Propaganda Strategy of Biotech-Multinationals leaked out

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The following article from the German magazine 'Raum und Zeit' 91 (Jan.98) (Ehlers Verlag).. was translated and posted by Franz Beck: on the newsgroup:

Propaganda Strategy of Biotech-Multinationals leaked out

by Ursel Fuchs, Dusseldorf

The Gen-Multis (i.e. the biggest pharma groups) prepare for the gigantic brain-washing worth several billion US dollars using the media. It is probably the defusing and elimination of the instinctive fear of the Europeans of gene-altered food imported mainly from the USA.

This enormous drive to manipulate the public opinion in Europe in favour of the gentech industry is the best proof of how false all claims of the harmlessness of gene-manipulated food have been - otherwise this propaganda battle would not be necessary.

To counteract magazine 'Raum und Zeit' publishes in this issue (91, Jan/Feb 98) this strategy paper including an overview schema which shows the main directions of the propaganda. And we publish background information about the international public relations group Burson-Marsteller (B&M), which has a frightening influence on the politics in the world.

Please copy the strategy paper, overview scheme and background information on B&M and distribute to food stores and retailers, because they are the main target of the strategy. Ursel Fuchs gives the overview of the attack on the public opinion.

The image of the gentech industry is not at all blameless. The popularity of their products, specially the food sector, is questionable. This industry in trouble uses the old art of talking the products clean, because if arguments don't work, rhetoric must work. This is the task of Public Relations (PR), in this case experts like Burson-Marsteller, a Vermont based PR specialist. They manipulate the public opinion with information placement in media and campaigns. B&M is part of the Young & Rubicam PR conglomerate, third in the US advertising ranking.

Their expertise: crisis communication for politics and industry. For example to pacify the frightened consumers in the case of BSE (mad cow disease), burst silicon breast implants, chemical accidents like Union Carbide in Bhopal, India. After heavy criticism of chemical giant Monsanto's soya beans, Monsanto founded the information bureau within Burson-Marsteller 'soya beans / biotechnology' to pacify the storm at the consumer front.

A defensive and many times offensive reception by the consumer is the last thing the global conglomerates need to raise and establish gene-technology. This is why the consumer attitude has to be changed: the skeptic, critical attitude, well founded worry and open refusal against genetically manipulated food and the unrestricted use of genetically manipulated plants - we call it brain washing.

A public relations (PR) strategy paper of Burson-Marsteller found its way into the offices of Greenpeace e.V., Hamburg. Ursel Fuchs reports: "It will be the main focus to change the public opinion about the Biotech industry - from simple acceptance to absolute enthusiasm!" (Lutz Mn ller-Kuhrt, Analyticon AG, Berlin in "Meeting the needs of the life science industry", Ernest & Young, business consultants)

But the enthusiasm is mediocre in Germany, specially for genefood: about 80% of Germans find that gene technology should not be used; Austria voted in a referendum in spring 1997 against the free use of transgenic plants and no gentech food. In Bavaria a referendum has been started to label gene-tech free food as such. It is clear that the gentech industry has some image problem.

Its not that they talk of crusades to establish gene technology, but rather of not to leave the consumer an option to choose. The big ones of the gentech industry feel encouraged from getting the Novel-food regulations so perfectly dished up by the politicians of the European Parliament, which gives them unrestricted chances to market genetically manipulated living beings.

The 600 companies of the biotechnology and gene technology, amongst them all chemical and pharma enterprises of rank and name plus eleven national research groups, founded EuropaBio, the European association of biotech companies. The mission of this conglomerate which has a balance sheet total of over 500 billion US $ is, according to their internet home page, "to create a favourable climate for bio - and gene technology".

"First, EuropaBio works with regional and national politicians and policy makers to create an environment of regulations and laws in which the bio industry of Europe can grow and expand" explain the biotech companies.

They present very self confident EuropaBio as the source of information: its offices sends continuously PR reports to all member companies and decision makers. At the same time they regard themselves as pipeline to channel information into the media to "strengthen the public opinion about the advantages, the success and the potential of the biotech industry." Such a mission is in the gray area between paid advertisement and news publications, which the public takes quickly for the bare truth. New is here the concentration of power and the financial muscle of the giants.

EuropaBio has all companies of rank and name in the global monopoly of gene technology behind it - here only a few: Hoffmann-La Roche, Novartis (created from a merger of Ciba Geigy and Sandoz), Bayer, Rhone-Poulenc, Monsanto, Novo Nordisk, Smith Kline Beecham, Royal Gist B rocades, Hoechst, Nestle, Zeneca, Genzyme Europe .. and many more.

The B&M strategy paper which found its way to Greenpeace shows which resistance strategies make the gene technology vulnerable: mainly information about the danger to health and the environment and profit motivation. The experts warn the industry to avoid these "killing fields" and to circumvent them. They suggest to have the politicians represent the industry interest very innocently.

The paper shows in detail how the acceptance of gene products by the public shall be constructed. The reader, spectator or listener must be fed with "advantage for the consumer", combined with symbols which suggest hope, satisfaction, care and self esteem. This is in line with the guideline (of B&M): "perceptions are realities"

Information for the press are to be styled carefully, specially amongst others also for private stations, so that the media functions like a new marketing instrument. This shall prevent the media being a forum for serious discussion to shed light on the use of gene technology and its impact on the future of the society.

"To achieve the desired change in the public perception the industry should refrain to present itself as its own attorney - this may work in politics, but out of experience not in the case of public perception of the industry." warn the PR experts. "In the past the industry behaved like a 'murder with an axe who has to hide something'. This campaign should change that image." says Peter Linton, the speaker of Burson-Marsteller in Brussels in an interview with "The Guardian" on 6. August 97.

"They believed they would bring good news, but to their surprise they realized that their products were considered contaminated." he added.

"Because deep rooted suspicion of possible risks are deadly for every product, it's important to assure first the politicians that the products are save" suggest the advertiser. This includes the knowledge that the public is typical European, which means that the public is considerably more suspicious towards official statements than the public in the USA.

"Tell good stories instead of dishing up facts", because fact based arguments have not the desired news value. On the other hand a good story goes around the world in minutes.

"Use symbols instead of logic!" is a further tip, which shows how they rate the grown-up consumer. B&M advises strongly to speak about the products and its advantages instead of technologies, using product stories with the people profiting in the foreground instead of the advantage: the advantage must be shown in persons profiting.

"Recent studies show that Europeans are generally more open to information that new, genetically altered plants need less chemicals ... so it is essential and perfectly realizable that these new breeds are presented to the European public as environment friendly and therefore more wanted than the conventional field products."

With such strategies shall EuropaBio according to the plans of their ghost writers become the most reliable, best and most competent source of information for the journalists. "who can source practical, friendly to the editor stories, timely and fitting for the readership, and not propaganda for the industry."
For the first EuropaBio conference end of June 97 in Amsterdam the media presence had to be avoided: this would give the gentech opponents the opportunity to be screened on TV and would mean that "We would prepare the meal and Greenpeace would eat it..."

Greenpeace is apparently a feared opponent of the gentech industry with its shopping basket campaign (Einkaufskorb-Kampagne:

National campaigns to advance the gentech acceptance plan ambitious public information campaigns. "Greenpeace people must be called to order" demands Harry Walter (68), advertising manager from Krefeld, who planned for decades the political campaigns of the SPD (Socialist Party of Germany). This campaign should be started with the assistance of seven professors from Germany, Switzerland and Austria; amongst them Hans-Gnnter Gassen (Biotechnologiezentrum Darmstadt), Klaus-Dieter Jany (Bundesforschungsanstalt fnr Ern_hrung, Karlsruhe) Volker Pudel (G=96 ttingen) and many more. The campaign shall be financed by the state, province and industry.

And where are the worst opposing Europeans? The priory list of Burson-Marsteller ranks first France, then Germany, Italy, Spain, Belgium, The Netherlands, Ireland and Denmark. They have to be convinced first of the advantages of genetically altered plants and food, according to the calculations of the strategy paper.

What will be implemented the European public will know in the coming months. Nobody should be surprised if not all is about stories in printed media, radio and TV, because "in the American PR business is established", writes the Znricher Wochenzeitung, "that the public action groups who are pro-industry oriented, achieve things which the industry itself would never have achieved. But top priority: It must not leak out that the 'Wise Use' groups are sponsored by the industry.."

The Propaganda Strategy Paper:

Richard Wolfson, PhD
Consumer Right to Know Campaign,
for Mandatory Labelling and Long-term
Testing of all Genetically Engineered Foods,
500 Wilbrod Street
Ottawa, ON Canada K1N 6N2

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