Thursday, August 18, 2005

The Truth is Out There

The documentary The Corporation is a critical examination of the role corporate entities play in shaping our world. One portion of this thought provoking film might be of particular interest to Fakiegrind readers.


Bovine Growth Hormone (BGH) is a synthetic substance that has been secretly injected to dairy cows to increase milk production. The hormone, apart from causing metabolic damage to cows injected with it, is a suspected carcinogen in humans. It was approved for use in the U.S. in 1993. In 1996 two award-winning journalists, Steve Wilson and Jane Akre, put together a story on the hormone for the Fox television network. Due to pressure from Monsanto, the company that produces the BGH product, Fox tried to suppress the information and refused to air the segment.

Wilson and Akre, who refused several offers from Fox to buy them out, were fired by the network in 1997 for their refusal to let the story go. In the various editorial reviews the reporter's work was put through, there were never found to be any factual errors in their reporting, and both sides of the story were well represented.

The journalists subsequently took Fox to court on a whistle-blower's charge, saying that they were fired by their employer because they refused to do something illegal, i.e. distort the facts of their investigation in revisions of the story they were required to make by their management. In August, 2000, Wilson and Akre won their case with a ruling stating that Fox "acted intentionally and deliberately to falsify or distort the plaintiffs' news reporting on BGH".

In 2003, Fox, and a group of other major television broadcasters, appealed the case and the ruling was reversed. Fox news claimed that the reversal was a vindication for the station. However, the decision was reached not because flaws were found in the journalists' story, but because the court ruled that it was not an illegal act to broadcast misinformation and distortions of truth on the news.

You can learn more about this story at Wilson and Akre's website.

While Europe and Canada have outlawed the use of BGH, U.S milk continues to contain the substance.

We expect this kind of thing to happen in big, bad U.S.A., but it would never fly in modest, self-satisfied Canada...right?

No comments: