Fenton Communications, the force behind the thoroughly debunked Alar apple scare, is now whipping up fear over genetically improved foods at the behest of the organic food industry. Twenty-two separate press events are being held today (targeting Campbell’s Soup Company and Kellogg’s with six more companies to be attacked in the next six to eight months) in an effort to pressure the companies to stop production of all foods containing genetically improved ingredients, despite broad scientific and governmental consensus on their value and safety.

The organic industry is creating this fear as a marketing ploy. As one speaker at the 1999 Organic Food Conference admitted, “The potential to develop the organic market would be limited if consumers are satisfied with food safety and the furor over genetic modification dies down.” The organic industry is putting its money where its mouth is by supporting a campaign against genetically improved foods organized by yet another Fenton ally and participant in today’s Washington press conference, The Center for Food Safety.

Fear marketing is not new to Fenton Communication. After launching the successful 1989 Alar scare campaign, David Fenton said “A modest investment repaid itself many-fold in tremendous media exposure and substantial, immediate revenue.” Fenton added that as a result of the Alar campaign, “Lines started forming in health food stores. The sales of organic produce soared. All of which we were very happy about.” (“Arrest that apple,” Washington Times, 9/13/98)

Among Fenton’s collaborators at today’s main press conference in Washington was Peter Hoffman, incoming chair of Chefs Collaborative, a group of celebrity chefs pushing organic food. Hoffman first argued that there was no use for the potentially life saving “Golden Rice” food technology, which will prevent hundred of thousands of cases of blindness among chlidren. He then attacked ‘The Green Revolution’ of the 1960s, which allowed for the feeding of millions of starving people. “‘The Green Revolution’ was a dismal failure. We don’t need it now, we didn’t need it then.”

More links to Fenton Communications: Friends of the Earth (a major co-sponsor of today’s events) board member Arlie Schardt is president of Fenton’s Environmental Media Services (check the mailing addresses – Fenton Communications – Environmental Media Services).