‘Fake News, Fake Food’ to be theme of OEFFA speaker



DAYTON — As evidence mounts about the health and environmental harms associated with pesticides, some corporations are responding with tobacco-style propaganda campaigns designed to undermine organic and non-genetically modified agriculture.

Who’s behind these attacks and how they are doing it will be the focus of a keynote address by author, journalist, and leading consumer advocate Stacy Malkan at the Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association’s (OEFFA) 39th annual conference, A Taste for Change, this February in Dayton.

In her Saturday, Feb. 17 talk, “Fake News, Fake Food: Standing Up for Organic and Our Right to Know in the Era of Big Ag,” Malkan will cut through the spin, unmask the messengers, and share strategies for rewriting the narrative about our food system.

“With Monsanto’s spin operation in full swing, it’s getting harder to find unbiased information in the media… With top reporters basing stories on Monsanto’s ‘consensus of safety’ talking points… it can be hard to know what to believe or who to trust to get the facts about genetically engineered foods that most of us are eating every day,” Malkan wrote in Civil Eats in 2014.

Malkan is co-founder and co-director of U.S. Right to Know, a nonprofit public interest group whose mission is to educate and inform consumers about the often hidden practices that shape the food system and advocate for safer products and our right to know what’s in our food.

She served as media director for the 2012 ballot initiative in California to label genetically engineered foods, and is the former communications director for Health Care Without Harm. Malkan previously worked as a journalist and published an investigative newspaper.

“A core industry narrative is that the science on GMO safety is settled. Pro-industry messengers focus on possible future uses of the technology while downplaying, ignoring, or denying the risks; make inaccurate claims about the level of scientific agreement on GMOs; and attack critics who raise concerns as “anti-science,” Malkan wrote in The Ecologist in 2016. “Facts on the ground expose the PR spin, half-truths, and outright propaganda that has come to dominate a public conversation that is not so much about engineering genes, but engineering truth for the benefit of multinational corporations.”

Malkan is also author of the award-winning book, Not Just a Pretty Face: The Ugly Side of the Beauty Industry and a co-founder of the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics.

She has generated thousands of media stories about safer products and has appeared on Good Morning America, CBS Morning Show, NBC, ABC, Democracy Now, in the New York Times, USA Today, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal and many other outlets, and writes for the Huffington Post.

On Saturday, Feb. 17, Malkan will also lead a 90 minute workshop, “A Future Worth Fighting For: How You Can Stand Up to Big Ag and Make a Big Difference,” where she’ll explore the powerful role that farmers and consumers can play in standing up for truth and transparency in our food system.

“We’re excited to have Stacy join us at conference to connect the dots between the messages we hear about our food system, who’s funding them, why it matters, and what we as consumers and sustainable farmers can do about it,” said OEFFA Program Director Renee Hunt.

Malkan will speak as part of Ohio’s largest sustainable food and farm conference, which will run Thursday, Feb. 15 through Saturday, February 17 at the Dayton Convention Center.

In addition to Malkan, this year’s conference will feature keynote speaker Jeff Moyer on Feb. 16; nearly 80 educational workshops; four full-day Food and Farm School classes on Feb. 15; a three-day trade show; networking events; activities for children; locally-sourced meals; a raffle; book sales and signings, and more.