In the U.S., a particularly important social space where anti-GE activists generated ideas was the Biotechnology Working Group (BWG). The BWG was formed in the late 1980s when a dozen activists working on various aspects of food and agriculture, environmental issues, trade policy, and biotechnology got together for the first time, thanks to a grant from two small foundations. In the process of meeting together for several years, the group’s members began to constitute themselves as a collective actor (Melucci 1996).
The BWG played a catalytic role in bringing these activists’ diverse trajectories to converge, both intellectually and organizationally, on the issue of biotechnology. The BWG was an important place for gathering and exchanging information, and for forming a collective political analysis. When they got together, BWG members would discuss recent developments in the technology and industry, and brainstorm action strategies. In 1990, the BWG published a report entitled “Biotechnology’s Bitter Harvest: Herbicide Tolerant Crops and the Threat to Sustainable Agriculture.” This report reflected a synergy of ideas among people from diverse backgrounds and organizations. This pattern of co-authorship became a common means by which the ideational work of grievance formation took place in the proto-mobilizational phase of the anti-GE movement.
The face-to-face interactions among BWG members were crucial in forging the intimate personal relationships and strong sense of commitment, solidarity, and mutual support that helped to sustain this fledgling movement and made it hum with energy, tension, humor, and excitement. For BWG members, they were an important source of inspiration and morale-building. “I have really fond memories [of the BWG] because initially it was really a wonderful group,” one member nostalgically recalled. “I mean, I’ve been to some [other] meetings, and people go, ‘oh, this was like the BWG in the old days.”Hassebrook was a member of a group actively campaigning against GMOs, and he won't admit it.