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Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Arm Yourself

Think you can trust just about any food organization that sounds like it's looking out for your best interests?

Think again.

It turns out that Big Ag is behind a lot of those so-called food advocacy groups that take out whole page ads in the New York Times reminding New Yorkers that they need a mayor, not a nanny, just because their mayor wants restaurants to stop pouring sodas down customers' throats by the gallon. But most of them are a lot more subtle than that, and a lot more insidious:  one front group is promoting its agenda to young children by making its promotional materials available to schools starting at the kindergarten level. The levels to which these groups will go is really stupefying.

The Center For Food Safety is a non-profit public interest and environmental advocacy membership organization established in 1997 for the purpose of challenging harmful food production technologies and promoting sustainable alternatives.  Michelle Simon, Policy Consultant, has written a report called "Best Public Relations Money Can Buy: a Guide to Food Industry Front Groups".  

From the report:

"One increasingly common way industry attempts to shape the public discourse is by forming a group that appears to benefit the public.  Often these groups claim to represent farmers or consumers or some other sympathetic constituency when in fact they are funded by powerful industry players."

"Their tactics are designed to hide their true agenda and funders. For example, representatives of front groups often write op-eds or appear as experts without disclosing the conflict of interest."

"While trade groups are generally up front about who they represent, front groups are not. Front groups often have deceptive-sounding names and attempt to create a positive public impression that hides their funders’ economic motives."

Ok- enough quoting- I don't have permission anyway.

Read the report for yourself here.   It explains what and why it's going on, and specifically, who's doing it.

Keep in mind the next time you head to the grocery store: Praemonitus, praemunitus- forewarned is forearmed.

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