I guess I’m naive, but the shameless audacity of the food industry still manages to take my breath away occasionally.
The morning news trawl turned up an item about a protest in a genetically modified cornfield in France last Saturday. But if the headline, “French Fried Reactionary Still Hurting Poor People,” didn’t give away the pro-industry bias of the source, then the name of this nonprofit — The Center for Consumer Freedom: Promoting Personal Responsibility and Protecting Consumer Choice — certainly sounded some alarm bells. The catchy phrases “personal responsibility” and “consumer choice” are hallmark framing devices by big business, which spends millions of dollars on consumer psychology research and marketing campaigns so that we think we’re choosing their products because we want to.
According to the CCF website, it is “a nonprofit coalition of restaurants, food companies, and consumers.” This will perhaps not be news to many readers, but according to SourceWatch, a service of the Center for Media & Democracy, CCF used to be the “Guest Choice Network” and is “a front group for the restaurant, alcohol and tobacco industries.” It was created by Berman & Co., the PR firm owned by lobbyist Rick Berman, which represents the tobacco industry as well as hotels, beer distributors, taverns, and restaurant chains. Another article, this time from the related PRWatch, says that the center’s major funders include Coca-Cola, Cargill, Tyson Foods, and Monsanto.
So, I won’t bother to dismiss the snarky rhetoric of the CCF’s rant about anti-GMO crusader Jose Bove, or any of its other amusing tirades about the Nation’s food issue or the “big fat lies” from the Obesity Conference. I will confine myself to the article that first caught my eye, and note that I am relieved to hear that GMO-corn leader Monsanto cares so much about the “poor people” who those pesky GMO protesters are hurting, and not a whit about the $6.3 billion in gross revenues the company collected from those same poor people last year.
The Sourcewatch profile quotes an interview with CCF mastermind Berman published in a trade publication for restaurant chains. Alas, a Lexis-Nexis search did not turn up the actual article, in which Berman supposedly boasted about his aggressive counter-messaging:
“We always have a knife in our teeth,” he said. Since activists “drive consumer behavior on meat, alcohol, fat, sugar, tobacco and caffeine,” his strategy is “to shoot the messenger. … We’ve got to attack their credibility as spokespersons.”
Well, what’s good for the industry whore is good for the activists too. Consider this shill shot.