims about the foods we eat."

Miller, who accused Oz of undisclosed conflicts of interest, is no stranger to conflicts of interest himself.

GMA, Kochs, DonorsTrust, Bradley, Searle, and Others Fund ACSH

In addition to such corporate and trade group funders as ExxonMobil, Chevron, the American Petroleum Institute, Syngenta, Bayer CropScience, CropLife America, Procter and Gamble, Pfizer, the Personal Care Products Council, Coca-Cola, Dr. Pepper/Snapple, and McDonald's, ACSH funders have also included the Koch brothers' David H. Koch Foundation and Claude R. Lambe Foundation (which closed in early 2013), the Sarah Scaife Foundation, and the Bradley Foundation. In this partial list of funders (ACSH stopped disclosing its donors early in the 1990s), the second-largest funder is DonorsTrust, which is known for its "murky money maze" of anonymous right-wing funding connected to the Kochs.

New to this group of funders as of 2013, according to CMD's research, is the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA), a $41.4 million trade group representing such companies as Campbell Soup Company, Kraft Foods, Cargill, ConAgra, General Mills, Coca Cola, and Pepsi. The anti-GMO labeling trade group gave ACSH $25,000 in 2013, according to its most recently available IRS disclosure. The grant was listed for "general support," and so what ACSH activities GMA funded are not known.

GMA sued Maui after citizens of the Hawai'i county voted to ban GMO crops on the island in November 2014. GMA also sued the state of Vermont over its law requiring GMO labels in 2014, as CMD has reported.

GMA has also repeatedly lobbied Koch-backed Republican U.S. Rep. Mike Pompeo of Kansas to introduce what it calls "The Safe & Accurate Food Labeling Act" and proponents of GMO labeling call the "Deny Americans the Right to Know Act" or DARK Act.

ACSH's funding stream overlaps significantly with the web of right-wing think tanks called the State Policy Network (SPN), which CMD has dubbed "stink tanks." For example, the Bodman Foundation, endowed by the investment banking fortune of the late George Bodman, has funded SPN members including New Jersey's Common Sense Institute and the Empire Center for New York State Policy as well as associate members the American Enterprise Institute, the Acton Institute, the Empire Center's parent group the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research, and the National Center for Policy Analysis. Altria (the global tobacco company), the Armstrong Foundation, the Bradley Foundation, Donors Capital Fund, DonorsTrust, the JM Foundation, the Claude R. Lambe Foundation, the Olin Foundation, and Searle Freedom Trust have all funded both ACSH and SPN.

Many of ACSH's funders also have ties to the controversial ALEC, which CMD has called a "corporate bill mill." Special interests such as 3M, Altria, the American Petroleum Institute, Bayer CropScience, the Bradley Foundation, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Chevron, Coca-Cola, CropLife America, Donors Capital Fund, DonorsTrust, Dr. Pepper/Snapple, ExxonMobil, the JM Foundation, the Claude R. Lambe Foundation, McDonald's, the Olin Foundation, PhRMA, Procter and Gamble, the Randolph Foundation, and Searle Freedom Trust have all funded both ACSH and ALEC.

See CMD's full review of ACSH's known financial underwriters below:

Funder Amount Donated Funding source Years
3M $30,000   2012
Bodman Foundation $90,000 investment banking 2007-2012
Altria $25,000   2012
American Petroleum Institute $37,500 petroleum industry 2012
Amvac Chemical Corporation $5,000   2012
Armstrong Foundation $15,000   2003-2012
Bayer CropScience $30,000   2012
Bradley Foundation, Lynde and Harry $270,000 factory automation equipment manufacturer Allen-Bradley 2004-2012
Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation $300,000   2002-2012
Chevron $18,500 oil 2012
Chinook Foundation $600   2011, 2013
Coca-Cola $50,000   2012
Conrad Family Foundation $100   2011
Cox Family Foundation $1,000   2009
CropLife America $25,000 pesticide industry 2004
Distilled Spirits Council of the United States $30,000   2008-2012
Dodge Jones Foundation $42,000 railroad and minerals 2003, 2009-2013
Donors Capital Fund $89,500 anonymous "donor directed" fund 2008-2011
DonorsTrust $534,574.62 anonymous "donor directed" fund 2005-2011
Dr. Pepper/Snapple $5,000   2012
Earhart Foundation $212,000   2002-2009
Ethox Chemicals $2,000   2012
ExxonMobil $315,000 petroleum 2000-2013
Finley, A.E. Foundation $1,000 equipment & machinery distribution 2009, 2012
Fragrance Materials Association of the United States, Inc. $20,000   2011
Friedmann, Philip M. Family Charitable Trust $11,900 Recycled Paper Greetings company 2003-2012
GE Foundation $396,000 General Electric (including a small amount of donations matching employees') 2003-2012
Gerstacker, Rollin M. Foundation $10,000 Dow Chemical Company 2010
Gilder Foundation $5,000 stockbroker Richard Gilder 2005
Griffin, Dorothy G. Charitable Foundation $3,000 Varflex Corporation (electrical insulating sleeving and tubing) 2010-2012
Grocery Manufacturers Association $25,000 anti-GMO labeling trade association 2013
Hayden Foundation $2,300   2009-2013
International Formula Council $10,000   2012
JM Foundation $15,000 Borden Milk Company 1997
Kayser Family Foundation $2,500   2006-2009
Kirby, F.M. Foundation $347,000 Woolworth and Alleghany Companies 1998-2013
Koch, David H. Foundation $6,000 Koch Industries 1986-1987
Olin, John M. Foundation $915,500 Olin Corporation chemical 1985-2004 (foundation closed in 2005)
Lambe, Claude R. Foundation $95,000 Koch Industries 2005-2008 (also contributed $30,000 in 2006 that was returned to the foundation in 2009)
McDonald's $30,000   2012
McNutt, Amy Shelton Charitable Trust $1,500   2009, 2011
Nolan, David P. Foundation $250   2010
Opportunity Foundation $2,500   2009-2013
Penn, Arthur S. and Marilyn Charitable Trust $500 retired president of Elmrock Capital, Inc., board member of Center for Individual Rights 2010
Personal Care Products Council $20,000 personal care products (cosmetics, toiletries, fragrances, etc.) industry 2011-2002
Pfizer Foundation $300 pharmaceutical industry (matching employee gifts) 2011-2013
PhRMA $160,000 pharmaceutical industry 2008-2010
Procter and Gamble $6,000   2012
Randolph Foundation $73,920 Vicks chemical company 2006
Roberts, Gilroy and Lillian P. Charitable Foundation $200 sculptor, gemstone carver, and former Chief Engraver of the U.S. Mint 2013
Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation $27,500 oil 1998-2001
Sarah Scaife Foundation $205,000 Mellon industrial, oil, aluminum and banking 1985-1991
Searle Freedom Trust $100,000 pharmaceuticals 2007
Stare Fund $7,500   2012
Roger and Susan Stone Family Foundation $5,000 Smurfit-Stone (paperboard and paper-based packaging) 2009, 2012
Syngenta $22,500   2012
Tepper Family Foundation $500   2013
Texmark Chemicals (David Smith) $5,000   2012
The Safe Cig $4,100 electronic cigarette manufacturer 2012
Tober, Barbara and Donald Foundation $23,500   2007-2012
Triad Foundation $35,000 ("Gen/fracking")   2012
Vanguard Charitable Endowment Program $39,400 donor-advised fund 2012-2013

Cartoon by Joe Mohr. This is an updated version of an article published by CMD in 2014. For more on the billionaire industrialist Koch brothers and the power and influence of the Koch cadre and Koch cash, see CMD's unique wiki resource, KochExposed.org.


Hoover institute paid for hire talking heads are numerous. Schweitzer, from Hoover, just penned a hit piece alleging an alliance between Russian President/Dictator Putin and Hillary Clinton and the Clinton Foundation. ALL WITH NO CREDIBLE FACTS !! Schweizer is another RENT-A-Scientist from the bought and paid for HOOVER Institute.The remarkable lack of sound evidence means this is a HIT JOB, not real news worthy information! It is no wonder That PRO-Cigarette tobacco Co. dump large $ into Hoover. (Imagine Hoover is still fighting FOR tobacco !! ?) No wonder the oil and gas industry is dumping so much cash into Hoover to fight REAL global warming science. NO Wonder there is a major push by Conservative Politico Steve Wynn (casino magnate).... " Nevada's anti-SLAPP law, like those of other states, covers speech related to "an issue of public concern." " S.B. 444 narrows the definition of that phrase, saying it must be a topic that "concerns not only the speaker and the speaker's audience, but the general public, and is not merely a subject of curiosity or general interest." " Randazza says that definition could exclude "consumer reviews, social commentary, and other forms of important public speech." "2. S.B. 444 shortens the amount of time a defendant has to file an anti-SLAPP motion after he is sued from 60 days, which is standard, to 20, which White calls "a very short period to find a lawyer and have that lawyer brief a potentially complex issue."" Republican Governor Scott Walker has ordered several environmental experts& staff to keep silent on Global Warming/Climate change issues. Clearly the Conservative Republican Wing is moving to squelch free speech...that disagrees with their own dogma.


I don't see the Monsanto sponsoring that group . I don't even see Kevin Bacon as a connection

All I can see if Oz is a quack -looks like one walks like one and is one. Lets face reality he may be an excellent surgeon but has totally lost it with the claims he uses to make his profits and it is a scandal what he does. Can you tell more about Dr. Gilbert Ross as a felon. Is this just someone by the same name? What is your source. Of course I think Oz is an unconvicted felon but I am biased by facts. I think we may need to "shoot the messengers" but the message may be correct

Oz often promotes new ideas in health. He cites recent research and invites explorers in new technologies to state their case. Of course this rankles many 'medical experts'. Here is why: Medical Experts, by definition, are those ambitious doctors who have moved into high political status in the profession. Many no longer practice medicine, all are ancient fossils who should have retired to make room for real doctors. The Experts studied medicine in the 60s when leaching, amputating and bloodletting was the cure for everything. They studied from texts printed in the 50s that were researched in the 40s. These Experts have been guided by the Food & Medical Industry in their thinking and together they influence the Food & Drug Administration (and others) in a perpetual lie that includes the Food Pyramid and warnings against dietary supplements and an endless parade of nonsense 'science'. Dr. Oz may sometimes offer advice that is flawed. He is unusually good looking and charismatic- characteristics that can work against him when he wants to seem serious and professional. But he seeks to benefit from real science that is emerging from all over the world despite the entrenched forces trying to subdue it. His role on television is to present new ideas, not protect old fallacies.