Supporters of the Center for Media & Democracy have just been mailed the third quarter 2001 issue of PR Watch. It examines the strategies employed by corporations such as Philip Morris and BP/Amoco, and their PR firms such as Burson-Marsteller, to defeat environmental activism through partnerships and co-optation. Articles include "Keep America Beautiful: Grassroots Non-Profit or Tobacco Front Group?" by Walter Lamb; "Corporations 'Get Engaged' to the Environmental Movement" by Andy Rowell; and, "Endangered Wildlife Friends Are Here" by John Stauber.
Boise Cascade is one of the worst transnational logging companies in the world. Its many scandals include: involvement in false imprisonment of peasant environmentalists who opposed Boise's logging in Mexico; a huge proposed woodchipping scheme in Southern Chile; threats of lawsuits and harassment to environmentalists, including a recent threat to ECO's Cath Wallace; and involvement with the campaign to get the Rainforest Action Network's tax-deductibility status removed. Thanks to the World Wide Fund for Nature, however, the company just got a green makeover.
Remember the PR hype and spin about how socially responsible and proactive 3M corporation was in pulling Scotchgard from the market last year? Well, check this out: "New analyses of 3M's own data, some decades old, reveals that the company knew far more, far earlier, about potential health problems from Scotchgard exposure. The (Scotchgard) story is likely to emerge as one of the apocryphal examples of 20th century experimentation with widespread chemical exposures without adequate testing."
Michael Betsch at the Cybercast News Service reports that "the conservative environmental group, Greening Earth Society" opposes the scientific consensus that global warming is a real problem. Betsch fails to point out that this "conservative environmental group" is actually a front group created by the coal industry. We examine the Greening Earth Society and the industry campaign to confuse the climate debate in our book, Trust Us, We're Experts.
While the International Whaling Commission held its annual meeting in London, PR Week asked British public relations practitioners how they would market whale meat. Two of the four respondents said that marketing whale meat is not an option given the already existing moratorium on whaling and the public opinion supporting it.
Iceland recently joined Japan and Norway in seeking to reverse the International Whaling Commission's ban on commercial whaling, prompting the British edition of PR Week to ask its experts, "How would you market whale meat to reluctant UK consumers?" Chris Lukehurst of the British Meat and Livestock Commission suggested "marketing it as a health food that is also environmentally friendly ... a traditional organic food" that is "free-range and not genetically modified."
The American Chemistry Council, the trade association of the chemical industry, has signed a Memorandum of Agreement with the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences "to improve testing chemicals for potential human developmental and reproductive effects," according to a July 26 NIEHS press release.
The Boise Cascade Corp. is targeting the Rainforest Action Network (RAN), the environmental group that has gotten major companies to stop buying wood from the remaining old-growth forests. Boise Cascade is working with two industry-supported front groups, the Frontiers of Freedom Institute and the Center for the Defense of Free Enterprise, trying to get the IRS to cancel RAN's tax-exempt status and to pressure its funders to cut off the group's money.
The head of Japan's fisheries agency admitted that his country uses foreign aid to pressure other countries into voting against restrictions on its whaling activities. Masayuki Komatsu added that there is "nothing wrong" with killing whales, comparing them to "cockroaches" and saying, "There are too many." We reported on the PR firms that help greenwash Japanese whaling in the 1st Quarter 2001 issue of PR Watch.
Kevin McCauley, editor for PR trade publication O'Dwyer's PR, calls on General Electric CEO Jack Welch to dredge up the company's PCBs in the Hudson River. Welch has adamantly opposed GE cleaning up the Hudson and denied a relationship between exposure to PCBs and cancer. The company has had success in creating opposition to dredging by bankrolling PR and ad campaigns. However, McCauley says, GE could get a big image boost "if Welch switched course and said: 'GE wants to be the country's No. 1 environmental citizen. We will dredge the Hudson River.'"