In a Facebook post today for the Florida Keys Safety Alliance, a man named Stephen Vancore used the threat of Zika to try and convince Monroe County residents to agree to a GMO mosquito test on the November ballot. But who is Stephen Vancore really, and why is this Tallahassee resident so interested in mosquito questions? The answer is simple, his company, VancoreJones public relations, was paid over $50,000 to write social media posts like this one. The payments came from Intrexon, owner of Oxitec who makes the GMO mosquitoes.
“The Zika-carrying mosquito is a threat to our health and way of life,” said Steve Vancore, spokesman for the FKSA. “Our goal at the Alliance is to make sure Monroe County residents know about technology that is available to them.”
— Intrexon Public Relations Post by Tallahassee firm, VancoreJones
A Layer Cake of Lies
Federal election laws were designed to prevent the influence of foreign individuals or corporations in American elections, so Oxitec has used three layers of cover to hide their involvement. First, the company setup a “nonprofit” corporation which claims in its state filings to be a “social welfare” organization “to educate and inform the citizens of the Florida Keys about the Zika virus.” The documents also claim that FKSA is a “core organization to bring together citizens and representatives of other organizations which have the [group’s] common goals.”
Oxitec’s fake “nonprofit corporation” lists incorporation articles that are not the group’s real goals.
In reality, none of these things is true. The “nonprofit” group exists solely to promote Oxitec’s GMO mosquito — which is expected to be extremely profitable — and to influence the November elections where citizens are expected to overwhelmingly VOTE NO on GMO mosquitoes.
In order to further hide the company’s agenda, it also created a Florida Political Action Committee under the same name. Everyone knows that legitimate charities solicit donations widely, but not FKSA. It has one and only one donor: Intrexon! Unlike real social welfare groups, only one party is interested in funding these efforts — and it’s the company that makes the product which will be stopped by a NO vote in November. Filings with the Monroe County Supervisor of Elections show that Intrexon is the only funding source for FKSA — to the tune of $100,000 so far with no end in sight.
If The Product Is So Great, Why Rig The Promotions?
If this were a simple consumer choice, there would be no need to try and influence the elections this way. Today, there are number of options for mosquito control which don’t involve unsafe, untested GMO’s. Oxitec should compete fairly in the marketplace with other vendors and, if their product isn’t wanted, they should go away quietly. Instead, the company feels the need to pay vast sums to out-of-town PR firms so they can pretend to be citizens who want to buy GMO mosquitoes. When will Oxitec wake up and realize that their test isn’t wanted here?
What Can You Do? Vote NO on GMO Mosquitoes!
The most important thing you can do right now is remember to VOTE NO ON GMO MOSQUITOES on November 8th. Bring up this issue with your friends, family, and neighbors. Talk about it at work, at home, and at social events. The best way to combat fake “grassroots” efforts by highly-paid PR companies is to make a real grassroots effort yourself, with people you know. Share our posts on social media. Hand out our flyers. And know that, together, we can stop GMO mosquitoes from being released in the Florida Keys.