Milking ignorance for fun and profit

milkismilk.jpgBig Ag cheerleader Alex Avery "expressed frustration" on his blog and in a press release over the defacing of a "Milk is Milk" billboard along California's Highway 99, put up by his front group for conventional dairy operators "grass roots campaign of concerned consumers, principally mothers."

I didn't do it, but I wish I had.

Under the guise of "protecting" consumers from misleading labeling, like "rBGH free," Avery and his deceptively innocuous-sounding Center for Global Food Issues have launched one of the most transparently ridiculous campaigns I think I've ever seen. Simply browsing the Milk is Milk site made me feel like I need to take a shower.

milkismilk2.gifThe gist of the MiM argument is basically, Milk is healthy and everyone should drink more of it; organic advertising that boasts of being free of Monsanto's synthetic bovine growth hormones — used to increase milk production and with at least one disturbing consequence — constitutes:

misleading marketing practices [that] may be harming family farmers by limiting their production technique choices. This harms animal welfare by preventing farmers from using safe, government-approved animal health treatments, and it drives more children towards the soda aisle and away from nutritious products.

Consumers are urged to note and report offending labels, like those from Stonyfield Yogurt, to the FDA.

Avery is one of a legion of deep-pocketed, corporate-funded scaremongers, like our shy pals at the Center for Consumer Freedom, that are dedicated to squashing anyone who dares to suggest that factory food is unhealthy or dangerous. On the one hand they crusade indignantly against the "food police" — who want to, say, ban trans fats — yet have no shame in doing an about-face and urging the FDA to limit consumers' freedom to, among other things, drink milk that is free from synthetic hormones or unpasteurized.

You can't have it both ways, Mr. Avery. Either Americans are free to get fat on fast food and possibly contract E. coli poisoning from raw milk, or we're all living in "food nanny" prison.

And should you ever want to venture out from under your rock, I'd be happy to debate this and other topics with you in person.

9 Responsesto “Milking ignorance for fun and profit”

  1. Sal Apple says:

    C'mon -- you advocate vandalism as a response to an alternative point of view? I gotta tell you the argument is compelling and the marketing examples on are pretty offensive. Companies which attack the safety of their competitors just to hype a more expensive product are the ones to attack. As for "deep pockets" a quick review of CGFI's financial reports (avail at under the Hudson Institute) suggest these guys don't have all that much money as say compared with those attacking them.

  2. Tiffany says:

    Sal Apple do your research. The CGFI is a project of the Hudson Institute, a think tank funded by big Agri-Corp like ConAgra, Archer Daniels, Monsanto, and Midland. The director of the CGFI is Dennis T. Avery, a proponent of chemical farming and a critic of organic farming. He actually wrote a ludicrous book called “Saving the Planet with Pesticides and Plastic”. He and his organization purposefully ignore the “whole” truth. And the partial or half truths he and his organizations are so famous for are as good as a lie in my opinion. These are front groups that claim they have the best interests of society in mind.

  3. Sal Apple says:

    You really have a hard time hearing more than one side of an argument don't you. Both sides appear to get "tainted" money from my limited research. And the mega, multi-billion-dollar organic industry doesn't appear to be any different from the conventional folks when it comes to funding advocacy groups.

    I found this one posting from CGFI's Alex Avery about their funding online, in which he claims he doesn't do the bidding of any corporate agri-business:

    "We're a 501(c)(3) non-profit research/education think tank. We accept only unrestricted donations, and these come mostly from foundations and corporations. (You can contact Hudson's headquarters in Indianapolis for details, which I don't have) We do not conduct any research for corporations, but will do specific projects for other entities when appropriate. (For example, we are about to do a water quality analysis of a hog-intensive river basin for the Cape Fear River Association in North Carolina.)"

  4. Tiffany says:

    Sal...come on now. Some of their "investors" inlcude Monsanto, Dow Chemcial, and Con Agra. Amazing coincidence that some of their biggest supporters have something substanial to gain from their "research". The CGFI is nothing more than a front outfit for the biotech industry. Anyone who says differently is selling something...what are you selling Sal?

  5. Alex Avery says:

    Hi DairyQueen and Tiffany. I've crawled out from under my rock in hopes you can point me to some of the "lavish funding" we're supposed to be taking. I make less than the average teacher in my rural community and I live in a little 1,600-sq foot house in town and drive 10-year old used cars becuase we AREN'T lavishly funded. (Hint: Mark Kastel of the Cornucopia Institute openly admitted at a forum last month in Madison Wisconsin that his group has a considerably larger budget than we do -- and his is one of the smaller food scare groups.)

    I spread the FACTS about food because consumers are getting conned to pay silly amounts for food that is no better nutritionally or environmentally by scares spread by profit-driven organic food companies or their lavishly funded activist partners.

    If my facts are so "transparently ridiculous" and so-called "factory foods" are as "unhealthy and dangerous" as you guys claim -- then why am I joined by scientists at the FDA, World Health Organization, American Medical Association, American Dietetic Association, etc.? Why does even the European Food Safety Authority conceed that rbST poses NO human health risks whatsoever?

    The whole "funding" canard is only raised because your side doesn't have a scientific leg to stand on so you're left attacking the messenger.

    And DairyQueen, about that debate: Any time, any where. But you'll have to pay my travel expenses because, well, we covered that already.

    Alex Avery
    Hudson Institute, Center for Global Food Issues

  6. Tiffany says:

    Why are you joined by scientists at the FDA, World Health Organization, American Medical Association, American Dietetic Association, etc.? And why does even the European Food Safety Authority conceed that rbST poses NO human health risks is in their best interests to do so. Money talks and money applies pressure to the government to get what they want.

    Answer me this Alex....does Monsanto or Dow Chemcial contribute anything to the CGFI? Yes, they do and how can we trust that you would provide factual information about organic farming when you work so intimately with companies like that...that would be financially devestated if your "research" did not find in their favor.

    The prinicples of organic farming started with the dawn of me that means they have been proven. Industrial farming is the new kid on the block and we have it to thank for wonderful environmental inventions like DDT. Thanks but no thanks...nature's way is the right way for me.

  7. Tiffany says:

    Just one more thing to add. The milk is milk tagline is not true in my experience. I am highly allergic to milk (think horrible cramping and cold sweats while laying in a fetal position). The ONLY kind of milk I can drink is raw. Not conventional milk or even conventional organic milk...only raw.

  8. DairyQueen says:

    Alex: I'm so sorry to hear you're doing this for the love of it, just like us. You should give the Center for Consumer Freedom a call, I'm sure they could send some industry funding your way. Given the billions of dollars spent advertising the health claims of processed foods like "fortified" cereal and vitamin-added water, forgive us for assuming that the only reason to scare up money for billboards about milk, and a website dissing organic food labeling, is to protect corporate profits. But hey, if you're having fun keeping small, family-owned dairies in line, it's a free country.

    About that debate -- my car's 10 years old, too, and I pay for my expensive organic food by, among other things, buying secondhand clothes. But I promise that when those deep-pocketed organic profiteers begin dropping bags of cash in front of me, I'll pay your expenses out to Berkeley — and take you out for a nice SOLE food meal.

    P.S. Tiffany, thanks for your passionate defense, but it's better not to feed the trolls.

  9. Alex Avery says:

    Tiffany, You're right. We're all lying to keep ourselves in good with "The Man" and continue our ration of drug-laden milk and hormone-pumped meat. We're addicted and we'll say anything to keep "The Juice" coming in steady.

    Now I've got to run before the Bag Men find out I've broken the silence code and revealed the truth for all to see. If they ask, you haven't seen or heard from me.

    Troll #THX1136