Biotech Wins PR Coup and Bush Administration Support

Jun 13, 2002

The biotechnology industry reached a controversial victory when leading scientific journal Nature retreated from a study it had published in November, alleging that crops in Mexico, previously thought to be pristine, were contaminated with genetically modified organisms. Ignacio Chapela, assistant professor in the department of environmental science policy and management at the University of California at Berkeley, wrote the study.

The research was greeted with a storm of criticism from the biotech industry, particularly on the AgBioWorld message board. Two participants accused the researcher of being biased against GMOs. A columnist at the Guardian in the United Kingdom fanned the flames by accusing the GMO giant Monsanto of fabricating the message board members and orchestrating a public relations blitz through PR company The Bivings Group, in order to debunk Mr. Chapela’s research.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services voiced his opposition to GMO labeling at the biotech industry’s premier conference underway in Toronto. “Mandatory labeling will only frighten consumers,” said Tommy Thompson during a breakfast speech Monday at the BIO 2002 conference. “Labeling implies that biotechnology products are unsafe.”

Moderator Comment: How should the debate over the
use and labeling (or not) of GMOs be resolved?

Tree huggers and free marketeers have at it. [George
Anderson – Moderator

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