Pro-corporate counter-protest stunts at the WTO from the usual suspects.
1.The man wearing press credentials
2.Biotech food bonanza shakes Mexican village
3.Free Market Advocates Fight Back at WTO
4.Four U.S. Groups Donate Two Tons of Food to Mexican Village
Its particularly ironic that CORE - item 3 - should be handing out "Uncle Tom" awards. Black journalists describe CORE as "a tin cup outstretched to every Hard Right political campaign or cause that finds it convenient - or a sick joke - to hire Black cheerleaders".
Lurking in the background, as ever, are the founders of the Prakash AgBioWold campaign - the Competitive Enterprise Institute (see item 4), just as in Johannesburg with the Fake Parade:
Only they could bring us: "small children left their classes in a wooden shack school to snap up genetically-modified lollipops"...
1.Man wearing press credentials
Non-governmental organizations were banned from World Trade Organization press conferences in CANCUN this week after protesters against GMOs briefly disrupted a U.S. press briefing on Thursday - see
The WTO said complaints from journalists had precipitated the ban but:
[The protest] action was met with hostility and screaming at the protesters by a man wearing press credentials. The WTO secretariat then issued a statement, banning NGO entry into the press briefings. It was later discovered that the man wearing press credentials, William Dabaghi, works for the business consultancy Maximus International. Their website claims, "Specializing in Agribusiness and Focusing on the WTO." Prior to this, he worked as a lawyer for a corporate law firm for 17 years. At the end of the briefing Dabaghi shook hands with the panelists from the USTR and said, "I will handle the hecklers for you or you would have to do it."
2.Biotech food bonanza shakes Mexican village
12 Sep 2003
By Alistair Bell
VALLE VERDE, Mexico, Sept 12 (Reuters) - Mexican villagers were caught in the cross-fire of the global battle over biotech food on Friday when rival pressure groups at world trade talks scuffled with each other over how best to feed the poor.
A conservative U.S. group attending a World Trade Organization meeting in the Mexican resort of Cancun handed out boxes of genetically altered food to peasants in the nearby village of Valle Verde in an effort to show that biotech food is safe.
But Friends of the Earth environmental activists disrupted the handout, which erupted into chaos as baffled residents looked on.
"You are letting them starve, I hope you know that," said Monica Gonzalez, an American in favor of biotech foods, shouted at the environmentalists.
Gonzalez and a dozen other volunteers from the conservative Committee For a Constructive Tomorrow gave out packets of rice, sugar and other genetically altered staples in the village's main square.
But environmentalists unfurled a banner reading "Don't Let Big Business Rule The World" and a brief scuffle ensued between the activists.
"They are trying to give you unhealthy food," Friends of the Earth activist Raul Benet told the villagers. He said genetically modified corn imports subsidized by the U.S. government had also destroyed local agriculture.
Maize is always a highly charged issue in Mexico, arguably the birthplace of corn and a key element in the national diet, particularly in the form of tortillas.
POOR NATIONS PRESSURE RICH ONES
Poor nations at the WTO talks in Cancun are pressing the developed world, particularly the United States and Europe, to cut the $300 billion a year it hands out in farm subsidies.
In the Mexican port of Veracruz, Greenpeace activists were trying to prevent the delivery Friday of 38,000 tons of yellow corn from New Orleans because they claimed it contained genetically modified corn.
Two activists tied themselves to the anchor chain of the Ikam Altamira, sitting in the Gulf of Mexico, to prevent it from docking to unload its cargo. Greenpeace also said they were protesting the dumping of U.S. corn on the Mexican market at prices that undercut prices of local producers.
In Valle Verde, after the initial confusion over the handouts, most villagers carted off the free food packets and small children left their classes in a wooden shack school to snap up genetically-modified lollipops included in the hand outs.
The European Union and United States are on the same side in a rich versus poor fight at the Cancun talks over farm subsidies. But they are at odds over biotech food.
The WTO has launched an investigation into Europe's refusal to accept mostly genetically modified food imports.
Washington argues there is no scientific evidence pointing to human health or environmental problems related to biotech crops but Europe says it prefers to play safe after recent health scares like "mad cow" disease.
3.Free Market Advocates Fight Back at WTO
Cancun, Mexico (CNSNews.com) - After days of anti-free trade protests at the WTO conference, including a protest featuring nude activists and another involving a suicide, free market advocates responded in kind on Thursday.
They staged several counter demonstrations and street-theater stunts, drawing the ire of anti-globalization protestors and environmentalists.
At a mock awards ceremony sponsored by a coalition of free market groups, actors playing the grim reaper handed out "awards" to environmental groups and other organizations that they accuse of promoting "poverty, misery, disease and premature death to billions of people in developing countries."
The awards ceremony was led by the conservative Congress Of Racial Equality (CORE), an African-American civil rights group.
Billed as "Green Power-Black Death," the ceremony included participants carrying signs that read, "Sustainable Development = Sustainable Poverty" and "Save the Children."
Niger Innis, CORE's national spokesman, presented the first of three awards to Greenpeace for what he called its "million-dollar campaigns against any technology and economic development that could improve or save the lives of poor people."
"For far too long, a lot of the left-leaning [nongovernmental organizations] have had a global monopoly on the debate and discussion involving these important issues," Innis told CNSNews.com.
CORE also gave an award to the European Union for "using its vast monolithic powers to impose self-serving laws, rules, tariffs and subsidies that stifle trade from developing countries."
The third award - named the "Uncle Tom" award - went to the Malaysia-based Pesticide Action Network for "selling out its own people." According to Innis, the group opposes pesticides and biotechnology in exchange for funding from wealthy foundations.
Innis called the three award winners advocates of "lethal eco-imperialism."
"Their opposition to genetically engineered foods, pesticides and energy development devastates families and communities and kills millions every year," Innis said.
The mock awards ceremony drew hisses from onlookers. Two environmental activists attempted to disrupt the proceedings with repeated heckling. Innis, however, was not deterred. "The extremist elements that tried to disrupt the proceedings were unsuccessful," he said.
Cyril Boynes Jr., the director of international affairs for CORE, said the awards ceremony was important "to draw attention to the destructive and murderous policies of these eco-terrorists, as we like to call them."
But an environmentalist fired back at CORE's contention that sustainable development is harming the world's poor residents. "That's mistaken. Sustainability is something that contributes to effective development, said Paul Joffe, the director of international affairs for the National Wildlife Federation in an interview with CNSNews.com.
"When development [in poor nations] goes forward in a way that is slash and burn, it results in undercutting itself, so [the premise of the mock awards event] is something that is mistaken," Joffe explained. Sustainable development is the key to helping the world's poor, according to Joffe.
"It is the poor who ultimately suffer from a lack of attention to sustainability. It is the poor who are suffering and will suffer from the neglect of the U.S. administration on the subject of global warming, and we could go down the list on those issues," Joffe said.
Poor countries don't have to emulate the wealthy industrialized nations, according to Joffe. "To say that developing countries should not follow the model of the U.S. and of Europe isn't to say that there isn't a way of doing it that would bring the benefits to a wider spectrum of the public but also in a way that is not destructive and undercutting the environment," Joffe said.
'Marxists go home'
Free market advocates engaged in several other demonstrations on Thursday.
The free-trade advocacy group Bureaucrash.com placed fliers on hotel doorknobs of a German environmentalist group to illustrate what it calls the hypocrisy of anti-free-trade groups.
The fliers featured a photo of a housekeeper and noted that hotel maids only make $6 U.S. dollars a day cleaning their rooms. "While you march against poverty, inequality and the exploitation of workers, your maid is cleaning your room for 25 cents. You benefit from 'exploited' labor," read the flier. The flier then asks rhetorically 'Are you practicing fair trade in your hotel room?'"
"There is a lot of hypocrisy within the statist forces here...during the day they talk about fair trade but [the Heinrich Boll Foundation members] are staying at the Best Western downtown where the maids are paid 25 cents every time they clean a hotel room, so they are not practicing free trade," Jason Talley told CNSNews.com.
The fliers demanded, "Marxists go home! Stop exploiting our workers!!"
"We just wanted them to wake up and get ready to push their agenda of big government and then see that on the door and hopefully demoralize them," Talley said. 'They deserve the freedom'
Another free-market counter protest included a group of U.S. college students demonstrating for free trade and against environmental restrictions on development. "EU countries and NGOs are using environmental policies to impose their beliefs on other developing nations. We are here to say that is wrong and that they deserve the freedom, the choice to trade like rest of world," said Gregory Pejic, a student at Tulane University in New Orleans.
The Washington, D.C.-based free market environmental group "www.cfact.org Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow (CFACT) sponsored the outdoor protest.
"We want to get out to the people that free trade is not a bad thing; it can prevent poverty," said Monica Gonzalez, a student at the University of New Mexico.
"The greens are trying to keep the people oppressed," Gonzalez added.
The free market groups are planning more events to counter the thousands of anti-free trade and WTO protesters. Bureaucrash.com is planning to sell soft drinks to protesters on Saturday that will feature two prices for the same drink - a cheaper 'Free trade' price and a more expensive 'fair trade' price.
"The socially conscious might like that [the higher fair trade price] provides union dues and environmental impact studies and things like that but if [the protesters] want to save some money they can pay the free trade price and get the exact same product," Talley explained.
"It's a good way to demoralize the enemy," he added.
4.As Protestors Debate Biotechnology, Four U.S. Groups Donate Two Tons of Food to Mexican Village
Donation Includes Some Bioengineered Foods to Highlight Positives of Technology
by CEI Staff, September 11, 2003
Cancún, Mexico, September 11, 2003-While demonstrators at the World Trade Organization meeting in Cancún, Mexico continue to protest the trade discussions, four U.S. groups, in conjunction with the Mexican charitable organization "La Ciudad de Alegria" (City of Joy), will deliver two tons of food Friday morning to a small Mexican village near Cancún. The donation of Mexican staples-cornflower, cooking oil, rice, beans, and other comestibles-purchased at local markets in Cancun, contains some genetically-enhanced ingredients, demonstrating how trade in safe technologies can help improve the global food supply and the lives of consumers around the world.
"Too often, environmental activists try to prevent consumers in both industrialized and poor countries from taking advantage of new technologies just because they are new," said Gregory Conko, director of food safety policy at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, one of the groups involved in the food donation. "But the fact that these foods can be found in local markets all around the world, and that they have become an accepted part of the diet of billions of people, demonstrates that consumers have not been frightened away."
Adds Conko, "The people hurt the most are the ones who desperately need even the most basic foods. Genetically-enhanced foods have been safely consumed for decades, and it's a shame to see activists promote an agenda that does more harm to developing countries than the food ever could."
The four U.S. groups making the donation with La Ciudad de Alegria are the Competitive Enterprise Institute, Citizens for a Constructive Tomorrow, the Congress of Racial Equality, and International Consumers for Civil Society.
Go to a Print friendly Page
Email this Article to a Friend
Back to the Archive