US: PR Firms Attack Food First

OAKLAND, CA, July 13, 2001 -- Several corporate public relations groups are using a leaked grant proposal in an internet attack on the Oakland-based
Institute for Food and Development Policy, also known as Food First.
Food First is well known for it's research reports which cast doubts on
biotech industry claims concerning the virtues of genetically engineered (GE) foods and crops, also known as GMOs.

The attack began several days ago when a report on the leaked grant
proposal was posted on the corporate public relations web site
ePublicRelations. The report, titled "Food First seeks funding to discredit biotech industry: Small budget
takes on entire industry," warned companies that, "while corporate PR
folks shell out US $50,000, and more, a month in retainers, and
participate in multi-million-dollar campaigns to lobby opinion leaders
and get national media coverage, a special interest group is seeking a
paltry US $150,000 per year for three years to bring the biotech
industry to its knees." The report goes on that while the biotech
industry has enormous resources, "Food First has significant tactical
and strategic advantages," because of its connections to real people at
the grassroots.

The report was then picked up yesterday, July 12, by the Guest Choice
Network, another corporate group, in an opinion piece titled "Foes of
genetically improved foods go grant-shopping

This piece warns that "Food First wants $450,000 to team up with another
group, called the Pesticide Action Network North America (PANNA). If
their proposal is funded, these two groups would begin a national
onslaught to try and shape public opinion against genetically improved
foods. Their grant proposal describes how Food First and PANNA would
forcefully argue that the best choices are 'none of the above,' neither
genetic engineering nor pesticides, but rather biological pest control,
integrated pest management, organic farming, and argoecology (sic)."
The Guest Choice editorial was then circulated around the internet today
on the corporate AgBioView electronic listserve.

"This corporate attack shows that they are nervous," said Dr. Peter
Rosset, co-director of Food First/The Institute for Food and Development
Policy, "because they fear that the facts -- the scientific data we have
accumulated -- support our argument that we need to call a timeout from
commercializing these potentially dangerous products, a timeout for real
health and environmental safety testing."

"The work we seek funding for," said Ms. Anuradha Mittal, also
co-director of Food First, "is called 'A Counter-Offensive of Reason.'"
She went on to explain that "what we mean is reason is on our side. No
reasonable person would want unlabelled and untested novel genetic
constructs in their food supply." "What I think has them particularly
worried," she added, "is our work surveying opinions in the Third world,
where we have found that farmers and consumers strongly oppose genetically engineered food, despite the fact that industry tells us these countries 'need' these products, and therefore U.S. consumers should accept them in the food supply."

Food First/The Institute for Food and Development Policy is a member supported, education for action policy think tank. Founded in 1975, by
Frances Moore Lappé and Joseph Collins, following the success of Diet
for a Small Planet
, the Institute is known for its uncompromising
progressive stance on issues related to food, hunger, poverty and
environmental degradation around the world.

For more information, contact Nick Parker, Media Coordinator at (510)
654-4400 (ext. 229).

AMP Section Name:Food and Agriculture
  • 188 Consumerism & Commercialism
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