"Good ideas are growing"

Carl Remick carlremick at hotmail.com
Tue Apr 4 07:04:25 PDT 2000

These are white-knuckle times (outside China, at least) for those bent on commercializing genetically modified food.

The Wall Street Journal notes that the seven biggest life-sciences companies have just anted up $50 million for the first year of a PR campaign -- theme, "Good things are growing" -- to try to prevent Europe's anti-GM movement from taking hold in the U.S.

This is welcome news. As a European spokesman for Greenpeace, Charles Margulis, is quoted as saying: "The biotechnology industry just isn't aware that the more people hear about biotechnology, the more concerned people get."

Margulis isn't just blowing smoke. The WSJ reports:

"The last big public-awareness effort on behalf of biotechnology was mounted by Monsanto in 1998 in Europe, where it backfired in spectacular fashion.

"Monsanto decided to promote biotechnology to the European public because a soybean plant it had genetically modified was flooding into the region's supermarkets. Europe depends on American soybeans for protein, and many U.S. farmers had switched to Monsanto's new seeds.

"But European consumers figured that Monsanto couldn't be trusted to tell the truth about the safety of genetic engineering since the company had the most to benefit from its public acceptance. The company's efforts ended up feeding resentment about the growing power of American companies in overseas markets."

Meanwhile, U.S. farmers' support for GM is already beginning to erode. On Friday, the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture reported that the nation's farmers plan to plant 24% fewer acres of GM corn this year after planting successively more GM acreage for the previous three years. They're also planning to plant less GM soybeans and cotton.

Carl ______________________________________________________ Get Your Private, Free Email at http://www.hotmail.com

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