Organic Consumers Association, Ronnie Cummins, Organic Consumers Association, Joe Mercola, Green New Deal, The Daily Beast, Vaccine Exemptions, Imran Ahmed, The Oca, Oca

Organic Consumers Association, Ronnie Cummins

The Green New Deal Activists Spreading Deadly Vaccine Lies

It’s pushed conspiracy theories about everything from 9/11 to “the Great Reset,” a right-wing myth that pandemic lockdowns are a prelude to biomedical totalitarianism.

10/24/2021 10:14:00 PM

It’s pushed conspiracy theories about everything from 9/11 to “the Great Reset,” a right-wing myth that pandemic lockdowns are a prelude to biomedical totalitarianism.

Photo Illustration by Kristen Hazzard/ The Daily Beast /GettyIt’s pushed conspiracy theories about everything from 9/11 to “the Great Reset,” a right-wing myth that pandemic lockdowns are a prelude to biomedical totalitarianism. And it has a record of targeting vulnerable communities with vaccine disinformation—despite an ongoing pandemic killing about 1,500 Americans every day.And yet the Organic Consumers Association ( OCA ), a nonprofit based in Finland, Minnesota, is no right-wing operation. In

to Mercola for marketing in May.All of this, Ahmed argued, is part of what he characterized as the anti-vaccine movement’s “affiliate marketing strategy”: identifying receptive audiences, and engaging them with material geared toward their specific interests and concerns.

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“They’ve seen the opportunity to target people who are concerned about their health, and may be looking for alternative solutions,” he said. “Because of his willingness to play ball with Mercola, to form an alliance, [Cummins] has become a particularly useful conduit to channel into people who care about organic foods.”

Mercola, for his part, acknowledged his financial relationship with the OCA and its affiliates to The Daily Beast. But he called Ahmed’s group a “dark-money funded political operative” and denied that his dubious claims that the COVID-19 virus was “lab-engineered” and “anticipated” represent disinformation. He further insinuated that a pandemic simulation exercise held by the Gates Foundation and World Economic Forum in October 2019 was evidence of some sort of malign scheme for world domination. headtopics.com

Angelo Carusone, president of Media Matters for America and co-founder of the Latino Anti-Disinformation Lab, echoed Ahmed’s observations about a marketing strategy—and saw it in the OCA’s outreach to Spanish speakers. He noted the preponderance of COVID-19 and vaccine-related content on the website of Vía Orgánica, a group ostensibly dedicated to running an organic farm in Mexico, where the “Noticias” page is dominated by updates from Mercola.

This, Carusone argued, reflects the widespread suspicions and anxieties about the pandemic in Hispanophone communities, where concerns about GMOs and “wellness” issues might seem, to some, like a “luxurious” concern.“That’s something right now that is deeply part of the Latinx information ecosystem: conversations about the vaccines,” Carusone said. “What we’re talking about here is an entity that is taking that little bit of mistrust that is well-placed, and exploiting it.”

He warned further that the OCA could also gain “credibility by association” in progressive circles—so often dependent on coalitions—through its links with environmentalist groups and causes.Dr. Rogelio Sáenz, a demographer at the University of Texas at San Antonio who has tracked the impact of the pandemic on immigrant communities, said there is a historic market for weight-loss supplements and for holistic cures of the sort Mercola and the OCA promote.

"There has always been a noticeable part of the population that falls into those particular kind of remedies, those sort of quick fixes,” Saenz told The Daily Beast. “There has also been, within the Latino community, a great degree of respect and also use of traditional herbs and things like that, which is also part of the culture and could be exploited, as well.” headtopics.com

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Meanwhile, Dr. Peter Hotez, co-director of the Texas Children’s Hospital Center for Vaccine Development, feared that the OCA—with its foothold in Mexico—could lead to anti-vaccine misinformation trickling not just into Spanish-speaking communities in the United States, but also in nations to the south, where the scientific establishment has so far kept such sentiments at bay. Hotez, who is also a Daily Beast contributor, pointed to his

own findings: that failure to vaccinate had cost 22,000 lives in the Lone Star State and Florida, which he blamed on the plague of disinformation.“Any organization that’s promoting ivermectin or unproven therapies and treatments is dangerous. We know what happens, and we’ve seen this over and over again in the United States, which is that people start relying on those instead of vaccinations, and wind up dying,” he said. “One of my great fears is that anti-science aggression that’s here in the U.S. will start to filter into Latin America.”

The OCA’s approach to infiltration is all-too familiar to those who observed its propaganda campaign last decade in the group’s home state of Minnesota.Responding to an increase in autism diagnoses among the children of Somali immigrants, the nonprofit and its partners targeted parents with materials in their native language. Among other things, they asserted a debunked link to the measles-mumps-rubella vaccine, and even engaged with families directly at local community and shopping centers.

Dr. Kari Campeau, assistant professor at the University of Colorado Denver, produced her doctoral dissertation on the resulting outbreak of measles. She noted the community often had difficulty interfacing with social services because of language and access disparities, and often dealt with mistreatment by doctors. These issues, combined with difficulties obtaining sanitary living spaces and healthy food, created a gap that the OCA could enter and exploit. headtopics.com

“I feel that group, with others, really stepped into that vacuum and said, ‘We have this ready answer: it’s the vaccines,’” recalled Campeau. “This group did weaponize concerns and poor experiences that people had with medicine, and really targeted a vulnerable community.”

Particularly disturbing to Campeau was how the disinformation lingered even after the outbreak passed. Somali families she interviewed whose children were among the dozens infected continued to tell her they would not vaccinate their kids in the future.

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It’s a disturbing precedent given millions of Americans still need vaccines and booster shots to ward off COVID-19 in the months and years ahead, experts said.“The messaging was that persuasive—that even having first-hand experience of kids getting sick, going to hospitals, the terror of that was not enough [to convince them vaccination was safe],” she said.

At least one Green New Deal-supporting progressive has pushed back on the OCA and its activities: In September, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) penned aletter to Amazonattacking the prominence its site gave to Mercola and Cummins’ book. Read more: Yahoo News »

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Prove it with facts not propaganda

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