Environmental Media Services (EMS) was established in 1994 as a project of the Tides Center. The organization describes itself as a “nonprofit communications clearinghouse dedicated to expanding media coverage of critical environmental and public health issues.”
EMS’s founder and President was Arlie Schardt, who also served as the National Press Secretary for Al Gore‘s 1988 presidential campaign, and as Gore’s Communications Director during his 2000 bid for the White House. Schardt was also a Project Director for the Tides Center, a key funder of EMS. When Schardt retired as EMS President on December 31, 2005, the organization ceased operations. It was replaced by a new group, EMS/Science Communication Network, which stated that it would “focus largely on environmental public health and science integrity, rather than the wide range of issues addressed previously by EMS.”
EMS officially served as the “scientific” branch of the leftist public-relations firm Fenton Communications; both companies shared the same Washington, D.C. address and office space. For more than a decade, David Fenton (CEO of Fenton Communications) used EMS to run negative media campaigns against a wide variety of targets, including biogenetic foods, America’s dairy industry, and President George W. Bush.
The EMS/Fenton anti-biogenetics message, which claimed that genetically engineered foods are dangerous to eat, generated millions of dollars for Fenton clients like Whole Foods Markets, Honest Tea, Kashi Cereal, Green Mountain Coffee, and Rodale Press (a magazine publisher of periodicals concerning organic gardening and foods); each of these companies publicly eschewed genetically engineered foods and offered alternatives that were allegedly healthier.
Starting with a series of press conferences in the late 1990s, Fenton and EMS promoted the idea that a hormone given to dairy cows to produce milk was carcinogenic, despite the fact that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) had determined that the hormone was safe. The Fenton/EMS scare campaign frightened many consumers, but one of its clients, Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream, capitalized on this fear of the allegedly ill effects caused by its competitors’ products.
EMS also produced many stories condemning the Bush administration’s environmental policies. Among these titles were: “Bush Administration Obscures Truth About Toxic Cleanups”; “President Bush Signs Fatally Flawed Wildfire Bill”; “Earth Day Event To Highlight Bush Administration Assault On Environment, Public Health”; “Bush Administration Report Card: ‘F’ on Protecting Children”; and “National Environmental Groups Launch Campaign to Defeat President Bush.” EMS claimed that the data contained in its press releases constituted “the latest and most credible information” provided by “top scientists, physicians, and other experts.” These “experts” included officials of Greenpeace, the Natural Resources Defense Council, the Union of Concerned Scientists, and the World Wildlife Fund.
EMS was heavily funded by the Bauman Family Foundation, the Beldon Fund, the Bullitt Foundation, the Columbia Foundation, the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, the Energy Foundation, the Ford Foundation, the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, the John D. & Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the Joyce Foundation, the Morris and Gwendolyn Cafritz Foundation, the Nathan Cummings Foundation, Pew Charitable Trusts, the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, the Rockefeller Family Fund, the Surdna Foundation, the Tides Foundation, the Turner Foundation, and the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation.