EU biotech lobby promoting its agenda in Greece (16/1/2008)

Useful info on how the EU biotech lobby is promoting its agenda including GE, agrofuels, Bio-economics, domination, control, via the International Biotech Conference in Athens. Also info on counter-action.

-also in pdf (enriched with pics)

-on-line article

previous counter-action (2006)


Biotech lobby propaganda: the reference example of Greece

The story of a franchising-way-of-biotech-expansion including the main European lobby, its branch in Greece and all their networking tools like international conferences with the a biotech-friendly State blessings to promote their agenda to the public

EuropaBio lobby. The name for propaganda

The main lobby of the biotech sector in the European continent is called EuropaBio, an institution promoting the biotech agenda and nothing else but the instrument of the top 1800 biotech companies including Monsanto, Bayer, Syngenta and BASF in order to press politicians, influence the media and support research and business people to join the biotech boom. EuropaBio is considered the European branch of BIO (Biotechnological Industry Organization) The BIO international annual conventions in US are the largest gatherings of biotech proponents. Notably, since 1998, most of these conferences have been met with resistance in the form of counter-conferences, marches and other large gatherings (See www.biodev.org)

Manipulate opinions

EuropaBio became most famous ten years ago when some leaked documents revealed how its promoting agenda had been organised in order to manipulate public opinion about Biotechnology and Genetically Modified organisms (info following by the Corporate Europe Observatory). Back then a strategy proposal for EuropaBio by a Public Relations company the Burson Marsteller had been leaked. This paper was outlining a scheme aimed to soothe public fears and outrage over the new biotechnologies and to ensure general acceptance.

A storm of protest and concern has been raised amongst citizens both in the US and in EU and a the fundamental problem that consumers won't accept biotech products due to feared health or environmental risks was still hanging over their heads although their relations with both the EU Commission and Parliament were pretty good. In their words, they are 'actively engaged in dialogue with the European institutions and contribute to the creation of a coherent legislation for bio-industries. EuropaBio ensures a steady flow of information about biotechnology to the European Parliament, the European Commission and the Council of Ministers'

According to Burson Marsteller, EuropaBio has 'firmly established [itself] as the primary representative of European bio-industrial interests within the political and regulatory structures of Europe' and the organization has an 'indispensable direct role in the policy-making process.' However, 'this role is no longer in itself sufficient to ensure the supportive environment Europe's bio-industries need to achieve global competitiveness through the new biotechnologies. A sustained communications strategy and programme able to generate favourable perceptions and opinions beyond the policy world is now essential.'

The leaked paper was recommending four basic strategies: 'stay off the killing fields', 'create positive perceptions', 'fight fire with fire' and 'create service-based media relations'. The were talking about symbols not logic, stories not issues, products not technologies, beneficiaries not benefits and other usual PR methods to promote the favorable effect on Commission and EU citizens.

The Greek connection

In 2004 Bionova Ltd was appointed the Greek National Association representative of EuropaBio (EuropaBio Hellas). Bionova was first founded in 2002 as a communications and consulting firm in the Bio-Industry sector. The mission of Bionova is stated as to promote and actively support technology transfer and investments in the biotechnology sector and to provide leading management and consulting services though partnerships of excellence. They gradually built a network of leading external advisors and partners-like university professors, biotech multinational executives and others, to assist development of selective university spin-offs or other biotech start-up companies, out-license and commercialize intellectual property (bio-patents) to the global bio-industry market. In other words, to take all necessary actions to promote an alliance between research and business sector and make as much profit possible out of it.

Local propaganda platforms

A Biotech Journal named BIO and an annual International Biotech Conference (igbf.gr), plus other satellites forums and seminars, are the main communication tools Bionova is using to promote the lobby agenda.

BIO a luxurious magazine is edited with the purpose to tempt with its hi-tech design and sophisticated yet popularized knowledge. It is circulated, except to the public, to scientists, research institutes, even schools, and intents to give a glossy image to the brave new world of commercially aggressive science. Sporadically articles for the benefits of the Genetic Engineering and the potentialities of cloning can be found among scientific publications for Gene Therapy and Biotech Pharmaceutics, when the promises that the Biotech sector, regarded as the new industrial revolution, can reach hyper-profits, flows among the pages.

On the other hand the annual international conferences are some very expensive fests of Bionova including scientific presentations, bio-industry-mass media relation seminars, and business transfer of knowledge. Officially the topics covered are Bio-pharmaceutics (Red biotechnology), Agro-Biotech issues (Green Biotechnology) Environment (White biotechnology) and the necessary Bio-economics. The conferences often host spectacular names of the global Bioscience sector, like Nobel-prized researchers and famous names of Medicine with no other purpose but to give an aura of advanced validity, seducing local scientists, especially younger ones, and establish the good reputation of the Biotech forum. Integrated seminars for the public opinion management and the promises of biotechnology can leave on the other hand, no doubt for the subconscious intentions of the forum hosts: Promote Biotech on any spectacular mean.

Nowhere is mentioned of course the huge amounts of mo

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