TRANSPARENCY…Bogus drugs, milk on steroids, more

TRANSPARENT TALK 2/5/08

Perhaps you’ve seen the Malaysian Palm Oil Council’s TV ad, touting their product’s natural benefits. The ad’s tagline is “A Gift From Nature…A Gift From Life.” The ad’s high production values and feel-good music make you warm and fuzzy about the product. See their ad at:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3zZIoqeuJf4

Look closer. You’ll discover that some oil-palm plantations are planted in illegally-cleared natural rain forests. In Indonesia, adjacent to Malaysia, oil-palm plantation development is destroying species’ natural habitat. So how truthful and transparent is the Malaysian Palm Oil Council campaign? It’s so deceitful that the United Kingdom’s Advertising Standards Authority ruled the ad misleading. Similar “bogus” environmental advertising and public relations campaigns are taking place all over globe. See this link for details:
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB120163622342426091.html?mod=djem_jiewr_mk

But it’s not just dishonesty over the environment that’s worrisome. Watch what happens in the US whenever there is an FDA ruling or a research finding that’s potentially adverse to a drug manufacturer’s profits.

Recently Merck & Co and Shering-Plough Corp, co-marketers of the cholesterol drug Vytorin, spent nearly $200 million on TV ad campaigns. Some of the commercials also touted the benefits of Zetia and Zocor, the two drugs that make up Vytorin. Suddenly the two companies suspended the TV ads. Next they placed full-page ads in major newspapers assuring the pubic about the safety of their drugs.

Why the abrupt about face? An extensive study of 720 patients with high cholesterol showed that NEITHER drug reduces fatty plaque build-up in the arteries.

So why was there was a 21-month time lag between the study’s conclusion and its release? The two companies, Merck and Shering-Plough, conducted the study. Perhaps they needed the time for legal consultations, while the ad and marketing campaigns touting the cholesterol-lowering benefits of these drugs continued unabated. See this link for specifics:
http://mobile.adage.com/html_article.php?li=14767a97

The Challenge

In our 24/7 real-time world where information is instantaneous, transparency in communications, government, and the marketplace of ideas is more critical than ever. We need more light on ever more complicated subjects. We need less obfuscation. This blog is one person’s cry – a trumpet call – for more transparency and truth in corporation and ad agency board rooms, in the ranks of public relations practitioners, and in the halls of government.

Deceit is wrong. Deceit can be deadly. Delaying “bad news” condemns others to injury or worse. I’ll look for examples of less-than-transparent communications. I’ll point them out. And I’ll plea for more transparency and honesty in the public marketplace.

King Solomon had it right. He wrote this, 2,500 years ago: “Buy truth and do not sell it; get wisdom and instruction and understanding.”

What’s in Your Milk?

Jeanette Drake teaches public relations at Kent State University and is an ardent homegrown foods advocate. She and many others are rightly concerned about the contents of our food supply. Did you know that the milk you put on your breakfast table probably contains steroids? How would you feel about the producers of milk keeping that fact from you?

That’s just what is happening. Multinational agricultural biotech corporation Monsanto Corp. is lobbying state legislatures and regulatory agencies to allow it keep this little fact off your milk carton label: cows being fed recombinant BGH (rBGH) are producing your milk.

Canada and the European Union have banned the usage of rBGH due to animal welfare concerns. Scientists in these countries and in the US believe intake of rBGH increases the risks of cancer and antibiotic resistance in humans. Monsanto spent more than $3.6 million for lobbying in 2006 in the US, and – you guessed it – Monsanto makes and sells rBGH to milk producers.

Drake chronicles it all in this January 30, 2008, op-ed column in the Akron Beacon Journal. Here’s the link:
http://www.ohio.com/editorial/commentary/14897161.html

Ben & Jerry’s has weighed in on this: They are opposing Monsanto’s efforts to conceal the presence of rBGH in labeling. See the FORBES article here:
http://www.forbes.com/feeds/ap/2008/02/05/ap4614209.html

Do We Choose our Leaders in Secret?

I live in a suburban bedroom community, Broadview Heights, Ohio. Recently a Council Representative resigned. By the City’s charter, the current members of Council must choose a successor.

I learned that the Council President, Don Sopka, plans to have Council members cast paper ballots in a behind-closed-doors session to fill the vacancy. Our Founding Fathers would be rolling over in their collective graves if they knew this. I’ve emailed Mr. Sopka, suggesting that the public’s interest would be best served if the members of Council cast their votes by voice vote, with each Council person going on record for or against the successor Council rep., in a public setting.

We need more sunshine: it’s the ultimate disinfectant in government, as Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis said.If you agree, please drop an email to Mr. Sopka at:
sopkad@aol.com

If you have a suggestion for TRANSPARENT TALK, please email it to me at
john.kerezy@tri-c.edu.

JKerezy

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21 Responses to TRANSPARENCY…Bogus drugs, milk on steroids, more

  1. azavar says:

    John,
    I like your new blog. I guess the transparent truth would now read:

    GOT MILK? or an artificially steroidal enhanced facsimile!

  2. Alex Papp says:

    Good info John! I plan on using the Palm Oil w/ad in my Intro to MC class to stimulate some discussion.

  3. Becky says:

    I like your topics-very interesting, especially the “milk” topic. Steroids in milk?? The MLB Association should start asking its players: Got milk?

  4. jkerezy says:

    Love it Becky.

    Did you see the story on the front page of today’s NY Times? Someone from the U.S. Olympic Committee said buying/using CHICKENS in China would be dangerous for the athletes because of all the steroids in the chickens there. Hmmm….No Milk, No Poultry…..

  5. Matt says:

    If there truly are steroids in the milk, let it be known that as of right now, I will begin consuming 3 times the amount that I drink now. Why you ask? That, combined with intense lifting and training will propel me to a spot on the roster of the Pittsburgh Pirates. After all, until they decide to conduct a “milk test” in the Majors, I would slip right through the cracks and proceed to hit 44 home runs, drive in 128 runs and lead the Pirates to their first winning season since 1992. Amen for a healthier alternative to taking steroids!

  6. jkerezy says:

    Matt — You’ll be a star…but will you die young or turn into Barry Bonds?

    Perhaps it doesn’t matter as long as you get the megabucks contracts and become the “Maz” of the 2013 World Series?

    John Kerezy

  7. Mark Vesely says:

    I enjoyed reading your blog. You brought things to my attention that I didn’t even know about. $200 Million spent on advertising a drug that doesn’t work? This world is insane.

  8. Megan Graves says:

    Along with everyone else, the sterroids in milk did surprise me. But I think what grabbed my attention the most was “Do We Choose our Leaders in Secret?”. I agree with you about having the members of Council do voice votes instead of casting them in behind-closed-doors sessions. I may even consider sending Sopka an e-mail as well. Keep posting these kinds of things, Kerezy! They’re pretty interesting.

  9. Bridget says:

    Great blog… I haven’t drank milk since I read this in class last week. Only soy for me now! That is just wrong about city council trying to have a closed door paper vote… wrong wrong wrong. I hope they don’t get away with doing it that way.

  10. Teri says:

    I usually drink milk on a regular basis. But ever since I read this, I haven’t drank any! I don’t think I will for awhile because that is just wrong. Keep posting Kerezy!

  11. Laila Nabulsi says:

    Ya, I’ve been hearing more and more on how politicians are making their own decisions in elections such as the secret vote and in Washington during the republican caucuses, the Washington state Republican Party Chairman Luke Esser’s decision to call the race Saturday night with 87 percent of the precincts counted, that is rediculous and why should anyone have the right to not count thousands of votes.

  12. Laila Nabulsi says:

    I’ve been hearing more and more on how politicians think they have the authority on voting such as the secret vote and in Washington when the chairman decided to stop counting votes when only 87% had been counted in the republican caucuses.

  13. Laila N says:

    I thought it was ridiculous how politicians think they have the authority to stop votes and call secret votes, such as in this article as well as in Washington the chairman stopped counting the votes for the republican caucuses with only 87% in and just throwing out the others.

  14. jaclyn taylor says:

    I love that you shine a spotlight on these people. There are so many issues like this that the general public needs to know about. For years i have read about health care and overtime became an avid organic and health food eater. People just don’t know whats in their food! Its gross and so harmful to us. if organic and more environmentally friendly ways of doing things could resonate with the main public, we would live in a very different would.

    I think its fantastic to blow the whistle on unethical behavior of companies. People have the right to know the truth. leading a honest path brings everything that you want into your life anyway but people fall for the instant gratification. we live in an age now where companies cannot hide as well as they used to. we live in a time that we need to be honest and try to change the world for the positive instead of running it to the ground.

  15. Rita says:

    Monsanto has one of its factories near Springfield, Mass where I use to live nearby. Whenever there was a plant disaster, the fire department had to send in the bio-hazardous waste team. The Monsanto plants are located all over the world, where I think unsuspecting countries and their people are un aware of what Monsanto is doing to the ecological system and what it is doing to alter our crop supply. In order to make a seed a better producer, Monsanto will inject the seed with anti-biotics in which we as consumers ingest, or the livestock that we eat. Putting the human population at a risk since we are becoming less resielient (Sp)? to anti-biotics when we are sick. Leaving the human population vulnerable to a super virus. Among other health problems. My question is, why is our government allowing this to happen?

  16. JoH says:

    Well, this is ALL new to me especially the “milk”, no wonder I stop drinking it and my son does not care for it, he will no longer get a fight from me. My grand daughter drinks a milk subsitute.
    I wonder if the school officals are aware of this and if so are they doing any thing about it, you know they give or sale milk at school?

  17. Robert Elam says:

    John,

    Doing the milk study in class has actually cut milk out of my diet. I refuse to put something in my body just because the company doesn’t want to label EXACTLY what is in it. I have, instead, started to take calcium citrate vitamins to replace the value of calcium in milk. I feel that the community should not be treated like idiots and kept in the dark on vital information such as this. My question is this, why hasn’t the FDA stepped in to regulate this? It seems that it would be the job of the FDA to help the public understand if they are putting something in their body that would be deemed questionable. Steroids, and growth hormones in meat have been a long time question (at least for me) and it is time that someone deals with the issue.

  18. JFoose says:

    With all the emphasis put on my generation to get out and vote, and how we are told that our vote counts and our decision really matters, why should we not elect all of our representives? I dont like the fact that we are considered to be “not smart enough to make important decisions” so we elect representatives. I personally dont trust any of the politicians wth my best interest and to this date don’t feel that my vote really matters in the grand scheme of things. However, I will be out there March 4th casting my vote in the primary and then again in November for the actual election. Times have changed since the United States was born, and people are more educated and better informed than any time in history, if you look hard enough the information is out there and available to us. So, while voting is our civic duty, and I feel it is an important duty, does my vote or vote really matter? All it takes is the 2000 election when Gore won the popular vote and Bush won the Electoral vote to answer that question.

    It’s time to move away from the Electoral College system and go with the popular vote!!! Then every vote will matter!

    And if you don’t vote, you have nothing to complain about when the new President is elected and what changes he (or she) makes for our country.

  19. Lauren says:

    I know I’m ridiculously late on this. I never thought that steriods would be used in milk. My question is though…Since we are to drink at least 3 glasses a day, wouldn’t more people get into trouble for steriods when tested? Or is there not enough that it could be traced?

    I also liked that you e-mailed your concern about some leaders voting in secret. I guess I need to be more aware of things, because I live in Broadview Hts, and haven’t heard anything like this occurring. You are correct, though, something has to be done about this issue.

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