Multinational Monitor

JUL/AUG 2000
VOL 21 No. 7


Freedom to Fail: How U.S. Farming Policies Have Helped Agribusiness And Pushed Family Farmers Toward Extinction
by Ben Lilliston and Niel Ritchie

In Firm Control: Industrial Concentration in the U.S. Livestock Market
by Michael Stumo

Flimflam on the Farm: The American Farm Bureau and the Betrayal of Family Farmers, Taxpayers and the Environment
by Vicki Monks

The Dirt on Factory Farms: Environmental and Consumer Impacts of Confined Animal Feeding Operations
by Mark Floegel


The Case for Small Farms
an interview with
Peter Rosset

In The Fields of Indonesia
an interview with Nila Ardhianie

Taking on Corporate Pork
an interview with Bryce Oates

A Serious Beef with the National Cattlemen's Beef Association
an interview with Jeanne Charter


Letters to the Editor

Behind the Lines

Agribusiness Market Hypocrisy

The Front
Truth about Trade?
- Dioxin Diet

The Lawrence Summers Memorial Award

Names In the News


The Front

Truth About Trade

The recent high-profile anti-WTO and anti-World Bank/IMF demonstrations in Seattle and Washington, D.C. have stimulated a flurry of anti-environmental, eco-extremist-baiting that is targeting environmental groups and especially key funders.

The most excessive comments have come from David Horowitz, former lefty turned right-winger and head of the conservative Center for the Study of Popular Culture. Following the Seattle demonstrations, he played the "red menace" card, telling Fox News that "these people [Seattle demonstrators] are communists who have obviously been sleepwalking through the twentieth century."

In addition to fanciful red-baiting have come denunciations cloaked in quasi-journalistic garb.

Truth about Trade, a Des Moines, Iowa-based organization, recently released "Who Props Up the Protesters" <>, a 342-page report which provides readers with "an outline of the history, goals, financial strength and level of activism for each of the groups listed in the Turning Point Project's recent New York Times full-page advertisement on global warming and organizations involved in the anti-trade protests in Seattle."

Truth about Trade warns that opposition to global trade deals is helping forge a coalition of the "more established and larger environmental groups such as Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth, the Earth Island Institute and the Suzuki Foundation that have a very broad issue agenda," and smaller single issue groups like Rainforest Action Network, RESTORE, Forest Guardians, Ozone Action and Project Underground.

"Empowered by a sympathetic Clinton administration and a zealous Environmental Protection Agency, these groups are becoming more bold in their activism," Truth about Trade claims. The group's report contains short profiles of more than 50 "environmental groups actively opposing trade," and the "foundations funding environmental anti-trade activities," including the Ruckus Society, Direct Action Network, Earth Island Institute, Friends of the Earth, Global Exchange and National Wildlife Federation. The book also notes if and details how a profiled group participated in the Seattle protests.

The thrust of the report seems to be to spotlight "grantmakers [which] are funneling large sums of money to environmental groups." Among the foundations highlighted are the Bullitt Foundation, HKH Foundation, John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, Pew Charitable Trust, Rockefeller Foundation, Rockefeller Brothers Foundation, Turner Foundation, W. Alton Jones Foundation and C.S. Mott Foundation.

In its profile of the Berkeley, California-based Ruckus Society, Truth about Trade claims that Ruckus uses its trainings on non-violent civil disobedience as a cover for its real agenda: "violent lawbreaking [by] leaders [who] are no stranger to violence themselves, [and who] might actually have expected the vandalism by the anarchist members of their protest." The report emphasizes the Turner Foundation's support for the group.

(Ruckus, the subject of numerous newspaper feature stories and television pieces in the swirl of interest surrounding the Seattle and Washington, D.C. protests, is becoming a favorite target of the right. Environment & Climate News, published by the conservative Heartland Institute, opines that "when it comes to orchestrating events, such as the riots in Seattle and Washington, much of the heavy lifting is done by the Ruckus Society." In the June 19 edition of the John Birch Society's The New American magazine, senior editor William F. Jasper takes this charge one step farther, linking Ruckus leaders to Greenpeace, which is then linked to the Baader-Meinhoff gang, "a Marxist-Leninist terrorist group based in West Germany," the Dutch Communist Party and finally to spying for the Soviet Union.)

Other sections of the Truth about Trade report examine: foundation grants to environmental groups actively opposing trade; total environmental giving, listed by foundation; government grants to environmental groups; a collection of articles on "the protest-turned riot in Seattle, Washington during the recent WTO meeting;" and a "junk science primer & resources."

Other conservative enterprises are focusing on foundations because they believe that these institutions are providing the lifeblood for the environmental movement.

The Washington, D.C.-based Capital Research Center is one of the rising stars in the crowded universe of right-wing think tanks.

Established in 1984, the Capital Research Center, through its seven periodicals, reports on how "those organizations with tax-exempt, tax-deductible [donations] -- and sometimes tax dollars -- mix advocacy and 'direct action' to promote their own vision of the public interest."

The Center also looks at how closely individuals in the corporate and foundation sectors are sticking to the "donor intent" of the founders of these corporations and foundations.  

Many conservatives become apoplectic when they discover that a significant amount of money earmarked for environmental groups comes from foundations established by free-market entrepreneurs who had accumulated enormous wealth based on decidedly anti-environmental activities.

"The source of wealth for the Pew Trusts comes from energy exploration and development," Capital Research Center Executive Vice President Robert Huberty told the House of Representatives Resource Committee at a May hearing.

Complaining of Pew support for a forest protection campaign, he said that the original intent of the founders of the foundation was to "acquaint the American people [with] the evils of bureaucracy, the values of a free market and the paralyzing effects of government controls on the lives and activities of people."   

Frustrated, Huberty asked, "How do the Pew Trusts honor the intentions of their donor by supporting a campaign to permanently end logging in a large portion of the national forests?"

For now, at least, such questions and the concerted right-wing criticism of environmental funders seems to be having little effect.

-- Bill Berkowitz

Bill Berkowitz is the editor of CultureWatch <>, a monthly publication tracking the Religious Right and related conservative movements, published by the DataCenter in Oakland, California.

The Dioxin Diet

Jean-Claude Garrat, the chef-owner of BeDuCi, a tony Washington, D.C. restaurant frequented by high-flying lobbyists, was surprised one day in June when a group of demonstrators dressed as chefs showed up outside his door to protest the restaurant's participation in a lawsuit filed against the U.S. National Toxicology Program (NTP), a division of the Department of Health and Human Services which issues a list of cancer-causing substances every two years.

After activists from the Falls Church, Virginia-based Center for Health, Environment and Justice started their protest, Garrat came outside to assure them that, although his restaurant was named as a plaintiff, he knew nothing about the lawsuit, which seeks to block NTP from listing dioxin as a "known human carcinogen" in its Ninth Report on Carcinogens.

The lawsuit alleges that the restaurant and a California-based polyvinyl chloride (PVC)-maker would be damaged by a "food scare" created by NTP, and that NTP disregarded its own chemical classification criteria, improperly relying on animal and other data.

NTP officials respond that the agency could not possibly be blamed for catalyzing a "food scare" since dioxin is already widely considered to be a human carcinogen by government agencies that have studied the available scientific literature.

The lawsuit, it turns out, was filed by Jim Tozzi, president of Multinational Business Services, a Washington, D.C.-based consulting firm with offices around the corner from BeDuCi.

Tozzi's core business involves regulatory lobbying for multinational corporate clients, including Burson-Marsteller (a public relations giant which in turn flaks for dioxin-emitting chemical manufacturers including Dow Chemical) and the American Forest & Paper Association, the paper industry trade association.

Tozzi says he added BeDuCi because he is an investor in the restaurant, but Garrat denies this. "No, no. He spends enough money here to be an investor. It sounds good in Washington to say that." Tozzi later dropped BeDuCi from the suit.

NTP officials say that while the Report on Carcinogens is not itself a regulatory document, other government agencies use it to guide their own regulatory decisions. Hence Tozzi's concern.

"The classification is important because there are a lot of state and local governments that will use it to ban your product," Tozzi says, pointing out that cities in California such as Berkeley and San Francisco have already cited the Report on Carcinogens in resolutions restricting the use of PVC, a chlorine-based plastic that emits dioxins when burned.

Environmentalists point out that NTP's position is consistent with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA's) dioxin reassessment, the most in-depth study of any chemical in history.

While there is no direct relationship between the reassessment and the Report on Carcinogens, both agencies have looked at the available scientific literature and reached the same conclusion about dioxin's ability to cause cancer.

U.S. EPA spokesperson William Farland says that while dioxin levels in the environment and in human diet have been steadily declining, the risk of cancer for people with a high-fat diet and genetic predisposition could still be as high as one in 1000 or even one in 100.

"It's a difficult risk communication issue," Farland says, pointing out that subtler, non-lethal effects such as impacts on fetal development, the immune system and the incidence of diabetes may be even more important for the general population.

EPA's conclusions are apparently not convincing enough to Tozzi. "EPA has a problem," he says. "We regulate chemicals at one in a million. So these numbers mean that the food supply is threatened. ... On the one hand they're saying dioxin is a known human carcinogen. On the other they're saying that 90 percent of it comes through the food chain. But they're saying the food supply is not unsafe. There's no way out of that box."

Farland says the EPA is looking for ways not only to reduce dioxin emissions into the environment, but also to interdict their entry into the food supply so that the levels in food might be lowered.

 Both Tozzi and EPA's environmentalist critics agree that EPA can't or won't regulate products such as PVC, which is why environmentalists are looking elsewhere for regulatory action.

"The EPA prefers to look largely at the endpoints -- what some call 'blame the victim,'" says Rick Hind, toxics campaigner at Greenpeace, which has long pointed to major uses of chlorine such as PVC as the root source of dioxin. "Don't burn trash in your backyard; eat a low-fat diet, etc. But it's not enough: they have to go to the source of the dioxin."

But Kip Howlett, executive director at the Chlorine Chemistry Council (CCC), an industry trade association, says that EPA has told CCC it would not impose dioxin emission regulations on the chlorine industry.

"I have no idea where that came from," says the EPA's Farland. "I think we've been trying to understand the processes that give rise to dioxin in the environment. Whether or not the use, for instance, of chlorine in building materials is significant is something we'll have to look into, but we don't have a position on that.

"When the final reassessment comes out, there will be a strategy to look at dioxins across all of EPA's programs," Farland says. "Clearly the uncontrolled burning issue is one that we need to think about."

-- Charlie Cray


The March 2000 Lawrence Summers Memorial Award* goes to Judge John M. Cleland.

Charged with trespass and disorderly conduct for blocking trucks from delivering logs from the Allegheny National Forest  to a chip mill, two forest activists, Shannon Hughes and Josh Raisler Cohn, agreed to a deal sentencing them to 50 hours of community service. Judge Cleland ordered the two to spend those 50 hours researching and writing a paper "supporting the concept of selective cutting on the Allegheny National Forest for the preservation of black cherry and other valuable timber" -- an industry position.

(Source: Julie Mickens, "A Sentence of Sentences," Pittsburgh City Paper, July 12, 2000; Thanks to Ned Daly for sending in this item.)

*In a 1991 internal memorandum, then-World Bank economist and current Secretary of Treasury Lawrence Summers argued for the transfer of waste and dirty industries from industrialized to developing countries. "Just between you and me, shouldn't the World Bank be encouraging more migration of the dirty industries to the LDCs (lesser developed countries)?" Summers wrote. "I think the economic logic behind dumping a load of toxic waste in the lowest wage country is impeccable and we should face up to that. ... I've always thought that underpopulated countries in Africa are vastly under polluted; their air quality is vastly inefficiently low [sic] compared to Los Angeles or Mexico City." Summers later said the memo was meant to be ironic.


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