Food and chemical industry spends millions on PR to attack organic, defend GMOs
New Report Documents Growth in Front Groups Supported by Monsanto, Others
Jun 30, 2015, 09:40 ET
WASHINGTON, June 30, 2015 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- A new report from Friends of the Earth — Spinning Food: How Food Industry Front Groups and Covert Communications are Shaping the Story of Food — documents unprecedented levels of spending from front groups, trade associations and anti-GMO labeling campaigns, with vast corporate marketing budgets aimed at defusing public concern about the risks of chemical-intensive industrial agriculture and undermining the reputation of organic food.
The communications strategies appear to be a response to skyrocketing annual growth in organic food sales and growing demand for GMO-free products. Spinning Food investigates how Big Food and agrochemical corporations are deliberately misleading the public — and reporters — on facts about industrial agriculture and organic and sustainable food production.
The report exposes hundreds of millions of dollars spent by the food and agrochemical industry in the past few years on stealth tobacco-style PR tactics, including deploying over a dozen front groups to push coordinated messages attacking organic food production and defending GMOs, pesticides and the routine use of antibiotics.
"The food industry uses a host of covert communication tactics to shape public opinion without most people realizing the stories are being shaped behind-the-scenes to promote corporate interests," said Anna Lappe, author and founder of Real Food Media Project. "Our goal is to inspire journalists, opinion leaders, policy makers and the public to bring increased scrutiny to the food industry's messages and messengers."
"Rather than spending so much money on PR defending unhealthy and unsustainable food production, these companies should invest in meeting the growing demand for food that is good for people and the environment," said Kari Hamerschlag senior program manager at with Friends of the Earth.
Spinning Food shows how food and chemical companies are trying to preserve their markets and advance policy agendas by deploying front groups; targeting moms, attacking journalists and scientists; grooming third-party allies that pose as independent sources; producing advertising disguised as editorial content and using other covert social media tactics to influence public opinion and sway policymakers.
In the last four years alone, these corporations have set up six new front groups who often appear as independent experts in the media, but are in fact made up of industry or PR professionals. These groups push coordinated industry messages in order to win critical national policy battles and convince consumers about the safety of industrial food.
"To have an honest conversation about the future of our food system, it's crucial for consumers and news producers to understand the alarming extent of industry influence on media coverage and to do what we can to make sure we're hearing the real story, not spin," said Stacy Malkan, co-author of the report and co-director of consumer advocacy group U.S. Right to Know.
Contact: Kate Colwell, 202- 222-0744, [email protected]
Read the report and executive summary: www.foe.org/spinning-food
SOURCE Friends of the Earth U.S.
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