Sick of crabcakes? Do you cry “enough already” when scallops are the entrée? Don’t pout (pun coming in a couple of paragraphs below) so soon, Frankenfish may be on your plate one day.
Here’s the PR dilemma: AquaBounty is a biotechnology company that genetically engineers various aquatic species for commercial use. It’s not as bizarre as you may think; genetically engineered food has been around for a while as an accepted practice.
AquaBounty produces the AquAdvantage salmon, engineered in combination with the ocean pout, an eel-like fish, and growth hormone from another salmon species. At question is how current FDA regulations affect labeling of genetically engineered foods. Thus a titanic clash is brewing and groups such as organic food producers and issues-based groups are opposing the so-called Frankenfish.
As government regulation is in play, this becomes a classic public affairs battle. In these fights, the key is to define the issues of importance to your side before the other side does. Given that the word “Frankenfish” already has prominence in search results, it looks like AquAdvantage has lost considerable ground.
To make things worse, the company’s website has an overly technical and meandering FAQs ingrained with corporate jargon-esque doublespeak. Instead of devoting so much attention to whether FDA regulations allow sale of such modified foods, AquAdvantage would be better off in the PR skirmish to talk more about the nature of the food, in everyday terms that key stakeholders – grocery shoppers, blogging moms, and food safety advocates – are likely to understand and appreciate.
Verdict: AquAdvantage? More like AquaDisadvantage.