Yesterday McDonald's announced it would be "providing more information about the specific source of the natural flavoring" it uses. However, today McDonald's refused to provide a spokesperson to CNN for an interview. Yesterday's announcement came after vegetarians filed lawsuits and some Hindus smashed windows upon discovering that McDonald's french fries cooked in oil were also cooked in meat flavorings.
Contrary to the claims of the biotech lobby, Canadian researchers have found strong evidence that genetically modified (GM) crops can spread long distances from where they have been planted and spawn "superweeds."
Recent anti-globalisation protests have been met by an increasingly militarised state response aimed at deflecting attention from the issues. Corporate Watch's Lucy Michaels reports back from the BIOjustice protests against the US biotech industry in San Diego.
Ross Irvine, corporate activist and president of ePublic Relations, points out how business PR can learn from anti-biotech activists and NGOs. Irvine recommends taking a broader view of the issue, going beyond traditional allies and PR activities. According to Irvine, "With creative thinking a great deal of synergy among biotech and other issues is possible and essential."
Food First, also known as The Institute for Food and Development Policy, is fund-raising for $450,000 to undertake a three-year campaign "to rebut the questionable PR tactics used by the biotech industry to promote genetically engineered (GE) food. Specifically, we will counter the industry tactics of green washing — 'biotech is pro-environment,' poor washing — 'we need biotech to feed the hungry,' and hope dashing — 'there is no alternative.' " Ross S.
In a move that has angered biotech opponents, the United Nations Development Programme says that many developing countries may reap great benefits from genetically modified foodstuffs. Grassroots groups, development charities and environmentalists in more than 50 countries described the UNDP's report as "simplistic," "pandering to the GM industry" and "failing to take into account the views of the poor."
The Wall Street Journal reports that the Environmental Protection Agency sent a letter to Florida optometrist Keith Finger warning him to not eat StarLink genetically modified corn during his presentation at a hearing on the matter. The agency said it couldn't "be responsible for ensuring your safety," citing concern that Dr. Finger might have an allergic reaction to something other than StarLink. Last month the EPA declared that StarLink corn didn't cause allergic reactions in test subjects.
In San Diego the annual meeting of BIO, the official trade and lobby association of the genetic engineering industry, is facing huge demonstrations from family farmers, consumers, environmentalist and others outraged at US policies that have forced untested, unlabeled GE foods onto the market. Industry front groups including the American Council on Science and Health and the Guest Choice Network are viciously attacking the real citizens groups in news releases and on websites such as www.guestchoice.com.
Genetically modified (GM) canola is appearing in farmers' fields where it wasn't planted, and because the plant has been engineered to resist conventional herbicides, it's tough to kill. "The GM canola has, in fact, spread much more rapidly than we thought it would," said Martin Entz, a plant scientist at the University of Manitoba. "It's absolutely impossible to control." Monsanto, which created one of the GM canola strains, says that if farmers call the company, they'll send out a team to manually pull up the weeds.
The industry-funded American Council on Science and Health is warning journalists to beware of accepting misleading information presented by activists protesting the Bio 2001 conference being held in San Diego June 24-27. ACSH wants journalists to report on what it views as the sound science used by the biotech industry to demonstrate the safety of biofoods.