Report Details GMO Public Relations Campaign

U.S. Right to Know — a newly formed public interest group based in Oakland, California  — released a report today detailing an extensive public relations campaign by agribusiness corporations to defend genetically modified organisms (GMOs).

The report — Seedy Business: What Big Food is Hiding With its Slick PR Campaign on GMOs — claims that the industry “manipulates the media, public opinion and politics with sleazy tactics, bought science and PR spin.”


The report finds that the agrichemical and food industries have mounted a complex multifaceted public relations, advertising and political campaign in the United States to defend genetically engineered food and crops and the pesticides that accompany them.

“The purpose of this campaign is to deceive the public, to deflect efforts to win the right to know what is in our food via labeling that is already required in 64 countries, and ultimately, to extend their profit stream for as long as possible,” said Gary Ruskin, executive director of the group.

Ruskin said that the PR campaign has greatly influenced how U.S. media covers GMOs.

The industry’s PR firm, Ketchum, boasted that “positive media coverage has doubled” on GMOs, Ruskin said.

U.S. Right to Know was founded by Ruskin and Stacy Malkan.

In 2012, Ruskin and Malkan headed a campaign to get passed Proposition 37, which would have required clear labels so that consumer would know if foods are genetically modified.

The corporations behind the No on 37 campaign outspent the Yes on 37 campaign by five to one. and Proposition 37 narrowly lost — 51 percent to 49 percent.

Three other similar propositions — in Oregon (2014) Washington (2013) and Colorado (2014) — also lost.

The report finds that the agrichemical and food industry industries spent over $100 million to defeat those four propositions.

In the report, the group lists the major donors to the industry campaigns to defeat the four right to know propositions.

According to the report, the top ten donors were Monsanto ($22.7 million), DuPont ($16.7 million), Pepsico ($8.8 million), Coca-Cola ($5.7 million), Dow ($4 million), Kraft Food ($3.9 million), General Mills ($3.6 million), Nestle ($2.9 million), ConAgra ($2.6 million). and Bayer ($2.5 million).

The report also finds that the agrichemical companies have a history of concealing health risks from the public.

“Time and again, the companies that produce GMOs have hidden from consumers and workers the truth about the dangers of their products and operations,” Ruskin said. “So how canwe trust them to tell us the truth about their GMOs?”

Another major finding of the report is that FDA does not test whether GMOs are safe — it merely reviews information submitted by the agrichemical companies.


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