Ketchum and the GMO Bias Machine
Ketchum Public Relations added the GMO food industry as a client not long ago and soon after set up a website called GMO answers where people can go to get information about biologically enhanced foods (genetically modified organisms). GMOs have purportedly been developed to increase the levels of food production per acre of land allowing more people around the world to be fed. But, let’s face it – genetically modified anything sounds a little scary to a culture raised with sci-fi horror flicks.
Ketchum’s (owned by Omnicom) new client, the Council for Biotechnology Information hired them to create the new website. The Council is funded by companies such as Monsanto, BASF, Bayer, Dow, DuPont, and Syngenta. The idea of opening the site was to clear up any confusion and mistrust about GMOs by bringing experts to the topic. But we all know, there are experts, and then there are experts. Depending on which experts you hire, you may get very different facts and opinions.
U.S. Right to Know, a new nonprofit organization, receiving funding from the organic food industry believed the experts on the Ketchum site might be representing only one side of the equation. So they established their own website. This one is meant to expose what the GMO side of the food industry represents.
In an article on their website, USrtk/gmo-answers, they cited a number of the scientific answers given by scientists receiving money from the GMOindustry and called them biased because of the funds received.
There is no proof that scientists have been biased in their research, but it does appear that these same scientists increasingly find themselves more in the actor’s role in front of lobbyists and industry leaders.
U.S. Right to Know goes further in its article, questioning Ketchum and their client’s integrity by reminding readers about the PR firm’s representation of the Russian government and then implies possible espionage against agencies fighting GMOs.
Though GMO Answers says they are not biased, and this is not a PR move, as Right to Know points out, the GMO site actually won a PR award. The prestigious CLIO advertising award for Crisis Management and Issue Management was given to their site. So is this an unbiased media tool for the public or is it a PR tool for the GMO industry?