Center for Consumer Freedom
The Center for Consumer Freedom is run by Rick Berman's PR firm, Berman & Company Inc., based in Washington DC. It aggressively targets groups seeking to promote controls relating to alcohol, tobacco, food safety, animal rights or the environment.
Thanks to a whistle-blower, it is known that Monsanto donated $200,000 to the Guest Choice Network in 2001, making it one of the Network's highest donors other than Philip Morris. Then in January 2002 Guest Choice relaunched itself as the Center for Consumer Freedom.
The Guest Choice /Consumer Freedom campaign on 'Food Technology' involves smearing organic food as dangerous and promoting what it calls 'genetically improved' (genetically modified or GM) food. Despite being pro-consumer choice, the Consumer Freedom campaign vehemently opposes GM food labelling.
Those it labels 'anti-biotech extremists' include not just mainstream environmental groups, such as Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth, which it accuses of conducting a 'public relations jihad' on the issue, but even organisations like Christian Aid, a development agency of the churches in the UK and Ireland. Berman & Co. labelled the charity a 'far-left leaning' group that 'flat-out lies about GE foods'. These 'future-fearing radicals hide behind a religious facade to more easily malign farmers, scientists, food companies, and even PR people who deal with GE foods,' it says.
The group supports alcohol industry interests, particularly in America. They accuse the American anti-alcohol movement of being manufactured by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) claiming that:
- The RWJF has spent more than $265 million between 1997 and 2002 to tax, vilify, and restrict access to alcoholic beverages. Nearly every study disparaging alcohol, every legislative push to increase taxes, and every supposedly “grassroots” anti-alcohol movement was conceived and coordinated at the RWJF’s headquarters .
- Center for Consumer Freedom Website Behind the Neo-Prohibition Campaign Last accessed January 15th 2008