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Thursday, March 19, 2009

Big Pharma Funded Activist Groups Behind the EPA Petition to Regulate Silver

by Tony Isaacs


Recently it was revealed that a handful of the activist agencies behind the petition to the EPA to regulate nano-silver as a pesticide have received funding from pharmaceutical giant Merck, which annually has hundreds of billions of dollars in profits from patented antibiotics which many believe are less effective, less safe and far more expensive than colloidal nano-silver products. Now, further investigation has discovered that the initial revelations may just be the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Merck and other pharmaceutical companies' funding of the groups who support the EPA petition.

The actual source of the funding that was first revealed in emails and colloidal silver blogsites was the John Merck Fund which was set up in 1970 by Serena Merck, the widow of Merck Pharmaceuticals CEO George W. Merck, in honor of their short-lived son John. The recipients of funding who are signees on the petition to the EPA were identified as:


Funding To Activist Groups-----------------Total Donated---Time Frame
Center for Food Safety $1,305,000.00 1999 – 2005
Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy $490,000.00 1992 – 2003
International Center for Technology Assessment $247,500.00 1999 – 1999
Consumers Union of the United States $90,000.00 2000 – 2001
Greenpeace $80,000.00 2000 – 2002
Friends of the Earth $45,000.00 1992 – 2000


The Center for Food Safety (CFS) which along with its sister organization the International Center for Technology Assessment (ICTA), initiated the EPA petition and enlisted the other groups which signed off on the petition, received the second largest amount of funding of any group from the John Merck Fund - second only to the huge total of the Tides Center/Tides Foundation, whose total funding of almost $2.7 Million dwarfs the combined total of $1.75 Million given to the CFS and the ICTA and CFS.

Tides Foundation & Tides Center $2,693,000.00 1989 – 2005

http://www.activistcash.com/foundation.cfm?did=138

As it turns out, the top funding recipient Tides Foundation and Tides Center are also actively involved in the petition to regulate silver, as well as the source of funding and support to several of the other groups who signed the EPA petition. When one goes to the Tides Center website, their position is apparent to one and all with the posting of a press release urging support of the EPA petition:

http://www.tidescenter.org/news-resources/news-releases/single-press-release/article/epa-petitioned-to-stop-sale-of-260-products-containing-nanosilver/index.html

Information on Tides Center's website and other web searches found the following Tides Center/Tides Foundation connections to groups not listed as Merck funding recipients:

* Center for Environmental Health (a project of the Tides Center)
* Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (previous funding and connections with the Tides Foundation)
* Clean Production Action (a Tides Center project)
* Food and Water Watch (receives donations from the Tides Foundation)
* The Loka Institute (has no current offices but was previously provided office space and a mailbox in Washington. DC by the International Center for Technology Assessment in their offices)

In addition, a $200,000 grant for 2006-2007 from a second Merck Foundation, the Merck Family Fund to another petitioner, Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition, was discovered.

A quick internet search reveals that Merck is not the only pharmaceutical company which provides funding to the Tides Foundation and Tides Center, as this listing of the top funding recipient from the Pfizer Foundation demonstrates:

Funding To Activist Groups----------Total Donated------Time Frame
Tides Foundation & Tides Center $300,000.00 2003 – 2004


The Tides Foundation is described by Activistcash.com as quickly becoming "the 800 pound gorilla for activist funding." As reported on ActivistCash:

The Tides foundation was established in 1976 by California activist Drummond Pike, Tides does two things better than any other foundation or charity in the U.S. today: it routinely obscures the sources of its tax-exempt millions, and makes it difficult (if not impossible) to discern how the funds are actually being used.

In practice, “Tides” behaves less like a philanthropy than a money-laundering enterprise (apologies to Procter & Gamble), taking money from other foundations and spending it as the donor requires. Called donor-advised giving, this pass-through funding vehicle provides public-relations insulation for the money’s original donors. By using Tides to funnel its capital, a large public charity can indirectly fund a project with which it would prefer not to be directly identified in public. Drummond Pike has reinforced this view, telling The Chronicle of Philanthropy: “Anonymity is very important to most of the people we work with.”

Although determining the scope of funding for the Tides group as well as the individual activist groups would be difficult due to the efforts of many of them to insure anonymity, a quick web search turned up the following information for the Pfizer Foundation:

One can only wonder what other pharmaceutical funding is linked to these groups and shudder to think of how many activist groups have been corrupted by funding from Big Pharma and other companies with agendas that are anything but in the public interest.

It is easy to see how such subterfuge can corrupt decision making, the same as can paid lobbyists and political funding. Obviously it would be in the distinct public interest to require full disclosure of funding sources for every organization which petitions a government agency or legislative body to see where there might be funding sources who would stand to benefit as a result of the desired action or legislation.

Similarly, it would also be in the public interest to require full details of all the activities and efforts of lobbyists, including expenses and the details of each meeting held by lobbyists with government officials. While we are at it, we would also be a better informed and better served citizenry if every elected officials vote on any measure included donations and links to any companies or other entities affected by such legislation.

Granted, such reforms are a tall order, but until we see such altruistic change all the talk about true transparency in government is merely lip service - and the words from our own lips will continue to have little chance of reaching those whose ears are captured by the special interests who have bought off and otherwise rigged the process in their favor.


See Also:

"Action Alert: Stop EPA from Eliminating Access to Colloidal Silver"


Notes:

The complete list of groups who signed the petition to the EPA is: The International Center for Technology Assessment, the Center for Food Safety (the sister organization of the CTA), Beyond Pesticides, Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace, ETC Group, Center for Environmental Health, Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition , Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, Clean Production Action, Food and Water Watch, the Loka Institute, the Center for Study of Responsive Law, and Consumers Union.


Sources included:

http://www.silvermedicine.org/nano-silver.html

http://www.activistcash.com/

http://www.tidescenter.org/

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