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Beeline to bottom line

by on July 25, 2013

Swiss evening news was courageous to confront the head of Syngenta, an agribusiness giant, with dying bees. Response: don’t worry about that, it’s an ‘externality‘.

In Switzerland, the stock market precedes the actual news. Quarterly reports are a big deal. Maybe because everyone knows how deeply invested we are, e.g. through retirement funds.

The bee-question wasn’t really followed up. It was more like: “shut up!” An act to cement-in the feeling that company and country are associated, and we cannot afford a conscience. (Only con-science.)

All you need to know about PR
When the same corporation rents a two-page spread in The Economist, advertising how it strives “for fair labor conditions throughout our supply chain network”, it goes without saying: “let’s feel good!”
Now, if the very same
sentence were to be published in the editorial section of that magazine: “Syngenta is striving for fair labor conditions throughout its supply chain network.” – that would mean the end of Syngenta!

It would not do to write “When offered a choice of two countries in which to open a new plant, Syngenta prefers the one with no labor unions.” That’s usually expressed in code such as “duty to shareholders.”

The advantage of aiming PR at emotions is that it helps preclude an informed debate. People who are up in arms about the bees dying, are less likely to sit down together and formulate a sober, common strategy. Rage inevitably leads to loss of power/control.

Sadly, that prevents us from conducting a rational argument.

Such a rational argument would, for example include intelligent distinctions such as that between
1.) GMO for better crops
2.) GMO just to enable the use of more herbicides.
(E.g. round-up resistant plants, to be sold combi-packed with round-up weedkillers.)

Point two has less to do with nature’s plan of making things better, and more to do with making money for corporabies, and poisoning us more in the process. (Ironically, also those valued shareholders!)

Point one could be something people might even agree on. For example fruit that tastes better, keeps longer, is easier to transport, uses less water, has better natural resistance. But this won’t happen any decade soon. Partly because there’s less money to be made, but also because the debate is dumbed-down.

There’s even a negative-feedback loop there, because we have pretty good instincts about when we are being mislead. Sadly, this just makes us madder and madder, and thus even less likely to take a breather and go: “OK. GM. Hmmm…what’s in it for me?”

Adding insult to severe injury, the big-agribusiness lobbies even pretend to create a rational argument: “We need GMO to feed the world.” That’s an outright lie. We make too much food already. What we have is a problem of distribution, not production.
…made worse by manipulation, not information.

– updated January 9, 2014


Filed as a ‘side issue’ because, although I believe there to be an ideological link, this has no direct bearing on Banks need Boundaries!

For more about praise, see The first currency …and the LAST!
For ideas on how PR in a free society, see Corporations, advertising, INFORMATION!
That last shtick also expanded in German here and here.


From → Side issues

  1. Ferdinand permalink

    In the same issue of The Economist, a major bank advertises:
    “What if a bank made that its job? – To help make (…) ideas real. – Where people come together to imagine something (…)”

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  1. Too big to scale | Banks need Boundaries

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