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05 29 2002 16:32:37

Corporate phantoms | Guardian daily comment | Guardian Unlimited

«The web of deceit over GM food has now drawn in the PM's speechwriters George Monbiot Wednesday May 29, 2002 The Guardian Tony Blair's speech to the Royal Society last Thursday was a wonderful jumble of misconceptions and logical elisions. He managed to confuse science with its technological products. GM crops are no more "science" than cars, computers or washing machines, and those opposing them are no more "anti-science" than people who don't like the Millennium Dome are "anti-architecture". He suggested that in the poor world people welcome genetic engineering. It was unfortunate that the example he chose was the biotech industry in Bangalore in south-west India. Bangalore happens to be the centre of the world's most effective protests against GM crops, the capital of a state in which anti-GM campaigners outnumber those in the UK by 1,000 to one. Like most biotech enthusiasts, he ignored the key concern of the activists: the corporate takeover of the food chain, and its ! devastating consequences for food security. Article continues But it would be wrong to blame Blair alone for these misconstructions. The prime minister was simply repeating a suite of arguments formulated elsewhere. Over the past month, activists have slowly been discovering where that "elsewhere" may be. Two weeks ago, this column showed how the Bivings Group, a PR company contracted to Monsanto, had invented fake citizens to post messages on internet listservers. These phantoms had launched a campaign to force Nature magazine to retract a paper it had published, alleging that native corn in Mexico had been contaminated with GM pollen. But this, it now seems, is just one of hundreds of critical interventions with which PR companies hired by big business have secretly guided the biotech debate over the past few years.»...
Source: http://www.guardian.co.uk | Source Status

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05 14 2002 18:42:35

The fake persuaders | Columnists | Guardian Unlimited

«Persuasion works best when it's invisible. The most effective marketing worms its way into our consciousness, leaving intact the perception that we have reached our opinions and made our choices independently. As old as humankind itself, over the past few years this approach has been refined, with the help of the internet, into a technique called "viral marketing". Last month, the viruses appear to have murdered their host. One of the world's foremost scientific journals was persuaded to do something it had never done before, and retract a paper it had published.» [...] «So the campaign against the researchers was extraordinarily successful; but who precisely started it? Who are "Mary Murphy" and "Andura Smetacek"? Both claim to be ordinary citizens, without any corporate links. The Bivings Group says it has "no knowledge of them". "Mary Murphy" uses a hotmail account for posting messages to AgBioWorld. But a message satirising the opponents of biotech, sent by "Mary Murphy" from the same hotmail account to another server two years ago, contains the identification bw6.bivwood.com. Bivwood.com is the property of Bivings Woodell, which is part of the Bivings Group. »...
Source: http://www.guardian.co.uk | Source Status Category: Lobbying/Astroturf

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