Andrew Apel is the former editor of the biotech industry newsletter, AgBiotech Reporter, headquartered in Cedar Falls, Iowa, U.S.A. Apel has also been a regular contributor and guest editor of CS Prakash's AgBioView email list. He currently edits the website GMObelus.
Apel has long shown extreme antipathy to organisations and individuals critical of GM crops and has made repeated efforts to link them to acts of violence. He used the September 11 attacks, for example, to put forward the view that critics of GM, like Dr. Mae-Wan Ho and Dr. Vandana Shiva, had blood on their hands. He wrote:
A few months later Apel sought to link GMWatch founder, Jonathan Matthews, to terrorism, claiming, 'He takes money from Greenpeace and has been associated with at least one terrorist group.'  Apel appears to have based this association with terrorism on an Earth First newsletter containing an item with a link to a website - http://members.tripod.com/~ngin - founded by Matthews. The item concerned a completely non-violent 'picnic protest'.  In an email to GMWatch in 2008 Apel stated, 'I have described your ilk as 'liars', 'cretins', and 'baby-killers'.' (See email reproduced here.)
He also posted a spoof article attributing quotes to a 'non-violent activist' indicating such protesters engage in 'bombing sh*t', and 'blow sh*t up'.
Apel's GMObelus website has a section called 'NGO Watch' (the same name as aggressive anti-civil society projects run by right-wing lobby groups like the American Enterprise Institute and the Institute of Public Affairs). In April 2009 this contained links to just three items, one of which was a piece entitled ''Riot' Tourism on the Rise'. Nothing in the article appears to have any connection with GM crops.
Linking GM critics to genocide
Apel has ridiculed Native American concerns over GM contamination of wild rice - 'Native Americans have found a new way to increase their income'. He was also at the forefront of attempts to use the resistance of countries in southern Africa (2002/3) to accepting GM-contaminated food aid, as a way of attacking biotech industry critics. Apel suggested there might be a moral imperative for the U.S. to bomb Zambia with GM grain if it continued to reject it. On the same discussion list Apel also wrote of the crisis, 'I can almost picture the darkies laying down their lives for the vacuous ideals... their death throes, how picturesque, among the baobab trees and the lions!' In October 2002, Monsanto's electronic newsletter, 'The Biotech Advantage,' carried the headline 'Academics Say Africans Going Hungry Because of Activist Scare Tactics'. The 'activists' in question turned out to be the staff of a Catholic theological centre and a Zambian agricultural college who had expressed concerns about GM crops. Their 'academic' attackers, by contrast, included Andrew Apel together with AgBioWorld's co-founders, CS Prakash and Greg Conko of the Competitive Enterprise Institute.
Apel has put a box in the left hand panel of his website GMObelus headed 'VAD and Golden Rice'. The rotating text in this box implies that if it hadn't been for regulations inhibiting the release of genetically engineered Golden Rice, many millions of children could have been saved by this GM crop from death and blindness due to Vitamin A deficiency (VAD). And in an article on the site, 'Rogue's gallery opposes Golden Rice', Apel implies that critics of Golden Rice may be responsible for more deaths than 'Stalin's intentional food-deprivation policies during 1932-33'. Apel provides a link from this statement to a document calling for the Great Famine in Ukraine in 1932-33 to be recognised as 'genocide' and as one of 'the cruelest crimes to have taken place in Europe in the 20th century'. The document is titled 'Execution by hunger: Unknown genocide'. The apparent implication is that opposition to Golden Rice represents an even greater crime.
Misleading statements about NGO funding
Apel is equally loose in his statements characterising the funding of NGOs critical of GM crops. He has claimed, for instance, in his role as guest editor of CS Prakash's AgBioView, that Friends of the Earth receives nearly half of its funding from the European Commission and he implies that this may be because Friends of the Earth's GM agenda suits the Commission. Likewise, a piece on Apel's website titled 'Europeans oppose GM cassava for Africa' reports on the opposition to field-testing of a GM cassava by Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth, Nigeria (ERA/FoEN) and over 30 other groups in Nigeria. Apel poses the question, 'Why would European governments oppose such a project?' and follows this by the statement: 'The Friends of the Earth are almost entirely funded by the European Commission and the Netherlands.'.
But according to Nnimmo Bassey, the Director of Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth, Nigeria (ERA/FoEN), 'ERA is not funded by the EU'. Likewise, another national group - Friends of the Earth, England, Wales and Northern Ireland (FoEEWNI), gets approximately 90% of its income from individual supporters. It is only Friends of the Earth Europe (FoEE) in Brussels which receives any substantial funding from the European Commission. And even in this case, FoEE's director points out that FoEE's position on issues like GM 'demonstrate that we do not follow the line of the Commission'. She also points out that 'without funding for NGOs (something that is legally set out in financial frameworks, for example the Life+ programme at European level and national decrees at national level), the public debate in Brussels would be unacceptably steered by corporate lobbyists.'
Interestingly, Apel's own contributions to the public debate on GMOs have frequently been made in close coordination with individuals and organisations enjoying significant corporate backing. Quite apart from his years as editor of a publication 'aimed at decision makers in the worldwide agricultural biotechnology industry', he has also been a guest editor and frequent contributor to AgBioWorld, in which Monsanto and its PR agency the Bivings Group have played a covert role, and which was co-founded by Greg Conko of the Monsanto-backed Competitive Enterprise Institute.