Big tobacco shills now trying to stop GMO labeling initiative in California

From Michelle Simon, on Appetite for Profit:

Modified frame grab from Michelle Simon’s Appetite for Profit website.

“The food industry really hates it when you compare them to Big Tobacco. They try to deny the negative association by claiming that food is different than tobacco. Of course that’s true, but why are the same consultants that have worked for the tobacco industry now shilling for Big Food, opposing the ballot initiative that would require labeling of all foods containing GMO ingredients?

Hiring Secret Consultants for the Dirty Work

The latest financial filings in California for the “No on 37: Coalition Against the Deceptive Food Labeling Scheme” – reveal a $7,500 payment to the Sacramento-based political consulting firm, MB Public Affairs. Here is how the Los Angeles Times described the firm 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. …

Bogetich has also been called “the go-to guy for [the Republican] party,” and “the only game in town.” The L.A. Times article explains how last year MB Public Affairs filed more than 50 public record act requests to dig up dirt on a small but effective group called the Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy. No wonder, since the organization has scored such important victories as a living wage for workers, which would threaten plenty of businesses.

But which ones? Who knows, because by hiring MB Public Affairs to do its dirty work, industry gets to keep its nose clean – a classic Big Tobacco tactic. Well-known brands such as PepsiCo (which I wrote about last week) and Kraft don’t want to be associated with negative campaigning, so they farm out the job to consulting firms. In this case, they went right to the top, or the bottom. Things are likely to get ugly.

Creating Front Groups for the Dirty Work

Another tactic honed by Big Tobacco is to form a front group, which appears to be made up of small businesses and others designed to give the impression of a grassroots campaign, but in reality is funded by large corporations. This tactic, known as an Astroturfing, is alive and well with “No on 37,” which describesitself as, “A broad coalition of family farmers, scientists, doctors, taxpayers, small businesses, labor, food companies, biotechnology companies and grocers….”

Read more on Appetite for Profit.

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