ngin - Norfolk Genetic Information Network

1 October 2001


various from PR Watch <>

regarding No More Scares (first item), fiendsoftheearth and may also have gone missing. purefoods still there but looks like not updated for over a year. the so-called Centre for Food & Agricultural Research <> is still going strong and now incorporates vandalwatch complete with photo gallery!
No More No More Scares?

A year ago we reported on the "No More Scares" campaign (, an industry front group aimed at smearing environmental and health activists as "fearmongers."

Now it appears that No More Scares has quietly decommissioned itself, and links to its website no longer work. In Trust Us, We're Experts we noted that "corporate-funded front groups ... are sometimes fly-by-night organizations. Called into existence for a particular cause or legislative lobby campaign, they often dry up and blow away once the campaign is over. The tendency of groups to appear and disappear creates another form of camouflage, making it difficult for journalists and everyday citizens to sort out the bewildering proliferation of names and acronyms."
Corporate Cash and Campus Labs

The credibility of university research is on the line as corporations step up their funding. One issue is academic freedom. Corporations that fund university research often demand the right to control what scientists can say publicly about their work. "They're like bullies in a sandbox who take away their toys when you don't agree with them," says David Kahn, a researcher at the University of California-San Francisco who was sued for $10 million by the company that sponsored his study, after he published a report that the AIDS drug he was testing was ineffective. Source: ChristianScience Monitor, June 19, 2001
Uninformed Consent: What Patients at "The Hutch" Weren't Told About the Experiments in Which They Died

Fresh on the heels of the Jesse Gelsinger gene therapy scandal, this report documents another case in which the biotechnology industry has experimented on humans without their consent. Patients died prematurely in two failed clinical trials at Seattle's Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center -- experiments in which the Center and its doctors had a financial interest. The patients and their families were never told about those connections, nor were they fully and properly informed about the risks of the experiments. Many stood a good chance of survival or at least prolonged life with traditional care. Instead, many actually died from the experiments -- sooner than they would have with no treatment at all. Source: Seattle Times, March 11-15, 2001
The Corporate Takeover of Universities

In the wake of a decision by England's University of Nottingham to accept £3.8 million from British American Tobacco to fund the study of "corporate social responsibility," the chairman of Scientists for Global Responsibility surveyed the overall state of corporate funding on England's academies. He noted that Cambridge University alone has top academic posts and laboratories sponsored by Shell, BP, ICI, GlaxoSmithKline, PriceWater-houseCoopers, Marks and Spencers, Rolls-Royce, AT&T, Microsoft and Zeneca. Other universities are also following this trend. The University of Surrey even has a "Chair of In-Flight Catering"! (Word to the wise: stay away from Surrey's faculty luncheons.)
Journalism for Hire?

The National Association of Science Writers (NASW) is debating the ethics of a job advertisement sent to its members from Chicco Chandler, a PR firm that "works exclusively with the pharmaceutical/biotech industry" and boasts of past involvement in PR for Viagra, Celebrex and Zoloft, with clients including Agouron, Amgen, Bayer, Johnson & Johnson, Novartis, Novo Nordisk and Pfizer. Chicco Chandler's job ad sought a "freelance journalist to attend the EASD (European Association for the Study of Diabetes) meeting in Glasgow, September 9-13, 2001.... Responsibilities include covering industry-sponsored symposia and scientific sessions. Journalist must be able to guarantee 2-4 placements in medical trade publications targeting general practitioners and/or diabetes specialists." Some NASW members, such as Boyce Rensberger, have pointed out that there is something wrong with having PR firms hire journalists to plant news stories favorable to their clients. "It is just plain wrong to deceive readers or viewers," Rensberger stated. "It is wrong to lead them to believe that the publication and the writer are exercising independent judgement if one or the other has been paid by a source or an agent for a source." Others, such as NASW board member Joel Shurkin, point out that "We have members who do these things and feel good about themselves in the morning, and they cannot be ignored. This practice has been going on for years." The debate appears in the August 2001 archives of the NASW listserve, under the subject heading, "Double-dipping and journalistic integrity."
Dead People Support Microsoft

Earlier this year, Utah State Attorney General Mark Shurtleff received two letters from dead people requesting that the state go easy on Microsoft. As it turns out, the letters are part of the computer giant's nation-wide astroturf campaign, targeting the offices of 18 attorneys general who have joined the Justice Department's antitrust lawsuit. The Los Angeles Times reports that in recent weeks, Microsoft has been refining its letter writing strategy so that no two letters are identical. The giveaway, however, is in the phrasing. Iowa's attorney general reports receiving four letters that include this sentence: "Strong competition and innovation have been the twin hallmarks of the technology industry." Three others use exactly these words: "If the future is going to be as successful as the recent past, the technology sector must remain free from excess regulation." Source: Los Angeles Times, August 23, 2001
APCO Works to Restore Trust in Russia's Robber Baron

Mikhail Khodorkovsky, a former Communist Youth Leader leader turned Russian billionaire with ties to the Russian mafia, is paying APCO Worldwide to restore investors' trust in his scandal-plagued company, Yukos. His new motto has become "honesty, openness, responsibility" -- quite a turnaround for someone who has trafficked in women, laundered money and defrauded minority investors. PR Watch has reported in the past on APCO's work for the tobacco industry and its ideas on how to create front groups. Is there anything these guys won't do? Source: O'Dwyer's PR Daily, August 21, 2001
Voodoo Science and Injured Workers

Ever wondered who makes up those claims that "asbestos isn't dangerous" and "repetitive stress injuries are in your mind"? Vernon Mogensen looks at the dangerous business of corporate spin and unearths science fiction masquerading as science fact as industry battles against legislation to protect workers from on-the-job injuries. Source: Hazards magazine (UK)
Corporations Urged to Declare War on Food Activists

Agribusiness needs to use "attack technologies" against activists, according to Nick Nichols of the PR/crisis management firm Nichols-Dezenhall. Speaking to the annual business meeting of the National Pork Producers Council, Nichols quoted gangster Al Capone, who said: "You can get more with kind words and a smile and a gun than you get with kind words and a smile."
Memo Enlists Lobbyists to Trade White Collars for Hard Hats at GOP Tax Cut Rally

A memo from the National Association of Manufacturers urged lobbyists to "dress down" when attending a rally and photo opportunity supporting George W. Bush's tax cut plan. "The Speaker's office was very clear in saying that they do not need people in suits," the memo stated. "If people want to participate -- AND WE DO NEED BODIES -- they must be DRESSED DOWN, appear to be REAL WORKER types, etc. We plan to have hard hats for people to wear. Other groups are providing waiters/waitresses, and other types of workers."
Source: Washington Post, March 9, 2001

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