21 November 1997

Biotech trade to launch high cost campaign

THE biotechnology industry is to launch a multi-million £ publicity campaign to highlight the benefits of genetically modified crops to consumers across Europe.

A coalition involving most of the firms producing GM crops in Europe, plus processors and retailers, will be established to fund the campaign, said David Strilchuk of AgrEvo UK. National media advertising, expected imminently, will explain the technology, focusing on its safety to consumers and the environment.

With just over one year until the first GM crops are commercially launched in the UK, Mr Strilchuk acknowledged the campaign was late. "Imports are already facing problems and we would have liked more time to get these messages across".

The reaction of EU consumers to the technology took biotech- nology developers by surprise, he admitted. "North America, Asia and Japan were far more accepting. We underestimated the reaction in Europe."

He believed the multi-million £ public relations campaign would help remove public fear about the technology. And explaining the benefits, in terms of environmental improvements from reduced pesticide use and improved food quality, would also be a key role for the coalition, he added. &#42