2002/05/27 IMF and World Bank: Out of Control
THE International Monetary Fund and World Bank are institutions out of control. For evidence, consider the institutions' feeble and fatally flawed debt relief program. Under their Highly Indebted Poor Country (HIPC) initiative, the world's poorest countries can receive reduction of approximately one third of their current payments to overseas creditors -- if they endure six years of closely monitored, extremely intrusive "structural adjustment." ... HIPC is the institutions' most important fig-leaf, a program designed to obscure the view of the harm they are doing to poor countries.

Greenwash + 10
The UN's "Global Compact" with global corporations associates with notorious violators of UN values -- Global Compact companies have already violated the Principles of the Compact, without censure -- or even acknowledgement -- from UN officials. The Global Compact represents a smuggling of a business agenda into the United Nations. It should not be considered a contribution to or framework for the Johannesburg Summit. Here's the evidence.

Technology and the poor
The United Nations Development Programme's "Human Development Report 2001 -- Making new technologies work for human development" attempts to address a key question for the 21st century: will technology entrench millions in even greater poverty -- or can it be used to eradicate poverty and suffering? But it chooses the wrong challenge. The key issue is not "making new technologies work for human development". The challenge is enabling poor people to make technologies work for them.

Philip Morris Sees the Light
After decades of denial about the hazards of tobacco, Philip Morris has been promoting the benefits to society of premature deaths from smoking, in a study that found the early deaths of smokers have "positive effects" for society that more than counteract the medical costs of treating smoking induced cancer and other diseases.
Updated resources.

The Enemies of Democracy
Report of a chilling, documented history of ongoing corporate efforts to use propaganda and "public relations" to distort science, manipulate public opinion, discredit democracy, and consolidate political power in the hands of a wealthy few. Details, references, and lots of resources.

Murder that is a threat to survival
There is a strong link between diminishing global biodiversity and the disappearance of languages. While new trees can be planted and habitats restored, it is much more difficult to restore languages once they have been murdered. It has taken centuries for people to learn about their environments and to name the complex ecological relationships that are decisive for maintenance of biodiversity. When indigenous peoples lose their languages, much of this knowledge also disappears. And languages are being murdered today faster than ever before in human history.

Seed patents threaten world food resources
Just as the Prince of Wales launched a millennium gene bank in Britain last November to conserve 10% of the plant kingdom, in Switzerland a threat appeared to the future availability of the seeds used to feed the world. Negotiations to keep their ownership in the public domain were only rescued at the 11th hour. These negotiations are a life insurance for humanity against rapid environmental, social and economic changes. Future food supplies will be under threat unless the talks succeed.
Updated resources.

The wreckers who trade in misery
Dedicated and well-organised groups are ruthlessly chipping away at the remnants of the World Trade Organisation's (WTO) credibility. There is a real danger that they will cause the rules-based trading system to collapse, destroying efforts to reduce poverty and global inequality. The wreckers are not from the broadening anti-globalisation, anti-WTO protest movement. They are the governments of the world's richest countries, using their power to subordinate the WTO to their national interests and to the pursuit of corporate profit, regardless of the cost to poor countries, public health and the environment.
Updated resources.

BP -- Beyond Preposterous
BP Amoco won a Corporate Watch "Greenwash Award" for its thoroughly misleading ad campaign "Beyond Petroleum". The slogan "Beyond Petroleum" is supposed to mean moving "beyond fossil fuels" to renewable fuels, but BP uses it to refer to its marketing push for natural gas -- a fossil fuel. BP spent more on its new eco-friendly logo in 1999 than on renewable energy. This was BP's second Greenwash award in 18 months. Read how BP boss Sir John Browne won a Greenpeace "Academy Award" for "Best Impression of an Environmentalist" for creating "an environmental fantasy of epic proportions". And behind the fantasy? Spin, lies, cheating, abuses, broken laws, pollution on a grand scale.
Updated resources.

Shell wins Greenwash Award
Corporate Watch awarded its Greenwash Award to Shell for its ad claiming that Shell is at the forefront of reducing harmful greenhouse gases. Kenny Bruno, co-author of "Greenwash: The Reality Behind Corporate Environmentalism", takes a deeper look and finds that the company is full of hot air. Journey to Forever takes a further look, and finds that it's worse than that.
Updated resources.

Talking pure manure
Agribusiness mouth Denis T. Avery keeps claiming that "people who eat organic and 'natural' foods are eight times as likely as the rest of the population to be attacked by a deadly new strain of E. coli bacteria (0157:H7)" -- despite solid proof that his "evidence" and "tests" are all falsified. In fact nearly all cases of E. coli 0157:H7 poisoning result from contaminated meat from industrial factory farms and meat processing plants, NOT organic farms. So why does he keep claiming it? Because the truth hurts.
Updated resources.

2000/5/19 Hi-tech crops are bad for the brain
"Miracle" crops, hailed as the answer to global famine, are contributing to widespread brain impairment in the developing world, a new report concludes. The high-yielding rice and wheat varieties of the "Green Revolution" are among a range of environmental factors undermining the intelligence of millions of people.

2000/5/3 The WTO: "These guys just don't get it!"
In response to the anti-World Trade Organization (WTO) protests, a Washington think-tank sponsored a day-long seminar entitled "After Seattle: Restoring Momentum in the WTO". "This was supposed to be a seminar on how to rebuild public confidence in the WTO, not transform the agency into the former Soviet KBG."

2000/4/5 Countering myth with facts
"Agriculture needs to counter false charges" and to "educate the general public and government officials" in order to "counter myth with facts", say two spokesmen of the American poultry industry. Myths to be countered with facts: animal welfare, worker safety, environmental contamination, antibiotic use.
Updated resources.

2000/4/1 Rape of a rainforest
Malaysian timber companies have become notorious for their systematic destruction of the world's remaining rainforests. Latest victim is Liberia, which has one of the largest surviving rainforest areas in West Africa -- report on an ecological and social crime.
Updated resources.

2000/3/17 Do pesticides cause cancer?
The answer, straight from the horse's mouth -- chemical corporation Monsanto's "Fact Sheet On Pesticide Use": "Number of active ingredients in pesticides found to cause cancer in animals or humans: 107." Read on!


Philip Morris Sees the Light

Wayne Grytting, AlterNet, August 7, 2001

After decades of sticking their heads in the sand about the hazards of tobacco, Philip Morris has found a new tactic -- promoting the benefits to society of premature deaths from smoking. A study produced for them by Arthur D. Little, one of the "foremost management consulting firms," found the early deaths of smokers have "positive effects" for society that more than counteract the medical costs of treating smoking induced cancer, etc.

This path-breaking research was limited to smoking in Czechoslovakia. It found that in 1999, despite health care costs for dying smokers, the government still had a net gain of $147.1 million from smoking. From these figures, the American Legacy Foundation calculated the Czech government saved $1,227 per dead smoker. That's a pretty good return, as Philip Morris proudly informed government leaders in the Czech Republic.

Philip Morris has since come in for a flood of criticism and has publicly apologized for the conclusions, which is too bad, because the report makes fascinating reading. It is, as the authors state, "the results of the exercise of our best professional judgement." (Imagine what we'd get if they were having an off day).

What makes the study such a model of American scholarship is the care taken to leave no stones unturned. Not only did the Arthur D. Little researchers find out precisely how much early deaths save on health care expenses, housing for the elderly, social security and pensions (something we all wanted to know), they also uncovered savings from premature deaths in areas we non-experts would never dream to look.

Who would think to look at the effect of smoking deaths on unemployment? These authors did, and they found that "replacing those who die early... leads to savings in social benefits paid to the unemployed and in costs of re-training." A wonderful gift to society by smokers.

But it gets even better. The researchers, with obvious relish, note that when a smoker dies prematurely, the savings to the state for that year "is only one part of the positive effect." There's more to come. You need to look at all the other years the smoker would have lived had she or he not smoked, because, we are told, "the savings will therefore influence the public finance balance of smoking in future years(!)" It's a gift that keeps on giving.

The Marlboro Man rides into Eastern Europe
Lest you think that Philip Morris is alone in recognizing the benefits to society of early deaths, know that they are in good company. Four years ago, the state of Alabama arrived at similar conclusions in a report by their Attorney General that escaped public notice. This story was covered, as far as I know, only by the Opelika-Auburn News.

Alabama Attorney General Bill Pryor found that "smoking-related health costs are not excessive, because smokers die young." This breathtaking conclusion was the result of an entire 89-page report (with footnotes, I'm told). The Alabama study apparently was just the tip of the iceberg, because it pointed to even more studies that "show taxpayers actually save money in costs for nursing homes, insurance, pensions, and Social Security benefits because smokers die earlier than non-smokers."

For those of you inclined to think that reasoning in Alabama takes its own course, know that State Farm Insurance followed the same line in a study defending Sports Utility Vehicles. Their researchers reported: "Sport utility vehicles may actually save insurers money in a few accidents, by killing people who might otherwise have survived with serious injuries. Severe injuries tend to produce larger settlements than deaths." Sounds like public thanks are owed to SUV makers, too.

Obviously, great minds work in the same circles.

It was unfortunate Philip Morris has had to suffer such bad publicity. The company, famous for its slogan "today's teenager is tomorrow's potential regular customer," has been working hard to spruce up its image. This past year it spent $100 million on charity alone. Of course, it spent $150 million telling people about their charitable giving, but this 3-to-2 ratio is actually quite good for an American corporation.

The Philip Morris report is no isolated travesty of reason. The language of the study, with all of its "objectivity," "quantification," "demographic data," and "statistical analysis," would be at home in any university or corporation. It's the same brand of impersonal, machine-like reasoning. This is our culture speaking.

We can become so abstract, so disconnected, we cease to live on the planet. We all can. That's why I suggest the executives who brought us the Marlboro Man quit apologizing. Take your case to the people. Be aggressive. Reach out to the families of dying smokers. Get to know their names, their friends, their family stories. Then explain to them the "positive effects" of their approaching fates. Bring lots of charts. Lots.

"Smoking can seriously aid your economy -- Tobacco firm tells Czech government how cigarette smokers benefit state coffers", The Guardian Weekly July 19 2001
Philip Morris took over the Czech Republic state tobacco company, Tabak, nine years ago and now has 80% of a lucrative market. It produces and sells Marlboro cigarettes, alongside local brands... The finding is striking given that the tobacco industry has resolutely refused in the past to admit that cigarettes cost lives... Half of all Czech 18-year-olds are entrenched smokers... Robert Kaplan, spokesman for Philip Morris in New York, said the shortened lives of smokers was "just one point" in the report: "That was not the point we were emphasising.",4273,4222888,00.html

Tobacco giant says sorry to Czechs

The Guardian: New York, July 27 2001,4273,4229037,00.html

Philip Morris, the US tobacco giant behind Marlboro cigarettes, has apologised for funding a widely derided survey that found that the early deaths of smokers helped governments to save money.

"All of us at Philip Morris, no matter where we work, are extremely sorry for this," the company's chief executive, Geoffrey Bible, said.

Mr Bible said that the report on the Czech Republic, which claimed that smoking produced savings on pensions, healthcare and housing for the elderly, "exhibited terrible judgment as well as a complete and unacceptable disregard of basic human values".

The report, produced by the consulting firm Arthur D Little International, showed that the Czech Republic had a net gain of £103m from smoking in 1999.

The country sold its state tobacco company to Philip Morris in the early 1990s. The corporation, which commands an 80% share of the local market, is one of the firm's most profitable companies, making £57m profit there last year.

At present Philip Morris spends £70m a year in public relations to try to revamp its tarnished image. But full-page advertisements in leading US newspapers yesterday, including the New York Times, sullied its expensive makeover.

Placed by assorted anti-smoking groups, the adverts show a corpse with a price tag tied to a big toe saying, "$1,227, [£860] that's how much a study sponsored by Philip Morris said the Czech Republic saves on healthcare, pensions and housing every time a smoker dies".

Steven Parrish, a senior vice-president at Philip Morris, said that the company had cancelled plans for similar surveys in Poland, Hungary, Slovakia, and Slovenia that compare the costs of smoking with the benefits to the state treasury, such as revenues from cigarette duty.

"We understand that this was not only a terrible mistake, but that it was wrong," he said. "To say it's inappropriate is an understatement."

Last week, Philip Morris reported global second-quarter profits up by 5.4%, to £1.6bn.

There is growing evidence that smoking has pharmacological effects that are of real benefit to smokers.
-- Joseph F. Cullman III, President of Philip Morris Inc., 1962

The Czech Report -- the complete report by Philip Morris on how death by smoking "benefits society" (Acrobat file, 84kb)

"Philip Morris: Killing to Make a Difference" -- Winner of the March 2001 Greenwash Award: Philip Morris, for its "Working to make a difference" television ad campaign.

"The Good-citizen Smokescreen -- The Self-Serving Generosity of Philip Morris." Philip Morris recently spent $2 million on domestic violence programs nationally, part of $60 million it spent on charity in 1999. That same year, Philip Morris spent $108 million on the advertising campaign to tell us about it.

"Cigarette Firms Tried to Foil WHO, Say Investigators", Wall Street Journal, August 2000.
World Health Organization investigators say Philip Morris and other multinational cigarette makers worked for years to discredit the agency and thwart its efforts to curb smoking around the globe.

Philip Morris is charged with orchestrating a global lobbying campaign to curb any effort by the World Health Organization to restrict the marketing of cigarettes in a documentary film called
"Making a Killing: Philip Morris, Kraft and Global Tobacco Addiction" that premiered in New York.

Infact's new film:
"Making a Killing"

Infact is a national grassroots corporate watchdog organization and anti-tobacco campaigner

The Lancet, England's leading medical journal, revealed a covert industry campaign in the 1990s to undermine scientific evidence linking tobacco smoke to health problems in nonsmokers. The campaign was prodigiously expensive, international in scope, and even reached into the editorial offices of the Lancet itself. For more than 50 years the tobacco industry has been a leading corrupter of science and government.

$2m plot to discredit smoking study exposed -- The Guardian, April 7, 2000,4273,3983396,00.html

"Tobacco's Secondhand Science of Smoke-Filled Rooms" -- The tobacco giants' pseudo-scientific disinformation campaign to discredit the evidence linking tobacco and premature death.

"How Big Tobacco Helped Create 'the Junkman'" -- The nasty truth about the Junk Science Home Page

"The Usual Suspects" -- Big Tobacco's spin-meisters

"The Enemies of Democracy" -- Using a front organization, Philip Morris and two other corporations with evil reputations, R.J. Reynolds Tobacco and Exxon Mobil, are mounting a lethal attack on environmental groups.

"Bush Cabinet Ties to Tobacco Lobby", The Washington Post, January 21, 2001

"The Global Tobacco War" -- International Development Research Centre, Canada. The "tobacco war" is a global war with enormous social costs.

How Thailand Took on the Transnational Tobacco Titans

Tobacco Control and the FCTC in Developing Countries -- Framework Convention Alliance

WHO Framework convention on Tobacco Control

"The Economic Impacts of the Global Tobacco Industry" -- Rather than contributing to economic dynamism, tobacco is a net loser, both for the US economy and for the rest of the world. Conservative estimates place this loss at $200 billion a year. The big winners, of course, are a handful of tobacco corporations.

"Tobacco and the Environment" -- Little known are tobacco's environmental impacts, which include deforestation, pesticide use, soil erosion, fires, litter and other pollution. These problems are particularly severe in the low-income nations of Africa, Asia and Latin America. The use of peasant farmland in these countries is also making a significant contribution to world hunger.

Globalization of Tobacco Addiction -- Burning the Planet

"No Butts About It, Tobacco Kills" -- Tobacco is fast becoming a greater cause of death and disability than any single disease" (excerpted from the World Health Organization's Tobacco Use: a Public Health Disaster): At present, it is estimated that tobacco kills over 3 million people per year. Based on current trends, however, the death toll will rise to 10 million deaths per year by the 2020s or 2030s, with 70% of those deaths occurring in developing countries. According to WHO estimates, there are approximately 1.1 thousand million smokers in the world -- about one-third of the global population aged 15 years and over.

Special report: Smoking -- Full coverage, excellent resources by the Guardian, UK

The Tobacco Issue -- full coverage at

CDC's Tobacco Industry Documents Web Resource -- Searchable, cross-company access to tobacco industry documents. The downside is that this only lets you see the index of documents, not the documents themselves. For the documents, you have to go to the company website.

Links to searchable tobacco industry documents -- Use this page to find all of the individual company document sites.

Philip Morris Document Site -- A searchable website of the Philip Morris documents website that was mandated as part of the states' antitobacco legislation. It's an excellent, searchable source of incriminating documents. Virtually every corporate whore in America has bellied up to the tobacco trough at one time or another, so you can find a lot of information here that isn't specifically tobacco-related.

RJRT Public Document Site -- A searchable website of the R.J. Reynolds documents website, similar to the Philip Morris site.

Tobacco documents -- URLs to the documents website for each major tobacco company.

Weblog special: big tobacco -- excellent collection of news, views, resources, links from Guardian Unlimited, the website of britain's Guardian and Observer newspapers.,10627,540943,00.html

Tobacco-Free Kids -- A non-governmental initiative to protect children from tobacco addiction and exposure to secondhand smoke. Includes fact sheets on tobacco industry marketing to kids and other misdeeds, plus a gallery of tobacco industry advertising.

Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids

"No smoke without fire", New Scientist -- Richard Peto is one of the world's leading experts on why smokers die prematurely. He is also one of the most outspoken critics of tobacco companies. He thinks all tobacco advertising should be banned. And he believes campaigns aimed at preventing children from starting smoking are misplaced -- we should be helping adults to stop.

Ten Worst Corporations of 2001: "Philip Morris, for its 'we've changed' marketing campaign -- revealed to be a hoax by a Czech study it commissioned alleging cost savings from smoking-related premature deaths, as well as the company's ongoing efforts to addict millions of new smokers... Empty words from the global leader in an industry whose products are taking 4.2 million lives this year alone." -- Corporations Behaving Badly, see "Philip Morris: Still the Same. Still Killing".

"Change the Tempo! Ten days await you in a world pulsating with the rhythm of nature" -- Selling "Marlboro Country" in Egypt
"Tobacco Marketing -- Where There's Smoke, There's Deception" -- Most developing countries have very limited laws to control tobacco and the marketing of tobacco products in many of these countries is reprehensible. International Development Research Centre (IDRC), Ottawa, Canada, February 15, 2002

Philip Morris to Canada: Drop Dead, by Russell Mokhiber and Robert Weissman, 4 April 2002 -- Though tobacco is set to take 10 million lives a year by 2030, absurd international trade rules under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and the World Trade Organization (WTO) agreements mean that Philip Morris can stop Canada enacting proposed health regulations -- a chilling message for governments pushing tobacco control measures.

Philip Morris Changes Its Name But Not Its Tactics, by Tom Price, CorpWatch, March 14, 2002 -- In spite of a 1998 agreement to stop marketing tobacco to children, Philip Morris still does so. That same year, their Chinese division was blasted for mailing free cigarettes to minors. Meanwhile, in Albania, Niger and Jordan the company hired underage girls who then gave away free cigarettes to children. (More kids smoke Philip Morris’ Marlboro cigarettes than all other brands combined.) The tobacco giant's attempt to greenwash its image is the theme of a new animated web cartoon released by the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids.
Watch the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids' Video:
Philip Morris Has Not Changed -- Special Report, Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids:

Big Tobacco, by Mark Schapiro, The Nation, May 6, 2002 -- Two major multinational tobacco companies -- Philip Morris and BAT -- have been implicated in a multi-billion dollar global smuggling scheme aimed at establishing their brands in new overseas markets. "Big Tobacco: Uncovering the Industry's Multi-billion Dollar Global Smuggling Network," a six-month investigation by The Nation, PBS's NOW With Bill Moyers and the Center for Investigative Reporting, shows how this illegal smuggling operation worked in Colombia for more than a decade.

Back to Index


The Enemies of Democracy

Rachel's Environment & Health News #725

Environmental Research Foundation

By Peter Montague, Editor

Rachel Carson, author of "Silent Spring"
The enemies of democracy are flexing their muscles. A corporate front group calling itself Frontiers of Freedom has petitioned U.S. tax officials to revoke the tax-exempt status of Rainforest Action Network (RAN), a major environmental organization ( If successful, the petition would put Rainforest Action Network out of business, and would open the door for lethal attacks on other environmental advocates. Frontiers of Freedom acknowledged to the Wall Street Journal that, if successful against RAN, "it will challenge other environmental groups."[1]

Frontiers of Freedom was founded in 1995 by Malcolm Wallop, a former U.S. Senator (R-Wyo.) and "friend of vice-president Dick Cheney," according to the Wall Street Journal. The Journal reports that Frontiers is funded by Philip Morris Companies, R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Holdings, Inc., and the Exxon Mobil Corporation.

This latest corporate attack on freedom of speech, freedom of association and freedom of assembly, is not random. It is part of an accelerating campaign to replace representative democracy with control by corporate elites.

Now a new book, Trust Us, We're Experts! by Sheldon Rampton and John Stauber, provides a chilling, documented history of ongoing corporate efforts to use propaganda and "public relations" to distort science, manipulate public opinion, discredit democracy, and consolidate political power in the hands of a wealthy few.[2]

The Big Idea behind the anti-democratic corporate-power movement is that people cannot be trusted to make political decisions because they are irrational, emotional, and illogical. This cynical view of humans is widely held by the public relations industry's experts but also by the scientific experts they employ to 'guide' the public. For example, physics professor H.W. Lewis (University of California, Santa Barbara), a well-known risk assessor, says people worry about non-problems like nuclear waste and pesticides because they are irrational and poorly educated. "The common good is ill served by the democratic process," he says. (pg. 111)

If people are not rational they cannot be guided by reason, so they must be manipulated through emotion, PR experts say (thus justifying their own propaganda services). For example, a spokesperson for Burson-Marsteller, a PR firm that manipulates the public on behalf of Philip Morris, Monsanto, Exxon Mobil and others, told the Society of Chemical Industry in London in 1989, "All of this research is helpful in figuring out a strategy for the chemical industry and for its products. It suggests, for example, that a strategy based on logic and information is probably not going to succeed. We are in the realm of the illogical, the emotional, and we must respond with the tools that we have for managing the emotional aspects of the human psyche... The industry must be like the psychiatrist..." (pg. 3)

The PR psychiatric manipulation industry is now enormous. Corporations spend at least $10 billion each year hiring PR propaganda experts (pg. 26) and our federal government spends another $2.3 billion or so (pg. 27) -- and these are no doubt underestimates. But these huge sums are not wasted -- they provide major benefits to the clients. For example, about 40% of all stories that appear in newspapers are planted there by PR firms on behalf of a specific paying client. Because most radio and TV news is simply re-written from newspaper stories, a substantial proportion of the public's "news" originates as PR propaganda. Naturally the connection to the PR source is edited out.

The Columbia Journalism Review analyzed the Wall Street Journal and found that more than half its stories are "based solely on press releases" even though many carry the misleading statement, "By a Wall Street Journal Staff Reporter." Thus what passes for news these days is, as often as not, corporate propaganda. Tongue in cheek, Rampton and Stauber refer to the major news media as the disinfotainment industry.

Unfortunately, as Rampton and Stauber make crystal clear with example after example, all of this manipulation has devastating consequences for real people. The news media largely set the limits on public discussion, and thus on public policy debate. What is excluded from the news is often more significant than what gets inserted. For example, approximately 800,000 new cases of occupational illness arise each year, making occupational illness much larger than AIDS and roughly equivalent to cancer and all circulatory diseases, but most people have no idea that this is so. See Rachel's Environment & Health News #578:

[J.P. Leigh and others, "Occupational Injury and Illness in the United States. Estimates of Costs, Morbidity and Mortality," Archives of Internal Medicine Vol. 157, No. 14 (July 28, 1997), pgs. 1557-1568. And see Associated Press, "Job-Related Illness Cost Put at $171 Billion in '92," New York Times July 28, 1997, pg. A9.]

Combined with on-the-job injuries, work-related illnesses kill about 80,000 workers each year -- nearly twice the national death total from automobile accidents. In 1991 former New York Times labor correspondent William Serrin reported (but, notably, NOT in the New York Times) that about 200,000 workers had been killed on the job since the passage of the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) in 1970, and that an additional 2 million workers had died from diseases caused by conditions where they worked.[3] That's 273 work-related deaths EACH DAY, day after day after day. This corporate carnage is ignored by the news media, which prefer to keep us focused on yuppie SUV crashes, and crimes of passion.

During the same 20-year period, 1970-1990, an additional 1.4 million workers were permanently disabled in workplace accidents. Yet during those 20 years, only 14 people were prosecuted by the Justice Department for violation of workplace safety standards and only one person went to jail -- for 45 days for suffocating two workers to death in a trench cave-in.

PR experts "spin" stories for the media on the assumption that most reporters are too overworked (or too lazy) to search out the truth for themselves. But Rampton and Stauber exhaustively document that "spin" goes much farther than merely providing a "news hook," a viewpoint, or a few facts. Modern corporate propaganda involves purchasing scientific opinions and planting them in scientific journals (without, of course, mentioning the money connection to the corporate benefactor). Tobacco companies invented this technique, but now others are using it freely.

For example, in the early 1990s, tobacco companies paid $156,000 to a handful of scientists to sign their names to letters written by tobacco company lawyers. The letters were published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, the Lancet, the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, and the Wall Street Journal, and were then cited by the tobacco companies as if they had been written by independent scientists.

"It's a systematic effort to pollute the scientific literature," says professor of medicine Stanton Glantz (University of California, San Francisco), a longtime critic of Big Tobacco. (pg. 199)

In 1999 drug maker Wyeth Laboratories commissioned ghost writers to manufacture 10 medical articles promoting a combination of Wyeth drugs called fen-fen, as a treatment for obesity. Two of the articles actually got published in peer-reviewed journals. After fen-fen was pulled from the market for permanently damaging peoples' heart valves, lawyers for injured victims discovered that Wyeth had edited the articles to play down and occasionally delete descriptions of side effects caused by fen-fen. Prominent scientists put their names on these articles in return for fees as small as $1000 to $1500 -- and journal editors published the articles as if they represented independent scientific inquiry. Wyeth could then cite these "independent" studies to convince doctors to prescribe fen-fen.

In 1996, Sheldon Krimsky of Tufts University examined 789 articles published by 1105 researchers in 14 leading life science and biomedical journals. In 34% of the articles, at least one of the chief authors had an identifiable financial interest connected to the research. None of these financial interests was disclosed in the journals. Krimsky said the 34% figure was probably an underestimate because he couldn't check stock ownership or corporate consulting fees paid to researchers.

Science, like democracy, depends crucially upon the free flow of information. When secrecy is imposed, errors go undetected and fallacies proliferate -- only to be discovered years later, if at all.[4] For example, secrecy has allowed the U.S. military to create a "pattern of exaggeration and deception" in its reports to Congress, just as secrecy allowed the military to waste more than $100 billion (!) in failed attempts to create a workable "star wars" missile defense system.[5] In 1993, a front-page story in the New York Times began, "Officials of the 'Star Wars' project rigged a crucial 1984 test and faked other data in a program of deception that misled Congress..."[6] Secrecy invites deception and destroys democratic accountability.

Rampton and Stauber point out that "Corporate funding creates a culture of secrecy that can be as chilling to free academic inquiry as funding from the military. Instead of government censorship, we hear the language of commerce: nondisclosure agreements, patent rights, intellectual property rights, intellectual capital." (pg. 214)

A key feature of the corporate anti-democracy strategy of the past 20 years is reduced government funding for needed research, thus inviting corporate funders to step in. This is what "tax cut" really means. Tax cuts are not primarily aimed at giving families another $300 to spend -- they are mainly intended to reduce the capacity of governments to fund needed public services, such as medical research. As a result, corporations are asked to provide the funds and thus they gain an opportunity to influence the national research agenda and the results.

In 1994 and 1995 researchers at the Massachusetts General Hospital surveyed more than 3000 academic scientists and found that 64% of them had financial ties to corporations. They reported in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), that 20% of the 3000 researchers admitted that they had delayed publication of research results for more than 6 months, to obtain patents and to "slow the dissemination of undesired results."

"Sometimes if you accept a grant from a company, you have to include a proviso that you won't distribute anything except with its OK. It has a negative impact on science," says Nobel-prize-winning biochemist Paul Berg. (pg. 215)

In 1999 Drummond Rennie, editor of JAMA, said private funding of medical research was causing "a race to the ethical bottom... The behavior of universities and scientists is sad, shocking, and frightening," Rennie said. "They are seduced by industry funding, and frightened that if they don't go along with these gag orders, the money will go to less rigorous institutions." (pg. 217)

In this rich, deep book, Sheldon Rampton and John Stauber have painstakingly documented the specific techniques that PR experts and their corporate masters employ to deceive the courts, the legislatures, the media, educators, and the public. The next time someone accuses you of "chemophobia" or of relying on "junk science" you'll know you're dealing with corporate manipulators who are being guided by PR skanks. Their overriding goal is to discredit decision-making by the public and replace it with control by corporate elites. They know better, they're experts, trust them.

The final chapter of this important book tells us how to fight back. If you care about democracy, science or simple truth and want to know exactly how corporate elites subvert all three, this is the book for you.


[1] Anne Marie Chaker, "Conservatives Seek IRS Inquiry On Environmental Group's Status," Wall Street Journal (June 21, 2001) pg. unknown.

[2] Sheldon Rampton and John Stauber, Trust Us, We're Experts: How Industry Manipulates Science And Gambles With Your Future (New York: Tarcher/Putnam, 2001). ISBN 1-58542-059-X. And check out their web site:

[3] William Serrin, "300 Dead Each Day: The Wages of Work," The Nation Vol. 252, No. 3 (January 28, 1991), pgs. 80-81.

[4] Tim Weiner, "Military Accused Of Lies Over Arms," New York Times (June 28, 1993), pg. A10 quoting a 3-year investigation by the U.S. General Accounting Office.

[5] William J. Broad, "After Many Misses, Pentagon Still Pursues Missile Defense," New York Times (May 24, 1999), pgs. A1, A23.

[6] Tim Weiner, "Lies and Rigged 'Star Wars' Test Fooled the Kremlin, and Congress," New York Times (August 18, 1993), pgs. A1, A15.

"Trust Us, We're Experts: How Industry Manipulates Science and Gambles with Your Future" by Sheldon Rampton and John Stauber, 2001, Tarcher/Putnam, ISBN 1-58542-059-X, Bookstore price: $24.95 U.S./$34.99 Canada

An Antidote to the Spin Doctors: PR watchdog John Stauber exposes true life tales of corporate disinformation" -- interview with PR Watch! publisher Stauber, co-author of "Trust Us, We're Experts" -- Utne Reader Online

"PR Nation" -- a very illuminating, 5,000-word interview with John Stauber in the Westchester County Weekly

War On Truth -- The Secret Battle for the American Mind, An Interview with John Stauber, published in "The Sun", March 1999 -- 5,800-word article on the development and nature of the spin industry.

The fake persuaders -- Corporations are inventing people to rubbish their opponents on the internet, George Monbiot, The Guardian, May 14, 2002: Companies have created fake citizens' groups to campaign in favour of trashing forests or polluting rivers, now they create fake citizens. Messages purporting to come from disinterested punters are planted on listservers at critical moments, disseminating misleading information in the hope of recruiting real people to the cause... How a PR firm contracted to the biotech company Monsanto played a crucial but invisible role in shaping scientific discourse.,4273,4412987,00.html

Suing Greenwashers, May 3, 2002, -- The California Supreme Court has ruled that sports powerhouse Nike Inc. can be sued for deceptive advertising if it makes misleading claims as part of a public relations campaign designed to burnish its corporate image. The ruling could mean trouble for scores of corporations that engage in such "greenwashing" campaigns. The court's ruling establishes that such campaigns amount to advertising -- not free speech, as Nike had argued -- and are therefore subject to the same legal controls as advertising.

Corporate Spin and Propaganda -- interview with Stuart Ewen, professor of media studies at Hunter College in New York and author of "PR: A Social History of Spin": "... the history of public relations is a primarily illegitimate one. Most of it is about packaging reality to benefit powerful clients." Excellent 5,700-word article from Zmagazine.

"What's Wrong With This Picture?" by Mark Crispin Miller, The Nation, January 7, 2002 -- "The media cartel that keeps us fully entertained and permanently half-informed is always growing here and shriveling there, with certain of its members bulking up while others slowly fall apart or get digested whole. But while the players tend to come and go--always with a few exceptions--the overall Leviathan itself keeps getting bigger, louder, brighter, forever taking up more time and space, in every street, in countless homes, in every other head."

"What Makes Mainstream Media Mainstream" by Noam Chomsky, from a talk at Z Media Institute, June 1997 -- "The real mass media are basically trying to divert people. Let them do something else, but don’t bother us (us being the people who run the show). Let them get interested in professional sports, for example. Let everybody be crazed about professional sports or sex scandals or the personalities and their problems or something like that. Anything, as long as it isn’t serious. Of course, the serious stuff is for the big guys. 'We' take care of that."

Anti-Environment Spin

Conservative Think Tank Attacks Tax Status of Environmental Group -- San Francisco Chronicle, June 21, 2001

Massive Attack, In These Times 25/20 -- Logging giant Boise Cascade and its right-wing allies have launched a coordinated assault on Rainforest Action Network's funding and reputation after RAN initiated a high-profile campaign to pressure Boise Cascade to stop logging old-growth forests and to implement sustainable forest-management practices.

Edelman Takes On NGOs -- The Edelman PR firm has been conducting seminars driven by the realization that "Non-governmental organizations affect business like never before", with topics such as, "NGOs -- Why They Are Winning" and "How to Tackle Hostile NGOs." -- Now removed from Edelman's website - see Spin of the Day Thursday, June 28, 2001:

New Book "Corrects" Liberal Media Bias -- With Conservative Bias: "It Ain't Necessarily So: How Media Make and Unmake the Scientific Picture of Reality" authors David Murray, Joel Schwartz and S. Robert Lichter have an agenda of their own: debunking global warming, extinction reports, and other issues that paint an unflattering picture of their corporate sponsors., July 2, 2001

MI6 'firm' spied on green groups: A private intelligence firm with close links to MI6 [Military Intelligence] spied on environmental campaign groups to collect information for oil companies, including Shell and BP" -- The Sunday Times, Britain, June 17 2001

Leaked Memo: Lobbyists Warn Corporate America of Growing Power of Citizen's Movement: "Dear [Corporate Client]: Enclosed is our 'Guide to the Seattle Meltdown: A Compendium of Activists at the WTO Ministerial'. The 'Guide' is a comprehensive listing of the activist groups which protested against the WTO Ministerial in Seattle this past November..." -- Black Kelly Scruggs & Healy (a Burson Marsteller company), January 14, 2000 -- Common Dreams NewsCenter, March 10, 2000

Sony's Covert War on Activists: A leaked document shows Sony Corp. has been conducting a surveillance campaign of environmental activists fighting to hold electronics manufacturers responsible for their toxic waste. -- InterPress Service

Eating the greens: Electronics giant Sony are using the internet to hit back at troublesome eco-warriors -- The Observer, London, October 1, 2000

Anti-Environmental Federal Judges, Environmental News Service, July 19, 2001 -- A new analysis finds a decade long pattern of judicial activism by judges ideologically opposed to environmental protections. In response, leaders of the nation's top environmental groups have announced a coordinated effort to begin monitoring President George W. Bush's nominees for the federal bench.

Corporate special interests are wining and dining judges at fancy resorts under the pretext of "educating" them about complicated legal issues. A new report by Community Rights Counsel (CRC) shows that these junkets appear to be working as their sponsors intend, encouraging rulings that strike down environmental protections and line the pockets of junket sponsors.
Hidden Camera Exposes Anti-Environmental Junkets for Judges: "20/20" Investigation of Judges Vacationing at Luxury Resorts on Corporate Dime

Education Spin

Smoke and Mirrors: How polluters influence environmental education -- Corporations now view schools as convenient locations for the dissemination of propaganda debunking environmental concerns -- John F. Borowski, Utne Reader, May 09, 2001

Why They Whine: How Corporations Prey On Our Children" -- by Gary Ruskin, director of Commercial Alert (

New Report Examines Commercialism in U.S. Schools: From exclusive soft-drink contracts to computers displaying continuous advertising, corporate marketing in public schools is rising sharply -- New York Times, September 14, 2000

Articles from the Associated Press, NY Times, and Contra Costa Times on new GAO Report
Commercial Activities in Public Schools

Scared Green! How John Stossel, ABC, Rightwing Think Tanks, and the Chemical Industry Are Colluding to Trash Environmental Education

Teachers, Before Buying "Tampering with Nature" for the Classroom, Know the Truth about John Stossel -- by John F. Borowski, August 4, 2004

Corporate cash & campus labs: The credibility of university research is on the line as industry steps up its funding. -- Christian Science Monitor, June 19, 2001

The Kept University: Commercially sponsored research is putting at risk the paramount value of higher education -- disinterested inquiry. Even more alarming, the authors argue, universities themselves are behaving more and more like for-profit companies. -- The Atlantic Monthly, March 2000

"Is the university-industrial complex out of control?" -- Links between academia and industry are of increasing concern to academics and to society at large. The sectors involved should review their policies in order to sustain universities' public accountability. -- Nature, 11 January, 2001, Volume 409, Issue number 6817

National Geographic Kids Under the Corporate Thumb -- by Russell Mokhiber and Robert Weissman, Focus on the Corporation, 5 Aug 2004

Chemicals and Drugs

Bitter Pill -- When drug companies pay for scientific research, media skepticism goes out the window. --, Apr. 20, 2001

How a New Policy Led to Seven Deadly Drugs: Once a wary watchdog, the Food and Drug Administration set out to become a "partner" of the pharmaceutical industry. Today, the public has more remedies, but some are proving lethal -- David Willman, Los Angeles Times, December 20, 2000

The rest of David Willman's award-winning series:

REZULIN: Fast-Track Approval and a Slow Withdrawal

REDUX: Unheeded Warnings on Lethal Diet Pill

A Girl Is Given an Adult Medicine and She Pays a Heavy Price

DURACT: Painkiller Posed Risk of Damage to Liver

LOTRONEX: Officer Foresaw Deadly Effects

A Long-Feared Drug Gets the Green Light

POSICOR: 143 Sudden Deaths Did Not Stop Approval

RELENZA: Official Asks If One Day Less of Flu Is Worth It

RAXAR: Warning on Label Omits Deaths

Drug Lotronex Pulled Over Safety Fears

FDA Minimized Issue of Lotronex's Safety

PROPULSID: A Heartburn Drug, Now Linked to Children's Deaths

Risk Was Known as FDA OKd Fatal Drug

On March 26 PBS aired
Trade Secrets, a report on the chemical industry produced by the Peabody Award-winning duo of Bill Moyers and Sherry Jones. In the past 50 years, over 80,000 synthetic chemicals have been created for use in homes, businesses and factories. We have trusted the chemical industry and our government to test the chemicals' effects on health and safety, and to take dangerous ones off the market. That trust has been severely betrayed. PBS: Trade Secrets:
The Chemical Papers: Secrets of the Chemical Industry Exposed -- AlterNet

"After 'Silent Spring,' Chemical Industry Put Spin on All It Brewed" -- New York Times, March 26, 2001

A Stand for Scientific Independence -- Medical Journals Aim to Curtail Drug Companies' Influence, Washington Post, August 5, 2001

Spinning Science Into Gold -- How Industry's Public-Relations Campaigns Stifle Debate Over Biotechnology,

Industry Attacks on Dissent: From Rachel Carson to Oprah, Laura Orlando, Dollars and Sense, April 19, 2002 -- New tools in the old bag of tricks used by corporations to protect their economic interests at the expense of public discussion. Silencing public debate with frivolous, time-consuming and costly lawsuits has become so commonplace that the technique has its own name: strategic lawsuits against public participation, or SLAPP suits.


PR Watch -- Public Interest Reporting on the PR/Public Affairs Industry, a project of the Center for Media & Democracy

PR Watch
Spin of the Day

Disinfopedia -- a collaborative project to produce a directory of public relations firms, think tanks, industry-funded organizations and industry-friendly experts that work to influence public opinion and public policy on behalf of corporations, governments and special interests. Sponsored by the Center for Media and Democracy

CLEAR, the Clearinghouse on Environmental Advocacy and Research keeps track of environmental backlash campaigns and educate people who care about the environment. "Through monitoring and research, CLEAR helps people see through anti-environmental propaganda." CLEAR is no longer being maintained, but is still a useful source of information. Includes dossiers on players in the anti-environmental movement, "Wise Use" profiles and history, featured "Backlash" groups and more.

Greenwash -- information and resources for doing research on right-wing and libertarian think tanks, non-profits and their corporate sponsors -- profiles of biotechnology and other corporate spin merchants

Corporate Watch

TOMPAINE.common sense -- A Journal of Opinion -- a project of the nonprofit Independent Media Institute, dedicated to independent and alternative journalism

Focus on the Corporation -- Russell Mokhiber and Robert Weissman, authors of "Corporate Predators: The Hunt for Mega-Profits and the Attack on Democracy"

Culture Jammers: Adbusters is a not-for-profit, reader-supported, 60,000-circulation magazine concerned about the erosion of physical and cultural environments by commercial forces.

Multinational Monitor tracks corporate activity, especially in the Third World, focusing on the export of hazardous substances, worker health and safety, labor union issues and the environment.

Corporate Watch UK: "The earth is not dying, it is being killed, and those who are killing it have names and addresses."

Global Trade Watch (GTW) was created in 1993 to promote government and corporate accountability in an area on which few public interest groups were focused: the international commercial agreements shaping the current version of globalization. GTW is a division of Public Citizen, the national consumer group founded in 1972 by Ralph Nader.

CounterPunch is the bi-weekly muckraking newsletter edited by Alexander Cockburn and Jeffrey St. Clair. "Twice a month we bring our readers the stories that the corporate press never prints... Here at CounterPunch we have many friends and all the right enemies."

Back to Index


Murder that is a threat to survival

Biodiversity cannot be protected unless language genocide is halted, argues Tove Skutnabb-Kangas of Terralingua

Habitat destruction through logging, the spread of agriculture and use of pesticides, and the economic and political vulnerability of the people who live in the world's most diverse ecoregions are recognised as the main causes of the disappearance of biodiversity. What is less widely understood is the link between diminishing global biodiversity and the disappearance of languages.

While new trees can be planted and habitats restored, it is much more difficult to restore languages once they have been murdered. And languages are being murdered today faster than ever before in human history. Even the most optimistic prognoses claim that only half of today's 6,000-7,000 spoken languages will exist by 2100. The media and educational systems are the most important direct agents in language murder today.

Most of the world's languages are spoken by relatively few people; the median number of speakers of a language is probably 5,000-6,000. There are fewer than 300 languages with more than 1m native users; half of all languages have fewer than 10,000 users, and a quarter of the world's spoken languages and most of the sign languages have fewer than 1,000 users. More than 80% of the world's languages exist in one country only.

A simple comparison, based on numbers and extinction rates, shows that linguistic diversity (LD) is disappearing relatively much faster than biodiversity (BD). Optimistic estimates claim that 2% of biological species but 50% of languages may be dead or moribund -- no longer learned by children -- in 100 years' time. According to pessimistic but realistic estimates, 20% of biological species but 90% of languages may be dead or moribund in 100 years.

People might say: so what? It might be better for world peace if we all speak a few big languages and understand each other. But language diversity is decisive for the future of the planet. LD and BD are correlated: where one type is high, the other one is too, and vice versa, even if there are exceptions. David Harmon of Terralingua, an international non-profit organisation devoted to preserving the world's linguistic diversity, has compared the 25 countries that have the most endemic languages with the 25 that have the most higher vertebrates. Sixteen countries (64%) are on both lists. According to Harmon, "It is very unlikely that this would only be accidental". He gets the same results with flowering plants and languages, butterflies and languages -- a high correlation between countries with biological and linguistic megadiversity.

New research shows mounting evidence that the relationship may also be causal: the two types of diversities seem to enforce and support each other. According to a recent United Nations environmental programme report, threatened languages store the knowledge about how to maintain and use sustainably some of the most vulnerable and most biologically diverse environments in the world. It has taken centuries for people to learn about their environments and to name the complex ecological relationships that are decisive for maintenance of biodiversity. When indigenous peoples lose their languages, much of this knowledge also disappears: the dominant languages do not have the ethno-biological and ethno-medical vocabulary, and the stories will not be translated.

If the long-lasting co-evolution that people have had with their environments is suddenly disrupted, without nature (and people) having enough time to adjust and adapt, we can expect a catastrophe. If during the next 100 years we murder up to 90% of the linguistic (and thereby mostly also the cultural) diversity that is our treasury of this historically developed ecological knowledge, we are also seriously undermining our chances of life on Earth.

Like the loss of BD, the loss of LD is dangerous reductionism. As we see in increasingly dramatic ways, such as the spread of species that are more resistant to antibiotics and herbicides, monocultures are vulnerable. The potential for the new lateral thinking that might save us from ourselves in time lies in having as many and as diverse languages and cultures as possible. We do not know which ones have the right medicine. For this, multilingualism is necessary. Indigenous and minority people need to have a chance to maintain their own languages and learn dominant languages.

But instead of fostering and supporting multilingualism through the education system, schools participate in linguistic genocide, as it has been defined in the United Nations Genocide Convention (Articles IIb and IIe and its Final Draft Article III1). Pirjo Janulf shows in a recent study that of those Finnish immigrant minority members in Sweden who had had Swedish-medium education, not one spoke any Finnish to his or her own children. Even if these adults might not have forgotten their Finnish completely, their children were forcibly transferred to the majority group, at least linguistically.

This is what happens to millions of speakers of threatened languages all over the world. There are no schools or classes teaching through the medium of the threatened indigenous or minority languages. The transfer to the majority language group is not voluntary: alternatives do not exist, and parents do not have enough reliable information about the long-term consequences of the various choices. There is also a wealth of research and statistics about the mental harm that forced assimilation causes in education and other areas.

To stop linguistic genocide, linguistic human rights in education need to be respected. The most important linguistic human right for maintenance of LD is the right to mother-tongue medium education. But the existing and draft human rights instruments are completely insufficient in protecting linguistic human rights in education. When speakers of small languages learn other, necessary, languages in addition to their native languages, they become multilingual, and the maintenance of LD, necessary for the planet, is supported. When dominant languages such as English are learned subtractively, at the cost of the mother tongues, they become killer languages. The task for users of English is to stop it being a killer language and change it to an additive asset.

-- Dr Tove Skutnabb-Kangas is associate professor at Roskilde University, Denmark, and vice-president of Terralingua. Her latest book is Linguistic Genocide In Education - Or Worldwide Diversity And Human Rights? (Lawrence Erlbaum)

-- The Guardian Weekly
March 22-28, 2001

"Environmental degradation aggravated by loss of traditional knowledge" -- A new report and a unique map released by WWF show that the world's most biodiverse areas are inhabited by high concentrations of native cultures, and warn that the loss of traditional languages and knowledge may lead to further environmental degradation. The report and map are the results of a research project that has found a total number of 4,635 ethnolinguistic groups living in 225 regions of the highest biological importance -- 67% of an approximate global total of 6,867 ethnolinguistic groups. Languages spoken by indigenous and traditional peoples are rapidly disappearing. Since the ecological knowledge accumulated by indigenous people in their long history of managing the environment is embodied in languages, language extinction is leading to loss of ecological knowledge, especially since in most traditional cultures this knowledge is only passed on to other groups or new generations orally.

"This [erosion of languages] represents a threat to our collective knowledge... We are losing scientific information and innovative capacity. With the demise of every language, we are losing knowledge about medicinal plants and preparations that could cure today's (and tomorrow's) maladies. We are losing vital data about species, ecosystem management and climate. We are losing technological information essential to world agriculture. If one-third of the total land mass of Latin America no longer holds peoples with indigenous languages, it means that we have lost the best possible scientific information for the management and development of one-third of Latin America."
"The ETC Century: Erosion, Technological Transformation, and Corporate Concentration in the 21st Century" by Pat Roy Mooney, RAFI/Dag Hammarskjöld Foundation, 2001, ISSN 0345-2328
Online, free (Acrobat file), from RAFI -- Rural Advancement Foundation International:
From the Dag Hammarskjöld Foundation:

Globalization Wiping Out Languages, Natural Links -- "Indigenous peoples hold vital knowledge on the animals and plants with which they live. Enshrined in their cultures and customs are also secrets of how to manage habitats and the land in environmentally friendly, sustainable, ways," says Klaus Toepfer, executive director of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). Losing a language and its cultural context is like burning a unique reference book of the natural world.

"Indigenous and Traditional Knowledge", International Development Research Centre, IDRC Reports April 1993 (Volume 21, Number 1) -- Articles and book reviews.

"Recording and Using Indigenous Knowledge: A manual", International Institute of Rural Reconstruction (IIRR) -- "Indigenous knowledge" ("IK") is a valuable resource for development: it can be equal to or superior to the scientific know-how introduced by outsiders. This manual provides rural development workers with the information and tools they need to integrate IK into their development work. It focuses on IK in People-Centered Agricultural Development. Full text online:

What Global Language? -- The Atlantic. English isn't managing to sweep all else before it -- and if it ever does become the universal language, many of those who speak it won't understand one another.

Globalization Wiping Out Languages, Natural Links, ENS, February, 2001 -- A new report on behalf of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) warns that indigenous systems for environmentally harmonious living may soon be lost forever as a result of growing globalization. The study, "Cultural and Spiritual Values of Biodiversity: A Complementary Contribution to the Global Biodiversity Assessment," based on work by hundreds of academics, claims many indigenous languages and cultures are already teetering on the brink of extinction in the face of globalization.

"Cultural and Spiritual Values of Biodiversity: A Complementary Contribution to the Global Biodiversity Assessment," by Darrell A. Posey (ed.), Practical Action, ISBN 1853393975
This book arose out of the Global Biodiversity Assessment (GBA), a massive review of current knowledge in the broad field of biological diversity, commissioned by United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP). Weaving together philosophical, historical, legal, scientific and personal viewpoints, this book gives a rich sample of the vast web which makes up our cultural, spiritual and social diversity. The volume highlights the central importance of cultural and spiritual values in the appreciation and preservation of all life and argues that these values give us a true reflection of worth. Buy at Cultural and Spiritual Values of Biodiversity

"Last Words: The Dying of Languages", by Payal Sampat, Worldwatch Institute, May / June 2001 -- "Each month, two languages head for extinction. By the end of this century, at least half of the world's languages will have disappeared. Resource depletion is not limited to the realm of nature. As in biodiversity loss, we are rapidly losing linguistic resources that took millennia to develop. And these developments may have repercussions beyond just language -- they also threaten to diminish our understanding of biological diversity."

With more than half of the world's languages headed for extinction, cultural and biological diversity appear to be in sharp decline as well.
Percentage of the world's languages that are of European origin
4 percent
Percentage of the world's languages that originated in Africa
30 percent
Number of languages once spoken in the Peruvian Amazon (an area half the size of Alaska)
Number that survive today (almost half of which are in danger of extinction)
Number of world languages that exist today
Number of languages that have speaking populations robust enough to ensure their survival past the end of the century
Number of languages spoken by more than 1 million people
Number of languages spoken by less than 2,500 people
Percentage of the world's 6 billion people that are considered indigenous
4 percent
Percentage of the world's 6, 800 languages that indigenous people speak
60 percent
Percentage of the world's children raised as bi-lingual speakers
66 percent
Percentage of U.S. residents who are bi-lingual
6.3 percent
- From "Last Words: The Dying of Languages", Worldwatch Institute

30 April 2010 -- The Best Translation Program Yet: Google Delivers Foreign Tongues at the Press of a Button, by Philip Bethge, Der Spiegel,1518,692001,00.html

See Rural development: Journey to Forever

Back to Index

Community development | Rural development
City farms | Organic gardening | Composting | Small farms | Biofuel | Solar box cookers
Trees, soil and water | Seeds of the world | Appropriate technology | Project vehicles

Home | What people are saying about us | About Handmade Projects 
Projects | Internet | Schools projects | Sitemap | Site Search | Donations | 

© Copyright of all original material on this website is the property of Keith Addison, unless otherwise stated. It may not be copied or distributed without the explicit permission of the copyright holder. All material is provided "as is" without guarantees or warranty of any kind, either expressed or implied.