Two weeks ago, Guardian columnist George Monbiot described how the Bivings Group, a PR company contracted to Monsanto, invented fake citizens to post messages on internet listservers. "These phantoms had launched a campaign to force Nature magazine to retract a paper it had published, alleging that native corn in Mexico had been contaminated with GM pollen," Monbiot writes in today's column. "But this, it now seems, is just one of hundreds of critical interventions with which PR companies hired by big business have secretly guided the biotech debate over the past few years. ... Bivings is the secret author of several of the websites and bogus citizens' movements which have been coordinating campaigns against environmentalists. One is a fake scientific institute called the 'Centre for Food and Agricultural Research.' Bivings has also set up the 'Alliance for Environmental Technology,' a chlorine industry lobby group. Most importantly, Bivings appears to be connected with AgBioWorld, the genuine website run by CS Prakash, a plant geneticist at Tuskegee University, Alabama. ... He set up AgBioWorld with Greg Conko of the Competitive Enterprise Institute, the far-right libertarian lobby group funded by such companies as Philip Morris, Pfizer and Dow Chemical. ... Another US company, Berman & Co, runs a fake public interest site called ActivistCash.com ... The marketing firm Nichols Dezenhall set up a site called StopEcoViolence, another 'citizens' initiative,' demonizing activists. ... The hatred directed at activists over the past few years is, in other words, nothing of the kind. In truth, we have been confronted by the crafted response of an industry without emotional attachment."
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