The Earth Island Institute is a San Francisco-based nonprofit that used to confine its nannying to forestry and ocean issues. Lately, however, much of its work has been focused on perpetuating (or even starting) food scare campaigns. Its monthly magazine, the Earth Island Journal (EIJ), has become a propaganda mouthpiece for various segments of the Nanny Culture; in many cases, an EIJ article can kick-start a misinformation campaign and elevate it to the level of conventional wisdom among environmental activists.
This month’s EIJ provides two such examples. In one article, EIJ editor Gar Smith (a writer best known for his conspiracy theories about the “U.S. military’s plan to alter the ionosphere“) re-tells the fable of Percy Schmeiser, the Canadian farmer-turned-activist that organic-foods activists tried to pass off as a simple, unbiased farmer (whose livelihood was destroyed by big, bad Monsanto). This EIJ article tries desperately to gloss over the facts, choosing instead to blame Monsanto for “infecting” and “contaminating” Schmeiser’s fields (a view which a Canadian court has firmly ruled invalid). EIJ also gives Schmeiser the gift of free advertising by soliciting donations for his legal defense fund and plugging his web site.
Turn a few pages, and the Earth Island Journal features another tall tale, this one about “mad pet disease.” Reporter Ann N. Martin’s previous projects have included a hit piece on the pet food industry, co-written with the Humane Society of the United States’ Michael W. Fox. Now she’s jumped on the mad-cow-disease bandwagon by insisting that (1) the disease has indeed arrived in America, and (2) it’s your dog and cat that will get it first. In a wild claim worthy of mad cow scaremongers John Stauber and Michael Hansen, Martin claims that mad cow disease “likely exists in the US and Canada because both countries have the same conditions that existed in the UK prior to the outbreak.” She then goes on to advise readers to only buy “healthy alternatives from companies like…” – followed by the names of companies who sell the dog & cat equivalent of “natural” and “organic” foods.
The Earth Island Institute doesn’t produce this kind of slanted advocacy journalism out of thin air: it takes some serious money, and much of it comes from the foundation world. Examples of private philanthropy underwriting the Earth Island Journal include the Richard & Rhoda Goldman Fund ($1,515,000 to date); the Foundation for Deep Ecology ($520,000); the (Ted) Turner Foundation ($370,000); the Rockefeller Brothers Fund ($354,000); the Nathan Cummings Foundation ($302,500); the Tides Foundation ($216,990); and the Bullitt Foundation ($210,000).