Peter Barfoot and Graham Brookes are co-directors of the UK-based company PG Economics Ltd - 'Independent and objective consultants servicing the agricultural, agricultural supply trade, rural and food industries'.
PG Economics has produced a number of reassuring 'reports dealing with the economic and strategic issues of GMO crops through the food chain'.
In publishing the reports, PG Economics has issued press releases such as:
The headlines generated include:
For the biotechnology industry, such headlines are literally 'good news', particularly when generated by an 'independent and objective' source. BioScience UK, the website of GM company Bayer CropScience, made plain its excitement in May 2004, 'Can GM and non-GM crops really co-exist in the European Union? According to the respected economic consultants group PG Economics, yes they can!!'
BioScience UK did not mention that the report was commissioned by Agricultural Biotechnology in Europe (ABE), an industry lobby group whose members include Bayer CropScience, as well as BASF, Dow AgroSciences, DuPont, Monsanto and Syngenta. Nor was this fact mentioned by PG Economics in its press release of the report's findings. ABE was mentioned in the report itself but without clarification of ABE's membership or of the fact that it is an industry body.
PG Economics says of its customers, 'Our clients come from both public and private sectors. These include the leading biotechnology companies, agro-chemical manufacturers, seed companies & plant breeders, animal feed ingredient manufacturers, breakfast cereal manufacturers, oilseed crushers, food processors, starch/sweetener manufacturers, farmers organisations, UK government (eg, DEFRA) and the European Commission.'
According to PG Economics, the company's Philosophy and Attributes include, 'Active customer involvement in the development of consultancy project targets and implementation'. PG Economics also assures potential customers that from the initial point of contact it will 'endeavour to put forward a proposal to define our methodology and expected outcomes'. (What PG Economics can do to assist you)
As well as Agricultural Biotechnology in Europe (ABE), the company's customers are known to have included ABE's UK equivalent, the Agricultural Biotechnology Council (ABC), Du Pont, American Cyanamid, the American Soybean Association, Novartis, the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications, Monsanto Europe, the European Commission, Cebecco, Weetabix and the UK Government's Cabinet Office Strategy Unit.
There is a striking congruence between the known goals of some of these organisations and the findings of the research they have commissioned. For instance, the report GM Rice: Will This Lead the Way for Global Acceptance of GM Crop Technology? was commissioned by