Report exposes how the food industry is paying to manipulate the media around food

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Earlier this summer Friends of the Earth published a report titled “Spinning Food,” which details how the industrial food industry is working to manipulate public opinion and understanding about the food system, and is undermining public knowledge about the benefits of diversified and ecological food systems. The industrial food sector is spending millions of dollars each year to change the public discourse around food and agriculture through funding front groups and using money to influence the media.

Corporate efforts to spin media coverage is a direct response to consumer demand for organic, chemical-free, non GMO foods, and concern about industrial agricultural practices. Rather than respond to these market pressures, the industrial food and agricultural sector is attempting to change the conversation around food and alter public understanding and thus, consumption. Corporations are using a few key tactics to achieve this goal: deploying front groups that appear to be working in public interest but are funded by the industrial food industry, targeting women, infiltrating social media, attacking the credibility of scientists, funding “native advertising” on media and news venues, and using third-party allies. Through these tactics, the food industry is spinning five key messages:

  1. “Organic is no better than conventional and not worth the money.”
  2. “Organic food advocates are elitist food nannies.”
  3. “U.S. meat production is safe, efficient and does not overuse antibiotics.”
  4. “We need GMOs to feed the world.”
  5. “The science is settled — GMOs are safe.”

“Spinning Food” concludes by providing recommendations to the media, the general public, and environmental, public health, and food advocates. It provides examples of what each of these groups can do to combat food industry spin. By reading the report, individuals and organizations alike can become more informed consumers of both food and media. Find the full report here.

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