Clive Beddall, New York European consumers' backlash against GM foods is forcing America's battered crop-biotechnology industry to launch a massive advertising campaign to prevent the same thing happening in the US. And as the world's seven largest life science companies Monsanto, DuPont, Dow Chemical, Aventis, BASF AstraZeneca and Novartis pumped $50m into the first year of the campaign, there was speculation they might try the same idea in Britain. The US drive, set to run for at least three years, includes print and tv ads along with a website The advertisements include soft focus pictures illustrating what the industry calls the benefits of biotechnology: higher crop productivity, less reliance by farmers on synthetic pesticides, and healthier food. However, within hours, antibiotech activists in NYC were rubbishing it. One told The Grocer: "It's amazing. The biotechnologists have still not grasped the fact that the more the public hears about biotechnology, the more it becomes concerned by it." He recalled that Monsanto's major public awareness effort in Europe two years ago "backfired in spectacular fashion". But US food industry sources say that while most Americans have yet to share the worries of UK consumers about GM foods, concern is growing. "And given the weight of opinion in the UK at the moment, it may be time for the big groups to take another look at a British awareness scheme," said one US food commentator. News of the drive came as the US Department of Agriculture revealed farmers were this spring intending to raise 24% fewer acres of genetically modified corn, as a growing chorus of critics raises questions about the environmental and nutritional safety of all genetically modified plants. {{NEWS }}