Palaces For The People
Wednesday, October 29, 2003
 
Fighting Fire With Steel, Pools and Plaster

The couple, whose house was profiled in this section earlier this month for its germ-fighting design, had planted drought-resistant, fire-retardant vegetation and cleared more than 300 feet in front of their house. And they had deliberately diminished the risk of fire by building with 200,000 pounds of steel, travertine floors and plaster walls. "They wanted low-maintenance materials, but they also insisted on building a fire-resistant house," said David Martin, their architect. "How do you fireproof a house? You don't build it out of anything that can burn, it's that simple."

Capt. John Harber of the Santa Paula Fire Department said the house made a good redoubt. "There's little combustible vegetation here, good access and good water supplies," he said, "and the house is built of noncombustible materials."

 
New hope for hepatitis C victims

MORE THAN 170 million people around the globe are infected with the virus that can cause permanent liver damage and in many cases death.

There is no vaccine against the hepatitis C virus (HVC) and current treatments can cause unwanted side effects.

But scientists working for the German drugs giant Boehringer Ingelheim have developed a drug that could offer new hope to patients with the illness.

Called BILN 2061, the drug targets an enzyme to block the replication of the virus. In eight people given four doses of the treatment viral loads, or the amount of virus in the blood, dropped by 100 to 1,000 fold after 48 hours without producing any unpleasant reactions in the patients.

“The antiviral results of protease inhibitor BILN 2061 in a proof-of-concept human trial clearly demonstrate the great potential of selective and anti-HCV agents,” Daniel Lamarre, of the company research centre in Laval, Canada, said in a report published online by the science journal Nature.

BILN 2061 is the first of a class of drugs called NS3 protease inhibitors to be tested in humans.

Although more longer trials are needed to see if the drug keep the viral load down and if resistance develops, the scientists believe it “holds great promise to markedly improve treatments of chronic HCV infection.”

Former U.S. surgeon general Dr C. Everett Koop has described the illness as a graver threat to public health than AIDS.

“Hepatitis C already infects three times more people than does AIDS. It is responsible for more than one-third of all liver transplants,” Koop warned in an Internet message, adding that the illness could kill more people than AIDS each year.

Hepatitis C is currently treated using interferons, including Pegasys produced by Roche Holding AG and PeginTron made by Schering-Plough Corp. Both treatments are given in combination with the antiviral drug ribavirin.

Canadian actress Pamela Anderson, who shot to stardom in the television series Baywatch, announced last year that she was being treated for hepatitis C. She claimed she was infected by sharing a tattoo needle with her ex-husband, rocker Tommy Lee.
 
Starlink is not the Problem!

...For example, what was the response when Monsanto researchers notified FDA that the most widely used genetically engineered product, Roundup Ready soybeans, contained a surprise package-some unintended and unsuspected gene fragments? Apparently when Monsanto enabled soybean plants to survive spraying with their weed killer, Roundup, by splicing a gene into the bean's DNA, they tossed in a little extra.

FDA's response: a big yawn. Media response: UK papers carried the story. A newswire service reported it in the US. Maybe some newspapers and news stations picked it up, but we did not see it anywhere except in the July News column of Whole Life Times.

Although this story should have smeared egg on the faces of biotech cheerleaders who claim that genetic engineering is more precise than conventional breeding techniques, scientist to this day publish high-profile opinion pieces making this now-disproved assertion.

...Monsanto and other producers of GE seeds fund plenty of research at universities around the world, making it easy to recruit "notable scientists" as mouthpieces. They also fund think tanks and similar organizations to spread their misleading messages.

An example of a widely published mouthpiece for big agribusiness is Dennis Avery, the author of SAVING THE PLANET WITH PESTICIDES AND PLASTICS, and currently is director of the Center for Global Food Issues for the Hudson Institute, a pro-corporate think tank with major funders such as Monsanto, DuPont, Novartis, Dow, and ConAgra. The biotech industry's PR firm, Burson-Marsteller, allegedly involved in a massive PR campaign to counteract the escalating global anti-GE movement in the US and abroad, is represented on Hudson Institute's board.

Herb London, President of the Hudson Institute, is a John M. Olin Professor of Humanities at New York University, a position funded by the John M. Olin Foundation. The Olin Foundation was created and is still controlled by the Olin Corporation, a leading North American chemical giant and top producer of agricultural chemicals, including sulfuric acid, fertilizers and pesticides.

Herb London also sits on the Board of Associates for the Palmer R. Chitester Fund--a right-wing foundation which sells educational materials based on John Stossel's 20/20 reports on ABC, giving ABC a cut of the profits. Remember Stossel's 20/20 hatchet job on organic foods? Another major contributor to the Palmer R. Chitester Fund is the Olin Foundation. Is a picture beginning to emerge?

The corruptive inbreeding of interests does not end with the connections between agribusiness, a conservative foundation, a conservative think tank, a widely published media mouthpiece for agribusiness, and a supposed independent journalist. We won't even start in on the well documented revolving door between Monsanto and FDA, or other US agencies that develop and implement biotech policy.
 
Food Safety Crisis in the USA: Organics Under Fire: The U.S. Debate Continues -- by Ronnie Cummins / Rural America / In Motion Magazine

The Hard Kill: "Organic Food is Dangerous"

Increasingly in 1998 and continuing in 1999 these anti-organic special interests -- enraged by the mass consumer rejection of the USDA's proposed organic rules and fearful of long-term market trends -- have hired PR firms and right-wing think tanks to go on the offensive. Placing numerous articles and opinion pieces in the mass media and influencing others (Knight-Ridder Newspapers, PBS, Farm newspapers, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, USA Today online, etc.) they have hardened their propaganda message: not only do they claim that organic is not safer than conventional -- now they're saying, through mouthpieces such as Dennis Avery of the corporate funded Hudson Institute, that organic food is actually dangerous. The Hudson Institute's Board includes James H. Dowling from the multinational PR firm Burson-Marsteller, Craig Fuller (who led the PR firm Hill & Knowlton's Gulf War front group Citizens for a Free Kuwait), and Kenneth Duberstein (who runs a top DC lobby firm with a host of corporate clients). Hudson's generous funders include the Archer Daniels Midland Corporation.

"Mad dog" Avery has picked up the industrial agriculture mantle, claiming that "Organic foods have clearly become the deadliest food choice." Avery argues that selfish organic consumers and farmers would rather watch millions of poor people in the Third World starve, or else sit by while desperate peasants destroy the remaining rainforests, rather than admit that genetic engineering and pesticide and chemical use in agriculture are necessary and safe.

Avery is a former government official during the Reagan era and author of the book Saving the Planet with Pesticides and Plastic. An economist by trade, Avery has touted the virtues of global warming (it's better for farmers), staunchly defended factory-style hog farms (they're good for the environment because they save space), and pushed for food irradiation (it preserves the freshness of food while killing bacteria).

What makes Avery confounding (and dangerous) in his often widely-reprinted newspaper articles and opinion pieces is his skill at manipulating statistics and his bold willingness to not only fudge facts, but to literally make them up. Here are a few of the gems from Avery's pen:

"People who eat organic foods are eight times more likely to be attacked by the deadly new E. coli bacteria... Organic consumers are at increased risk from natural toxins produced by fungi, some of which cause cancer. Organic foods carry far more of the dangerous bacteria (salmonella, campylobacter, and Listeria) that kill thousands of people every year." (Syndicated article in Knight-Ridder newspapers Aug. 3, 1998)

Avery likes to claim his statistics come from the Centers for Disease Control and the FDA. But spokespersons from both agencies told a reporter last fall from the respected Congressional Quarterly Researcher (a research publication in Washington) that this was not true. As Larry Slutsker of the CDC told the CQR, "I cannot confirm [Avery's] numbers. We don't have routine data collection on whether things are organic or not." In a similar vein Robert Lake, director of policy planning at the FDA's Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition told CQR "I'm not aware that there's a particular problem with organics and aflotoxins [a type of fungi]."

As organic farmer and National Organic Standards Board member Fred Kirschemann of North Dakota pointed out to CQR, Avery's claims are "outrageous and undocumented. I don't know of a single case to date where food coming from a certified organic farm has been contaminated by a food-borne illness. All of the cases have been traced to either imported foods or food from large industrial operations."

(All quotes are taken from the CQ Researcher September 4, 1998).
 
Grist | Global Citizen | Organic standards

...Organic farmers do not lose more to pests or weeds than other farmers. They do not get lower yields, though Dennis Avery (who was in the Agriculture Department under Reagan and now works at the right-wing Hudson Institute) constantly claims otherwise. Both chemical-using and organic farmers on average lose 30 percent of their output to pests or weeds.

Having a field day with pesticides.

The loss rates are similar because pesticide users typically grow monocultures, miles of the same crop year after year, a sure recipe for breeding that crop's pests. Pesticides beat back the enhanced pest populations to roughly where they would be if crops were interplanted and rotated -- which is to say, if they were grown the way organic farmers grow them. Pesticides don't reduce crop loss, they just permit monocultures. Monocultures lend themselves to mechanization and industrialization. We like to think they reduce costs, but we do not count the costs of spraying poisons across the land or eating pesticide residues in our food.

It's because our foods are increasingly mechanized, industrialized, engineered, poisoned, and irradiated that organic foods are becoming popular. At present there are 6,600 certified organic farms in the United States, large and small, north and south, growing everything from grain to grapes. There are also many uncertified organic farms; only 31 states have certification programs. Altogether consumers buy about $6 billion worth of organic food each year, about one percent of the U.S. food budget....
 
Silence Is Golden

...
The television station manager turned to the two reporters in his office. He had just been brought in from corporate headquarters and he didn’t mince words. The date was April 16, 1997.
“We paid three billion dollars for these television stations. We will decide what the news is. The news is what we tell you it is.”
These words were directed to Steve Wilson and Jane Akre, two award winning investigative journalists, who worked for WTVT in Tampa, Forida [FOX network station owned by Rupert Murdoch]. The topic was a series of four investigative news reports on the dangers posed by rBGH -- recombinent Bovine Growth Hormone made and marketed by Monsanto under the name Posilac.

... The reports documented, in detail, the damage Posilac was causing to Florida’s dairy cows and farmers and the potential health effects in humans who drink milk from cows using rBGH.
“It (Posilac) has made the milk on your table one of the first genetically engineered foods to ever to be fed to your family,” reported Jane Akre in the second report.
Two days before the scheduled debut of the series, and after thousands of dollars of advertising in other media promoting the investigate report, WTVT cancelled its airing. At the April meeting with the station manager, Steve and Jane were given a choice. They could stop their efforts to get WTVT to broadcast their reports. Or they could lose their jobs.
Wilson and Akre responded that if the station aired a false or misleading report, it would be their duty to file a complaint with the FCC.
“I am an investigative reporter but I am also a mother,” said Jane Akre in an interview. “Steve and I believe parents and consumers deserve to hear all that is known about what my daughter puts on her cereal every morning.”
In September, 1997, the two reporters were fired without cause. And their series on rBGh has never been broadcast.

... The firing of Steve Wilson and Jane Akre for standing up for the truth is not an anomaly. Today, our access to accurate information “about how our food is produced” is under systematic corporate/right wing assault.
The stakes are very high for the purveyors of factory engineered food and animals. For the massive industrialization of our food supply -- with its accompanying implications for water quality, animal welfare, biodiversity, land use and human health -- needs consumer acceptance to succeed.
And therein lies the problem for the Monsanto’s of the world. Consumers, everywhere, are deeply suspicious of bioengineered foods and opposed to animal factory production. And the news about the effects of industrialization continues to get worse as science documents more and more destruction cause by the imposition of monoculture technologies on incredibly fecund and diverse nature.
In this situation, information poses a clear threat to the profits of the agribusiness corporations behind this profound change.
Label of genetically modified products must be avoid at all costs. (The Hudson Institute calls food labeling un-American). Independent farmers must be made servile and captive to corporate interests. And criticism, of the kind written by Steve Wilson and Jane Akre, must be silenced.
The intimidation reaches right into Maryland. A co-op of dairy farmers, who have worked closely with the Chapter’s Water, Food and Farm Campaign, recently were threatened by Monsanto with legal action when they distributed Sierra Club literature in milk checks to member farmers.
It is very insidious. For a threatening letter from a powerful New York law firm is often enough to silence citizens regardless of the legal basis for the challenge. This form of behavior is corporate intimidation, pure and simple.

Disinformation & John Stossel.
Another industry tactic is to sow doubt about the alternatives to industrialized food production.
On February 4, 2000, John Stossel produced a report for ABC’s news magazine program 20/20, “The Food You Eat!” to look at the claim, by many folks, that organic food was safer than conventional food which include a growing amount of biotech inputs.

...Stossel used the Big Lie techniques pioneered by that friend of liberty, Joseph Stalin. (The bigger the lie, the more people will believe it.)

...Dennis Avery & the Hudson Institute.
So what is going on here? The answer is that John Stossel’s report is part of a concerted effort by the corporate sponsored Hudson Institute to sow disinformation about food production in much the same way tobacco corporations sought to discredit their critics.
The Hudson Institute was founded by Herman Kahn (author of “nuclear war isn’t so bad” book On Thermonuclear War) and is a bastion of pro-corporate libertarian thought.
Dennis Avery, Director of the Center for Global Food Issues at the Hudson Institute, appears on John Stossel’s report and is the source of much of its misinformation. Avery made the news recently by authoring the landmark Saving the Planet with Pesticides and Plastics, an example of how demented corporate self-interest can be.
John Stossel, although posing as an objective, if hardhitting, reporter is very close to the Hudson Institute. Stossel markets reports like “The Food We Eat” program directly to schools through an organization called “Friends of John Stossel in the Classroom.”

Reaching into the classroom.
This extreme libertarian outreach is funded by the Palmer R. Chitester Fund which, in term, has Hudson Institute members on its Board. The project uses the appearance of John Stossel’s “objectivity” to promote distrust of government and an end to regulation of the environment and food production.
Through the Chitester Fund’s website
www.prcfund.org/Stossel/friends/, libertarian activists are encouraged to contact local schools to promote the Stossel videotapes.
It is possible that Stossel makes substantial income from this work.

The stakes are high!
When a supposed journalist that John Stossel uses his position to promote a radical agenda in the guise of news, more than the safety of our food supply is at risk.
When a corporation like Monsanto can use its legal resources to bully, threaten and intimidate citizens and silence reporters from a legitimate consideration of issues related to animal factory production and biotechnology’s use in food production, more than our jobs are at stake.
There is a bumpersticker circulating quietly in the public interest movement that reads, “Don’t tell the truth, it may cost you your funding.”
 
Scope Magazine | Winter 2001 | Observations | Debating genetically modified foods

... Much of Avery’s deceptive barrage of facts and figures was designed to justify the need for high-yield agriculture and biotechnology. Setting up the specter of imminent world starvation, he laid blame at the door of “low-yield organic agriculture” working in conjunction with environmentalists and “chemo-phobic yuppies.” He argued that we’d have to “plow the forests” to grow enough food unless we wholeheartedly embrace industrial agriculture. He neglected to mention, however, that U.S. farmers are going broke because of low prices from overproduction, while the world’s poor, displaced by agribusiness and food imports in their own countries, can’t afford to buy the food they once grew for themselves....
 
Big Tobacco Behind Euro Anti-Organic Campaign

Date: 28 November 2000

Big Tobacco Behind Euro Anti-Organic Campaign


Earlier today we posted news about PR Watch, Volume 7, No. 3, Third Quarter 2000, which is now available on-line at

There were also 2 articles included, one of them, 'How Big Tobacco Helped Create "the Junkman"'. As this was quite a longish item, some ngineers may not have realised the full extent of its relevance to the anti-organic / pro-GM lobby in Europe.

However, tucked well down the article about Junkscience webmaster Milloy and his work as a lobbyist and frontman for Philip Morris tobacco interests, which included becoming the executive director of The Advancement of Sound Science Coalition (TASSC) ( an organization that
PRWatch explains "was covertly created by Philip Morris for the express purpose of generating scientific controversy regarding the link between secondhand smoke and cancer") is a section on the tobacco-funded European campaign. This read as follows:
...
EuroTASSC

In 1994, Philip Morris budgeted $880,000 in funding for TASSC. In consultation with APCO and Burson-Marsteller, the company began planning to set up a second, European organization, tentatively named "Scientists for Sound Public Policy" (later renamed the European Science and Environment Forum). Like TASSC, the European organization would attempt to smuggle tobacco advocacy into a larger bundle of "sound science" issues, including the "ban on growth hormone for livestock; ban on [genetically-engineered bovine growth hormone] to improve milk production; pesticide restrictions; ban on indoor smoking; restrictions on use of chlorine; ban on certain pharmaceutical products; restrictions on the use of biotechnology."
...
The European Science and Environment Forum (or ESEF) should ring some bells. The Counterblast TV programme attacking organic food, and those who tried to stop GM crop trials, was presented by Roger Bate in his then role as director of the European Science and Environment Forum.

We noted previously - see below - how intimately tied in ESEF appeared to be with the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) which has also been running an anti-organic/pro-GM campaign which included providing a public platform for Prakash.

Just how intimately is shown by a domain enquiry about the ESEF website: esef.org which revealed the following:

Domain Inquiry: esef.org
Registrant: European Science and Environment Forum (ESEF-DOM) UK
Domain Name: ESEF.ORG
Administrative Contact:
Morris, Julian (JM4309) 101603.3004@COMPUSERVE.COM
European Science and Environment Forum, Kersfield Road, London, SW15 3HE, UK

Interestingly, Julian Morris appeared to hold no position in relation to ESEF but he is, of course, the Director of the IEA which has been a major co-participant in the anti-organic, pro-GM campaign.

Equally interestingly, the ESEF website has now disappeared and the domain name may have been sold off. Bate has also retired as director.

Could these facts perchance have any connection with the emerging information on Philip Morris funding for ESEF?

If so, it's important that the IEA connection to ESEF is made as clear as possible to all those on the end of IEA propaganda and lobbying. Julian Morris appears regularly in TV and radio programmes - he seems particularly popular with the BBC for some reason (eg 'Costing the
Earth', the 'Food and Drink' programme, 'Moral Maze'), and the material below also shows the IEA asscoaiation with anti-organic, pro-GM figures like Prof Philip Stott and journalists Matt Ridley and Richard North.

The following article with links can be found at: http://members.tripod.com/~ngin/rightwing.htm
* * *
In the wake of the massive defeats suffered over their promotion of GM foods, pro-GM lobbyists in the UK have regrouped and with the help of a clique of right wing journalists and academics are coordinating a still more aggressive campaign of disinformation.

It appears that a strategy proven effective in the US is being carefully replicated here: the use of right wing journalists and academics to smear GM critics and alternatives to agricultural biotechnology. In the US figures like Dennis Avery and Michael Fumento have helped fulfil this
role. In the UK significant use is now being made of a similar clique of extreme anti-environmentalists who draw heavily on the ideas and tactics of Avery, in particular.

A key contributor to each of the BBC programmes raising questions about organic food has been Julian Morris, the Director of the right-wing think tank, the Institute of Economic Affairs. One of the programmes ('Counterblast' broadcast on BBC 2 TV on 31 January 2000) was presented
by Roger Bate who was said to be the Director of the European Science and Environment Forum.

Although the Forum describes itself as "a non-partisan group of scientists", in reality it appears to be very closely linked to the Institute of Economic Affairs, of which Bate is a leading member.

Although this fact was not disclosed at any point in the programme, several other contributors to the Counterblast programme (notably Prof Phillip Stott and the journalist Richard North) also seem to be closely associated with the same IEA-connected right wing clique.

Both the Forum and the Institute are vague about their current sources of funding. Equivalent right wing think tanks in the US, such as the Hudson Institute, are known to receive funding from the usual A-Z of biotech interests: from AgrEvo to Zeneca. Whatever its current funding,
the IEA has since its inception had good reason to have the interests of industrial agriculture very close to its heart.

The Institute was started in the 1950s by one Anthony Fisher out of a fortune he had made from industrial agriculture. Fisher had successfully founded Britain's very first broiler chicken farm. It is perhaps not so surprising then that, having been established by a pioneer of factory farming who was also an extreme free marketeer, the Institute promotes the view that unregulated industrial agriculture and unfettered free trade are both of great environmental benefit.

This is a somewhat extreme perspective for an organisation based in a country like the UK where in the period of the Institute's existence more than 30 million wild birds have been lost, more than 100,000 miles of hedgerows removed, woodlands cut down and flower meadows ploughed up, all as a result of industrial agriculture.

The Institute's extremist disdain of any protection of the environement is well reflected in its various publications and, needless to say, the pro-GM lobby are prominent amongst its published authors. For instance, a book on tropical rainforests by biotech supporter and Counterblast contributor Prof Phillip Stott, claims to debunk "the eco-imperialist vision" which threatens the world, while a pending working paper attacking the Biosafety Protocol is being authored by none other than
Henry Miller, the rabid deregulator who once presided over the FDA's Office of Biotechnology.

Biotech propagandist CS Prakash, who organised the recent petition among US researchers in support of GM foods, is another contributor to an IEA publication.

Bate and Morris have also edited a recently-published book, 'Fearing Food: Risk, Health and the Environment', amongst whose contributors is Dennis Avery. Avery, of the Hudson Institute, has of course been at the very heart of the anti-organic smear campaign - see: Saving the Planet
With Pestilent Statistics

Bate and Morris, needless to say, appear entirely unembarrased by the dubious quality of Avery's scholarship or the bogus nature of his claims - claims from which the US's Centre for Disease Control and the FDA have both disassociated themselves, despite the fact that Avery says that it
is their data on which his health warnings about organic agriculture are based!

Bate and Morris, far from disassociating themselves from Avery's smears, have revelled in his assertions - not just repeating them in the various BBC programmes they've contributed to but even using his bogus e-coli claims in a publicity stunt to launch their book. According to right
wing columnist Matt Ridley of the Telegraph, part of the stunt involved telling people that "according to the United States Centers for Disease Control, people who eat the products of...[organic agriculture] are eight times more likely to contract the strain of E-coli that killed 21
people in Lanarkshire in 1997" ['Unsavoury facts about organic food' August 16, 1999] This despite the fact that, as Bate and Morris must surely know, the CDC has stated, "The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has not conducted any study that compares or quantitates the
specific risk for infection with E. coli 0157:H7 and eating either conventionally grown or organic/natural foods." [see: Saving the Planet With Pestilent Statistics ]

In a press release ('Londoners demand regulation of potentially deadly organic food') to accompany the book's launch, and their organics-are-dangerous-survey stunt, Bate and Morris wrote, "organic food may well present a danger to children, the elderly and the sick... such people should be discouraged from eating so-called 'organic' or 'natural' foods." The underlying antipathy of Bate and Morris to organic farming, and the real reason for their concerns, is best captured in an
article on The European Science and Environment Forum website which refers to organics as "a mainstay of the Luddites these past decades and... a staple of the anti-GM battle."

It is obviously no surprise that the likes of Matt Ridley (another member of the IEA clique, with 2 volumes of his anti-environmentalist articles amongst the Institute's publications) should be pleased to publicise the IEA's disinformation campaign. What is more revealing is the way in which the BBC's science and technology unit and senior academics like Prof Hillman or Prof Anthony Trewavas, another contributor to Counterblast, have apparently been happy to promote such
views without serious critical scrutiny of the evidence on which they are based.

Prof Trewavas, for example, has made repeated reference to Avery's claims, as made in Avery's chapter in the Morris' and Bate's book, in an article published in the scientific journal Nature (Nature 402, 231 [1999]). Thus, Prof Trewavas tells us:

- "Going organic worldwide, as Greenpeace wants, would destroy even more wilderness, much of it of marginal agricultural quality15."

- "Mycotoxin contamination, and infection from the potentially lethal Escherichia coli O157, are additional problems15."

- "average crop yields [for organics] on a variety of soils are about half those of intensive farming15-17"

Avery's chapter is the reference (15) given for all three points:

"15. Avery, D. in Fearing Food. Risk, Health and Environment (eds Morris, J. & Bate, R.) 3-18 (Butterworth-Heinemann, Oxford, 1999)"

However, anyone who actually follows up this reference discovers that all Avery's highly
partisan claims about organic agriculture lack specific references to supporting evidence. In other words, Trewavas's trail of evidence leads nowhere but to Avery's assertions!

Nothing could expose more starkly the bogus nature of the biotech brigade's claims to base their promotion of GM crops on sound science, nor the vacuous nature of their complaints against Pusztai, and other researchers that have raised questions about GM crops, not to mention
their fury with journals that have published such papers.

If such scientists are really so passionate about "sound science" as they claim, why haven't they been busy denouncing the bogus claims of Avery and his admirers (claims, after all, that seem to involve a far more outrageous treatment of research evidence than anything of which scientists critical of GM have been accused) ?

The answer, of course, is all too plain. They've either been too busy repeating these bogus claims themselves and trying to lend them credibility, or else they recognise that as these claims forward rather than hinder their own interests it is better to remain silent and not enquire too deeply into them. Either way, we once again pay the price of science having become so industrially aligned that many of its practitioners are far more preoccupied with serving private interests than they are with the public good.

The Bate and Morris book also contains a chapter on GM by Prof John Hillman, who has also engaged in highly dubious public criticism of organic agriculture . One of Hillman's co-author is none other than Professor T Michael Wilson, whose highly inaccurate public promotion of
GM has also drawn criticism - see false reports . Wilson and Hillman's chapter contains very similar claims of benefits from GM to the ones which have already come under fire for their lack of substantiation - see false reports .

Hillman and Wilson actually describe these claims as "now proven," though they produce no new evidence in support of this, and to cap it all, Wilson and Hillman end their chapter with a prolonged
rant about "disinformation." That Hillman who has made the most lurid claims in relation to organic farming can complain, as he and his co-authors do, without any apparent sense of irony, about those "who raise speculative risks" and "promote public fear", or that he and Wilson can complain about "media disinformation" (see: false reports) is quite remarkable.

And yet there is something peculiarly fitting about these GM zealots having found such a omfortable home among the radical right, not only in the light of the latter's passion for unbridled capitalism and antipathy to environmental protection, but also a tendency to "contrarian" assertion of causes that are often ludicrous, lost, or just downright dangerous.



 
Pro-GM scientists and the right

Pro-GM scientists and the right

"Tell me what company thou keepst, and I'll tell thee what thou art"- Cervantes

In the wake of the massive defeats suffered over their promotion of GM foods, pro-GM lobbyists in the UK have regrouped and with the help of a clique of right wing journalists and academics are coordinating a still more aggressive campaign of disinformation.

BBC coverage well illustrates what's been going on. Three BBC programmes in early 2000 gave prominence to extreme anti-organic views ('Costing the Earth', 'Counterblast', and to a lesser extent the 'Food and Drink' programme).

It appears that a strategy proven effective in the US is being carefully replicated here: the use of right wing journalists and academics to smear GM critics and alternatives to agricultural biotechnology. In the US figures like Dennis Avery and Michael Fumento have helped fulfil this role. In the UK significant use is now being made of a similar clique of extreme anti-environmentalists who draw heavily on the ideas and tactics of Avery, in particular.

A key contributor to each of the BBC programmes raising questions about organic food has been Julian Morris, the Director of the Environment and Technology Programme of the far right think tank, the Institute of Economic Affairs. One of the programmes ('Counterblast', broadcast on BBC 2 on 31 January 2000) was presented by Roger Bate in his then role as the Director of the European Science and Environment Forum (ESEF).

Although the ESEF describes itself as "a non-partisan group of scientists", in reality it appears to be extremely closely linked to the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA), where Bate co-directs its Environment and Technology Programme. In fact, Bate founded the Environment Unit at the IEA in 1993 and then co-founded the European Science and Environment Forum a year later.

Athough this fact was never disclosed at any point in the 'Counterblast' programme, several other contributors to the programme (notably Prof Phillip Stott - an IEA intimate, though not a formal member, who shares its anti-environmentalist agenda - and the journalist Richard D. North) also seem to be closely associated with the same IEA-connected clique.

While equivalent right wing think tanks in the US, such as the Hudson Institute where Avery and Fumento have a base, are known to receive funding from the usual A-Z of biotech interests: from AgrEvo to Zeneca, both the ESEF and IEA are vague about their funding sources. However, a certain amount is known about the funding that established both and in each case it is highly revealing.

The IEA, since its inception, has had good reason to have the interests of industrial agriculture close to its heart, having been founded in the 1950s out of a fortune made from intensive farming. Before founding the IEA, Anthony Fisher had successfully started Britain's very first broiler chicken farm.

Established by a pioneer of factory farming who was also an extreme free marketeer, it is hardly surprising that the IEA promotes the view that deregulated intensive farming and unfettered free trade are both of great environmental benefit. The IEA's extremist disdain of environmental protection is well reflected in its various publications and, needless to say, the pro-GM lobby are prominent amongst its published authors. For instance, a book on tropical rainforests by biotech supporter and Counterblast contributor Prof Philip Stott, claims to debunk "the eco-imperialist vision" which threatens the world, while a paper attacking the Biosafety Protocol is authored by none other than Henry Miller, the rabid deregulator who once presided over the FDA's Office of Biotechnology. Biotech propagandist CS Prakash, who organised the recent petition among researchers in support of GM foods, is another contributor to an IEA publication, and the IEA have also provided Prakash with a London platform.

ESEF's financial origins are still more revealing. Although ESEF claimed, "To maintain its independence and impartiality, the ESEF does not accept outside funding from whatever source, the only income it receives is from the sale of its publications"
[http://web.archive.org/web/19970212024340/www.esef.org/mission.htm], documents released by tobacco giant Philip Morris, in fact, show that ESEF was established with money from Big Tobacco as part of a world wide campaign to undermine industry-critical research.

As Big Tobacco's European front organization -- its US equivalent was TASSC: The Association for Sound Science, which gave birth to Steven Milloy's infamous 'Junk-science' internet mission -- ESEF's task was to smuggle tobacco advocacy into a larger bundle of "sound science" issues, including attacking such problematic areas for US corporate interests as the "ban on growth hormone for livestock; ban on [genetically-engineered bovine growth hormone] to improve milk production; pesticide restrictions; ban on indoor smoking; restrictions on use of chlorine; ban on certain pharmaceutical products; restrictions on the use of biotechnology." [quoted in 'How Big Tobacco Helped Create "the Junkman"' in PR Watch, Volume 7, No. 3: http://www.prwatch.org]

Perhaps it is no surprise then that the Director of the campaign group Action on Smoking and Health should be found complaining that "Roger Bate of the Institute of Economic Affairs produces new variants of the familiar argument of the tobacco industry". This complaint followed Bate's involvement in an IEA launch of non peer-reviewed "research" that, according to ASH, required careful inspection "for the fingerprints of a commercially-interested sponsor." In other words, "it must be legitimate to ask if [the researcher] or the IEA are benefiting directly or indirectly from tobacco industry money".

In pursuing the question of "who is funding this work at the IEA" ASH noted ESEF's role:

"The organiser of the seminar at the IEA, Roger Bate is also a key member of something called the "European Science and Environment Forum". This body has recently published analysis that amounts to an attack on... findings on passive smoking."

ASH also noted that tobacco rersearch was not the only area where these players had been involved in promoting dubious science for corporate purposes:

"Both Bate, the ESEF and the IEA have had a dry run for their work on tobacco. Roger Bate came to fame as the author of an IEA book dismissing the widespread scientific consensus on global warming "Global warming or hot air?". The ESEF also published a book of so-called sceptical science - this was the work of a small group of scientists. The word 'sceptical' dignifies something that was much more cynical. The aim was to create controversy and deflect public policy measures to combat climate change - something very similar appears to be happening with tobacco." [http://www.ash.org.uk/html/press/980420.html]

Recently Bate suddenly resigned as Director of ESEF and shortly afterwards the ESEF website: www.esef.org was no longer accessible. The domain name appears to have been sold off or reassigned. Bate's IEA Environment and Technology Programme co-Director, Julian Morris, had to all intents and purposes had no direct connection with ESEF, but an ESEF domain inquiry prior to the website's disappearance revealed the following:

[whois.networksolutions.com:43]
Registrant: European Science and Environment Forum (ESEF-DOM) UK
Domain Name: ESEF.ORG
Administrative Contact: Morris, Julian (JM4309) 101603.3004@COMPUSERVE.COM
European Science and Environment Forum
Kersfield Road
London, SW15 3HE

ESEF, then, seems to have been more or less synonymous with Bate and Morris. Bate and Morris have also co-edited a book, 'Fearing Food: Risk, Health and the Environment', amongst whose contributors is Dennis Avery. Avery, of the Hudson Institute, has been at the very heart of the anti-organic smear campaign - see: Saving the Planet With Pestilent Statistics

Bate and Morris, needless to say, appear entirely unembarrased by the dubious quality of Avery's scholarship or the bogus nature of his claims - claims from which the US's Centers for Disease Control have disassociated themselves, despite the fact that Avery says that it is their data on which his health warnings about organic agriculture are based!

In fact, Bate and Morris, far from disassociating themselves from Avery's smears, have revelled in his assertions -- not just repeating them in the various BBC programmes they've contributed to but even using his bogus e-coli claims in a publicity stunt to launch their book. According to right wing libertarian Matt Ridley of the Telegraph, part of the stunt involved telling people that "according to the United States Centers for Disease Control, people who eat the products of...[organic agriculture] are eight times more likely to contract the strain of E-coli that killed 21 people in Lanarkshire in 1997" ['Unsavoury facts about organic food' August 16, 1999] This despite the fact that, as Bate and Morris must surely know, the CDC has stated, "The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has not conducted any study that compares or quantitates the specific risk for infection with E. coli 0157:H7 and eating either conventionally grown or organic/natural foods." [see: Saving the Planet With Pestilent Statistics ]

In a press release ('Londoners demand regulation of potentially deadly organic food') to accompany the book's launch, and their organics-are-dangerous-survey stunt, Bate and Morris wrote, "organic food may well present a danger to children, the elderly and the sick... such people should be discouraged from eating so-called 'organic' or 'natural' foods."

On the BBC website, Bate is quoted, as Director of the ESEF, as saying, "...some researchers say that in many ways it's worse for you, worse for the environment and if embraced globally would condemn millions of people to starvation."
[http://www.bbc.co.uk/knowledge/havewords/bbc2/bbc2archive/bbc2prog4/bbc2arg2.shtml]

Bates also quotes Prof Stott, another climate-change denier as well as pro-GM campaigner, "The idea that it can replace other forms of agriculture is a dangerous lie..."

The savage antipathy of the likes of Bate, Morris and Stott to organic farming, and the real reason for their concern, is perhaps best captured in an article on The European Science and Environment Forum website which referred to organics as "a mainstay of the Luddites these past decades and... a staple of the anti-GM battle."

As with Bate's tobacco advocacy it remains an interesting question as to where the support for the anti-organic pro-GM campaigning is coming from. Another IEA member who has taken part in this campaign, Richard D North, is said to have acted as a paid apologist for industry. As an article in the Ecologist notes:

"He isn't merely happy to extol the wonders of multinational companies; he's happy to take their money too. Much of the research for his 1995 greenbashing book Life On A Modern Planet was funded by ICI. Shell paid him to pop over to Ogoniland in Nigeria in the
wake of the murder of Ken SaroWiwa and write puffpieces in British papers about how responsible the oil company was being."
[http://www.theecologist.org/Grim.htm]

It is obviously no surprise that the likes of North or Matt Ridley (a Research Fellow at the IEA with 2 volumes of his anti-environmentalist pieces amongst the Institute's publications) should be pleased to publicise the IEA's disinformation campaign. What is more revealing is the way in which the BBC's science and technology unit and senior academics like Prof Hillman or Prof Anthony Trewavas, another contributor to Counterblast, have apparently been happy to promote such views without serious critical scrutiny of the evidence on which they are based.

Prof Trewavas, for example, has made repeated reference to Avery's claims, as made in Avery's chapter in the Morris' and Bate's book, in an article published in the scientific journal Nature (Nature 402, 231 [1999]). Thus, Prof Trewavas tells us:

"Going organic worldwide, as Greenpeace wants, would destroy even more wilderness, much of it of marginal agricultural quality15."

"Mycotoxin contamination, and infection from the potentially lethal Escherichia coli O157, are additional problems15."

"average crop yields [for organics] on a variety of soils are about half those of intensive farming15-17"

Avery's chapter is the reference (15) given for all three points: "15. Avery, D. in Fearing Food. Risk, Health and Environment (eds Morris, J. & Bate, R.) 3-18 (Butterworth-Heinemann, Oxford, 1999)" However, anyone who actually follows up this reference discovers that all Avery's highly partisan claims about organic agriculture lack specific references to supporting evidence. In other words, Trewavas's trail of evidence leads nowhere but to Avery's assertions!

Nothing could expose more starkly the bogus nature of the biotech brigade's claims to base their promotion of GM crops on sound science, nor the vacuous nature of their complaints against Pusztai, and other researchers that have raised questions about GM crops, not to mention their fury with journals that have published such papers.

If such scientists are really so passionate about "sound science" as they claim, why haven't they been busy denouncing the bogus claims of Avery and his admirers (claims, after all, that seem to involve a far more outrageous treatment of research evidence than anything of which scientists critical of GM have been accused) ?

The answer, of course, is all too plain. They've either been too busy repeating these bogus claims themselves and trying to lend them credibility, or else they recognise that as these claims forward rather than hinder their own interests it is better to remain silent and not enquire too deeply into them. Either way, we once again pay the price of science having become so industrially aligned that many of its practitioners are far more preoccupied with serving private interests than they are with the public good.

The Bate and Morris book also contains a chapter on GM by Prof John Hillman, who has also engaged in highly dubious public criticism of organic agriculture (see: Professor Hillman and his associates! and FIRST THEY TRIED TO MISLEAD US OVER GM - NOW IT'S ORGANIC ) One of Hillman's co-author is none other than Professor T Michael Wilson, whose highly inaccurate public promotion of GM has also drawn criticism - see false reports . Wilson and Hillman's chapter contains very similar claims of benefits from GM to the ones which have already come under fire for their lack of substantiation - see false reports . Hillman and Wilson actually describe these claims as "now proven," though they produce no new evidence in support of this, and to cap it all, Wilson and Hillman end their chapter with a prolonged rant about "disinformation." That Hillman who has made the most lurid claims in relation to organic farming (see: FIRST THEY TRIED TO MISLEAD US OVER GM - NOW IT'S ORGANIC ) can complain, as he and his co-authors do, without any apparent sense of irony, about those "who raise speculative risks" and "promote public fear", or that he and Wilson can complain about "media disinformation" (see: false reports ) is quite remarkable.

And yet there is something peculiarly fitting about these GM zealots having found such a comfortable home among the radical right, not only in the light of the latter's passion for unbridled capitalism and antipathy to environmental protection, but also a tendency to "contrarian" assertion of causes that are often ludicrous, lost, or just downright dangerous.
 
Part of the Network

The "Network"[1], supported by the International Policy Network (IPN), claims to be all about "helping to create free societies around the world"[2]. It is no surprise, therefore, to discover that it's actually constituted by an often unsavoury collection of rightwing libertarian "think tanks" and industry front organisations keen to support every ugly corporate excess.[3] One of the IPN's prime movers is Julian Morris of the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) which has advocated, amongst other interesting ideas, that African countries should be sold off to multinational corporations in the interests of "good government"[4]. Another Network member, India's Liberty Institute has opposed restrictions on the tobacco industry, which it promotes as a driver for economic growth.

Big Tobacco's popularity amongst the Network is hardly surprising given its financial input into some of the groups. Australia's Institute of Public Affairs (IPA) has actually had Philip Morris on its board, while another organisation in which Julian Morris has had a hand, the European Science and Environment Foundation, has claimed to be "a non-aligned group of scientists" which does "not accept outside funding", despite well-documented evidence that it was set up primarily with Big Tobacco money as a front organisation to help the likes of Philip Morris undermine industry critical research, and attack restrictions on smoking, biotechnology etc.[5]
...

One of the founding members of "International Consumers for Civil Society"[9] is Dennis Avery of the Hudson Institute (sponsors include Novartis, Cargill, DuPont, and Monsanto). Via such bogus claims as increased E-coli food poisoning risks, Avery has done more than anyone to smear organic agriculture[10] which, in its most developed form, is seen by many as an environmentally sustainable alternative to the use of GMOs. Prakash has been more than happy to circulate and repeat Avery's smears[11] despite a total lack of credible scientific evidence to support them.
 
http://www.agls.uidaho.edu/etoxweb/resources/Book%20Reviews/Planet.pdf


 
Critics of sustainable agriculture ignore the evidence

[http://eap.mcgill.ca/Publications/eap_head.htm]
Critics of sustainable agriculture ignore the evidence

Sustainable agriculture is under attack by proponents of chemical agriculture. Dennis Avery of the Hudson Institute, a US think tank supported by dollars from the US agri-chemical industry, is currently the most vocal critic. His remarks are regularly quoted by the mainstream agricultural media, and by conventional agribusiness and policy analysts.

... The Avery analysis fails to recognize other important data and doesn't hold up to a critical assessment:

* He seems unaware of the existing studies on wholesale conversion to organic systems. Midmore and Lampkin3, from their review of these studies, concluded that additional land demands under organic farming systems would be far less than the Avery estimates. Oelhaf4 estimated 17% greater land demands in the USA. Several other studies assume that there are no increases in agricultural land, which reduces overall output. However, domestic food needs are met. Exports do decline in some commodities. If one is committed to the belief that Western nations must feed the world, as Avery appears to be, then export reductions are a serious problem. If one believes, however, that Western export agriculture is a significant contributor to the decline of developing world food production capacity, then the loss of exports, if combined with supports for rebuilding local food economies, provides developing nations a new agricultural development opportunity.
* High yield systems require enormous investments of energy and agri-chemicals to be sustained, and the inability to sustain that investment for the long-term is one of the primary driving forces for sustainability.
* High-yield farming has systematically reduced productivity on millions of hectares of agriculture land5, land that would still be in use were it not for destruction of soil and water resources. For example, 550 million hectares of the world's agricultural lands are losing topsoil or undergoing other degradation as a direct result of poor agricultural methods6. The vast majority of this degeneration results from unsustainable agricultural practices, directly or indirectly a result of conventional agriculture. In the UK, some 6% of the agricultural land base is at high or very high risk of soil erosion, all associated with high yield agricultural practices7. Conventional farming practices in Canada create soil erosion and cost billions of dollars annually in lost incomes and clean-up expenses8. Those same practices are major contributors to the depletion of water resources. "Chemical contamination and eutrophication (from runoff of excess nutrients, mainly nitrogen and phosphorous, from cropland) threaten the productivity of the marine and aquatic systems from which a substantial portion of the world's food supply derives"9....

 
Who's Spinning the Pro-GM Story?

People who promote GM food and/or denigrate Organic food
Avery, Alex (aavery@rica.net)
Hudson Institute, Center for Global Food Issues
Son of Dennis Avery

Author of : The Organic Food Industry: Smearing The Competition - A paper published (13 March 2000) on The Biotechnology Knowledge Center which attempts to perpetuate the E.Coli contamination myth. For more information about this myth see The myth of E.coli / Faecal Contamination in Organic food.

Avery, Dennis (cgfi@rica.net)
Hudson Institute, Center for Global Food Issues

Advisor to the American Council on Science and Health
Author of :
Saving the Planet with Pesticides and Plastic - The Environmental Triumph of High-Yield Farming
The Hidden Dangers in Organic Food - Published (Fall 1998) on the Hudson Institute website which tries to perpetuate the E.Coli contamination myth.
Another Dubious Link Between Pesticides and Cancer - Another article which tries to perpetuate the E.Coli myth.
The Silent Killer in Organic Foods - Another article which tries to perpetuate the E.Coli myth.
Cited in :
Fearing Food: Risk, Health and Environment, by Roger Bate and Julian Morris

 
Steven Milloy
 
Saving the Planet With Pestilent Statistics.

...
Avery sees no problem with agricultural pollution, be it groundwater contamination, pesticide and fertilizer runoff, or even the mountains of stinking manure produced by the huge cattle, chicken and hog operations that plague increasing numbers of rural communities. He denies that there is any link between pesticides and cancer or other illnesses. In fact, he says, organic food is what will kill you.

Last Fall Avery began claiming that "people who eat organic and 'natural' foods are eight times as likely as the rest of the population to be attacked by a deadly new strain of E. coli bacteria (0157:H7)." This happens, he says, because organic food is grown in animal manure, a known carrier of this nasty microbe. He says his data comes from Dr. Paul Mead, an epidemiologist at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the federal agency that tracks outbreaks of foodborne illness.

Avery continues delivering this message with op-eds that bear titles such as "The Silent Killer in Organic Foods" and "Wallace Institute Got it Wrong: CDC Data Does Indicate Higher Risk From Organic and Natural Foods." These editorials are diseminated by Bridge News to between 300 and 400 newspapers throughout the country and approximately 500,000 other subscribers here and abroad including government departments, central banks and businesses....

 
The Cartel `Experts' Decide Who Eats

...
Dennis Avery

Dennis Avery has been, since 1989, the director of the Center for Global Food Issues, part of the Hudson Institute, for which he also serves as senior fellow. Avery resides as a "gentleman" horse and cattle rancher near Swope, Virginia.

Funding: The operations and policy of the Hudson Institute are funded by foundations including: the Charles Stewart Mott, John M. Olin, Harry and Lynde Bradley, Carthage, Sarah Scaife, Starr, Smith Richardson, JM, General Mills, and Bristol-Myers Squibb. Funding also comes from the Pew Charitable Trusts, the Lilly Endowment Inc., Sandoz Corp., ConAgra Inc., Archer Daniels Midland, Philip Morris Companies Inc., IMC Fertilizer Inc., Louis Dreyfus Corp., British Petroleum Oil Company, Pfizer Inc., Amway Corp., Sunkist Growers Inc., E.I. du Pont de Nemours and Co., Exxon Corp., Procter and Gamble Company, David H. Koch, Richard Dennis (who funds many Libertarian causes, including the Drug Policy Foundation which backs drug legalization), and Jay Van Andel (of Amway Corp., also a big funder of the Heritage Foundation).

Background: Avery received a B.A. degree in agricultural economics from Michigan State University in 1957, and an M.S. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1959. He worked as an editor at the USDA in Washington, D.C., in 1959-67, and 1969-71. He was a staff member of the U.S. Food and Fiber Commission, 1967-68. In 1971-74, he was a policy analyst for the USDA. In 1974-80, he was assistant to the vice-chairman, U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission, in Washington, D.C. In 1980-88, Avery was chief analyst for global agricultural issues at the U.S. Department of State. He was an analyst for World Perspectives in Washington, D.C. in 1988-89. Avery is a member of the National Association of Business Economists.

Author: Publications include:

1968 Food and Fiber for the Future

1991 Global Food Progress

1993 "Biodiversity: Saving Species with Biotechnology" (brief)

1993 "Frontline Perpetuates Pesticide Myths" (article)

1994 "The Organic Threat to People and Wildlife" (brief)

1994 articles: "Boosting Crop Yields Saves Wildlife," "Hi-Yield Farming and Wildlife Preservation Change Terms of the Environmental Debate," "Avery Tackles Dr. Gloom at Senate Hearing," "Fighting Famine Is Politically Incorrect," "Saving the Planet with Pesticides and Plastic: The Environmental Triumph of High-Yield Farming."

Editor of the Hudson Institute's Global Food Quarterly.
The propaganda conferences

Through publications, conferences, and media events, Lester Brown, Dennis Avery, and others in their networks keep up a barrage of hokum for the gullible.

In June, Brown was among the featured speakers at a Washington, D.C. conference, hosted by the International Food Policy Research Institute (based in Washington, and founded in 1975 as part of the Kissinger-era food control politics), where Avery restated his customary theme that the world's population has exceeded the "carrying capacity" of its resource base. Later in the year, Brown toured Asia to trumpet this theme, and to focus on China as the "face of the enemy" in terms of producing too many hungry mouths that will threaten to consume the world's scarce food supplies. To underline this, he released his 160-page tract, Who Will Feed China? Wake Up Call for a Small Planet. In October, Brown spoke on the need for population reduction in Quebec City at the 50th anniversary of the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization.

As the loyal opposition, Avery also attended a food conference in Beijing this fall, along with George Bush (who is associated with the British food cartels), and spoke at numerous Washington, D.C. conferences; for example, a September conference of U.S. dairy farm interests, heavily lobbied by the British company Grand Metropolitan ("Good Humor") and Philip Morris ("Kraft"). Avery's refrain is that billions more people can be fed. In particular, his theme is that the Pacific Rim will offer an export boom market for the United States. But his unstated theme is that free trade and cartel food control must be absolute. In particular, he demands that Asian nations better open their domestic markets to private international companies, or else. A quick review of last year's conferences shows how the Brown and Avery vaudeville act works....
 
PR Watch, vol. 7, no. 3: The Usual Suspects

Characters from Central Casting

Steven Milloy publishes the "Junk Science Home Page", which claims to debunk "bad science used by lawsuit-happy trial lawyers, the 'food police,' environmental Chicken Littles, power-drunk regulators, and unethical-to-dishonest scientists to fuel specious lawsuits, wacky social and political agendas, and the quest for personal fame and fortune."

Using schoolyard taunts and accusations of "mindless anti-chemical hysteria," Milloy routinely attacks the world's most prestigious scientific journals, including Science, Nature, the Lancet, and the Journal of the American Medical Association. A former lobbyist for the tobacco industry, Milloy is also a former executive director of The Advancement of Sound Science Coalition, a front group created by Philip Morris to attack the Environmental Protection Agency's risk analysis of secondhand cigarette smoke. (For details, see "How Big Tobacco Helped Create 'the Junkman'" in this issue.)

Bonner Cohen edits a newsletter called EPA Watch, which accuses the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency of everything from destroying the U.S. economy to trying to stop people from taking showers. A Philip Morris strategy document describes EPA Watch as an "asset" created by PM funding allocated "to establish groups . . . that have a broader impact for PM."

Another Philip Morris strategy memo discusses plans to promote "EPA Watch/Bonner Cohen as expert on EPA matters, i.e., regular syndicated radio features on EPA activities, . . . news bureau function, speaking engagements, whatever can be done to increase his visibility and credibility on matters dealing with the EPA."

EPA Watch is published by the American Policy Center (APC), headed by long-time PR pro Thomas DeWeese. APC weighs in on what can safely be called the looney fringe of the sound science movement. One issue of the APC's newsletter, for example, attacks longtime environmentalist and author Jeremy Rifkin as "anti-industry, anti-civilization, anti-people" and accuses him of preaching "suicide, abortion, cannibalism and sodomy."

John Carlisle works for the National Center for Public Policy Research (NCPPR), which was formed in the 1980s to support the Reagan administration's military adventures in Central America. It now calls itself a "communications and research foundation dedicated to providing free market solutions to today's public policy problems." Its projects include Project 21, a conservative African American organization that has been funded by R.J. Reynolds and whose chairman, Edmund Peterson, opposed the FDA's tobacco regulation and other government policies to reduce tobacco use.

A 1995 memo from Philip Morris staffer Francis Gomez describes NCPPR president Amy Moritz Ridenour as "a willing ally," noting that she had just called his office "offering to use any information we can provide [regarding] the current anti-tobacco onslaught. . . . Tom Borelli and I have both been in touch with Amy on various issues and are awaiting proposals for use of an internet website as an accessible repository of PM-related information."

This issue describes Michael Fumento's role in circulating misleading tobacco propaganda. His résumé reads like a directory of conservative think tanks: the Competitive Enterprise Institute, Consumer Alert, and Reason magazine--all recipients of tobacco funding. He is currently a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute, a conservative think tank that spent the 1960s and 1970s envisioning nuclear war scenarios and defending the war in Vietnam, and now devotes itself to attacking environmentalists and defending industry.

Microbial geneticist Michael Gough, a former manager of the Biological and Behavioral Sciences Program at the congressional Office of Technology Assessment, oversaw a government inquiry which investigated Vietnam veterans exposed to Agent Orange and found no adverse effects. In contrast with many people who have studied the subject, Gough has been quoted saying that the risk of cancer from dioxin "may be zero."

When he worked for the government, Gough took a hard line against tobacco. In 1990, he wrote a letter rebuffing an approach from Tom Borelli of Philip Morris regarding the issue of secondhand smoke. "Anything that reduces smoking has substantial health benefits, and making smokers into pariahs, for whatever reasons, does just that," he wrote. Industry apologists have occasionally cited Gough's comments as evidence of the government's "unscientific" bias against tobacco.

These opinions, however, have not prevented Gough from working closely with Steven Milloy. Both he and Milloy currently work for the libertarian Cato Institute, under whose auspices they have published a book together, titled Silencing Science. Cato receives funding from both Philip Morris and R.J. Reynolds, and its board of directors includes media mogul Rupert Murdoch, who also sits on the Philip Morris board. Not surprisingly, the Cato Institute has been a fierce defender of the tobacco industry, in publications such as 1998's "Lies, Damn Lies and 400,000 Smoking-Related Deaths." which claims that tobacco is "far less pernicious than Americans are led to believe. . . . The government should stop lying and stop pretending that smoking-related deaths are anything but a statistical artifact."

Kenneth Smith is deputy editor of the Washington Times editorial page, in which capacity he has polemicized in defense of leaded paint, biotech foods, DDT and Love Canal.

Among the authors of "The Fear Profiteers," Elizabeth Whelan is unique in being a strong critic of tobacco's health effects. On most other environmental and health issues, however, she has been a reliable industry ally, as we have reported in past issues of PR Watch.
 
PR Watch, vol. 7, no. 3: The Usual Suspects

The Usual Suspects:
Industry Hacks Turn Fear on its Head

by Sheldon Rampton and John Stauber

A number of leading figures in the anti-environmental "sound science" movement have teamed up to launch a new front group aimed at smearing environmental and health activists as behind-the-scenes conspirators who "sow health scares to reap monetary rewards."

In August, the "No More Scares" campaign announced its formation at a Washington, DC press conference attacking Fenton Communications, one of the few public relations firms that represents environmental advocacy groups. No More Scares spokesman Steven Milloy used the press conference to release a report titled "The Fear Profiteers," which described Fenton as the "spider" at the center of a "tangled web of non-profit advocacy groups."

...The same cannot be said for the principal figures in the "No More Scares" campaign. Co-editors of "The Fear Profiteers" included Milloy, Bonner Cohen, John Carlisle, Michael Fumento, Michael Gough, Henry Miller, Kenneth Smith and Elizabeth Whelan. All have a track record of accepting funding from and defending industries that make dangerous products and pollute the environment. Many, including Milloy himself, have been outspoken apologists for the tobacco industry, one of the deadliest consumer products.
 
The Konformist - John Stossel, Junk Journalism

John Stossel, Junk Journalism & the Poison Peddlers

Barbara Keeler and Robert Sterling

"Science is highly politicized .... Beware of science that feeds political agendas."

John Stossel, 20/20 reporter, "Junk Science: What You Know That May Not Be So"

The 20/20 hit piece on organics by John Stossel is old news to readers of alternative publications. Long a controversial voice in journalism, Stossel became more so after his February 4, 2000 20/20 report, "The Food You Eat."

Stossel's main hatchet man on the segment, Dennis Avery, was not identified on 20/20 as the author of SAVING THE PLANET WITH PESTICIDES AND PLASTIC, or as an employee of the Hudson Institute. Agribusinesses such as Dow, Monsanto, ConAgra, and Novartis are leading funders of the Hudson Institute.

Represented on Hudson Institute's board is the biotech industry's PR firm, Burson-Marsteller, involved in a massive PR campaign to counteract the escalating global anti-GE movement in the US and abroad. Those familiar with Avery and the Hudson Institute were not surprised that he was eager to smear the organic food industry on 20/20.

The unanswered question about the segment was why Stossel chose a mouthpiece for pesticides, biotech, chemical fertilizers, and agribusiness as 20/20's expert on organics. Moreover, why would a respected journalist create a segment calculated to mislead his audience about organic food?

We cannot say for sure, and maybe the question will never be answered for certain. We have, however, connected the dots from Stossel and ABC back to Monsanto, DuPont, Dow, ConAgra and others with vested interests in discrediting organic foods.

As the segment was produced, ABC was receiving a percentage of sales from "Stossel in the Classroom," educational materials published by the Palmer R. Chitester Fund and based on Stossel's ABC reports. The Chitester Fund is a conservative foundation dependant on contributions from the likes of the John M. Olin Foundation. The Olin Foundation was created and is still controlled by the Olin Corporation, a top producer of agricultural chemicals.On the Board of Associates of the Chitester Fund sits Herb London, the President of the Hudson Institute. London also holds the John M. Olin Professorship of Humanities at New York University. The Hudson Institute received grants from the Olin Foundation of $125,000 in 1993 and $300,000 in 1994.

All of the above suggests an inbreeding of interests between two conservative foundations, a conservative think tank, and a supposedly independent journalist. Add the funding Hudson receives from chemical and agribusiness companies and the inbreeding appears potentially corruptive, even before factoring the representation of a biotech PR firm on its board.

The interlinks go further. The Olin Corporation was, along with Occidental Chemical and Dupont, one of the major firms involved in the Love Canal environmental scandal in Niagara Falls, NY. Here is Stossel's comment during a January 9, 1997 special report, titled "Junk Science: What You Know That May Not Be So":

"What happens when government policy is based on junk science? Billions of dollars are misspent, and people's lives altered forever. Love Canal. Times Beach. Defoliant Agent Orange. These names arouse fear because of the chemical dioxin. Dioxin is very poisonous. We know that from animal tests. Tiny amounts kill guinea pigs. That's why our government's spending hundreds of millions of dollars to protect us from dioxin."

"But is that good science? Just because a chemical hurts animals, does that mean it's harmful to us?"

Stossel proceeds to argue that dioxin isn't harmful, and that cases such as Love Canal are based on faulty science. The Environmental Protection Agency begs to differ. A draft of a long-overdue EPA report concludes that dioxin is indeed a dangerous and persistent "human carcinogen." Along the way, he manages to smear a variety of other supposed cases of "junk science," including breast implant lawsuits, during his report.

Apparently, Stossel hasn't learned his lesson: on July 15, he did another dishonest slam piece of the story behind the film ERIN BROCKOVICH. Though the giant utility company PG&E admits to illegally releasing the carcinogen chromium-6 in Hinkley, CA (they settled for $333 million with local residents), Stossel claimed there is no proof that chromium in drinking water can cause cancer. PG&E's own documents concede "the material is toxic," and covered up the fact that they had released high concentrations of the material in the water (up to 20 parts per million, according to PG&E's own measurements.) When the real-life Brockovich, a legal assistant who uncovered the corporate pollution, challenged Stossel to give himself and his family chromium-6 laced water, he declined. His main source for the piece, incidentally, was Michael Fumento, a Senior Fellow of the Hudson Institute.

To be fair to Stossel, these connected dots do not prove he is for sale. It would be too easy to demonize him as an unprincipled hack for business interests. In truth, Stossel has been at times a surprisingly lone voice of courage in the mainstream media, speaking out in defense of free speech against frightening examples of censorship in America. If he were merely a cynical opportunist, he would have little reason to take stands where the rest of the establishment media remains silent.

Whatever his faults, Stossel appears to be sincere in his libertarian-like quest to limit the power of the state. If he was seduced by his ideology into supporting dubious claims, he certainly wouldn't be the first. Even so, nothing excuses his promotion of deceptive science that serves big business.

By incompetence or outright deceit, John Stossel has participated in what many regard as a libel of a multi-billion dollar industry with rapidly rising political influence. Such a blunder is rarely ignored. Some critics believe Stossel's more questionable works are catching up with him. For better or worse, many predict his is on his way down.
 
Food Fight

Subsequently, ABC announced that Stossel would offer a public apology, live, on 20/20, involving aspects of the program. Stossel did apologize--to his audience, but not to an industry he had badly damaged. "I said our tests found no pesticide residues on either conventional or organic produce," he said. "That was just wrong.... I apologize for the error [and] am deeply sorry I misled you.... All we have in this business is our credibility--your trust that we get it right--I will make every effort to see that it never happens again." In a personal letter to Katherine DiMatteo, Marash did apologize "to organic farmers."

David Fitzpatrick, the producer of the show, was eventually let go by ABC in one of those severances shrouded in mutual secrecy. Fitzpatrick did tell me that he received "a cash settlement," but not before signing "a detailed nondisclosure agreement about the incident." Was Fitzpatrick sacrificed? Many who knew him at ABC and remember the incident think so. Stossel, they believe, was carefully positioned by network executives as an unwitting victim of sloppy reporting by a subordinate. It was easier and less expensive for ABC to buy off and silence a low-six-figure producer than to cancel the contract of a million-dollar superstar.
 
Pro Organics, Canada's Organic Fresh Food Leader

Organic agriculture is no stranger to controversy, much of which has been in the form of fallacious statements about the safety and reliability of organic production methods. This time, the claim is that organic foods are contaminated with e-coli bacteria, due to the use of manure in organic agriculture.

The current source for the claim is Dennis Avery of the Hudson Institute, a right-wing think-tank vigorously opposed to sustainable systems. Avery makes hay with the problems faced by organic juice producers two years ago, and feeds on the fears of consumers that their food might not be safe. Unfortunately, the Hudson Institute is considered a reliable source of information by many in the media, and Avery's claims were not researched further, resulting in a great deal of misinformation in publications like the Wall Street Journal. The Hudson Institute's Board includes James H. Dowling from the multinational PR firm Burson-Marsteller, Craig Fuller (who led the PR firm Hill & Knowlton's Gulf War front group Citizens for a Free Kuwait), and Kenneth Duberstein (who runs a top DC lobby firm with a host of corporate clients). Hudson's generous funders include the Archer Daniels Midland Corporation. Source: Food Bytes #16
 
Totnes Genetics Group: Re: Organic Danger

The Hudson Institute's Center for Global Food Issues serves agriculture in much the same way as the "Wise Use" movement groups do for mining and logging: propagation of misinformation and myth under the banner of science. Appropriately, noted agricultural scholar, activist, and former Vice President Dan Quayle serves on the Board of Directors at the Hudson Institute.
 
HAWIAA - Letter to Dennis Avery
 
TOMPAINE.com - ALWAYS GOOD FOR A SOUND BITE: Dennis Avery
 
Organic Backlash

Organic Backlash
by Jim Slama
Conscious Choice, March 2000

I recently watched a segment of ABC's 20/20 that reported on organic food. It was one of the worst pieces of broadcast journalism I have ever witnessed. Reporter John Stossel focused much of his story on perceived dangers of organic agriculture and the notion that consumers are being ripped off by farmers and stores that sell the product.

Stossel has a long history of bashing natural products -- particularly vitamin supplements. On more than one occasion I have wondered how ABC could allow such a biased, pro-big business pseudo-journalist to cover important issues. Unfortunately, in the realm of prime-time "journalism" sensationalism too often reigns over good investigative reporting.

As his primary source for the story Stossel relied on Hudson Institute researcher Dennis Avery. I must admit that I wasn't impressed with Avery's major claim to fame prior to Stossel -- his book Saving the Planet with Pesticides and Plastic: The Environmental Triumph of High-Yield Farming. For years Avery has bashed organic farming at every opportunity and made the ridiculous assertion that organic food is dangerous because of high levels of e-coli bacteria. Stossel then backed up Avery's claim by testing organic produce and finding slightly higher levels of e-coli in organic sprouts and lettuces.

Yet the investigation was completely flawed. The lab that did the testing admitted afterward that they tested for all types of e-coli, rather than just the types that cause health problems. (E-coli has pathogenic and non-pathogenic strains. Only the less common pathogenic strains cause health problems.) So essentially, their bad reporting slandered organic food and may have caused millions of viewers to worry that organic food will cause people sickness or death.

Based on Avery and Stossel's findings, one gets the impression that thousands of people are dropping dead of e-coli poisoning after consuming organic food. Sorry, but that isn't the case. There have been very few reports of people getting sick from organic food. That can't be said for conventional foods, however. Each year thousands of people die from eating contaminated non-organic food -- particularly chicken and beef.

It is surprising that anyone uses Avery as a source. Just last year the New York Times chronicled Avery's anti-organic bias in the article "Anti-Organic and Flawed." Author Marian Burros stated, "Dennis Avery wants organic food to go away. And he doesn't care what it takes. Four years ago, he said that organic food could not feed the world without destroying the environment. Now he says it's lethal."

In the article, Burros pointed out the convoluted nature of Avery's attack and noted that the Hudson Institute is funded primarily by big agribusiness companies like Monsanto and Dow Chemical. Even more prophetic in Burros' article was its closing sentence: "The attack on organic food by a well-financed research organization suggests that although organic food accounts for only 1 percent of food sales in the United States, the conventional food industry is worried."

Is it any wonder that conventional food producers are worried? They bet the farm on using toxic chemicals to produce the majority of our food. Prior to World War II, synthetic pesticides were not in wide-scale use, but in the past fifty years, they have become widespread. According to Cornell University scientist David Pimental, 2.5 million tons of pesticides are used on crops each year causing an estimated 220,000 deaths and worldwide environmental damage that exceeds $100 billion annually.
 
Activists Win An Organic Apology

Organic industry leaders were mad when the ABC newsmagazine "20/20" offered a report in February that made organic food appear to be unsafe. They were livid when John Stossel's report was rebroadcast in July.

And while Stossel has apparently delighted in offending those he reports on, he's never had to apologize for a report, until now.

During his regular Friday night report "Give me a break" on Aug. 11, Stossel apologized for claiming that organic and conventional foods have the same amount of residual pesticides: none. He also said that he shouldn't have said organic food is unsafe.

ABC went further, suspending the producer of the reports for a month without pay. Perhaps most noteworthy was the coverage of the report. Both times it aired, the report that organic may be unsafe went largely unnoticed by the rest of the mainstream media. The apology, however, was written up by national newspapers and was covered by other television networks. Even the media watchdog group Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting called the report, "the latest in a troubling series of errors and distortions in Stossel's reporting."

"I think it's great," said Brenda Church of Fresh Air, a natural products store in Lynchburg, Va. "I know I was delighted when I heard he was going to retract the statement. I think it definitely will affect our business."

It was apparently a willingness to check out some original sources that helped the activists force the apology.

The report was familiar to the organic industry even before it came on the air in February. The main source for the story was Dennis Avery of the Hudson Institute, author of the book Saving the Planet with Pesticides and Plastic. Avery's institute is funded by such corporations as DuPont and Monsanto. Avery has claimed for years that organic produce is deadly. His writings are usually limited to conservative magazines and Web sites. (See a rebuttal to his main points from the Organic Trade Association in NFM October and November, 1999.)

After the first report aired, the Environmental Working Group decided to check out the claims made by Stossel. The group contacted scientists who conducted the tests Stossel said showed no difference between organic and conventionally grown produce. The scientists told an investigator for the group that while chicken was tested for pesticide residue, no such test was ever done on produce. (The chicken tests showed pesticide residue in non-organic poultry, and none in organic. Those results were not mentioned by Stossel.)

The group contacted ABC and demanded a correction, but got no response. Then ABC rebroadcast the report, and the Washington, D.C., environmental activist organization launched a public campaign trying to discredit the report. The New York Times, in a media column, made a brief mention of the group's claims. After that ABC News officials decided to investigate.

Meanwhile the OTA, which knew the first report was coming because Executive Director Katherine DiMatteo had been interviewed by Stossel, had been campaigning loudly since before the first report went on the air. During the original reports, Stossel contradicted what portions of the DiMatteo interview he broadcast, claiming that there is a greater chance of eating produce with "dangerous" E. coli if the produce is organic.

During his apology on Aug. 11, however, he acknowledged the OTA's campaign message that organic food is safe. "I want to make it clear that I agree. America's food supply—conventional and organic—is remarkably safe."

The apology was a first—and was compared by at least one media critic to Peter Arnett's career-crippling admission that CNN flubbed a report claiming American forces used nerve gas on their own troops in Laos in 1970. Still, the groups calling for the apology say the suspension of the producer and Stossel's words didn't go far enough.

Ken Cook, president of the Environmental Working Group, said the apology "utterly fails to correct the reckless and false statements ABC News has repeatedly made, with no basis in fact, about the safety of organic food." He said he would continue to push for Stossel's firing, and for a correction during "sweeps" week when the report first aired.

Cook also produced a letter from a USDA official saying that even part of Stossel's apology was wrong. Stossel said ABC tested for E. coli, and found some on organic produce. The OTA had been claiming that a test for any E. coli would be misleading because the bacteria is present everywhere and it's only the pathogenic E. coli bugs that are worrisome.

During his apology, Stossel acknowledged the complaint of the OTA and the Environmental Working Group, but discounted it. "Well, it's true that this test was for all kinds of E. coli," Stossel said. "But government and other experts we spoke to confirm that this is a standard test for contamination of food because the presence of E. coli on produce is an indicator for fecal contamination."

That's not so, according to the letter produced by Cook. "Most E. coli are harmless," wrote Robert L. Epstein, acting deputy administrator for science and technology programs at the USDA's Agricultural Marketing Service. The test used "does not distinguish between pathogenic and non-pathogenic strains, and therefore cannot definitively identify a sample as containing bacteria harmful to human health," Epstein wrote.

DiMatteo also said the apology didn't go far enough, and said the OTA is exploring the possibility of bringing a lawsuit against Stossel and ABC.

Even Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vermont, weighed in on the controversy. The original sponsor of the Organic Foods Production Act said, "The handling of this story has been careless and destructive. Thank goodness for the persistence of the Environmental Working Group in exposing it."
 
Fact Versus Fiction: The Truth About Organics

The following is an edited version of the Organic Trade Association's response to negative publicity about organics generated by Dennis T. Avery and the Hudson Institute. This is the first half of the OTA's response. Part II will run in the November issue of NFM.

Dennis T. Avery, author of Saving the Planet with Pesticides and Plastics, and his employer, the Hudson Institute, a conservative research group, have been on a campaign for years to discredit organic agricultural production and fuel consumers' fears about food safety.

The Hudson Institute is funded by such companies as Monsanto, DowElanco and Ag-Chem Equipment Co., all of which profit from sales of products prohibited from use in organic agricultural production.

Initially, Avery's histrionic and misleading messages appeared mainly in the Hudson Institute's own publications, such as American Outlook, and in small trade publications. However, an excerpt from his article, "The Hidden Dangers in Organic Food" was published in The Wall Street Journal on Dec. 8, 1998.

Since the Wall Street Journal piece, Avery and his anti-organic message have appeared on USA Today Online, PBS Technopolitics and in The Tampa Tribune, Investors Business Daily, and elsewhere. Other media outlets continue to pick up his message and pass it on, often without adequate fact-checking. The Organic Trade Association would like to provide balance to Avery's often misleading allegations:
 
Connecting The Dots: John Stossel, ABC And Agribusiness

Connecting The Dots: John Stossel, ABC And Agribusiness

Barbara Keeler and Robert Sterling

"Science is highly politicized .... Beware of science that feeds political agendas."—John Stossel, "20/20" reporter in a segment called, "Junk Science: What You Know That May Not Be So."

John Stossel himself may exemplify his own statement about science that feeds political agendas. His "20/20" hatchet job on organics is old news to readers of NFM. Long a controversial voice in journalism, Stossel became more so after his Feb. 4 "20/20" report, "The Food You Eat."

Stossel's main hatchet man on the segment, Dennis Avery, was not identified on "20/20" as the author of Saving The Planet With Pesticides And Plastic, or as an employee of the Hudson Institute. The audience was not told that agribusinesses such as Dow, Monsanto, ConAgra, and Novartis are leading funders of the Hudson Institute. Represented on Hudson Institute's board is the biotech industry's PR firm, Burson-Marsteller, which has been linked to a massive PR campaign to counteract the escalating global anti-GMO movement in the U.S. and abroad. Those familiar with Avery and the Hudson Institute were not surprised that he was eager to smear the organic food industry on "20/20".
 
Monsanto funds anti-organic scientist

Monsanto funds anti-organic scientist

15 November 1999

Ian Ewen-Street, Green Party Agriculture Spokesperson

Dr Denis Avery, a visiting United States scientist who has been quoted in the New Zealand media rubbishing organic agriculture, is not the unbiased voice he claims to be.

"This pro-chemical, anti-organics advocate is not an independent or a scientific authority on agriculture," Green Party Agriculture Spokesperson Ian Ewen-Street said today.

"Research by the Green Party shows he is a paid propagandist for multinational chemical and agribusiness companies, including genetic engineering front-runners Monsanto and Zeneca."

Mr Ewen-Street said that he had confirmed Mr Avery worked for the Hudson Institute, and that the Hudson Institute was a right-wing think tank, well known for lobbying on the Republican and extreme Right side of the American political spectrum.

The companies which funded the institute, and which in effect paid Mr Avery to sing an anti-organics tune, included the giant transnational food trade firms Cargill, ConAgra, H.J. Heinz, McDonalds and Philip Morris, the chemical transnationals Ciba-Geigy, Bristol Myers Squibb, Dow Elanco, Du Pont and Procter and Gamble, and last but far from least the genetic engineering leaders Zeneca and Monsanto.

"Once again New Zealanders are being subjected to a disinformation campaign orchestrated by powerful global interests, which care only for their profits and not for our health and well-being," Mr Ewen-Street said. "The Fourth Estate in New Zealand needs to be wary of being used by big business in this way."
 
Grand Forks Herald | 09/22/2003 | Guess who's behind this propaganda?

Guess who's behind this propaganda?
Many think tanks funded by lobbyists
By Mike Casey

WASHINGTON - For years, lobbyists for big polluting industries have been developing new tools for getting their way with government officials, many of which supplement traditional campaign contributions with efforts to influence public opinion - to which public officials pay so much attention.

One such vehicle the lobbyists have developed to convince you that they are right is to set up groups that sound like neutrally positioned policy "think tanks" and membership groups, then quietly fund these groups - which then just happen to agree with and spin the lobbying agenda of the polluting industries on talk radio, on television, on the Internet and in newspaper columns. You, on the other hand, never are told on whose behalf these paid PR groups are working.

The pesticide companies, for example, know they are better off having neutral sounding and credible spokespeople do their talking for them on key environmental and public health problems. Meet the increasingly high-profile funded Hudson Institute and one of its most prominent "scholars," Dennis Avery.

Groups criticized

Late last month, hundreds of thousands

of newspaper readers across the country were presented with a long column by Avery, a "senior fellow" at the Hudson Institute. Avery actually is a former government agricultural policy bureaucrat, not a scientist. But he's been funded in recent years to be one of Hudson's 50 "scholars," whose sole job is to produce and place propaganda that sides with the industries that fund the Hudson Institute.

... Hudson bills itself as "America's premier source of applied research on enduring policy challenges." But nowhere prominent does it tell you that its funded by pesticide and chemical interests that want you to hear their side from someone else as well as them. We think people deserve to know who is doing the talking - or, at least, who is paying to have the talking done.

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