Now defunct, Mothers and Others for a Livable Planet (MOLP) was a consumer advocacy organization that promoted products it deemed “safe and ecologically sustainable for current and future generations,” and publicly condemned products it regarded as hazardous to human health and the environment. In its assessment of these products, however, the organization commonly produced ominous reports founded upon questionable research, warning consumers of the alleged dangers of a particular product while advising them to purchase “natural” or “organic” alternatives. In its heyday, MOLP had a membership of approximately 20,000 people.
Environmental health scientist Wendy Gordon Rockefeller and actress Meryl Streep co-founded MOLP in 1989 as a reaction to the “Alar in apples” scare of the late 1980s. A preservative used on apples, Alar, was identified—falsely, as it worked out—as being a carcinogen by the Natural Resources Defense Council. In a carefully orchestrated campaign led by longtime leftist media specialist David Fenton, the scientifically flawed research on Alar was released to the news media, eventually causing consumer panic and the loss of more than $250 million in revenues to the apple industry. NRDC — of which Ms. Rockefeller was a member, research associate, and senior project scientist at the time — earned enormous profits from the Alar hoax. According to an internal memo written by David Fenton and later published in the Wall Street Journal, “We designed [the anti-Alar campaign] so that revenue would flow back to the Natural Resources Defense Council from the public, and we sold this book about pesticides through a 900 number and the Donahue show. And to date there has been $700,000 in net revenue from it.”
More recently, MOLP condemned the injection of cows with recombinant Bovine Growth Hormone (rBGH), which serves to boost dairy production. MOLP warned of long-term health risks associated with the consumption of products made with milk from the injected cows. The organization launched a multiple-city crusade naming specific brands of purportedly more desirable milk that had been produced without the growth hormone. Since 1993, the FDA, which reviewed the more than 12 years of research conducted by the producer of the hormone, had declared rBGH to be safe, as did the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of the Inspector General, the National Institute of Health, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and the American Cancer Society.
In addition to her work with MOLP, Wendy Gordon Rockefeller also served as the Director of TechRocks, a now-defunct Internet activist organization. Today she is the Vice President of the Rockefeller Family Fund, and a Director for Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors.