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The scientific uncertainty surrounding biotechnology has spawned a heated debate, and propaganda flows freely from both sides. Groups which oppose GMOs are often called anti-progress or witch hunters. On the opposite side, large transnational corporations make lavish promises about how biotechnology will save the world and disillusion the public. Below is a quick look how GMOs have become part of public relations war.

Who are the experts?
What are their goals?
What are they saying?

Who are the experts?

Many Voices
All parties involved in the debate over the safety of GMOs claim to be the experts. Both supporters and critics web sites have FAQ sections and the latest news updates. The majority of these "voices" have a motive. There are different levels of expertise. For instance, who is the expert on the moral implications of GMOs? The only area true experts can comment on is the technical safety of GMOs.

Paid Scientists
It would seem that scientists would be the "true" experts because of their research, but this is not the case with GMOs. Since the majority of research is either conducted or funded by private corporations, the scientists are no longer neutral. Even the research done at most Universities is funded by corporations.(Brown, 2000)
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What are their goals?

Profit
Monsanto advertisement The potential for commercial gain through the use of biotechnology is evident through the large transnational corporations such as Monsanto, Dupont, and Novartis. These companies claim that biotechnology can end world hunger, but they usually only invest in crop research that is profitable (Pearce, 1998). The agricultural seed market is about $45 billion a year (Panos, 1999).

Good Will of Society
There are many promises of benefit through GMO research. Many groups cling to these potential benefits as justification for research. Many researchers say they are trying to create more nutritious crops that have a higher yield therefore helping ensure food security. Many scientists are working on developing plant varieties that contain vaccines against disease. For instance, a child in a poor nation could recieve a malaria virus by eating a banana.

This Monsanto advertisement lists some of the goals the company says it is trying to achieve.

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What are they saying?

"Commercially, we intend to launch new genetically improved commodity crops in the United States only after they have received full approval for food use and animal feed in the United States and Japan. We hope also to extend this intention to Europe as soon as it has established a working regulatory system."
-Monsanto

"Genetic engineering has been developed by the world's largest agro-chemical corporations to further their domination in global food production."
-Greenpeace

"Mixing genetic material from species that cannot breed naturally takes into areas that should be left to God."
-Prince Charles

"The bottom line is that the people have a right to know as much as possible about the food they are eating- including whether it contains GMOs."
-Congressman Bernie Sanders

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Home Plain and Simple Players and Prices Problems and Questions Public Relations Wars Reference
Elizabeth Denlinger elizden@ufl.edu
Copyright 2001