Friday, October 07, 2005

Fox News' Steven Milloy criticizes Deborah Koons Garcia's film


Before reading Steven Milloy's Fox News article, here is something about him from the Center for Media & Democracy:

The Junkman Goes Nuclear
Source: Media Matters for America, August 12, 2005
Media Matters for America has news on the latest from Steven Milloy, the Cato Institute's self-proclaimed "debunker" of "junk science" and commentator for Fox News. They report that Milloy (who is not a scientist himself) recently self-published a deceptive "study" purporting to show that radiation levels at the U.S. Capitol Building were 65 times higher than the proposed standards for the federal government's planned high-level radioactive waste storage dump at Yucca Mountain. For our exposes on Milloy, see, for example, our article on "How Big Tobacco Created the Junkman" or our report on Milloy's unfounded claim that more asbestos at the World Trade Towers would have saved lives during the 9/11 terrorist attack. (And for a humorous take on the Milloys of the world, the Slashdot website recently featured a clever posting titled, "Can You Spot the Real Scientist?")

After the article is a biography of Steven Milloy

From FoxNews:

Anti-Biotech Film a 'Crockumentary'

By Steven Milloy


The biotech scare is back – or, at least, a new movie is trying to bring it back. Playing in small movie houses, “The Future of Food” dusts off, and presents in ominous fashion, all the Greens’ long-discredited arguments against agricultural biotechnology.
Produced by Deborah Koons Garcia, the widow of the Grateful Dead’s Jerry Garcia, the movie’s overriding themes are allegations that biotech crops and food are unsafe and that a government-industry cabal is foisting dangerous products on an unwitting public.
Nothing could be farther from the truth.
Biotech crops and foods are among the most thoroughly tested products available. No other food crops in history have been so thoroughly tested and regulated. Before biotech products are marketed, they undergo years of safety testing including thousands of tests for potential toxicity, allergenicity and effects on non-target insects and the environment.
“The Future of Food,” for example, dredges up the 2000 scare involving a biotech corn that had not yet been approved for human consumption but that was detected in Taco Bell taco shells. A few consumers, egged on by anti-biotech activists, alleged the corn caused allergic reactions. But the movie glossed over the fact that the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention tested those consumers and reported there was no evidence that the biotech corn caused any allergic reaction in anyone.

Another long-buried myth excavated by Garcia was that biotechnology harms biodiversity. But so far it doesn’t appear to represent any greater risk to biodiversity than conventional agriculture and it actually seems to have some demonstrable beneficial impacts on biodiversity.
An infamous biodiversity scare featured in the movie involved Monarch butterflies. The scare occurred during 1999-2000 when the media trumpeted alarmist results from two laboratory studies reporting that biotech corn might harm Monarch butterfly larvae. Subsequent field studies soon debunked the scare, reporting that Monarch larvae actually fared better inside biotech cornfields than in natural areas because of less pressure from predators. Needless to say, Monarchs in biotech cornfields also did much better than those in conventional cornfields sprayed with insecticides.
The movie claims that once biotech crops are planted, control over them is lost and they “contaminate” non-biotech or organic crops. This is misleading since 100 percent purity has never been the reality in agriculture. Biological systems are dynamic environments, meaning that regardless of the method of production -- conventional, organic or biotech -- trace levels of other materials are always present in seed and grain. Since all commercial biotech traits are fully approved by U.S. regulatory agencies, their presence -- in large amounts or trace amounts -- is fully legal and safe.
With respect to organic farmers, the Department of Agriculture’s rules for organic products specifically say that the certification of organic products is process-based -- meaning that if the proper processes are followed, the unintended presence of non-organic or biotech traits doesn’t disqualify the product from being labeled as “organic.”
To date, biotech crops haven’t harmed organic farmers. The coexistence of biotech, conventional and organic corn, soybean, and canola has been effectively working since 1995, when the first biotech crops were introduced. During that period, in fact, both biotech and organic farming have grown remarkably.
Garcia wants movie viewers to overlook the fact that U.S. regulators -- including the Department of Agriculture, Environmental Protection Agency and the Food and Drug Administration -- have established a robust framework and rigorous process for evaluating biotech product safety. Developers spend years generating data for one product to be submitted for approval.
A major take-home message of the movie is that consumers should demand labeling of biotech foods. But this would only increase the cost of food production while failing to provide any meaningful information to consumers. Biotech crops have been determined by regulators to be essentially equivalent to those of conventional crops. Corn is corn, in other words, no matter what anti-biotech activists would have us believe.
While emphasizing “scare,” the movie overlooks biotechnology’s advantages. Biotech crops require less tilling. This reduces soil erosion; improves moisture retention; increases populations of soil microorganisms, earthworms and beneficial insects; and reduces sediment runoff into streams.
The movie mocks biotechnology’s potential value to the developing world, characterizing the argument as one designed for public relations use. But biotech crops such as “golden rice” could help with the severe Vitamin A deficiency that afflicts hundreds of millions in Africa and Asia, ­ including 500,000 children who lose their eyesight each year.
As pointed out by Greenpeace co-founder Patrick Moore, now a vociferous critic of the activist group, “Greenpeace activists threaten to rip the biotech rice out of the fields if farmers dare to plant it. They have done everything they can to discredit the scientists and the technology.
“A commercial variety is now available for planting, but it will be at least five years before Golden Rice will be able to work its way through the Byzantine regulatory system that has been set up as a result of the activists’ campaign of misinformation and speculation,” Moore said. “So the risk of not allowing farmers in Africa and Asia to grow Golden Rice is that another 2.5 million children will probably go blind.”
Garcia’s “The Future of Food” is steeped in the Greens’ tragic campaign of misinformation. Many long-time anti-biotech campaigners helped her make the movie, in which not a balancing thought or counter-opinion is presented.
The “Future of Food” purports to be a “documentary” – a movie that sticks to the facts. It doesn’t. Hollywood will need a new Oscar category for this one. How about “crockumentary”?
Steven Milloy publishes
JunkScience.com and CSRwatch.com, is adjunct scholar at the Cato Institute, and is the author of Junk Science Judo: Self-defense Against Health Scares and Scams (Cato Institute, 2001).

From SourceWatch:

Steven J. Milloy publishes JunkScience.com and is an adjunct scholar at the Cato Institute and a commentator on Fox News.
According to a biographical profile included in a report he co-authored, "Milloy holds a B.A. in Natural Sciences* from the Johns Hopkins University, a Master of Health Sciences in Biostatistics from the Johns Hopkins University School of Hygiene and Public Health, a Juris Doctorate from the University of Baltimore, and a Master of Laws from the Georgetown University Law Center."
[1] (http://www.cgfi.org/materials/key_pubs/fear_profiteers.pdf)
"Milloy appears frequently on radio and television; has testified on risk assessment and Superfund before the U.S. Congress; and has lectured before numerous organizations," his profile states.


Milloy the lobbyist
He has spent his life as a lobbyist for major corporations and trade organisations which have poisioning or polluting problems. He originally ran NEPI (
National Environmental Policy Institute) which was founded by Republican Rep Don Ritter (who tried to get tobacco industry funding) using oil and gas industry funding. NEPI was dedicated to transforming both the EPA and the FDA, and challenging the cost of Superfund toxic cleanups by these large corporations.

NEPI was also associated with the AQSC (Air Quality Standards Coalition) which was devoted to emasculating Clean Air laws. This organisation took up the cry of "we need sound science" from the chemical industry as a way to counter claims of pollution -- and Milloy became involved in what became known as the "sound-science" movement. Its most effective ploy was to label science not beneficial to the large funding corporations as "junk" -- and Milloy was one of its most effective lobbyists because he wrote well, and used humour (PJ O'Rourke was another -- but better!)
He joined
Philip Morris's specialist-science/PR company APCO & Associates in 1992, working behind the scenes on a business venture known as "Issues Watch". By this time, APCO had been taken over and become a part of the world-wide Grey Marketing organisation, and so Milloy was able to use the international organisation as a feed source for services to corporations who had international problems.

Issues Watch bulletins were only given out to paying customers, so Milloy started for APCO the "Junkscience.com" web site, which gave him an outlet to attack health and environmental activists, and scientists who published findings not supportive of his client's businesses. Like most good PR it mixes some good, general criticism of science and science-reporting, with some outright distorted and manipulative pieces.

The Junkscience web site was supposedly run by a pseudo-grassroots organisation called TASSC (The Advancement for Sound Science Coalition), which initially paid ex-Governor Curruthers of New Mexico as a front. Milloy actually ran it from the back-room, and issued the press releases. Then when Curruthers resigned, Milloy started to call himself "Director" (Bonner Cohen - another of the same ilk also working for APCO - became "President")

Initially all of this was funded by Philip Morris, as part of their contributions to the distortion of tobacco science, but later they widened out the focus and introduced even more funding by establishing a coalition -- with energy, pharmaceutical, chemical companies. TASSC's funders include 3M, Amoco, Chevron, Dow Chemical, Exxon, General Motors, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Lorillard Tobacco, Louisiana Chemical Association, National Pest Control Association, Occidental Petroleum, Philip Morris Companies, Procter & Gamble, Santa Fe Pacific Gold, and W.R. Grace, the asbestos and pesticide manufacturers.

TASSC was then exposed publicly as a fraud. And so Milloy established the "Citizens for the Integrity of Science" to take over the running of the Junkscience.com web site.

Radioactive Junk
In August 2005
Media Matters for America reported that Milloy (who is not a scientist himself) had self-published a deceptive "study" purporting to show that radiation levels at the U.S. Capitol Building were 65 times higher than the proposed standards for the federal government's planned high-level radioactive waste storage dump at Yucca Mountain. [2] (http://mediamatters.org/items/200508120001)

Funding
Milloy also runs the
Advancement of Sound Science Center and the Free Enterprise Action Institute. Those two groups—apparently run out of Milloy’s home—received $90,000 from ExxonMobil. Key quote: The date of Kyoto’s implementation will "live in scientific and economic infamy." Connections to ExxonMobil-funded groups: at least five. [3] (http://www.motherjones.com/news/featurex/2005/05/exxon_chart.html)

Books by Milloy
Junk Science Judo (http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/1930865120/qid=1098355858/sr=2-1/ref=pd_ka_b_2_1/002-5696567-9153624), Cato Institute; (September 1, 2001) ISBN: 1930865120

Silencing Science (http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/1882577728/ref=pd_sim_books_3/002-5696567-9153624?v=glance&s=books) with co-author Michael Gough, Cato Institute, 1999. ISBN: 1882577728

Science Without Sense: The Risky Business of Public Health Research (http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/1882577345/104-6771195-6034310?v=glance), Cato Institute, 1995. ISBN: 1882577345

Science-Based Risk Assessment: A Piece of the Superfund Puzzle (http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/0964746301/002-7820023-8896051?v=glance), National Environmental Policy Institute, January 1995. ISBN: 0964746301

Case studies
The Junkman's Answer to Terrorism: Use More Asbestos
CSR Watch.com

SourceWatch Links
Center for Regulatory Effectiveness
Jim Tozzi
JunkScience.com
Free Enterprise Action Fund
Contact details
Web:
Milloy's junkscience.com web site (http://www.junkscience.com/)

External Links


Biogrpahical profiles
Milloy's own CV (http://www.junkscience.com/Junkman.html)

Articles by Milloy
Steve Milloy, "
Series 1: Q and A With Steve Milloy (http://www.cato.org/askourscholars/milloy/milloy-020115-2.html)", Cato Institute, accessed October 2004.

Steven Milloy, "Katrina Kicks Up Storm of Global Warming Debate (http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,168247,00.html)", Fox News, September 01, 2005.

Articles about Milloy
See
this site (http://www.electric-words.com/junk/milloy/milloy.html) for a more detailed biography.
Steven J. Milloy,
letter to Sharon Boyse (http://legacy.library.ucsf.edu/tid/qjm91d00), September 22, 1997 (tobacco industry archives, Bates #190204008). In this letter, Milloy requests $50,000 in funding for TASSC from the Brown & Williamson tobacco company.

Steven J. Milloy, fax transmittal to Seth Moskowitz (http://legacy.library.ucsf.edu/tid/qby20d00), September 10, 1998 (tobacco industry archives, Bates #190204008). Milloy alerts the R.J. Reynolds tobacco company about a new study linking maternal smoking to sudden infant death syndrome and adds, "Let me know if you need more info."

Notes of Meeting CA Legal Support (http://legacy.library.ucsf.edu/tid/tzy67c00), March 21, 2000 (tobacco industry archives, Bates #2078856239). This Philip Morris memorandum describes Milloy as a "consultant" who "tracks scientific studies. Reviews mainstream journals and obtains info from e-mail subscriber lists. Filters for tobacco/food/beer relevance and sends sends responsive material to DC."

Bonner Cohen, et al., ed., "The Fear Profiteers: Do 'Socially Responsible' Businesses Sow Health Scares to Reap Monetary Rewards? (http://www.cgfi.org/materials/key_pubs/fear_profiteers.pdf)", February 2002.

Stewart Fist, Article on Milloy (http://www.electric-words.com/junk/milloy/milloy.html)

The Junkman Exposed (http://www.no-smoke.org/Steven%20J_final.pdf) by Americans for Nonsmokers' Rights (http://no-smoke.org) describes the tobacco industry's role in Milloy's career

Tim Lambert, another critique (http://cgi.cse.unsw.edu.au/~lambert/cgi-bin/blog/2004/02#milloy)

Put a Tiger In Your Think Tank (http://www.motherjones.com/news/featurex/2005/05/exxon_chart.html), Mother Jones, May/June 2005.

Paul Thacker, "The junkman climbs to the top (http://pubs.acs.org/subscribe/journals/esthag-w/2005/may/business/pt_junkscience.html)," Environmental Science and Technology Online, May 11, 2005.

Josh Kalven, "Special Report hosted author of debunked radiation study to discuss Yucca Mountain (http://mediamatters.org/items/200508120001)", Media Matters for America, August 12, 2005.

Retrieved from "http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=Steven_J._Milloy"

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