Good PR is Growing
By Lyle Stewart
If you've watched television or
read a newspaper at all in the past
couple years, you're likely familiar with the
biotechnology industry's "Good Ideas Are
Growing" television advertising series,
broadcast repeatedly whenever the
controversy over genetically engineered
foods flares up.
Sponsored by the Council for
Biotechnology Information, the spots rely
on soothing, dreamlike imagery: sun-
drenched green crops surrounding an old-
fashioned barn on the prairie; a healthy,
tanned farm family rocking gently on a rope
swing; a sturdy Third World peasant at
work in fields of bounty.
It's a relatively straightforward, almost
facile attempt to project images of health,
prosperity and good corporate citizenship.
But few Canadian consumers are aware that the Good Ideas Are Growing campaign is only one part of
a multi-pronged public-relations campaign to sell genetically engineered foods in Canada and abroad,
one largely funded by taxpayers themselves over the past two years.
They include other bromides such as "A Growing Appetite For Information," a pamphlet produced by
the Guelph-based Food Biotechnology Communications Network as a insert in Canadian Living
Magazine. The pro-GE brochure "Food Safety and You" was mailed to every household in Canada by
the biotech industry's ostensible regulator, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, last year.
Meanwhile, seemingly independent non-governmental organizations, such as the Consumers'
Association of Canada and the National Institute for Nutrition, have conveniently backed the hands-
off federal policy on labelling.
At the same time, Ottawa has stonewalled the growing demands for mandatory labelling of genetically
engineered foods with a Canadian General Standards Board committee whose carefully chosen
membership and terms of reference forestall any possibility that we may soon be able to choose
whether or not to consume GE foods.
The Liberal government also ignored the Royal