BIOTECH giant Monsanto is preparing a fresh effort to promote genetically modified crops to the UK public and, it hopes, start to reverse years of negative publicity for GM science.
The company recently appointed former World Bank communications strategist Vance Crowe as its ‘Director of Millenial Engagement’ – a job title encompassing Monsanto’s drive to convince the new generation of ‘foodie’ young consumers that GMs are actually a good thing in terms of environmental impact and food quality.
Next month, Mr Vance will be coming to the UK to deliver a number of public talks, including one as guest of the Glasgow Skeptics, an organisation committed to “promoting science and critical thinking”, that has previously held debates on GM foods, as well as scrutinising the economic ‘facts’ used in recent political campaigns.
“A Google image search of ‘Monsanto’ will throw up all manner of scary looking pictures; syringes piercing tomatoes, skull and crossbones over the company logo, protesters in hazmat suits, and fields of crops with biohazard signs hanging over them to name just a few,” noted organiser Brian Eggo.
“Monsanto is now one of the most hated companies in the world. The primary reason for this hatred is their development and propagation of Genetically Modified crops. Such is the fear of GMOs that there are protests across the world, calls for bans, demands for labelling, and significant lobbying of governments.
“Lobbying of this nature, and public perception, played significant parts in Scotland’s 2015 ban on the growing of GMO crops,” noted Mr Eggo.
“Lauded by many, but criticised heavily in scientific circles, the controversial decision appears to have been made based on ideology rather than any actual risk to public health.”
Mr Eggo stressed that Glasgow Skeptics was not a pro-GM body, but simply wanted to air the scientific facts in a neutral setting, “putting aside personal biases, ideologies, and preconceived ideas in order to examine what is true”.
“We’re very excited to have Vance coming over to speak for us, but we’ve already received some scathing criticism for our decision to host a lecture by a Monsanto employee,” he added. “I’d encourage people to come along to our event, evaluate the facts and evidence provided, and participate in what I’m sure will be a rigorous Q and A session at the end of the talk.”
The free event takes place on Monday February 13 in Glasgow city centre. For more details, go to www.glasgowskeptics.com.