U.S. Right to Know – a new nonprofit organization — released a new report today on Big Food’s PR campaign to defend GMOs: how it manipulated the media, public opinion and politics with sleazy tactics, bought science and PR spin.
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 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.
This campaign has greatly influenced how U.S. media covers GMOs. The industry’s PR firm, Ketchum, even boasted that “positive media coverage has doubled” on GMOs.
The report outlines fifteen things that Big Food is hiding with its artful PR campaign on GMOs.
#1: The agrichemical companies have a history 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. So how can we trust them to tell us the truth about their GMOs?
#2: The FDA does not test whether GMOs are safe. It merely reviews information submitted by the agrichemical companies.
#3: Our nation’s lax policy on GMOs is the work of former Vice President Dan Quayle’s anti-regulatory crusade. It was designed and delivered as a political favor to Monsanto.
#4: What the agrichemical and tobacco industries have in common: PR firms, operatives, tactics. 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.
#5: Russia’s PR firm runs the agrichemical industry’s big PR salvo on GMOs. We don’t trust the PR firm Ketchum when it spins for Russia and President Putin. Why should we trust its spin on GMOs?
#6: The agrichemical industry’s key front groups and shills aren’t trustworthy. Many of the industry’s leading advocates have records of defending the indefensible, or other scandals and conduct that inspires no confidence.
#7: The agrichemical companies have employed repugnant PR tactics. These tactics include attacks on scientists and journalists, and brainwashing children.
#8: The agrichemical companies have a potent, sleazy political machine. They have allies in high places, and employ their power vigorously – and sometimes corruptly — to protect and expand their markets and their profits from GMOs.
#9: Half of the Big Six agrichemical firms can’t even grow their GMOs in their own home countries. Because of the health and environmental risks of GMOs, citizens of Germany and Switzerland won’t allow farming of BASF, Bayer and Syngenta’s GMO seeds.
#10: Monsanto supported GMO labeling in the UK but opposes it in the USA. Although Monsanto is based in St. Louis, Missouri, Monsanto believes that British citizens deserve stronger consumer rights than Americans do.