Thursday, July 05, 2007

This Just in: "Toxic Sludge is STILL Good for You" - NOT!

Back in 1995, John Stauber and Sheldon Rampton of "PR Watch" wrote the book Toxic Sludge is Good For You, exposing the PR industry. Since then, flaks for big corporations are still at it, most recently to NY Times' readers' disgust, in the form of the Hoover Institute's Dr. Henry I. Miller, who was also at the FDA during the first Bush administration, and is considered by PR watch to be one of the "usual suspects" or "junkyard dogs" of science, because of his shilling for industry and promoting right-wing views of scientific research. According to them, Miller,
regularly grinds an ax against what he considers the FDA's "extraordinarily burdensome regulations" regarding genetically engineered foods and new drugs. In 1996, Miller also editorialized against the FDA's proposal to regulate tobacco. "The FDA's anti-tobacco initiative . . . has not been without its own costs to American consumers and taxpayers," he stated, describing FDA commissioner David Kessler as "personally consumed by this single issue."

True to form, his Op-ed piece in last week Times' pooh-poohs the claims of activists who oppose the use of bovine growth hormone, and inspired seven people to write letters to the Times. One of those people was my stepfather, who wrote:

To the Editor:

Henry I. Miller argues that we should “embrace” the use of bovine growth hormone (rBST) in order to feed people more cheaply, save the environment and so on. He characterizes opponents of rBST as “cynical,” but I read Dr. Miller’s arguments as cynical.

I have no idea if rBST is safe. But I do know that the dairy industry and its lobbyists do not want to require labeling milk produced with rBST. In fact, they are so intent on reducing information available to consumers that they are lobbying to prevent dairies from labeling their milk as “rBST-free”!

There’s good reason for cynicism. George Entenman

Chapel Hill, N.C., June 29, 2007

You can find all the letters at here.

Of the letters in the paper responding to that particular Op-Ed piece, only two supported it, and interestingly, the Times identified the authors as 1)vice-president of a biotechnology company and 2)a person who has previously collaborated with Miller on published articles.

Immediately, I wondered if my favorite media watchdogs were on the trail as well. The first thing that came up when I googled Miller's name along with "FAIR" was a Media Matters article about how this same doctor had "diagnosed" Al Gore with "narcissistic personality disorder" in 2004 in the National Review Online. There's another article about Miller and his Op-Ed piece at the website eating liberally.
My step-dad is right - and literally, "on the money." Miller is cynical indeed.


ge said...

Excellent research, reb! I didn't even bother looking up proof for my assertion that the dairy industry wants to forbid "rBST-free" labels on milk - but the Times printed it, so I assume my memory was correct.

I didn't feel like discussing the Hoover Inst in my letter, so I'm especially glad you document it here.

-- ge

Anonymous said...

Cool! Thanks for the information on Miller.

Abram said...

Dear Reb,

Re: previous postings -- I am also active in the PSC & would like to contact you about a) the Free Mumia resolution passed at a recent Delegate Assembly, b) a forum this Wednesday at Hunter on the 80th anniversary of Sacco & Vanzetti's execution and its relevance to the fight to free Mumia Abu-Jamal. (It will be at 6:30 pm on Wed. 7/18, Faculty Lounge on the 8th Floor of Hunter West).

What is the best way to contact you?