Those attempting to bring the National Bio Agro-Defense Facility (NBAF) to our backyard earned some press coverage two weeks ago when they received an unprecedented grant of $262,248 from the Golden LEAF Foundation, which is tasked with disbursing North Carolina’s tobacco settlement money for public benefit:
In the few months before the Department of Homeland Security announces where it will build a controversial, $450 million federal disease research lab, proponents in the five contending states, including North Carolina, are trying to outspend, outbid and out-promise the others in hopes of landing the project.
The financial stakes got higher Tuesday, when the N.C. Consortium, an influential group of biotech companies, agribusiness interests, universities and government agencies, received more than a quarter-million dollars in public funds to pay for an “educational” campaign touting their views about siting the National Agro and Bio Defense Facility in Butner.
The Golden LEAF Foundation board awarded the $262,248 grant to the consortium, the first time in the foundation’s nine-year history that its funds have been allocated to a public relations campaign, according to a review of grantees listed on the foundation Web site.
Although the board awarded the grant with the stipulation that the disseminated information be “impartial and factual,” by their nature, PR campaigns are neither. It is also unclear who would judge the impartiality and veracity of the campaign.
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