Thursday, April 4, 2013

Biotech Industry Group Looks for Influential ‘Ambassadors’ | Real Food Houston

The UK Guardian is reporting that leaked documents indicate EuropaBio, Europe’s largest biotech industry group—members include Monsanto, Bayer, and other GM (genetic modification) companies—is “recruiting high-profile ‘ambassadors’ to lobby European leaders on GM policy.”  A draft email among the documents claims to have “have interest” from Sir Bob Geldof; Lord Chris Patten, chancellor of Oxford University and BBC Trust chairman; David Byrne, former Irish EU commissioner and attorney general; and potentially Kofi Annan, former UN secretary general, and pro-GM science writer Mark Lynas.

Apparently the intent was not to pay these ambassadors directly (although expenses would be covered) but to arrange interviews with international media, procure lucrative speaking engagements, and provide introductions to high-level European bureaucrats to make the case for GM.  They were expected to sign a letter to the Financial Times promoting GM crops.

The potential ambassadors that were contacted by the Guardian denied any involvement with EuropaBio, some denied even any knowledge of the industry group.  Christopher Flores. the author of the draft email to the potential ambassadors, said the documents were confidential and that “We identified people we thought could help us reach out to a broad international audience.”

The Guardian reports that a briefing document sent to potential ambassadors included a statement that ”EuropaBio wants to distance itself from the ambassadors in order to give the industry arguments more credibility.”  The briefing document tries to “persuade ambassadors that their position is widely shared.”  It specifically mentions the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation as “supporting and advocating the use of GM crops.”  The briefing document also claims “zero recorded health incidents associated with GM technology and similarly no evidence of harmful environmental effects.”  The document says that politicians are eager to use GM technology but are “constrained by a public opinion that has not changed enough.”
The letter and briefing document are linked on the Guardian website
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Biotech Industry Group Looks for Influential ‘Ambassadors’ | Real Food Houston

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