Home Page Link AgBioWorld Home Page
About AgBioWorld Donations Ag-Biotech News Declaration Supporting Agricultural Biotechnology Ag-biotech Info Experts on Agricultural Biotechnology Contact Links Subscribe to AgBioView Home Page

AgBioView Archives

A daily collection of news and commentaries on

Subscribe AgBioView Subscribe

Search AgBioWorld Search

AgBioView Archives





July 18, 2000


Fenton, Glickman, Consumers


AgBioView - http://www.agbioworld.org, http://agbioview.listbot.com

Alar-Style Attack On Genetically Improved Foods

Fenton Communications, the force behind the thoroughly debunked Alar apple
scare, is now whipping up fear over genetically improved foods at the
behest of the organic food industry. Twenty-two separate press events are
being held today (targeting Campbell's Soup Company and Kellogg's with six
more companies to be attacked in the next six to eight months) in an
effort to pressure the companies to stop production of all foods
containing genetically improved ingredients, despite broad scientific and
consensus on their value and safety.

The organic industry is creating this fear as a marketing ploy. As one
speaker at the 1999 Organic Food Conference admitted, "The potential to
develop the organic market would be limited if consumers are satisfied
with food safety and the furor over genetic modification dies down." The
organic industry is putting its money where its mouth is by supporting a
campaign against genetically improved foods organized by yet another
Fenton ally and participant in today's Washington press conference, The
Center for Food Safety.

Fear marketing is not new to Fenton Communication. After launching a the
successful 1989 Alar scare campaign, David Fenton said "A modest
investment repaid itself many-fold in tremendous media exposure and
substantial, immediate revenue." Fenton added that as a result of the Alar
campaign, "Lines started forming in health food stores. The sales of
organic produce soared. All of which we were very happy about." ("Arrest
that apple," Washington Times, 9/13/98)

Among Fenton's collaborators at today's main press conference in
Washington was Peter Hoffman, incoming chair of Chefs Collaborative, a
group of celebrity chefs pushing organic food. Hoffman first argued that
there was no use for the potentially life saving "Golden Rice" food
technology, which will prevent hundred of thousands of cases of blindness
among chlidren. He then attacked 'The Green Revolution' of the 1960s,
which allowed for the feeding of millions of starving people. "'The Green
Revolution' was a dismal failure. We don't need it now, we didn't need it

More links to Fenton Communications: Friends of the Earth (a major
co-sponsor of today's events) board member Arlie Schardt is president of
Fenton's Environmental Media Services (check the mailing addresses -
Fenton Communications - Environmental Media Services).


http://www.fenton.com/docs/contactus.html http://www.ems.org/

Keep your browser pointed to www.nannyculture.com for additional coverage
of the latest GE foods protest in the days ahead.

Date: Jul 19 2000 11:06:57 EDT
From: "C. S. Prakash"
Subject: Glickman: Benefits of Biotech Food Stressed

Benefits of Biotech Food Stressed

July 19, 2000 ; UNITED NATIONS (AP) via NewsEdge Corporation -

The U.S. agriculture secretary urged supporters and detractors of
genetically engineered food Monday to
focus on the benefits biotechnology can have in feeding the growing world

With 800 million people chronically hungry and the world's population
expected to hit 9 billion in 50 years,
" we have to do something to squeeze higher yields out of fewer and fewer
acres," Dan Glickman told a panel discussion of the U.N. Economic and
Social Council.

Glickman said biotech foods must be part of the answer, since they cannot
only increase the quantity but the quality of food.

Genetically engineered crops -- including corn, cotton and soybeans --
have become popular in the United States over the past few years because
of the increased yields.

But they have met increased consumer resistance in Europe and Asia.
Critics of the crops, which are resistant to herbicides or insects, say
that there isn't enough known about their impact on health and the

Glickman decried what he called the ``loud, contentions, trans-Atlantic
food fight'' that has ensued, saying both supporters and detractors of
biotech had lost sight of its potential to ease hunger in the developing

``Many of the opponents, frankly, can afford the luxury of their
opposition; they don't have to worry about food insecurity since they live
in prosperous, agriculturally abundant societies,'' he said.

But Glickman also criticized biotech's proponents the multinational
corporations that are developing the
products _ saying their focus on profit was also missing the point.

``If they took the longer view they might see the benefit of focusing on
the developing world -- not just as a
gesture of corporate citizenship but because such an investment will
ultimately pay dividends as developing
countries mature into reliable customers,'' he said.

In his speech, Glickman also announced a $145 million new package of farm
aid -- involving 350,000 metric tons of wheat, corn and rice -- to
Afghanistan, Kenya and Horn of African nations hit by drought.

Date: Jul 19 2000 11:37:01 EDT
From: Andrew Apel
Subject: Will Consumers Buy It?

Mr. Couger and all,

There are many indications that your surmise is correct. The US Embassy
Attache recently reported that in France, where anti-biotech sentiment is
said to be rampant, producers of 'non-GMO' poultry have lost a good deal
of money trying to sell such chickens; consumer polls show the French are
against GMOs, but
when they buy food, they vote with their wallet.

The latest out of Japan shows the same thing. Most consumers are afraid of
GMOs, but when they buy food, their decision is based on price.

Much of this "consumer backlash" portrayed in the polls results from
incomplete polling. In Germany, for instance, where most consumers are
fearful or concerned about GMOs, a survey which ranked their food fears
found that their concerns about GMOs, though prevalent, ranked near the
bottom of top ten food

In conclusion, I would suggest that with 'organic' labeling shortly set to
emerge in the US, with the USDA's certification procedures, we will have a
perfectly viable non-GMO label: the 'organic' label. Since all organics
will be non-GM, anyone who wants to avoid GMOs can look for the organic

People with food phobias typically eat organic anyhow.

Gordon Couger wrote:

With much of the world saying they want GM free food I propose that we
market a GMO free labeled line of products. I think that given a
choice of GM free food for $2.00 per unit compared to regular food at
$1.00 a unit the vast majority of the people will vote for the less
expensive food. I could be wrong and I would welcome an effort to prove
me wrong.