Originally published September 16 2013
Pro-GMO 'experts' are corporate shills with financial ties to Big Tobacco
by J. D. Heyes
(NaturalNews) People who are claiming to be so-called "experts" regarding genetically engineered foods are really just shills for big corporations that have financial ties to Big Tobacco, writes Michele Simon, a public health lawyer who specializes in industry marketing and lobbying tactics.
In a short series of articles posted at TreeHugger.com, which is published by the same company that broadcasts The Discovery Channel, and on her own website, Simon says some of the same industry consultants with ties to the tobacco industry are now lobbying for "Big Food" in "opposing the ballot initiative that would require labeling of all foods containing GMO ingredients."
So-called experts hawking so-called expertise
She cites information contained in the financial filings of a movement, No on 37: Coalition Against the Deceptive Food Labeling Scheme, which showed that a $7,500 payment was made to a political consulting firm, the Sacramento-based MB Public Affairs, which was described this way by the Los Angeles Times last year:
MB Public Affairs is headed by Mark Bogetich, a garrulous operative known to his friends as "Bogey," who has helped a number of Republican candidates neutralize their opponents. In recent years, MB Public Affairs has worked for Altria, once known as the Phillip Morris Cos. ...
Part of the No on 37 effort to lobby against the proposition, according to Simon, is to put up "alleged scientific experts to do its bidding, once again taking a page from the tobacco industry playbook."
According to the organization, the proposition is "deceptive" because it is a "payday for trial lawyers," will "increase food costs for the average family by hundreds of dollars per year" and amount to "a hidden food tax that would especially hurt seniors and low-income families who can least afford it," and is "full of absurd, politically motivated exemptions that make no sense."
But Simon writes that "corporations such as Philip Morris or Monsanto don't have actual facts on their side," so they have had to resort to "third-party experts" to make their case.
One such expert is Henry Miller, a physician and molecular biologist who she says misleadingly wrote in the San Francisco Chronicle recently that "Americans have consumed more than 3 trillion servings of food with genetically engineered ingredients - with not a single documented ill effect."
"This statement is about as relevant as saying that genetically engineered food does not cause herpes. No one has been looking for effect either," says Simon.
She goes on to say that Miller also "misrepresented" positions held by the World Health Organization, the American Medical Association and the National Academy of Sciences when he claimed these groups "and other respected medical and health organizations all conclude that genetically engineered foods are safe."
Ties to tobacco?
In fact, Simon writes, the AMA has called on the Food and Drug Administration to require "pre-market systemic safety assessments of these foods as a preventative measure to ensure the health of the public." Currently, she says, there is no such safety testing apparatus in place for GMO foods.
More recently, Miller penned another op-ed, this one for Forbes magazine, in opposition to Prop 37, which Simon said contained more deception.
For one thing, he writes that the FDA "followed the science and declined to require special labeling for genetically engineered foods." But as Simon has written, the agency's action was only the result of heavy lobbying from Monsanto.
She says Miller is currently a "senior research fellow" at the Hoover Institute after spending 15 years at the FDA "as an outspoken advocate of GMOs."
She said he also has ties to the tobacco industry.
According to a 1994 industry newsletter, she says, "Miller helped write the founding principles for 'The Advancement of Sound Science Coalition' - a now-defunct front group created by Phillip Morris that tried to discredit research linking tobacco to cancer and heart disease, especially among office workers and children living with smoking parents."
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