GM PR campaign questioned in the European Parliament
24 November 2011
Question to the Commission for written answer
Franz Obermayr (NI)
Subject: Questionable genetic engineering campaign
There are currently reports in the media that a new advertising campaign is now to be waged to persuade European consumers of the alleged benefits of genetic engineering. The biotechnology industry has, for some time now, been keen to promote a positive image of agro-genetic engineering in Europe in order to boost sales. The media recently got hold of an internal document from the biotech industry lobby group, EuropaBio, which reveals what form this strategy may take: the singer, Bob Geldof, and other celebrities are to be won over to provide 'testimonials' and endorsements of genetic engineering in order to draw the public's attention to the alleged benefits of genetic engineering, thus carrying out valuable advocacy work for the genetic engineering industry. Despite worldwide calls to end the hunger crisis through the fair distribution of food, the industry still seems to back the argument that genetically modified crops could solve the problem of hunger. According to the campaign plans, the public figures working for the campaign should not give the impression that they have been dispatched by the industry as ambassadors for genetic engineering. EuropaBio also wants to get well-known environmental activists to work for it and speak publicly in favour of genetic engineering.
Another factor worth considering is the proof that Monsanto’s Roundup Ready soybeans cause economic losses that are obviously being knowingly condoned. A study carried out over a number of years by the University of Kansas reveals that this genetically modified soya provides a 10 % lower yield than conventional seeds. The UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) has also produced sceptical studies concerning the claim about solving the problem of hunger.
1. Is the Commission aware of EuropaBio’s plans in this field?
2. If so, what is the Commission’s view of them?
3. The studies conducted by the University of Kansas in the USA show that yields from genetically engineered crops are significantly lower than from the conventional comparison model.
How does the Commission intend to prevent questionable arguments being used in ‘campaigns’ on solving the problem of hunger?