PR 101 for Biotech: Don’t Call Your Opponents “Looney”

Does this headline strike you as a good idea?

From the UK-based publication, Meat Trade News Daily: Australia – Looney Activists out in force

Anti-GM activists have protested outside the opening of a genetically modified technology conference in Melbourne.

They bought along about 10 bags of what they say was GM canola found along roadsides.

They also had a bouquet of GM canola, which was to be presented to Victorian Agriculture Minister Joe Helper.

“GM co-existence is a con and is impossible. Segregation doesn’t work. We collected this canola from the road side and it proves out point,” says one of the protesters, Catherine Moore.

Of course, it might simply be true that these particular protestors were looney. But probably not. More likely they just have a view the writer of this article disagrees with. It might even be a poorly-thought-out or undersupported point of view. But still. “Looney?” That’s hardly first-rate stakeholder relations. And at this particular point in time, the food industry does not need to be seen looking (more) like jerks.


About Chris MacDonald

I'm a philosopher who teaches at Ryerson University's Ted Rogers School of Management in Toronto, Canada. Most of my scholarly research is on business ethics and healthcare ethics.
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1 Response to PR 101 for Biotech: Don’t Call Your Opponents “Looney”

  1. Greg Revell says:

    Hi Chris,
    The group I’m associated with – GeneEthics ( was behind the “Looney protest” here in Melbourne. Contrary to that author’s assertion, far from being ‘loonies’ GeneEthics has been at the forefront of critical GM debate in Australia for over 20 years with leading epidemiologists, farmers, scientists and resturateurs among our supporters. The action outside the conference was a simple but powerful illustration that after only one season of GM canola, already we have GM contamination on our roadsides and neighboring properties. The message behind this action contrasted starkly with the message of the bioech industry sponsored conference going on inside that GM and non-GM crops can co-exist. Later that day, we arrived at the headquarters of Monsanto to “return their lost property” in the form of collected GM canola. Their response was to lock the doors and turn off all the lights in the foyer! Very mature…

    Your thoughtful assessment in your blog is appreciated.

    Cheers, Greg

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