Bullshit alert: Center for Consumer Freedom vs. NCIFAP

The Center for Consumer Freedom, our favorite purveyor of Big Ag propaganda, is busily shoveling its horse manure again. Which messenger is getting shot this time? Johns Hopkins University's Bloomberg School of Public Health, which has announced a two-year study of U.S. meat production methods under the non-acronym-friendly name National Commission on Industrial Farm Animal Production (NCIFAP).

NCIFAP, lies the Center for Consumer Freedom's press release, is "tainted by vegetarian bias," because among the 19-member commission are "'natural' beef marketer Bill Niman; 'cage-free' egg marketer Fedele Bauccio; 'social justice' advocate Brother David Andrews; animal-rights author Bernard Rollin; organic-meat consultant Fred Kirschenmann; and nutrition scold Marion Nestle." (Random-but-tactical application of quotation marks has been left verbatim.)

David MartoskoI just spent many a pleasant hour Googling and Lexis-Nexis-ing David Martosko, the Center's "director of research" and corporate-whore-in-chief. Funnily enough, Martosko's research credentials are nowhere to be found, other than on this page — available only via Google's cache function — that he's a '91 Dartmouth alumnus and has a masters degree from, of all places, Johns Hopkins.Elsewhere on the Web, one can listen to Martosko's glee club rendition of the Dartmouth Heartsong. But I digress.One would imagine that if Martosko actually had any worthwhile scientific credentials, they'd be attached to his many, many bylines for "articles" attacking "eco-terrorists" and "food cops" and other boogeymen of the right wing.

Back to the NCIFAP. Have to give the Center credit for ferreting out that the Bloomberg School offers "Meatless Mondays" that are sponsored by New York philanthropist Helaine Lerner, who it says also subsidizes the anti-meat "Meatrix" Internet videos. Once again, it's all in the spin, folks. Fact-check: 28 other public health schools also support the Meatless Mondays campaign, whose FAQs specifically state that the campaign is health-oriented, not pro-vegetarian: "it's a fact that Americans eat too much saturated fat. Cutting out meat just once a week is an effective, easy way to start eating healthier." Nor are the Meatrix videos "anti-meat"; they're against cruel and inhumane treatment of animals.

And yet the Center for Consumer Freedom calls the NCIFAP "a Trojan horse for organized activists who want to radically change the way meat is produced or eliminate it entirely. If you wanted to assemble a kangaroo court to rubber-stamp the opinion that modern meat production is the root of all evil, you could hardly do better than this group. The only thing missing is PETA."

Hmm. I'm not sure one could stuff any more propagandistic clichés into one sentence. The only thing missing is invoking the "war on terror." Let's look at this so-called kangaroo court from a less-paranoid, mud-slinging beef lobbyist perspective:

Possible industry-unfriendly tendencies:

  • Alan M. Goldberg, PhD, professor, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health; director, Center for Alternatives to Animal Testing
  • Daryl Hannah, actress; advocate for biofuels and environmentally sustainable lifestyles
  • Deirdre Imus, president and founder, The Deirdre Imus Environmental Center for Pediatric Oncology; co-founder and co-director of Imus Ranch, a working cattle ranch for kids with cancer
  • Frederick Kirschenmann, PhD, distinguished fellow, Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture, Iowa State Univ.; served on USDA National Organic Standards Board
  • Bernard Rollin, PhD, distinguished professor of Philosophy, Colorado State Univ.; leading scholar in animal welfare

Industry interests:

  • Fedele Bauccio, MBA, co-founder and CEO, Bon Appétit Management Company (on-site restaurant company offering food service management for corporations, universities, and museums)
  • Tom Dempster, state senator, South Dakota
  • Thomas Hayes, president, Cargill Meat Solutions Corp.
  • Dan Jackson, Rancher; member, Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes; former president, Western Montana Stockgrowers Association

Neutral:

  • John Carlin, chairman of the commission and former Kansas Governor and archivist of the United States.
  • Brother David Andrews, CSC, JD, executive director, National Catholic Rural Life Conference; member, Iowa Food Policy Council
  • Michael Blackwell, DVM, MPH, dean, College of Veterinary Medicine Univ. of Tennessee; assistant surgeon general (Ret.) USPHS; former chief of staff, Office of the US Surgeon General
  • Most Rev. Richard Garcia, DD, auxiliary bishop of Sacramento, Diocesan Pastoral Center; member, Board of Directors of the National Catholic Rural Life Conference
  • Dan Glickman, JD, chairman and CEO of the Motion Picture Association of America, former US Sec. of Agriculture
  • John Hatch, DrPH, Kenan Professor Emeritus, Health Behavior and Health Education, Univ. of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Public Health
  • James Merchant, MD, DrPH, dean, Univ. of Iowa College of Public Health; leading expert on occupational and environmental health, rural health and public health policy
  • Marion Nestle, PhD, MPH, Paulette Goddard professor, Department of Nutrition, Food Studies and Public Health, New York Univ. (I've read Nestle's latest book, well most of it anyway, and not only is she not a "scold" about junk food, she is no animal-rights activist)
  • Bill Niman, cattle rancher, founder and chairman of the Board of Niman Ranch, Inc. (Niman corn-finishes its beef, but is proud of its humane standards)

Wow, what a bunch of lightweights! I wonder if someone picked them out of an organic hemp hat? Certainly none of them would have been admitted to the Dartmouth glee club, that's for sure.

As for whether the commission could have, as Martosko whines, included more ranchers and beef industry CEOs, yes. I am sure he has nothing but fairness in mind when he points that out. Yet what would be the point of that? The commission intends to evaluate confined-animal feeding operations' (CAFOs) for their "public health consequences, particularly the increasing threat of zoonotic diseases like avian influenza… as well as the impacts these types of operations have on the environment and rural communities."

Is the Center for Consumer Freedom against protecting people from possible avian-flu outbreaks, or more widespread mad-cow disease in humans? It's hard for consumers to be free when they're dead. And has often been said during the five-year War on Terror(ism), if you've got nothing to hide, you've got nothing to fear from investigation.
But, as is obvious from reading even a handful of his journalistic contributions to op-ed pages everywhere, Martosko actually doesn't give a flying cow-pie for consumers, not to mention the environment or rural communities. They don't sign his paychecks. U.S. meat-producing titans Tyson, Cargill, and Pilgrim’s Pride do.

3 Responsesto “Bullshit alert: Center for Consumer Freedom vs. NCIFAP”

  1. Anonymous says:

    Great!

  2. tom martosko says:

    Nothing to do today. Was googling people's names....tried my nephew, David Martosko.

    Interesting article, even if I AM a year late reading it. heh

    I too was surprised when David got into his current line of work with Berman and Co. (Center for Consumer Freedom) He hadn't done anything like that previously. My folks (his grandparents) died of smoking related illnesses so it was somewhat disappointing he would align himself with an organization backed by tobacco, among other things. But hey, he's his own man with his own convictions. I'm glad he's doing well but I doubt I would be able to hold a a civil conversation with him about his work. I have strong feelings on certain subjects. heh

  3. Tracy says:

    Well, at least there's one Martosko with ethics. It's very sad that someone (David) can make a living from telling lies that harm people and animals.