Peter Melchett's decision to do some work for PR firm Burson-Marsteller has attracted a lot of understandable concern and criticism - some of the least convincing to be found below from the usual industry sources keen to spread division and distraction. One anti-GE list serv has already received four articles (the Telegraph one below twice!) from a flak working under an alias.
As we understand it, Peter Melchett's main job remains as Policy Director of the Soil Association. The Burson-Marsteller work is apparently as an advisor to companies of his choice on an occasional basis. And we understand Monsanto is among the companies he has refused to work with.
As a pr flak once described ngin and genewatch uk as Melchett's principal "cheerleaders" - this was after Peter Melchett generously donated his damages from the Trewavas libel letter case to us, amongst others - we thought we should mention that ngin is not yet part of BM's operation and the fight against the global imposition of genetic engineering goes on!
AGBIOVIEW: Melchett Switches Sides
Today in AgBioView:
* Eco-warrior peer goes over to the other side
* Watchout Greenpeace, Melchett has joined the dark side...
Eco-warrior peer goes over to the other side
DAILY TELEGRAPH (LONDON)
January 4, 2002
By Charlie Methven
A year after retiring as executive director of Greenpeace, in order to make his 800-acre Norfolk farm "more organic", eco-warrior (Lord) Peter Melchett is returning to the fray.
This time, though, Melchett, a Labour hereditary peer whose great-grandfather founded ICI, will be working for the other side. He has just accepted a lucrative consultancy with the corporate PR company Burson-Marsteller.
His new clients will range from the oil-producing Saudi royal family to firms such as Tesco, Kingfisher and Unilever. In the recent past, BM has also represented the controversial biotech firm Monsanto, oil giants Shell and the chemical company Union Carbide.
Melchett was one of the ringleaders of the white-overalled loons who flattened a field of genetically modified wheat in 1999 and recently accused Monsanto's chief executive, Robert Shapiro, of "bully boy" tactics, "high handedness" and arrogance.
A spokesman for one GM conglomerate says: "Peter Melchett used to be a spanner in the works, but now he's the works itself. This entry into the real world is to be welcomed, and his great-grandfather would be very proud of him. But we are not quite sure if this really fits in with his efforts to make his Norfolk farm fully organic."
Melchett sees it differently. "This poacher turned gamekeeper stuff is simply not fair," he says. "I am going to be giving advice to companies about environmental and social issues, which is similar to what I was doing at Greenpeace. I learnt a lot during my 10 or 12 years there, and now want to put it to good effect."
Date: 5 Jan 2002 22:04:03 -0000
Subject: Watchout Greenpeace, Melchett has joined the dark side...
So now former Greenpeace director Peter Melchett, after lining his pockets from organic supermarkets whose profits he surged with his (proven false by the UK advertising standards authority) food fear campaigns against biotechnology, is now going to work for Burson
Marstellar (BM). BM, which happens to represent biotech-leader Monsanto, should be ashamed of itself for succumbing to Melchett's thuggery and apparent protection racket.
Melchett's strategy, like Greenpeace, apparently is if you pay 'em enough, they'll support you. With a fat paycheck -- courtesy of Monsanto and BM's other clients, Melchett's values he so staunchly promoted during his anti-biotech campaigns seem rather, well, lacking and perhaps never really existed.
Wasn't Melchett the one who said he and Greenpeace would NEVER work with or support Monsanto unless they converted to 100% organic? Ah, that was before he got on their payroll (indirectly that is by working for BM).
The lesson for other corporations under the gun from Greenpeace and the like is simple. Whatever they say they don't really mean it. They really just want you to write them a big check. It's just a modern day version of low-life protection rackets run against shop keepers in New York. Threaten and scare them, then become their close friend and advisor when they decide to pay you enough.
Unfortunately, for companies and consumers today, these protection rackets are conducted openly and without repercussion or risk of imprisonment (even when Melchett clearly broke the law destroying private property, vandalizing farm equipment and threatening the livelihood of farmers growing biotech crops the British courts gave him a free walk, no record, no jail time).
Shame on Monsanto and shame on Burson Marstellar for caving to this protection racket. The victims are not just the Monsanto's who pay the protection money to save their business, the other victims are the consumers who have been shaken with Melchett's food fear campaigns. Melchett and Greenpeace use consumers as pawns to help line their pockets (lest we forget Greenpeace's annual budget now exceeds US $150 million).
Oddly, after taking his money, now Sir Melchett is complaining that he's being treated unfairly for this move. In an article entitled, "Eco-Warrior Peer Goes Over To The Other Side" Melchett told the Daily Telegraph (04-Jan-02), "This poacher turned gamekeeper stuff is simply not fair. I am going to be giving advice to companies about environmental and social issues, which is similar to what I was doing at Greenpeace..."
Hmm, is that what he was doing at Greenpeace when he was arrested for destroying a farmers property? If trashing government-sponsored field trials is the kind of advice he'll now be giving Monsanto, then Greenpeace better bar the doors of their fancy corporate offices in Amsterdam for fear of corporate suits dumping truckloads of organic fertilizer (shite) on their doorsteps, sabotaging the Rainbow Warrior, or disrupting their next teach-in with streaking executives waving banners and singing We Shall Overcome.