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Center for Media & Democracy

Demonizing Defendants

From Belleville News Democrat via Madison/St. Clair Record:

Madison County’s scientifically meritless, nearly 8-year-old atrazine lawsuit last made headlines in spring 2011 when the presiding judge backed the plaintiffs’ request to unseal arguably irrelevant internal documents of Syngenta, maker of the widely used weed killer. Those documents included a then 6-year-old memo from a Chicago public relations firm that noted, among other uncontroversial things, the county’s plaintiff-friendly history.

Now, ironically enough, significant evidence suggests the plaintiffs’ attorneys may have hypocritically engaged in their own public relations efforts by feeding previously sealed discovery documents to a WikiLeaks-wannabe website funded in part by advocates for the organic food industry…

…We can understand why plaintiffs’ lawyers and allied advocates for the organic food industry would seek to demonize what they see as a deep-pocket defendant and a competitor. But why would Madison County judges ignore overwhelming science and favor the plaintiffs when so many of the county’s tax-paying residents earn their livelihoods in conventional agriculture?

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Frequently Asked Questions about the Center for Media & Democracy Claims Against Syngenta

From Syngenta Crop Protection:

Why did Syngenta try to keep its communications and public relations plans secret?

It didn’t. Most of the documents posted by the Center for Media and Democracy on were originally filed with the Court under seal by plaintiffs’ counsel, not by Syngenta.

Many of the documents posted were not originally created by Syngenta. They came from third parties subpoenaed by the plaintiffs’ attorneys.

Why did Syngenta hire so many experts?

Syngenta has always encouraged independent review by scientific experts. The company has worked with a number of well-respected organizations and researchers for many years to investigate atrazine and its safety. The trial lawyers and activists who attack atrazine also routinely engage experts to support their positions…

…How can you be sure that atrazine is safe?

Atrazine is one of the most carefully studied and thoroughly tested chemicals in the world. More than 6,000 scientific studies conducted over the past 50 years have clearly established the safety of atrazine.

After a thorough review of the available scientific evidence, the World Health Organization in 2010 reviewed its scientific assessment of atrazine’s safety and raised its recommended acceptable atrazine exposure level from 2 parts per billion (ppb) to 100 ppb.

The safety of atrazine was also reaffirmed in a 2011 report on the latest findings from the Agricultural Health Study, an ongoing epidemiological study of more than 89,000 participants sponsored by the EPA, the National Cancer Institute, and the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences…

Please click here to read the original PDF version of this document at atrazinefacts.comcmd-claims-against-syngenta

Over-Regulation Fever At The White House

From Jon Entine via Forbes:

Don’t drink tap water. Beware the coming environmental apocalypse. It’s election season, and s are turning up the heat on the Environmental Protection Agency. Will the Obama Administration buckle in this über-political time and give in to alarmism?

The target du jour is atrazine, the American farmer’s most popular weed killer, but it’s really modern chemistry that’s under assault. In case you missed it, Mother Jones magazine’s February issue rained frogs on American farmers for using atrazine. On Tuesday, PR Watch released a three-part series attacking its manufacturer, Syngenta, for attempting to “shape” news reports—in other words, to defend itself against the attacks exemplified in these articles…

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Jon Entine is director of the Genetic Literacy Project and senior research fellow at STATS and the Center for Health and Risk Communications at George Mason University.advocacy-groups-target-atrazine

Commentary: Smear campaign against atrazine and Syngenta

From editor Rich Keller via Ag Professional:

The Center for Media and Democracy (CMD) recently took a wild swing at Syngenta Crop Protection, and although AgProfessional doesn’t agree with the organization’s position, we feel it’s important to inform our readers that outrageous claims have been distributed to the mass media. We don’t even see the need for a response from Syngenta because the company has previously disavowed the claims against atrazine as untrue and as information pulled out of context…

Please click here to read this commentary in full at

Center for Media & Democracy (CMD) — Overview

From the Center for Consumer Freedom:

Overview –

The Center for Media & Democracy (CMD) is a counterculture public relations effort disguised as an independent media organization. CMD isn’t really acenterit would be more accurate to call it a partnership, since it is essentially a two-person operation.

Sheldon Rampton and John Stauber operate, as do most self-anointed progressive watchdogs, from the presumption that any communication issued from a corporate headquarters must be viewed with a jaundiced eye. In their own quarterly PR Watch newsletter, they recently referred to corporate PR as a propaganda industry, misleading citizens and manipulating minds in the service of special interests. Ironically, Rampton and Stauber have elected to dip into the deep pockets of multi-million-dollar foundations with special interest agendas of their own…

Please click here to read the complete Center for Media & Democracy overview at

Syngenta responds to Center for Media & Democracy (CMD) postings

From Syngenta Crop Protection:

In response to postings by the Center for Media & Democracy 

The documents posted by the Center for Media & Democracy (CMD) are irrelevant to the facts of this case. Our goal has always been to act responsibly by communicating clearly that atrazine is a safe, well tested, and beneficial product that is critical to American agriculture and the nation’s economy.

Atrazine’s environmental and economic benefits have been well-documented by scientists and farmers over the past 50 years. It has been used safely by farmers around the world and we will continue to defend the product by effectively presenting the facts and urging others to do so as well.

Please click here to read more about the Center for Media & Democracy at  syngenta responds to cmd_postings

ATRA says CMD tried to undermine defendant in atrazine class action

From Madison/St. Clair Record:

The American Tort Reform Association says that a “WikiLeaks-like” website published by the Center for Media and Democracy had posted previously unsealed, proprietary documents related to a Madison County atrazine class action to undermine the defendant’s standing with the public.

According to records obtained by this paper, between Jan. 9 and 26 had uploaded more than 100 documents related to the Holiday Shores v. Syngenta Crop Protection litigation that originated in 2004 by plaintiff attorney Stephen Tillery…

…Lisa Graves, executive director of CMD, wrote in an email response that the CMD does not comment on ongoing investigations, “including if or when we may proceed on any matter we may or may not be examining,” she wrote. She also said that editing logs are “unalterable…”

…Graves was provided a copy of a SourceWatch screen shot profile of Sherry Ford, and a screen shot showing the Sherry Ford page as having been deleted. She was also provided a user contribution log from Jan. 26 which showed more than 100 references to the Madison County litigation, including the Sherry Ford deposition and a (Circuit Judge Bill) Mudge order. The same user’s log on Jan. 30 showed that a large majority of those page references no longer existed…

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***cmd undermine syngenta suit

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