ngin - Norfolk Genetic Information Network

28 January 2003


Here's part 1 of the GM WATCH end of year report on the smelters of 2002's choicest lies, disinformation, PR chicanery and unfounded abuse. COMING SOON - PANTS... THE BIG THREE!



Part 1

2002 was a banner year for biotech hype with one breathtaking smoke-and-mirrors PR stunt after another. This report provides a guide to the smelters of 2002's choicest lies, disinformation, PR chicanery and unfounded abuse.

And, of course, the winners of the hottest competition in town are being acknowledged with the coveted PANTS ON FIRE AWARD - blazing undergarments made from the finest GM cotton - a modified New Year's gift of incendiary underwear!

With so many deserving candidates, the choice has been difficult but we're featuring some of the most experienced and least principled practitioners in the business.


In reverse order, here are the first 3 of 2002's most illuminating pelvic heat suppliers...


In 6th place:

*GARY BIVINGS of the Bivings Group (aka Bivings Woodell, Inc.), viral marketers extraordinaire!

Monsanto's PR firm, the Bivings Group operated the "Mary Murphy" e-mail front to post poison pen attacks on scientists and other biotech industry critics on the net. Bivings also registered and designed the late-lamented website of the Center for Food and Agricultural Research (CFFAR) - a fake agricultural institute that never existed beyond a site chock full of articles labelling Monsanto‚s critics "terrorists".

As the evidence mounted via a multiplicity of media sources of the dirty tricks campaigns carried out by his firm, Gary Bivings and his flaming flaks rewrote articles, pulled material from the web and off their server, and issued flat denials. But all to no avail. Big Gary'd been caught with his pants not just down but smouldering!

Find out more:
The Fake Persuaders - The Guardian
Corporate Phantoms - The Guardian
Bivings' admission of involvement - BBC Newsnight


In 5th place:

*ANDREW NATSIOS of USAID, turning tragedy into opportunity

The Director of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) has shamelessly used the famine in southern Africa to punt biotech, ludicrously claiming no other food is available and that the only alternative is starvation. Where that strategy has met with local resistance, Natsios has blamed Europe and environmentalists for the resulting food aid crisis.

When Zambia said "No" to the U.S.'s GM food aid, then "...the most fervent pro-GM attack on the Zambian President did not come from the biotech industry but from the head of the aid agency that sent the food." According to corporate lobbyist Roger Bate, "Andrew Natsios was easily the most effective proponent of the technology".

The pro-GM antics from the Director of USAID were no accident. Promoting GM is an official part of the role assigned to his agency which has been instructed to "integrate GM into local food systems". It is also impossible to separate the behaviour of Natsios from that of his political masters who stand accused, even by the Commissioners of the European Union, of peddling lies about the crisis in southern Africa and of using the U.S. foreign aid programme to "dispose of its genetically modified crop surpluses."

USAID publicly states that its activities serve to create major markets for America's agricultural exports. Its website boasts, "The principal beneficiary of America's foreign assistance programs has always been the United States."

Find out more:
Force-feeding the hungry - GM WATCH


In 4th place:

*The NEW Monsanto Corporation, up to its dirty old tricks again!

Over the last 2 years we have heard ad nauseam about the NEW Monsanto Corporation and its Pledge to integrity, transparency and respect. We were told the Pledge meant that, "We will act with integrity, courage, respect, candor, honesty, humility, and consistency," and that, "The Respect element of the new Pledge goes to the heart of virtually everything that everyone at Monsanto does on a daily basis".

In late 2002 an article in The Guardian revealed that "Andura Smetacek" - the principal "anonymous" e-mail attacker behind the campaign of character asssination against Berkeley scientist Ignacio Chapela over his Mexican maize research - had operated off an Internet Protocol address belonging to the Monsanto Corporation. "Smetacek" had posted around 50 such attacks on scientific and other critics of Monsanto - all of them during the peruiod of the Pledge!

If covert poison pen attacks hardly smack of integrity, courage, respect, candor, or honesty, they can at least be put down to "consistency"! For "Andura Smetacek" was no lone assassin but part of a coporate communications strategy operating from Saint Louis to Johannesburg, from Manila to New Delhi. In short, throughout the period of the Pledge the company's corporate communicators have been engaged in a relentless dirty tricks campaign, often in association with The Bivings Group (see above).

How the internet played a key part in the company's dirty tricks campaign was outlined in a talk to PR professionals by the company's former Chief Internet Strategist, Jay Byrne. Byrne concluded his talk on Monsanto's strategy with the following quote: "Think of the internet as a weapon on the table. Either you pick it up or your competitor does, but somebody is going to get killed".

So now we learn the meaning of "respect"!

Find out more:
The Covert Biotech War - The Guardian
Amaizing disgrace - The Ecologist
Our commitment: Respect

*************** COMING SOON - PANTS... THE BIG THREE! ***************

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