CropGen hires CPN to widen the GM debate

Countrywide Porter Novelli has been appointed on six-figure fees to handle all communications for CropGen, a new UK initiative which aims to promote a more balanced debate about genetically modified (GM) foods.

Countrywide Porter Novelli has been appointed on six-figure fees to

handle all communications for CropGen, a new UK initiative which aims to

promote a more balanced debate about genetically modified (GM)

foods.



CPN won a three-way pitch to the consortium of biotech companies -

including Aventis CropScience, Dow AgroSciences, Monsanto and Novartis

Seeds - which fund CropGen.



The account will be led by director Steve Marinker who will be

responsible for a team of nine working on the initiative. He will report

to the communications and public affairs directors of the sponsoring

companies.



According to Marinker one of the main aims of the campaign is to provide

the media with easier access to the CropGen panel of experts, chaired by

Vivian Moses, visiting professor of biotechology at Kings College,

London.



’The consortium is keen for people to hear all sides of the argument,’

said Marinker.



CPN’s work will include manning phone lines for members of the public

who have questions, overseeing the launch of a biotech web site

(www.cropgen.org) next month, and distributing literature. In total

CropGen is investing pounds 500,000 this year in the campaign.



Despite being funded by the consortium, CropGen claims independence and

its backers have signed an undertaking that they cannot veto the

panel.



The formation of CropGen was announced on the eve of the Organisation

for Economic Co-operation and Development conference in Edinburgh on the

scientific and health aspects of GM foods.



P Porter Novelli Convergence Group has been hired by French telecoms and

computer systems giant Sema Group’s UK business systems division on a

six-figure, brand-building, core technology product and

business-to-business PR brief.



Leader, p10.



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