Mary Bottari is the Deputy Director of the Center for Media and Democracy (CMD), one of the many corporately-funded leftist think tanks led by liberal attorney Lisa Graves. A sociologist by training, Bottari regularly oversteps her expertise to cover scientific topics for the activist groups that pay her salary. Anyone who challenges her hackneyed assessment of the facts is a “corporate spin doctor,” even if they are medical or scientific experts.
Bottari Battles (Conservative) Corporate Activism
Like all run of the mill progressive ideologues, Bottari is a vocal advocate for science–sometimes. She is enraged when conservative foundations funnel money to climate change deniers. And she won’t tolerate industry groups that defend the efficacy of flame retardants. However, Bottari has yet to criticize any of the numerous progressive foundations that funnel money to anti-biotechnology groups, most likely because she works with them.
Bottari is a contributor to the Poison Papers Project, which was established to expose collusion between government regulators and some corporations to hide the dangers posed by “pesticides and other chemicals.” The project is a joint effort of CMD and the Bioscience Resource Project (BRP). For those unfamiliar with these groups, CMD takes all sorts of corporate donations and BRP perpetuates baseless conspiracy theories about transgenic food.
On a related note, Bottari has also criticized politicians and regulators who don’t support her agenda. When various U.S. states began fighting attempts to ban fracking, e-cigarettes and pesticides, Bottari blamed “corporate interests” that “block the advance of progressive policies at the local level…” Nowhere in her 2500-word screed did Bottari mention that all three of these technologies are safe when used appropriately. She also failed to mention at the organic industry spends millions to influence local ballot measures related to GMOs and pesticides.
False or Misleading Scientific Statements
Bottari has a history of getting the facts wrong, and she tends to repeat certain mistakes more often than others. Here are three of the worst examples from her opinion pieces.
Bottari has repeated the activist trope that certain chemical flame retardants “have been linked to cancer, neurological deficits, hormone disruption and other health problems.” Her source for this claim is a 2010 review article that looked at only some of the available research. There are more extensive and more recent analyses of the relevant science available, which conclude that flame retardants pose an insignificant risk to human health. Bottari completely ignored this research, except to mention that the scientists who conducted it are industry parrots.
Food labeling laws
Bottari complained in 2016 that food companies deny consumers the “right to know” what they’re eating by blocking fast food menu calorie counts and GMO labeling laws. Consumers don’t seem bothered by this denial, though, since studies show that most people ignore menus labeled with calorie counts, and voters in multiple states have rejected GMO labeling legislation.
In a 2012 PRWatch piece about fracking, Bottari claimed that fracking poses a significant risk to human health, clean air and water supplies. The Environmental Protection Agency disagrees, however, as does more recent research from Yale university.