A new report by an environmental advocacy group accuses the food industry of using "tobacco-style" tactics in an effort to protect their market share from organic products.
The report from Friends of the Earth alleges that large food and agribusiness companies directed hundreds of millions of dollars toward public relations efforts that mirror "the tobacco industry’s playbook," from "funding fake science to paying experts to denounce public health findings."
The analysis said 14 groups with ties to the food industry spent $126 million on communications efforts between 2009 and 2013, with six of those groups launching in the past four years alone.
The U.S. Farmers and Ranchers Alliance led those groups with $28.6 million in spending backed by Monsanto, Dow Chemical and DuPont. Other top groups included the International Food Information Council, the Center for Food Integrity, the Center for Consumer freedom and the American Council on Science and Health.
In addition, four industry trade associations — CropLife America, BIO, the Grocery Manufacturers Association and the American Meat Institute — spent more than $600 million during that span, although the report did not detail what portion went toward public relations efforts.
"The food industry uses a host of covert communication tactics to shape public opinion without most people realizing the stories are being shaped behind-the-scenes to promote corporate interests," said Anna Lappe, the founder of Real Food Media Project and a co-author of the report.