In a bid to respond to market forces that it acknowledges do not yet exist, Novartis Consumer Health has decided to rid its Gerber baby food products of GM ingredients. The company, which has a 70 percent market share in the U.S., denies that the action resulted from a single faxed complaint from Greenpeace, as was reported last week. But its decision represents another pathetic response to the bare-knuckles fear-mongering aimed at creating distrust throughout society about biotechnology, the consumer protection regulatory agencies, and the commercialization of science in general.

Indeed, it is tempting to conclude that Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth and their allies have won the war. It is unquestionably true that they have learned well how to press the buttons that have led the British media to adopt their cry; to co-opt the British Medical Society and the Lancet into endorsing their logic, to insinuate into the common wisdom the unfounded scientific "evidence" about the monarch butterfly; and to cow the regulators into silence. In its move on Gerber, Greenpeace now has played the "save-the-children" card, the ultimate brickbat of the 1990s.