Big Ag uses social media to twist GMO debate

| | February 19, 2015
This article or excerpt is included in the GLP’s daily curated selection of ideologically diverse news, opinion and analysis of biotechnology innovation.

Many consumers and food activists use social media platforms to stay informed and engage in important debates about the future of our food system. But increasing corporate influence in these spaces requires us to differentiate fact from spin as we encounter hundreds of posts and tweets per day. Big Ag’s attempts to shape social media debates expose its fear of criticism from a growing food movement demanding corporate transparency, regulation, and sustainable alternatives to industrial agriculture. With 284 million monthly active users, Twitter has become a battleground for Big Ag’s credibility.

Searching for terms like GMO, agriculture, or farming on Twitter yields thousands of tweets from the Big Six.

Tactic #1: Take the conversation off Twitter and into a biotech-controlled forum

For instance, the American Farm Bureau Federation reports that its PR firm “seeks out negative tweets on Twitter” relating to biotech and then directs the authors of those tweets to a website called GMOAnswers.com. Funding for the site comes from The Council for Biotechnology Information, which includes the Big Six. 2 The Farm Bureau reports that since launching its Twitter campaign last year, “there’s been about an 80 percent reduction in negative Twitter traffic as it relates to GMOs.” 3

Tactic #3: Pretend you’re just misunderstood

Big Ag ads like Monsanto’s imply that critics are misinformed or worse, lashing out at companies’ valuable efforts to solve global hunger. In my exchange with @Bayer4Crops, I asserted that the GMO production model starts from an inaccurate premise of hunger caused by scarcity rather than poverty and inequality. In response, the Bayer tweeter feigned surprise, implying that I had misunderstood, or even willfully misrepresented, the company’s real interests.

Read full, original blog: Big Ag’s Fight for Twitter Credibility

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