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Consumer Group Takes on Animal 'Rights' Activists

December 4, 2003

A consumer advocacy group has launched a series of anti-PETA ads, "to give the publicity hounds at People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals the sort of attention they don't actually want."

The Center for Consumer Freedom (CCF) said the two TV ads feature a "darker side of PETA that will likely shock many of the group's supporters."

CCF, a frequent critic of PETA, describes itself as a nonprofit coalition supported by restaurants, food companies, and consumers, working together to promote personal responsibility and protect consumer choices.

One of the two 30-second ads has a young woman talking about teaching her children to love and respect animals, but - in the CCF's words - "she also notes that People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals takes animal rights to dangerous extremes. She points out that PETA condones arson and has given money to violent criminals."

The second 30-second ad highlights PETA's opposition to all medical research using animals, including efforts to find cures for leukemia, multiple sclerosis, and AIDS.

In CCF's words, "This commercial asks why anyone would give money to People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals." The ad mentions that "PETA has even funded an animal-rights terrorist who firebombed a university research lab and now teaches others to make bombs."

The Center for Consumer Freedom said its ads will begin airing nationally this week on the Fox News Channel.

When contacted for comment, PETA spokesperson Jen McClure referred to a website ( which claims CCF was set up "with a $600,000 'donation' from tobacco company Philip Morris."

The website claims lobbyist Richard Berman runs CCF through his public relations company Berman & Co. and that CCF is formerly known as the Guest Choice Network.

"Using 'freedom of choice' as his battle cry, Berman has now taken on PETA and a number of other groups and organizations whose points of view could have an impact on the profits of his clients by waking consumers up," the website claims.

"Berman's Guest Choice Network has an 'advisory panel' whose members in 1998 included officials representing companies ranging from Cargill Processed Meat Products and Outback Steakhouse to Minnesota Licensed Beverage Association and Sutter Home Winery.

The website claims that Berman's clients include companies "with vested interests in low employee wages; cheap, unhealthy restaurant-chain food, particularly meat; and tobacco, soft drink, and alcohol consumption-companies like Ruth's Chris Steakhouse, Armour Swift, and Philip Morris."

"PETA's recent successes in gaining fast-food industry concessions for more humane conditions for farm animals have sent ripples of fear through the food and beverage service industry. About the same time that McDonald's buckled to PETA's demands, Richard Berman changed his front group's name and stepped up his attacks," the website claims.

"The key to Berman's aggressive strategy is, in his own words, 'to shoot the messenger ... we've got to attack their credibility as spokespersons,'-an interesting remark from someone whose background and funding so severely challenge his own credibility," the website concludes.

Copyright © 2003, Cybercast News Service