UC Davis Is Being Sued for Lack of Transparency on GMOs and Pesticides

University of California, Davis, is being sued for failing to comply with Freedom of Information Act requests on GMO research

The food science facilities at UC Davis where some of the GMO research was conducted. 

Monsanto, the agri-tech giant known as one of the largest creators and producers of GMOs in the world, has not been working alone to push scientific agricultural innovation. Big names like Harvard University and the University of California, Davis, have semi-covertly published research at the behest of Monsanto. Now, UC Davis is being sued by consumer rights group U.S. Right to Know for failing to disclose public records — after numerous Freedom of Information Act requests — on its work with GMOs and pesticides.

The lawsuit claims U.S. Right to Know had filed FOIA requests for information on UC Davis’ research and relationship with the agri-tech industry and received “a mere 750 pages back,” which is paltry compared with the thousands of pages of documents other universities sent back in response to similar requests.

“We are conducting a wide-ranging investigation into the collaboration between the food and agrichemical industries, their front groups and several U.S. universities,” said Gary Ruskin, co-director of U.S. Right to Know, in a statement. “So far, documents obtained from other universities have shown secretive funding arrangements and covert efforts to use taxpayer-funded university resources to promote the products of various corporations. The public has a right to know what is going on behind the scenes.”

Last year, The New York Times uncovered private emails that proved that Monsanto was funding research at large universities. Later in 2015, a Harvard professor was raked over the coals for writing a pro-GMO research paper and failing to disclose his connection with Monsanto, who had suggested both the subject and title of his paper, according to the Boston Globe.


In response to the lawsuit, a law firm that has been previously associated with Monsanto has counter-filed a public records request of all of the correspondence between U.S. Right to Know and UC Davis.