Filed Under: Biotechnology

Who’s Running the Anti-Biotech Public Relations Machine?

The PR mastermind behind the media-savvy attacks on genetically improved foods is David Fenton, the spin-meister who brought us the thoroughly phony Alar-on-apples food scare in 1989.

This summer, Fenton stage-managed 20 separate press events targeting the Campbell Soup Company and Kellogg’s. More companies are targeted for attack before the end of the year to promote bad science and anti-technology rhetoric in a campaign against genetically improved food (for his many organic clients).

Among Fenton’s collaborators at his anti-biotech press conference in Washington was Peter Hoffman, incoming chair of Chefs Collaborative 2000.

Alar-mists at Fenton
Even though the accusations about Alar were groundless, Fenton’s campaign was a financial success.

“We designed [the Alar campaign] so that revenue would flow back to [Fenton client] the Natural Resources Defense Council from the public, and we sold this book about pesticides through a 900 number and the ‘Donohue Show.’ And to date there has been $700,000 in net revenue from it,” Fenton said.

“A modest investment repaid itself many-fold in tremendous media exposure and substantial, immediate revenue.” Fenton added that as a result of the Alar campaign, “Lines started forming in health food stores. The sales of organic produce soared. All of which we were very happy about.”

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