EDITORIAL: Melchett move is to be applauded

The decision by Lord Peter Melchett, former Greenpeace executive

director and scourge of the GM lobby, to join the world of PR

consultancy has elicited a predictable, if somewhat unimaginative,

response from the media.

Understandably, the press were quick to pick up on the fact that

Burson-Marsteller, Lord Melchett's new employer, numbers Monsanto - the

world's most conspicuous lobbyist on behalf of GM technology - among its


What they failed to point out was that, while B-M represents Monsanto in

the US and Germany, the UK office does not work directly on the account,

and nor will Lord Melchett.

Instead, the ex-Greenpeace campaigner will play a key role in terms of

helping B-M's clients to understand the environmental agenda and to open

up and engage in constructive dialogue with NGOs. His arrival heralds

the expansion of the agency's CSR unit, but by bringing such a wealth of

experience in-house, B-M staff across the board should gain a greater

understanding of corporate responsibility.

All of which should come as no surprise to Lord Melchett's ex-colleagues

at Greenpeace. One of the organisation's greatest achievements has been

to engage in real dialogue with forward-thinking corporates such as BP,

helping to foster greater emphasis on CSR within the wider business


B-M has, in turn, a tradition of bringing key 'stakeholder' expertise

into the consultancy. In fact, the hiring of Des Wilson, former

campaigner for NGOs such as Friends of the Earth in the early 1990s, led

to similar cries of outrage. Melchett might do well to borrow Wilson's

reported response: 'My friends will understand - fuck my enemies.'

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