Following in the footsteps of Monsanto reportedly proposing a name change if it were to be successful in acquiring Syngenta, the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) announced it is renaming itself the Biotechnology Innovation Organization. BIO is the principal trade association for the biotechnology industry.
This information comes from the U.S. Right to Know, a new nonprofit food organization that investigates and reports on “what food companies don’t want us to know,” which the organization proudly points out. In January, U.S. Right to Know released a report, titled Seedy Business, on the agrichemical and food industries’ public relations campaign to defend GMOs.
Information leaked by Syngenta shows that the company received a letter from Monsanto CEO Hugh Grant suggesting as a part of a Monsanto-Syngenta corporate merger that, “We would also propose a new name for the combined company to reflect its unique global nature.”
“These name changes are a sign of PR despair,” said Gary Ruskin, co-director of the U.S. Right to Know activist group. “Monsanto’s name is radioactive, and the Biotechnology Industry Organization’s name isn’t much better.”
“Monsanto and the some parts of the biotech industry face consumer distrust and a political backlash,” Ruskin said. “That backlash is for environmental and health reasons, and it is foolish to think that name changes will bail out their bad PR.”
In a 2014 Harris Poll gauging the reputations of major corporations, Monsanto’s “reputation quotient” ranked 58 out of 60 companies, U.S. Right to Know claims. “In other words, it was the third most hated company measured,” the group suggests.
BIO has been a key industry advocate for genetically engineered foods, and against mandatory labeling of them. But according to a 2013 New York Times poll, 93 percent of Americans support labeling of genetically engineered food, the anti-GMO group has been noting.