The organic industry relies on these partners to spread fake science

This fact sheet describes the contents of an organic industry confidential public relations plan to spread fake science in its promotion. In December of 2013, Washington State University issued a press release claiming nutritional benefits in organic milk. The research was part of an organic industry funded program at the university called Measure to Manage.

The organic industry plan includes dozens of front groups, academics, and journalists that could be counted on to “help assure that the release and outreach effort is broad and on‐message.” Media personalities are listed as people who “might be willing to actively participate in ongoing social media efforts”.

This fact sheet provides a sense of the depth and breadth of the corporate attack on science in defense of what the organic industry calls a “gateway drug” for new mothers.


Organic dairy products have long been considered a “gateway drug” by the industry in order to capture the wallets and future finances of young families. Charles Benbrook, with funding from Organic Valley, led research showing that grass-fed milk had higher level of fatty-acids than non-grass fed. While these benefits are marginal at best for the vast majority of consumers, the press sold the research as if it meant organic milk was inherently more nutritious. When in fact it simply showed that grass-fed cows had this benefit. Conventional cows can be grass-fed, and organic cows don’t have to be.

For more background see “A paper touting the benefits of organic milk for heart health may be overselling the drink,” by Tamar Haspel, Washington Post (1/27/2014)

Of special note on this list is Carey Gillam, who now works for an organic industry front group that attacks organizations and individuals speaking out against the interests of the organic industry for being on similar lists.

The Organic Industry’s “‘A’ Team of Commentators, Strategists, Influencers”

“These individuals will be fully briefed on the paper and provided access to it and associated material on the M2M website by or about 12/2. They will be asked if they would be willing to help assure that the release and outreach effort is broad and on‐message. We should ask them to be prepared for media interviews; tweet re the study release, and then again in response to media dialogue and the unfolding discussion of, and reaction to the study’s findings. They will also be asked if they would be willing to help, on short notice, with a key strategic tweet or comment, usually on social media.”

“A” Team industry allied partners include:

Michael Pollan, journalist

Ken Cook — Environmental Working Group

Melinda Hemelgarn, Nutritionist and “Food Sleuth”

Tom Philpott, journalist (Mother Jones)

Nutrition/Science Community

Dr. Oz — TV personality

Dr. Mercola — Alternative medicine business owner and blogger.

Marion Nestle — Writer

Mark Smallwood — Rodale Institute

Nutrition/Food and Wellness Consumer Media

Siobhan O’Connor, Prevention

Celia Barbour, Health

Jill Waldbieser, Women’s Health

Regina Ragone, Family Circle

Samantha Cassety, Good Housekeeping

Tracey Whitney, Natural Health

Marjorie Korn, SELF

Leah Zerbe,

Short Lead Targets w Broad Reach Tier One‐‐Science

Kenneth Chang, New York Times

Dan Charles, NPR

Ira Flatow, NPR

Emma Schwartz, ABC News

Erik Stokstad, Science

Monya Baker, Nature

Janet Roloff, Science News

Sarah Nassaue, Wall Street Journal

Tier Two — Wire Services

Carey Gillam, Reuters (Now with the organic industry promoting US Right To Know)

J. M. Hirsh, AP Wire

Jack Kaskey, Bloomberg

Voice of America

Key Organic‐Influencer Writers

Mark Bittman, New York Times

Michael Moss, New York Times

Adam Gopnik, New Yorker

Kim Severson, New York Times

Jane Black, Washington Post

Corby Kummer, Atlantic, Vanity Fair

Nicholas Kristoff, New York Times

Danielle Nierenberg

Christine Kapperman, Natural Foods Merchandiser

Dan McGovern, Sustainable Food News

Influential People, Organizations, Allies

NODPA, WODPA, MOFGA (listed specifically as industry partners)

Peter Melchett, Soil Association

Urvashi Rangan, Consumers Union

Laura Batcha/Jessica Siegel, Organic Trade Association

Plan to manufacture “heavy social media interest and activity”

With a goal of ensuring “the coverage of the PLOS ONE paper is high‐level and accurate; reinforces our core messages; is intense in the first few days, and then sustained; is shaped to help support and drive heavy social media interest and Activity,” presumably key social media “influencers” were expected to step up. And those “influencers” certainly did as industry asked.

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