Monsanto's wackoes at it again? (7/3/2006)

Here's Western Farm Press's Harry Cline's take on the GM alfalfa lawsuit.

There's no mention here of the farmers involved in the law suit and nor - ironically - has Harry Cline, made any attempt to inquire into the background of the sources he's used for this supposed expose of the 'environmental wackoes ... and fuzzy-sounding organizations" who "have filed suit in federal court in northern California demanding the government rescind its approval of [GM] herbicide-resistant alfalfa'.

His main source is which is, in reality, part of the internet PR campaign run by Rick Berman's Washington DC firm, Berman & Co. Berman & Co aggressively targets groups seeking to promote controls relating to alcohol, tobacco, food safety, animal rights or the environment. Berman is also behind the Monsanto-supported Center for Consumer Freedom which rund negative PR attacks on precisely similar targets.

According to Berman, 'Our offensive strategy is to shoot the messenger... Given the activists' plans to alarm beyond all reason, we've got to attack their credibility as spokepersons.' To get a sense of how Berman & Co operate this approach, it's useful to consider their claims about Christian Aid, the widely admired development charity of the British and Irish churches. Christian Aid, they declare, is a 'far-left leaning' group that 'flat-out lies about GE foods', while hiding 'behind a religious facade to more easily malign farmers, scientists, food companies, and even PR people who deal with GE foods.'

Cline's piece also includes anti-Greenpeace comments from 'Tanzania's Dr. Michael Mbwille (of the non-profit Food Security Network)' and Patrick Moore. Moore needs little introduction - his attacks on Greenpeace started when he became a full-time paid director and consultant for an extremely well-funded front group for the forest industry and its corporate members campaigning for clear-cutting even of old-growth forests.

The website of Cline's 'non-profit Food Security Network' is registered to one Graydon Forrer. Forrer, it turns out, is the managing director of Life Sciences Strategies, a company that specializes in 'communications programmes' for the bio-science industries. Prior to that, Forrer was Monsanto's director of executive communications. Indeed, he seems to have been working for Monsanto in 1999 when the website of Cline's 'non-profit Food Security Network' was first registered.

Dr. Mbwille, incidentally, is not always to be found in Tanzania. In 2002, for instance, he was to be found enjoying a sabbatical in St. Louis, Missouri - the home town of Monsanto.

And Harry Cline's piece is based on such dubious sources that it's hard not to consider the possibility that it's ultimate source might also lies in St. Louis, Missouri. Monsanto's former Director of Public Affairs and Internet Outreach Programs Director, Jay Byrne - a colleague of Graydon Forrer, regularly turns out this kind of tosh quoting almost identical sources.

Byrne is now president of Internet PR company v-Fluence. the firm's vice-president, Richard Levine, was formerly part of the Monsanto team of the infamous Internet PR firm Bivings. Needless to say, v-Fluence is based, like Monsanto, in St. Louis. And, yes, Monsanto is one of its clients.

Byrne is regarded as the principal architect of Monsanto's dirty tricks attacks.

For a slightly saner article on the alfalfa case see the Des Moines Register piece: Weed-resistant alfalfa provides fodder to activists


Environmental Wackoes At It Again
Harry Cline
AgBioView & Western Farm Press

The environmental wackoes are at it again. The same old group of warm and fuzzy-sounding organizations have filed suit in federal court in northern California demanding the government rescind its approval of herbicide-resistant alfalfa.

The Center for Food Safety, Sierra Club, the Cornucopia Institute and others of similar ilk want to toss out at least two decades of research and years of field trials. They cite the same old lame and scientifically unfounded allegations of pollen contamination from GMO crops and are even tossing in concerns that herbicide-resistant alfalfa introduced this season will harm alfalfa export markets. The mass media will pick up the press release and you can read all the inflammatory quotes and half truths there - no questions asked.

It is more revealing to find out who these people are trying to protect you and me. One of the best places I have found to get the facts on these environmental whacko groups is the Web site

Here is what ActivistCash says about the Center for Food Safety: The Center for Food Safety (CFS) is a project of the International Center for Technology Assessment (ICTA). CFS is headed by Andrew Kimbrell, who was mentored by Jeremy Rifkin at the Foundation on Economic Trends. Next to the Unabomber, Rifkin is perhaps America's most notable anti-technologist. CFS's current focus is large-scale agriculture - specifically, food technology. It is a major partner in the "Keep Nature Natural" campaign, which receives funding from the organic food industry. CFS often participates in food scare projects managed by Fenton Communications, a Washington, D.C., public relations firm often used by anti-industry activists.

In 2004, CFS was the single largest financial contributor to a campaign to ban biotech crops in Mendocino County, Calif. The spokesman for CFS is identified as Charles Marg


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