by Karen Charman
Tom Hoban is a man with a mission: to convince people to embrace genetically engineered food. I had the opportunity to experience this firsthand at the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) annual conference in New York City in June 1998 while we were lining up for lunch. Seeing the press pass dangling around my neck, he made a beeline for me and proceeded to attempt to educate me about the wonders of food biotechnology.
That might not seem strange--plenty of people push biotech--but Hoban is not a public relations flack or salesman at a company peddling biotech food. He is a professor in the sociology department at North Carolina State University (NCSU). Hoban specializes in consumer behavior and the psychology of conflict, a position that gives him a veneer (but only a thin veneer) of objectivity.