Loss of public trust

OXFORD - While the European Commission and leading member states such as Germany and the U.K. have clearly signaled their support not only for biotech but crop biotech, the anti-biotech protesters appear to be winning the battle for public opinion. And it is all down to source credibility. Opinion poll after opinion poll in Europe rank single-issue political groups, such as Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth, as more credible sources of information than governments or industry.

It was the panic associated with bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) - so-called mad cow disease - that has created the atmosphere of distrust. In this matter, Europe's governments have no one but themselves to blame.