(NaturalNews) In late July, biotech giant Monsanto, king of the GMOs, paid bloggers $150 each to attend what was billed as "an intimate and interactive panel" with "two female farmers and a team" from the company.
It was a strict invitation-only affair, a three-hour brunch that took place on the heels of something called the "BlogHer Conference," and it promised the attendant bloggers an opportunity to learn about "where your food comes from," and to hear about the "impact growing food has on the environment, and how farmers are using fewer resources to feed a growing population," as reported by Anna Lappe of Al Jazeera America.
Despite the fact that the invitations from BlogHer state explicitly, "No blog posts or social media posts expected," the event was pretty much intended to influence opinions -- and the writing -- of a key influential figure: the mommy blogger. Lappe further reported:
Another invite-only event in August will bring bloggers to a Monsanto facility in Northern California for a tour of its fields and research labs. Again, while no media coverage is expected, the unspoken goal is clear.
Stealth marketing techniques, such as these by Monsanto, reveal how the food industry -- from biotech behemoths to fast-food peddlers -- is working surreptitiously to shape public opinion about biotechnology, industrialized farming and junk food.
Lappe wrote that we've "come a long way from Don Draper's whisky-infused ad concepts" designed for old print-media publications. As such, as the new media has infused itself into our society, Big Agriculture like Monsanto has adapted its media-propaganda strategy as well, "devising marketing to take advantage of this new terrain and influence the people and platforms" outside of old-school journalists and print newspapers, in a bid to shape how we think about and understand farming and the health impacts of related biotechnology and junk food.
Hamilton Nolan, writing at Gawker, further notes that Monsanto is using Conde Nast Media Group and Mo Rocca -- "and some desperate charities" -- to spread its pro-GMO propaganda.
According to Nolan, Gawker obtained a marketing email from Conde Nast, which is circulating it "to various big-name, respected charity groups, trying to get them to agree to be featured in a piece of celebrity-studded Monsanto propaganda in exchange for money."
"It is, in essence, a plea for a respected nongovernmental organization to sell its reputation to Monsanto for PR purposes," Nolan wrote.
Here is part of the email:
I'm writing on behalf of the Strategic Alliances group within Conde Nast Media Group. We are currently producing an exciting video series being promoted on our brand websites ( i.e: Self, Epicurious, Bon Appetite, GQ & Details) and living on a custom YouTube channel. The topics center around food, food chains and sustainability, and there is great interest to have Lori Silverbush as part of the panel.
Attached to the email was a document "detailing the extent of what Conde's brand specialists have in store for this feel-good piece of Monsanto propaganda: a four-episode film series on food, with a celebrity host and noteworthy guests, which will run for six months on various Conde media properties, as well as on a dedicated YouTube channel."
As you might guess, Monsanto produced the four-episode series.
For his part, Mo Rocca -- a CBS Sunday Morning correspondent and the host and creator of My Grandmother's Ravioli on the Cooking Channel, contacted Gawker and said that, though he was contacted about the gig, he did not sign on.
Lappe noted that Sean Timberlake, who has been blogging for almost 10 years, has characterized the GMO industry's move into the social media space as "sweeping and vast."
"I don't think the Monsantos of the world understood what blogs were -- or cared," Timberlake once explained. However, now, "companies develop entire budget lines for social media programs. They build it into their whole ad budget."
Now, truth be told, Monsanto isn't the only food company engaging blogs; Mommy bloggers are also being targeted by the fast food industry, like McDonald's, Lappe notes.