"War is the greatest threat to public health." - Gino Strada, Italian war surgeon and founder of the UN-recognized Italian NGO Emergency

Friday, April 17, 2009

Buyer Beware, or What's In a Name?


Did you find the name for that organization representing big fertilizer, pesticide and herbicide manufacturers (in my April 12th post) as interesting as I did? Mid America CropLife Association (MACA). Doesn't it virtually ooze good, old fashioned American values. Doesn't it conjure up images of farmers walking through fields, crushing wheat kernels between their fingers? Well, think again. These farmers are knee deep in large scale chemical agricultural methods; and that is what MACA is pushing.

Such euphemistic names are no random thing. Organizations like MACA, also known as "front groups", carefully craft their names so that when you are first exposed to them, your brain creates a positive image. It's their way of getting in. It's easy to be lured by such friendly names in an era when everyone is selling something, and much of what they have to sell is not what anyone needs. So I thought I would share just a few organizations I've discovered that, just like MACA, have an agenda hidden by their fancy names.

Americans For Balanced Energy Choices: Formed in 2000 to develop support for coal based electricity.

Keep America Beautiful (KAB): ostensibly an anti-littering organization; actually funded by corporations including McDonalds, Coca-Cola and Anheuser-Busch, as well as major tobacco companies. It has refused to support legislation that would make companies responsible for recycling the bottles, cans and cigarette butts they produce. Keep America Beautiful; just let somebody else pay for it.

Americans for Prosperity: a (really) conservative advocacy group formerly known as Citizens for a Sound Economy, used Earth Day 2008 to launch “a nationwide hot air balloon tour” aimed at ridiculing what it called “global warming alarmism”. Those darn climate alarmists!!! (More info at Source Watch)

The Greening Earth Society: project of the Western Fuels Association; has claimed that greenhouse gas emissions are good because they will lead to greater plant growth and a greener environment. Now that's special. (More info at SourceWatch)

The Foundation for Clean Air Progress: Back in 2001 its Web site stated that the Foundation “was formed in 1995 to provide public education and information about air quality progress.” It is essentially a front group for a number of industry groups, including the American Petroleum Institute, American Trucking Institute and Chemical Manufacturer's Association. It lobbies against air pollution controls. Controls? Who needs em? (More info at SourceWatch)

The number of industry-funded organizations - some of them with wonderfully euphemistic names - is absolutely mind boggling. You can learn about them at the following sites:

SOURCE WATCH Source Watch also has profiles on industry think tanks and industry-friendly experts.

INTEGRITY in SCIENCE, a project of the Center for Science in the Public Interest, has an extensive listing of non-profit organizations receiving corporate funding. Once you find out who is funding the National Wetlands Foundation (and what they are really about) they won't sound so warm and fuzzy any more.

Bottom line - BUYER BEWARE! It's a jungle out there, and everyone is trying to exert influence on just about everything, particularly any legislation that isn't in their best (and the people's worst) interests. So do your homework before you support any organization that calls itself Citizens for Sensible Control of Acid Rain!



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