Food Babe recently reported on a dirty PR campaign that she’s “fallen victim to” and made the huge mistake of trashing multiple PR firms in the process. But this isn’t about Food Babe because she’s boring. Any criticism is met with cries of misogyny or the shill gambit. There’s no attempt at serious discourse. Recently, she tried to play the race card but was immediately shut down by
co-conspirator fellow skeptic Kavin Senapathy.
Food Babe made a claim that caught my eye though, and I was completely taken aback by how brazen it was. Or maybe there’s just a complete lack of self-awareness to blame. I have no idea.
To improve their public image, they are attempting to manipulate everything we see and hear about GMO crops in the media and on TV, the internet and print articles – using propaganda-laden commercials, “mommy-blogger” articles, farmer endorsements, and front group websites.
How awesome is that? Sometimes I think crunchies are just fucking with me. I mean, come on! Are we supposed to believe these aren’t tactics being used from the organic movement?
I know what you’re thinking. You’re incredulous. Of course the nice yuppies and hippies that rail against GMO tech only want what’s best for us. They would never use cheap tactics to get their point across. I’m sorry I have to be the one to break this to you, you ignorant bastard, but they do these very same things that Food Babe attacked.
1. Propaganda-laden Commercials
Mother of god… Did you see that ad? Blatant propaganda everywhere. Baked chicken? A hostess? Those sneaky fuckers. Seriously, though, I couldn’t really find any pro-GMO commercials, but that kind of goes toward helping make my point. (If anyone can find an example of biotech propaganda, please send it to me.)
Monsanto, who for the purposes of this article is the entire biotech industry, is asking for a discussion. Yes, that’s just a way to get people to visit their website to be inundated with information, but they aren’t trying to ram information down anyone’s throat with the ad. I get it that propaganda is supposed to subtly shift one’s opinions, and the whole “Food is Love” bit is meant to serve that purpose, but a company isn’t very well going to advertise all the bad things about itself. We’re also playing fast and loose with the term propaganda, but that’s beside the point.
“We all have the right to know what’s in our food.”
“Pesticide companies like Monsanto and Dow shouldn’t be able to hide that they are genetically engineering our food.”
“61 other countries already have the right to know — shouldn’t we?”
“Yes on 37. The right to know what’s in our food.”
“Right to know” is mentioned three times in that 30-second spot. There’s also the idea that shady Monsanto is trying to hide things in our food.
Let’s look at another ad from the same campaign.
“A bunch of pesticide companies don’t want me to tell the truth about my food.”
“We have nothing to hide.”
“I have a right to know the truth. We all do.”
Same narrative; different words. Something is hidden in our food. What is? Poison, stupid. Just keep hammering that idea into the public’s mind and manipulate away. I’ve already talked about why it would be stupid for Monsanto to poison us, so I won’t go into that here, but this sort of fear-based manipulation is exactly how propaganda is most successful in my opinion. You may disagree, but you’re an asshole.
Fear works. Anti groups of all kinds know this. Just look at these anti-GMO propaganda films.
Food, Inc. “The industry doesn’t want you to know…”
GMO A Go-Go was made by Natural News. It’s just as batshit crazy as you’d expect it to be.
Seeds of Death? That doesn’t conjure any scary or negative images at all.
Now, I’m not saying there isn’t propaganda from the pro-side just that I haven’t seen it. There’s no reason for me to believe that it doesn’t exist, but this hypocrisy of the anti-GMO “little guys” annoys the piss out of me.
2. Mommy Blogger Articles
Jesus Horatio Christ…
I know I’m not the only one who argues with strangers in the various comment sections around the internet. I also know that when demanding evidence from pseudoscientists, one of three things will be offered up: a debunked study, a paper that does not support the activists’ position, or a mommy blog.
There’s nothing wrong with mommy blogs if they have citations. Blogs are easy to read and make for good starting points when trying to learn about certain issues. All too often, though, MBs are just the rantings and ravings of someone who thinks they know better than 99% of experts in a field because they feel or believe or use common sense. It’s maddening to think I spend hours in labs and lecture halls trying to learn about one very specific area of biology while these chowderheads read a couple of “news” articles and consider that sufficient enough work to call themselves well-researched.
Are both sides guilty of this? Yes. I’m not an immunologist, geneticist, climatologist, astrophysicist, or any other kind of -ist at the moment. I try to share only what I know from my time spent in class, and the rest of the time I defer to experts. But I’m not perfect. What I won’t do is defer to some uneducated rando on the interwebz that tells me what I want to hear. It’s not that I want to make appeals to authority, authorities can be assholes, but I don’t go to the body shop when I have a toothache, so why would I go to the lady who rejects germ theory for a lesson on healthcare?
Enough about that. This is about pots and kettles. Crunchy mommy bloggers drive that whole movement. Sure there’s shady goings-on behind the curtain (more on that in a bit), but the face of organic is regular folk who “figured it all out” and they want to share it with you out of the goodness of their hearts and for a fee – folks like Kate Tietje of Modern Alternative Mama, Leah Segedie of Mamavation, and Vani Hari herself.
These are people offering bad and sometimes dangerous advice that would get doctors debarred. Whether it’s demonizing vaccines, suggesting that magic soap and yogurt can fight the flu, or encouraging orthorexic lifestyles, mommy bloggers, from what I’ve seen, are terrible sources of information. The Jackass crew offers up safer advice than these ladies.
If you’re in the market for helpful mommy blogs, check out Grounded Parents. I’m friends with some of the contributors there, and one of them has become the bane of Food Babe’s existence. It’s a very entertaining wealth of information.
3. Farmer Endorsements
So what if farmers endorse GMOs? They buy what they prefer and let the rest of us know. Vani Hari has built a business on doing exactly this. Who the fuck is she to demonize farmers? Or is she just perpetuating the myth of the dumb hick too stupid to go organic?
I don’t know nor do I care. The point is that by and large, the anti-GMO rhetoric treats farmers like shit unless they toe the organic line. Whether it’s painting them as complicit in poisoning us, too dumb to shop around for seed, or as a danger to the environment, crunchies don’t deserve endorsements from the hands that feed their smug fucking faces.
Oh, but remember just a few paragraphs up, I shared a commercial for prop 37 that carried a farmer’s endorsement. Well fuck that motherfucker. How dare he have an opinion that differs from mine? He’s just too dumb, too scared, and too paid to disagree with Big Organ anyway. It’s not a real endorsement. He couldn’t possibly believe in his product. /sarcasm
It doesn’t end there, as I’m sure you’re well aware. The favorite pastime of pro-famine groups seems to be tracking down farmers who agree with their talking points.
There’s also this fairly long list of farmer endorsements for the labeling initiative in Oregon.
Seriously, Food Babe and the rest of the crunchies can’t possibly lack this much self-awareness. If they do, may the gods help us all.
4. Front Groups
Woo boy! Foo Boo really opened a can of worms with this one. I’ve been researching this for the better part of a week now, and there’s so, so very many activist groups that it’s near impossible to untangle them all to see who’s behind what.
Ever screwed up while fishing, made a bird’s nest with your line, then tried to work it back out? That.
I don’t even know where to begin. How about the Organic Consumer Association? Why am I asking? Just follow along.
The OCA seems to be well-respected among progressives. commondreams.org links to them and compares the OCA to foundations like Planned Parenthood and the ACLU according to Biology Fortified. Awesome, right? Not so fast.
Some might ask if there’s anything wrong with supporting organic agriculture. Honestly, nothing. I buy organic from time to time. If the produce looks better, I don’t care who grew it. But the OCA isn’t as magnanimous as I am. Their website states that they want “The conversion of American agriculture to at least 30% organic by the year 2015” and a “global moratorium on genetically engineered foods and crops.”
Now why would anyone want to halt production of GE crops? OCA explains:
GMOs are created in a lab, by inserting a gene from one organism into another unrelated organism, producing plants and animals that would never occur in nature. No long-term safety studies have been done on humans, but animal studies link the consumption of GMOs to an increase in allergies, kidney and liver disease, ADHD, cancer, infertility, chronic immune disorders and more.
That’s not right. In fact, everything about that is wrong, and none of it comes with a citation of any kind. I’ve made GMOs in my garden before, and both of my dogs are GMOs. But I digress. We’re talking about front groups.
OCA is fairly open about representing the interests of corporations in the organic market, and based on what I can tell, around 1/3 of their funding comes from these businesses. They couldn’t possibly be into advocacy for the money, right?
The burning question for us all then becomes how – and how quickly – can we move healthy, organic products from a 4.2% market niche, to the dominant force in American food and farming? The first step is to change our labeling laws.
Ronnie Cummins, President/CEO of OCA
Maybe they are only interested in our health. Maybe they’re just misguided about biotechnology. Maybe I should stop wondering and dig a little deeper.
OCA began as the Pure Food Campaign, started by
Joel Jeremy Rifkin, a bit of a crusader against technological advancements. While he did well to make us aware that global warming is a serious problem, he’s opposed to biotechnologies and nuclear power. I’ll never understand the picking and choosing which sciences to accept, but what can you do?
In 1998, Ronnie Cummins took over the campaign and has continued to use it to smear anyone who dares not to drink the organic Kool-Aid. Since then, they’ve formed various coalitions with the deceptively named Center for Food Safety (The Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition is a wing of the FDA.) and the Institute for Responsible Technology. OCA has also run anti-GMO campaigns that received funding from Whole Foods which, for a group with such an anti-corporate stance, makes them come off looking like a bunch of assholes. It’s not like they needed help in that area, but I’m going to help anyway.
Cummins, at a 2001 protest outside of a Starbucks (They’ve been doing the Monsanto milk song and dance for over a decade. What a bunch of dicks.), said “[M]ost consumers aren’t smart enough to know what they want.” Brilliant, that coming from someone who declares we have a right to know.
One of OCA’s partners in crime, as mentioned above, is the Institute for Responsible Technology (IRT). This is a weird one, and there’s waaaaaay too many heads on this hydra to even begin effectively taming this beast. Let’s start at the center.
Jeffrey Smith, a flying yogi, seems to be at the heart of this tangled web of who knows what. As part of the now defunct Natural Law Party, he ran for senate in 1998 on a “vedic science” platform. The NLP was the political face of the Maharishi Institute, a transcendental meditation cult based in Fairfield, Iowa of all places. Smith now controls the IRT which is part of the GMO Inside steering committee. Academics Review also has this to say about Mr. Smith and IRT:
Some of the sources of IFRT’s annual budgets can gleaned from financial sponsors acknowledged on Jeffrey Smith’s website. They include a range of organic, natural products and alternative health providers that mirror reported contributors to GMO labeling ballot initiatives in California and other states. Among the largest donors are Organic Valley (George Simeon), Stonyfield Organic Yogurt (Gary Hirshfield), Natural News Insider (Mike Adams) and Mercola.com – alternative health and nutraceuticals (Joe Mercola).
Oh yeah, he also worked at Genetic-ID with John Fagan.
Fagan is a molecular biologist who used to work at the National Institutes of Health before moving to Fairfield, Iowa (uh-oh) to practice transcendental meditation and take a professorship at the Maharishi University. He was a cancer and gene therapy researcher before he decided tinkering with genes is dangerous. Obviously, this revelation came with his opposition to biotechnology/GMOs.
1996 saw Fagan founding Genetic ID, a genetic testing lab that seems to specialize in finding GMO DNA in food. Genetic ID is responsible for the Starlink corn scare way back in 2000. Purported to be an independent lab, its links to Jeffrey Smith, the Maharishi Institute, and the IRT bring that independence into serious question. Did I mention John Fagan is also on the board of GMO Free USA? Yeah. GMO Free USA also got started with the help of OCA.
Genetic ID also has another curious connection to an anti-GMO group. Or should I say a Non GMO Project? I feel more than comfortable saying that Genetic ID is the mysterious independent lab that GMO Free USA and GMO Inside refer to when they “discover” GMO DNA in random food products. They couldn’t possibly stand to benefit by proclaiming such discoveries and stirring up fear in their bases.
Oh what a tangled web we weave…
This is just a cursory glance into all the connections these organizations have to each other and the transcendental meditation movement in Fairfield, Iowa seems to be orchestrating the whole thing. I feel like a conspiracy theorist at this point. I feel like this guy:
What have we learned here today, kids?
Food Babe is terrible, but I think we already knew that.
The organic/anti-GMO movement uses propaganda to wonderful effect through mommy blogs and farmer endorsements, and a meditation cult appears to be behind most, if not all, of it.
Look deeper into these connections. I implore you. I’m willing to bet that every single “natural” food campaign of the last 20 years has been funded and’or orchestrated by the flying yogis of Fairfield fucking Iowa. Seriously, though, why Iowa? That’s just fucking weird, man.