U.S. Right to Know (USRTK), an Oakland, California-based nonprofit, launched in late January 2015 under the leadership of Gary Ruskin, former executive director of Commercial Alert. The group claims to be “working to expose what the food industry doesn’t want us to know. We do research and communications on the failures of the corporate food system. We stand up for the right to know what is in our food, and how it affects our health. We unearth the political economy of our food system, and how big food companies buy political influence in a quest for profit that has led to an epidemic of foodrelated diseases. We believe that transparency — in the marketplace and in politics — is crucial to building a better, healthier food system. … If you are a whistleblower, or know of any food scandals, send us your documents, and tell us what you know.”
A January 20 USRTK report titled Seedy Business: What Big Food Is Hiding with Its Slick PR Campaign details 15 assertions that purportedly demonstrate how the agrichemical and food industries “have manipulated the media, public opinion and politics with sleazy tactics, bought science and PR spin.” The assertions include (i) “The agrichemical companies have a history of concealing health risks from the public”; (ii) “What the agrichemical and tobacco industries have in common: PR firms, operatives, tactics”; (iii) “The pesticide treadmill breeds profits, so it will likely intensify”; (iv) “GMO science is for sale”; and (v) “A few other things the agrichemical industry doesn’t want you to know about them: crimes, scandals and other wrongdoing.”
A February 11 article in ScienceInsider reports that USRTK recently peppered at least four public universities with Freedom of Information Act requests for correspondence and emails between academic researchers and agricultural companies, trade associations and PR firms.