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GMO industry manipulates the media, public opinion and politics with sleazy tactics, bought science and PR spin, report reveals

J.D. Heyes

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Dec. 14, 2014

(NaturalNews) An Oakland-based public interest group has published a new report detailing the extent to which agri-business giants like Monsanto have gone in mounting a public relations campaign aimed at legitimizing and defending genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in our food chain.


In "Seedy Business: What big food is hiding with its slick PR campaign on GMOs," the group, U.S. Right To Know, accused the agrichemical and food industries of spending lavishly the past few years pushing and touting GMOs globally, at the risk of fact-based science proving that they are harmful:


Since 2012, the agrichemical and food industries have mounted a complex, multifaceted public relations, advertising, lobbying and political campaign in the United States, costing more than $100 million, to defend genetically engineered food and crops and the pesticides that accompany them.


The report further states that the industry "manipulates the media, public opinion and politics with sleazy tactics, bought science and PR spin."


Spin is spun regardless of health risks to the public

As noted by Corporate Crime Reporter, the report presents data showing that the PR campaign promoting GMOs launched by agri-giants and the food industries they serve is both massive and complex. Its multi-faceted approach includes advertising and support of key political campaigns in the U.S. to fend off criticism of GMOs and defend the pesticides that have been co-developed to accompany them.


"The purpose of this campaign is to deceive the public, to deflect efforts to win the right to know what is in our food via labeling that is already required in 64 countries, and ultimately, to extend their profit stream for as long as possible," said Gary Ruskin, executive director of USRTK.


Ruskin further noted that the PR campaign has had undue influence over how the U.S. media covers genetically modified foods. Ketchum, the industry's public relations firm, has bragged that "positive media coverage has doubled" on GMOs, said Ruskin, as quoted by Corporate Crime Reporter.


The report also lists the major agri-business corporations that donated to efforts to kill off GMO labeling propositions at the state level that were sponsored by USRTK. In particular, efforts in California, Washington state, Oregon and Colorado between 2012 and 2014 were opposed by major agri-business corporations like Monsanto, Coca-Cola and others.


"According to the report, the top ten donors were Monsanto ($22.7 million), DuPont ($16.7 million), Pepsico ($8.8 million), Coca-Cola ($5.7 million), Dow ($4 million), Kraft Food ($3.9 million), General Mills ($3.6 million), Nestle ($2.9 million), ConAgra ($2.6 million). and Bayer ($2.5 million)," Corporate Crime Reporter noted, citing USRTK data.




Tactics similar to those of Big Tobacco

In addition, the report found that agrichemical companies have a tradition of concealing health risks from the public.


"Time and again, the companies that produce GMOs have hidden from consumers and workers the truth about the dangers of their products and operations," Ruskin said. "So how can we trust them to tell us the truth about their GMOs?"


The report also noted that the Food and Drug Administration fails to adequately test GMOs for safety, and instead merely reviews information on genetically modified foods and crops submitted by the developing companies.


USRTK, in its report, compared the PR campaigns of GMOs to those once used by tobacco companies.


"The agrichemical industry's recent PR campaign is similar in some ways to the most infamous industry PR campaign ever - the tobacco industry's effort to evade responsibility for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Americans each year," it says.


Read the entire report here.