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Ketchum PR Firm now pitching services to organic food companies after long history of pushing biotech propaganda

Ketchum PR Firm

(NaturalNews) For decades, the public relations firm Ketchum has worked vigorously to discredit, destroy and dismantle the organic food industry, sustainable farming practices and environmental activism. Ketchum has been enlisted by some of the world's largest industries to manipulate consumers and government policy, and to infiltrate the opposition in an effort to destroy it from within.

Infamous for representing the tobacco industry and clients such as Monsanto, the Clorox Company and Russia's Vladimir Putin, Ketchum has been caught red-handed using illegal and unethical tactics against its opponents.

In 2010, the firm was exposed for espionage after it was sued by Greenpeace, which accused Ketchum of using "unlawful means" to gain confidential information from the environmental group.

Working in conjunction with Dow Chemical, Ketchum used that information to "anticipate and frustrate" the group's public education campaigns, which at the time were raising concerns about the dangers of chlorine and genetically engineered seeds, according to PR Week.

Playing both sides

For decades, Ketchum has been one of the biggest attack dogs against sustainable, chemical-free farming and organic food, working tirelessly to "debunk" its health and environmental benefits, while promoting large-scale, chemical-dependent farming that has resulted in a monopoly of the world's food supply.

But in a surprising about-face, the firm has decided to try and market itself as a promoter of organic food through a new program called "Cultivate." The 20-member, San Francisco-based Cultivate team will represent brands focused on health and nutrition, sustainability and natural and organic food – the very market Ketchum tried to destroy.

Its efforts to sabotage organic food may not be over either.

As Ketchum sets its sights on the organic food industry, it "remains a key player in PR efforts to dampen demand for organic foods, spinning messages that tell consumers organics are over-priced and over-hyped," writes Stacy Malkan, Co-director of U.S. Right to Know (USRTK), a non-profit dedicated to "truth and transparency in America's food system."

As Malkan points out, Ketchum is the author of a controversial website called GMO Answers, established by the biotech industry to debunk any and all claims made against GMOs and chemical-dependent farming.

"GMO Answers was created as a vehicle to sway public opinion in favor of GMOs. Soon after Monsanto and its allies beat back the 2012 ballot initiative to label GMOs in California, Monsanto announced plans to launch a new public relations campaign to reshape the reputation of GMOs," explains USRTK.

"They hired the public relations firm FleishmanHillard (owned by Omnicom) for an at-least million-dollar campaign." Ketchum, first created in 1923 by George Ketchum and his brother Carlton G. Ketchum, became a subsidiary of Omnicom in 1996.

Cellphones and brain cancer

The firm has a long history of representing powerful industries, including electronic device makers. After a series of reports released in the early 90s claimed that cellphones may be linked to brain cancer, Ketchum was hired for the industry's defense.

The Cellular Telephone Industry Association initially spent $25 million "to fund a major research program through a new entity which was established by their public relations firm Ketchum," according to Source Watch.

"Lorraine Thelian, the director of the Washington DC offices of Ketchum, found for them the ideal science-for-sale entrepreneur to run the research organization.

"George L. Carlo was an experienced science lobbyist for Philip Morris and the tobacco industry, who had built his pro-corporate reputation in fighting the battles over Agent Orange and dioxins for the Dow Chemical Company, before establishing his own service firm Health and Environmental Services (along with a number of other pseudo-think-tanks, and societies).

"Carlo set up for the cellphone industry, the Wireless Technology Research as a limited liability company, totally controlled by himself and his wife. Over the next few years it spent $27 million of the CTIA's money on research guaranteed not to find anything of health significance."

Ketchum has served the biotech industry in a similar fashion, which is why Malkan questions whether the firm's newfound interest in organics is a conflict of interest.

"Is it a conflict of interest for Ketchum — which has worked to undermine consumer advocates and the organic foods industry — to represent organic companies? We think the answer is yes, and that it would be unwise for organic companies to hire the PR firm behind GMO Answers."








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