Big Tobacco Shills Trying to Stop GMO Labeling in California

The food industry really hates it when you compare them to Big Tobacco. They try to deny the negative association by claiming that food is different than tobacco. Of course that’s true, but why are the same consultants that have worked for the tobacco industry now shilling for Big Food, opposing the ballot initiative that would require labeling of all foods containing GMO ingredients?

Hiring Secret Consultants for the Dirty Work

The latest financial filings in California for the “No on 37: Coalition Against the Deceptive Food Labeling Scheme” – reveal a $7,500 payment to the Sacramento-based political consulting firm, MB Public Affairs. Here is how the Los Angeles Times described the firm last year:

MB Public Affairs is headed by Mark Bogetich, a garrulous operative known to his friends as “Bogey,” who has helped a number of Republican candidates neutralize their opponents. In recent years, MB Public Affairs has worked for Altria, once known as the Phillip Morris Cos. …

Bogetich has also been called “the go-to guy for [the Republican] party,” and “the only game in town.” The L.A. Times article explains how last year MB Public Affairs filed more than 50 public record act requests to dig up dirt on a small but effective group called the Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy. No wonder, since the organization has scored such important victories as a living wage for workers, which would threaten plenty of businesses.

But which ones? Who knows, because by hiring MB Public Affairs to do its dirty work, industry gets to keep its nose clean – a classic Big Tobacco tactic. Well-known brands such as PepsiCo (which I wrote about last week) and Kraft don’t want to be associated with negative campaigning, so they farm out the job to consulting firms. In this case, they went right to the top, or the bottom. Things are likely to get ugly.

Creating Front Groups for the Dirty Work

Another tactic honed by Big Tobacco is to form a front group, which appears to be made up of small businesses and others designed to give the impression of a grassroots campaign, but in reality is funded by large corporations. This tactic, known as an Astroturfing, is alive and well with “No on 37,” which describes itself as, “A broad coalition of family farmers, scientists, doctors, taxpayers, small businesses, labor, food companies, biotechnology companies and grocers.

Small farmers and small businesses? I don’t see any listed on the “Who We Are” page. I do see many not-so-small trade groups representing numerous not-so-small corporations, some of them from outside California, including CropLife America, which is a trade group for the biotech and pesticide industry.

Also, the “No on 37” campaign is represented by the law firm, Bell, McAndrews & Hiltachk, which has a sordid history of stealth tactics such as Astroturfing. And no wonder, with former Phillip Morris outside council Tom Hiltachk as the campaign’s treasurer. (His firm’s address is listed on the webpage for where to send donations; can’t get much cozier with the No campaign than that.)

Hiltachk had this disingenuous quote about the GMO labeling initiative back in February: “Farmers and food producers strongly oppose this costly, ill-conceived labeling proposition.” There are those invisible farmers again.

No stranger to California politics, Hiltachk’s firm represents the California Republican Party and helped make Arnold Schwarzenegger governor by orchestrating the statewide recall campaign of former Governor Gray Davis.

According to PolluterWatch, Tom Hiltachk and his firm are well known for creating front groups that promote or attack ballot initiatives at the behest of the firm’s wealthy corporate clients: “In the past Hiltachk has attacked anti-smoking initiatives while being paid by major tobacco corporations.”

And this scathing article at ThinkProgress from 2010 describes Hiltachk’s attempt to repeal California’s clean energy policy and says his “under-the-radar tactics of shifting money around and using phony groups are nothing new.” Specifically:

During the eighties and nineties, Hiltachk and his law partners helped the tobacco industry, with funding from Philip Morris and R.J. Reynolds, coordinate a variety of stealth front groups. While his law firm received over a million from tobacco interests, Hiltachk helped organize “Californians for Smokers’ Rights,” a supposedly “grassroots” group that relied on tobacco industry consumer lists to mobilize opposition to anti-smoking initiatives.

Another Big Tobacco front group Hiltachk’s firm managed wasCalifornians for Fair Business Policy,” which fought local efforts to enact smoke-free bans in California in the early 1990s.

This is going to be a busy election season for Hiltachk, as he is also the mastermind behind the deceptive union-busting Proposition 32, about which a local California paper writes: “if you liked Citizens United, you will love Prop 32.” As the New Yorker sums it up in an article describing the firm’s shady operations, “They specialize in initiatives that are the opposite of what they sound like.”

Another group with Big Tobacco origins now spreading lies about the GMO labeling initiative is the unsubtle front group, “California Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse,” whose executive director recently warned us to “beware of trial lawyers lurking in your food.” (It seems lawyers are scarier than altering the genetic code of the food supply.) According to the Center for Media and Democracy’s Sourcewatch, Philip Morris is a primary funder of various “Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse” groups, which under the guise of tort reform aim to make it harder to bring lawsuits for problems caused by hazardous products.

Doubt is Their Product

In sum, the food industry, to oppose a simple labeling law, is hiring lawyers and consultants with ties to the tobacco industry, to deploy stealth tactics such as creating front groups, digging up dirt on opponents, and spreading outright lies.

For decades the tobacco industry and its shills hid the truth by deploying its most effective weapon: manufacturing doubt about the health hazards of smoking. How many millions of Americans died as a result of Big Tobacco’s deceptive and cynical campaign? Why would we trust these same operators now?

You can hardly blame industry for calling on such shady characters. Big Food has seen the polling data showing that more than 90 percent of consumers want to see GMO foods labeled. When you don’t have the people or the truth on your side, all you have left is playing dirty.

25 Responses to “Big Tobacco Shills Trying to Stop GMO Labeling in California”

  1. [...] is the money going, exactly? Many of these companies are paying the same consultants who worked for the tobacco industry to create “astroturf,” or fake grassroots groups that will do their best to make it [...]

  2. [...] is the money going, exactly? Many of these companies are paying the same consultants who worked for the tobacco industry to create “astroturf,” or fake grassroots groups that will do their best to make it look like [...]

  3. [...] of dollars is already being poured into the opposition campaign, with much of it going to former Big Tobacco shills. Over at GMO HQ, Monsanto recently posted this missive called “Taking a Stand: Proposition 37, [...]

  4. [...] The battle in California over Proposition 37, which would require labeling of foods containing GMOs, is really heating up. Millions of dollars are already being poured into the opposition campaign, with much of it going to former Big Tobacco shills. [...]

  5. [...] of dollars are already being poured into the opposition campaign, with much of it going to former Big Tobacco shills. Over at GMO HQ, Monsanto recently posted this missive called “Taking a Stand: Proposition 37, [...]

  6. [...] Huffington Post  The battle in California over Proposition 37, which would require labeling of foods containing GMOs, is really heating up. Millions of dollars are already being poured into the opposition campaign, with much of it going to former Big Tobacco shills. [...]

  7. Donald Allen says:

    Wake up, it’s not just the republicans. They have been playing good cop bad cop for many years. Don’t you get it? Who do you think has passed all of the bad laws for the last 60 plus years? Are you really that gullable? Demo’s and the Republicans both pad their pockets. Get real!!!

  8. [...] The battle in California over Proposition 37, which would require labeling of foods containing GMOs, is really heating up. Millions of dollars are already being poured into the opposition campaign, with much of it going to former Big Tobacco shills. [...]

  9. [...] of dollars are already being poured into the opposition campaign, with much of it going to former Big Tobacco shills. Over at GMO HQ, Monsanto recently posted this missive called “Taking a Stand: Proposition 37, [...]

  10. [...] of dollars are already being poured into the opposition campaign, with much of it going to former Big Tobacco shills. Over at GMO HQ, Monsanto recently posted this missive called “Taking a Stand: Proposition 37, [...]

  11. [...] of dollars are already being poured into the opposition campaign, with much of it going to former Big Tobacco shills. Over at GMO HQ, Monsanto recently posted this missive called “Taking a Stand: Proposition 37, [...]

  12. [...] of dollars are already being poured into the opposition campaign, with much of it going to former Big Tobacco shills. Over at GMO HQ, Monsanto recently posted this missive called “Taking a Stand: Proposition 37, [...]

  13. [...] From Michelle Simon, on Appetite for Profit: Modified frame grab from Michelle Simon’s Appetite for Profit website. [...]

  14. [...] is reaching into the old bag of tricks pioneered by the tobacco industry, and using some of the very same tobacco industry operatives. Here’s a look at the truth behind the [...]

  15. [...] of dollars are already being poured into the opposition campaign, with much of it going to former Big Tobacco shills. Over at GMO HQ, Monsanto recently posted this missive called “Taking a Stand: Proposition 37, [...]

  16. [...] http://www.appetiteforprofit.com http://thinkprogress.org http://www.naturalnews.com http://www.naturalnews.com  link to original article Share this:MorePrintShare on TumblrEmailDigg Pin ItLike this:LikeBe the first to like this. This entry was posted in Article, Links, reblog and tagged 'No On 37' Campaign Against GMO Labeling Exposed As Complete Fraud, 2012, 6 September, Disclosure, Earth, Ethan A. Huff, NaturalNews, news, spiritual, Spiritual evolution, World. Bookmark the permalink. ← OpEdNews – Mike Adams – Article : Flawed Organice Foods Study Really Just A Media Psyop To Confuse The Public About Organics While Pushing GMOs – 6 September 2012 [...]

  17. [...] your side, all you have left is playing dirty. This article originally appeared August 13, 2012 on Appetite for Profit.  © Food Safety [...]

  18. [...] month, I wrote about how the food industry has hired powerful consultants with ties to Big Tobacco to oppose [...]

  19. [...] month, I wrote about how the food industry has hired powerful consultants with ties to Big Tobacco to oppose [...]

  20. [...] month, I wrote about how the food industry has hired powerful consultants with ties to Big Tobacco to oppose [...]

  21. [...] article originally appeared August 13, 2012 on Appetite for Profit. © Food Safety [...]

  22. gmo2ashes says:

    Labeling GMOs will only postpone contamination of the food supply – and temporarily put off our inevitable demise.

    KNOW THIS: you live in a war zone and GMOs are part of the arsenal used to weaken, maim and kill you and your family. The only solution to the GMO plague is to totally ban genetically engineered planting and burn any remaining GMO crops in the field.

    Genetically engineered plant varieties cannot coexist alongside natural-bred varieties; this is a given. Through cross-pollination, GE plants will eventually contaminate and overcome non-GE varieties. There is no safe barrier between the two. You can’t have both type plants and expect labeling to save you or prevent destruction of the food chain.

    Labeling initiatives placate GMO opponents and instills the impression of “winning” against the monster. Labeling gives Monsanto authority to sow its deadly harvest with impunity and be accepted by society. Monsanto wins either way, with or without labeling. And unless GMOs are eliminated altogether, someday in the foreseeable near future, the entire food supply will be damaged beyond repair.

    There can be no compromise or negotiation with a murderer who intends to kill you. You flee, fight back and prevail, or die. Ultimately, their global agenda is genocide (under the cloak of greed). Monsanto and its biotech counterparts intend to kill you – and unless you fight back and destroy them completely, they will succeed.

    The chant for labeling to identify GMOs in food comes from the biotech giants, not independent-thinking people. Monsanto initiated both the call for more GMOs in the biosphere, as well as its opposition (labeling). The debate over labeling GMO food has obscured the real issue of educating the public on the dangers of GMOs and banning GMO crops entirely.

    The following refs identify some of the culprits behind the faux labeling initiatives.

    http://www.nickbrannigan.com/articles/is-just-label-it-controlled-opposition.htm

    http://jonrappoport.wordpress.com/2012/12/11/yes-on-prop-37s-biggest-supporter-was-monsanto/

    http://jonrappoport.wordpress.com/2012/12/06/yes-on-prop-37-was-classic-controlled-opposition/

    Below is a link to a Mercola article that provides excellent insight into the dangers of glyphosate (in Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide) and GE foods. However, like many alternative health resources, it also includes the misguided mantra for labeling GMOs. And like mockingbirds, many well-intentioned people are now singing Monsanto’s deadly song.

    http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2013/05/14/glyphosate.aspx

    And here are video reports of how a new GMO technique (double-stranded DNA) alters gene expression in plants and humans. This together with another new tech that enables pesticides to permeate human skin could literally be used as a bio-tech weapon for depopulation purposes.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rBaRXj–hrw

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SWwXu13OZlM

    All said, if you think labeling foods is the answer over totally eradicating GMOs, you are not awake and you are only helping the biotech industry poison our food supply. To avoid the extermination of natural life on planet earth and survive, we MUST find the courage and the creative energy to fight this common enemy and eliminate it completely.

    The fate of humanity is now in the hands of ordinary people fighting for their lives. Labeling GMOs would only postpone our inevitable demise. Without direct, decisive and defensive action to rid the planet of the GMO menace by every means possible, the human species faces extinction.

  23. Kelvin says:

    They are still yet to know whether usage of marijuana as San Francisco edibles is legal or
    not. In fact, asthma medications have been shown to produce false-positive drug tests for amphetamines and ecstasy.
    The main metabolite this strip is sensitive to
    detect in a urine sample, is a carboxylate derivative of THC i.

Join Email List

Speaking Requests

Media Requests

Contact Michele Simon: michele@eatdrinkpolitics.com

Archives

  • 2014 (25)
  • 2013 (67)
  • 2012 (70)
  • 2011 (53)
  • 2010 (49)