Burson-Marsteller's newest PR hire, Lord Peter Melchett, has been forced to resign from the board of Greenpeace International. Melchett blind-sided his fellow Greenpeace board members and eco-activists this week by taking a consulting job with one of the PR world's most notorious anti-environmental propaganda firms, Burson-Marsteller. Apparently Melchett has convinced himself that accepting a paying position with B-M will somehow help him change corporate behavior.
Corporate Social Responsibility
Catherine Bennet examines a "deal with the devil," asking "Has Lord Peter Melchett been genetically modified? ... And what other explanation can there possibly be for the decision of Lord Melchett, quondam destroyer of GM crops, to join Burson-Marsteller...? Anyone who believes Lord Melchett's insistence that there is nothing contradictory about his appointment ...fails to appreciate Burson-Marsteller's fabulous coup in signing him up. ...
A longtime Greenpeace activist sent the following comments to PR Watch: "The Lord Melchetts of the activist (and now corporate) world are only one symptom of a broader contagion. Is there even a real environmental movement anymore? How accountable are NGOs to their own base? ... Look how little is being accomplished in addressing Global Warming in the U.S. at a time when it's obviously a national security issue and a global security issue. I think this is in part because the environmental groups don't believe in mass movement building like they used to.
The Guardian Unlimited reports that "Lord Melchett, the former head of Greenpeace UK ... (has) taken a job at a PR company which has represented Monsanto and the European biotech industry. ...(T)he former Labour minister and farmer, who is on the board of Greenpeace International, is to become a consultant for Burson-Marsteller....
In October 2001, captains of industry from around the world marked the tenth anniversay of the United Nation's environmental summit in Rio de Janiero by gathered in Paris for a major strategy meeting, hosted by Business Action for Sustainable Development (BASD).
"Corporate social responsibility is creating more buzz in the boardroom these days," reports Peter Sinton.
University of California professor Ernest Partridge, who served until recently on the "public advisory panel" of the American Chemistry Council (formerly the Chemical Manufacturers Association), has written a memoir of his experiences. The public advisory panel, which brought together distinguished academics to advise the industry on safety and environmental issues, was part of the chemical industry's "Responsible Care" program, which was established to allay public concerns in the wake of the chemical plant disaster at Bhopal, India.
"The pharmaceutical and biotechnological industries are funneling more and more cash into the pockets of academics who teach and study ethics," observes philosophy professor Carl Elliott, who works at a bioethics center. "Bioethicists have written for years about conflicts of interest in scientific research or patient care yet have paid little attention to the ones that might compromise bioethics itself," he notes, pointing to several cases in which companies like Eli Lilly have used funding to pressure ethicists into censoring or changing their views.
Boise Cascade is one of the worst transnational logging companies in the world. Its many scandals include: involvement in false imprisonment of peasant environmentalists who opposed Boise's logging in Mexico; a huge proposed woodchipping scheme in Southern Chile; threats of lawsuits and harassment to environmentalists, including a recent threat to ECO's Cath Wallace; and involvement with the campaign to get the Rainforest Action Network's tax-deductibility status removed. Thanks to the World Wide Fund for Nature, however, the company just got a green makeover.
The Weber Shandwick PR firm created "Slam the Can for Dare to Care," a basketball-themed food drive designed to put a charitable face on the Brown & Williamson tobacco company. "The 16 B&W employees donating the largest number of canned goods during the two-and-a-half week collection period participated in a series of wacky basketball contests at a downtown shopping mall, with the winner receiving two tickets to the NCAA championship games," Shandwick stated in The Holmes Report, a PR industry trade publication. Shandwick declared the program an "unqualified success. ...