6 of the Biotech Industry's Biggest Marketing Myths to Convince You GMOs Are Great
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By now, you've likely heard of Big Agriculture and Big Pharma, the huge industries behind the food we eat and drugs we take that quite ably tend to avoid government regulation. Less well known is Big Biotech, genetic engineering companies like Monsanto, Novartis and DuPont that work closely with Big Ag to create more "efficient" foods through chemistry. A good example is recombinant bovine growth hormone (rBGH), a genetically engineered milk stimulator invented by Monsanto but soon embraced by Big Ag for its profit potential—getting more milk out of each cow. Living animals are called "units," and treated as nothing more than unfeeling machines.
Another example is genetically modified golden rice, spun as a charitable effort to provide Vitamin A to the world's hungry but likely to make billions for herbicide, pesticide and chemical fertilizer makers, says geopolitical researcher and writer Tony Cartalucci. The "very concept of relieving suffering throughout the developing world with a monoculture of genetically altered 'super gruel' at face value is both undignified and untenable," he writes. Biotech companies also preempt traditional, localized food systems and development programs, Cartalucci points out.
Many countries reject the brave new biotech foods and Canada, the UK, Australia, New Zealand, Japan and all 27 countries in Europe ban rBGH. But that did not stop Elanco, Eli Lilly's animal drug division, from buying the drug from Monsanto in 2008 and building a new production plant for it in Augusta, Georgia. Elanco is also the company behind the controversial growth producing drug ractopamine, used in most U.S. pigs and many cows and turkeys despite being banned almost everywhere but the U.S.
Recently, Elanco became the second largest livestock drug company in the world after acquiring Johnson & Johnson's Janssen Animal Health and veterinary products maker Heska Corp., in 2011 and Novartis Animal Health and poultry vaccine maker Lohmann Animal Health this year. Now it is trying to pry open new markets in Europe, Africa and Asia with appeals to addressing world hunger. It is exhorting activists to "feed the world" through supporting biotech food technology with its "ENOUGH" movement, rolled out on the website Sensible Table. Presented like a new program of UN/WHO, the campaign is just a cagey marketing strategy.
Here are six of the biggest marketing lies found in Elanco's new "How We'll Feed The World" report.
1. Unadulterated Food Is "Luxury" Food
People who want and eat unadulterated food are spoiled. "In developed countries, most consumers have many choices when it comes to their food supply," says Elanco. "Yet in developing nations, choices are more limited, and so is the ability to treat food as a luxury item or a lifestyle choice."
Is it a luxury to have food free from ractopamine or rBGH?
Not only does Elanco redefine unadulterated, normal food as a luxury in its ENOUGH campaign, it redefines GMOs, antibiotics, hormones, chemicals and production methods like battery egg cages as innovation. "Organics and 'luxury food' produced without innovation have almost become a status symbol for those who can afford it," says Elanco in a zing against organic and local farmers. "Is it fair—or justifiable—for shoppers living in comfort to disregard innovations that can help feed others?"
2. Consumers Who Want Unadulterated Food Are A Fringe Minority
Despite the throngs who shop at Whole Foods Market, Trader Joe's and local markets, food consumers seeking non-adulterated food are a "fringe minority voice that does not represent the consumer, but a socially charged agenda," says Elanco. The reason health-conscious consumers appear to be large numbers is because of the way surveys are written, charges Elanco. Instead of asking, "What’s important to you when you purchase beef?" surveys lead the witness by asking "Are you concerned about factory farms growing your food?"