Edited by Stuart J. Smyth, Peter W.B. Phillips and David Castle
Chapter 35: Biotechnology communications, mythmaking and the media
The art and science of communication involves a 'source' (for example, a company or organization) that is trying to reach a 'receiver' (customer or stakeholder). The goal of communication - from a marketing or public relations perspective - is to be 'understood'; to establish a common frame of reference in order to build value. This involves choosing the right message and appreciating that that message may be interpreted by receivers in any one of a number of ways. Thus, understanding the market and your customers and stakeholders is key in developing and executing a successful marketing and communications plan. In the context of food and agriculture, traditional business approaches to communication and associated strategies have not always worked within the confines of such a simple formula, particularly in the past two decades in the case of 'big agriculture' and the area of biotechnology. Science has fundamentally changed how farming is done and has significantly increased productivity levels worldwide. Biotechnology, which developed into a bit of a buzzword over 30 years ago with substantive investments in start-up companies (McHughen, 2000), offers up a set of tools to modify organisms for a particular purpose. In the context of agricultural biotechnology, that purpose can include anything from generating higher yields in crops to genetically conferring resistance to certain diseases in plant varieties.
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