9-Misc: U.S. advice for British GE-lobby: Don't argue with anyone
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------------------------------- GENET-news -------------------------------
TITLE: Advice to Scientists on the Current British GM Debate
SOURCE: by Sheila Anderson (Real Estate Publisher, Florida, USA)
sent by AgBioView, USA
DATE: sent on June 4, 2003
--------------------- archive: www.gene.ch/genet.html --------------------
Advice to Scientists on the Current British GM Debate
The corporations in England, in many cases, operate on a self-serving
caste system. Executives believe they are superior to everyone else, and
consumers are not recognized as part of the food chain. Those short-
sighted, self-serving, rather immature and arrogant affectations can't be
changed, at least not in time to save them from corporate melt-down, but
there are things everyone else can do. Here are a few suggestions: You
all may have others:
1. Populate this moving debate with anyone who can be rounded up. Go to
as many as possible, as ordinary people, and simply participate with
courtesy. Get names and addresses of people, for follow up. The most
important thing is to be nice, because that will sell more of the science
than being smart. The scientific community should go!
2. Statements, conversations, follow up should be on simple terms.
Scientific explanations are not needed. Clearing up confusion is.
3. Create context, stress the basics only. Repeat the obvious - that all
food is organic, and everything we have eaten all along has been modified
4. I disagree with Lord May that there are no benefits yet. Of course
there are. It's possible to know how food grows and to be precise in
changing traits. Draw a reference to changing traits in people - how many
people dye their hair, or wear deodorants, etc. How many people garden,
and enjoy the variety of colors in hybrid flowers. The new insights into
plants are better because it makes everyone smarter about food safety.
It's also better to have less impact on the environment. And, it's
certainly better to have research on adding vitamins and other nutrients
to food, as well as removing allergins and toxins. And, it's better to
figure out how to feed starving people in Africa and Asia before more
terrorists are recruited, out of desparation. That research into crops
that will grow in desserts, etc. is part of what we need for peace.
5. Keep discussion topics to everyday concerns of consumers. Do they know
how much bacteria there is in "organic" farming methods, or how to remove
allergens to peanuts? How about bringing back the taste in tomatoes?
Those also are benefits.
6. To be more technical is to miss the opportunities to sell the advances
as "normal" "improved food".
7. Make the point that anyone who has visited the US during the last five
years, at least, probably was eating GM foods and they are still "alive
and kicking" in England. Look at the Prime Minister, and all the
diplomats. They look healthy, and are certainly well fed. Look at all the
corporate people - who are thriving. They are eating these foods!
8. Paint the protestors as "paid special interests", and it may help to
9. Use the Council on Biotechnology Information photo pages to be made
available to people, might just create some interest. They are so
attractive, people might want to keep them. They would be wonderful to
use as follow-up, if y'all can get the names and addresses of everyone
who attends one of these meetings. Getting that follow-up list should be
the primary reason for being there, and then use it! Those people will
speak to others, and using a device like those photo pages - distributed
one every six weeks or so, will go a long way in educating these people,
and anyone else with whom they speak. So, take advantage of their
presence at these meetings to find out how to reach them afterwards, and
make them into a marketing list.
10. DON'T ARGUE WITH ANYONE. Be interested in what they think, and say,
and offer to follow up with them - send them something you've seen -
"sorry I didn't think to bring it along today" - so you can get back to them.
When people are not sure of something, they express themselves in
negative terms. And, of course the press is going to play on that. But,
you have an opportunity to give these people positive things to say,
after this exercise. And, it's an opportunity. Once they've spoken and
gotten their fears, frustrations, etc. out of their systems, they may
show an interest in what else there is to say. And, follow-up marketing
will give them more to talk about - to their friends, associates,
neighbors. So, use these meetings to find out who they are, and where to
reach them later. Some of them will be converted into advocates for GM
out of this experience if you play it right.
It can't get much worse, so think about ways to make it better. EVERYONE
who is getting this email communication, if they are in the UK, must do
their part. Because it's the way to turn around this debate. Ignore it,
don't go, don't follow up, be better than these consumers (who afterall
control the decisions at the grocer), and the country will shut down.
Don't let it!
European NGO Network on Genetic Engineering
Hartmut MEYER (Mr)
Kleine Wiese 6
D - 38116 Braunschweig