Biotech in global retreat / Bay Area Mobilizes to Shut Down Biotech Convention (22/5/2004)

1.Biotech is in global retreat...
2.Bay Area Mobilizes to Shut Down Biotech Convention

1.Biotech in global retreat

So far this year Monsanto, the world's biggest GM crop polluter, has backed down on GM wheat globally, backed out of GM canola in Australia, stopped marketing its GM cotton in Indonesia and closed its grain research facilities in Europe.

Monsanto and Syngenta have dropped GM sugar beet in Europe, while Bayer decided not to commercialise GM maize in the UK even though it was the single GM crop for which marketing permission had been given.

Meanwhile, the only GM crop commercially grown in the whole of the EU, Syngenta's Bt176 maize, has been withdrawn by the Spanish Government from the market. In addition, whole regions of Europe have declared themselves GM-free. http://www.foeeurope.org/GMOs/gmofree/index.htm

Even in the US the pace of new products being brought through the regulatory process has sharply declined and there has also been a sharp drop in efforts to develop new GM products. For instance, field trials involving GM fruit and vegetables had plummeted to about 20 by 2003 from about 120 in 1999. http://www.iht.com/articles/520925.html

In the UK in 2004 GM crop trials of all sorts have shrunk down to just one trial, while GM field trials have continued to be destroyed elsewhere in Europe. http://www.biotechimc.org/or/2004/05/2795.shtml

2.San Francisco Bay Area Mobilizes to Shut Down Biotech Convention
Reclaim the Commons, 21.05.2004
San Francisco Bay Area Residents Pledge to Shut Down Biotech Convention in solidarity with G8 Summit protests in Georgia
Call to Reclaim the Commons unites Peace, Racial Justice, & Global Justice Movements

Bay Area Peace, Racial Justice, and Global Movement organizers have called for a mass mobilization to Reclaim the Commons, as the biotech and pharmaceutical industries prepare for their biggest convention ever in San Francisco, June 6-9, and the Group of Eight Nations (G8) makes ready for its yearly summit off the coast of Georgia, June 8-11.

With over 50 endorsers, including Direct Action to Stop the War, Ella Baker Center for Human Rights, and Global Exchange, and thousands of protestors from across the country expected to flood the Bay Area in early June, activists are calling for "No War on Iraq, No War on the Commons!"

On June 8, the opening day of the G8 Summit, the Direct Action component of the Reclaim the Commons Mobilization (RTC) has vowed to shut down the biotech convention in San Francisco as a demonstration of opposition to corporate rule locally and globally.

"From the beginning of the anti-war movement, Direct Action to Stop the War has targeted the corporate interests behind the war - that's why we shut down the San Francisco financial district the day after the invasion. Now that Americans are getting a true and terrible glimpse of US tyranny in Iraq, while Halliburton, Bechtel, Chevron, and others skim millions from this brutal occupation, it’s time to connect the dots and expose how unchecked corporate power is the real culprit -working through groups like the G8, they usurp democracy, oppress people, and appropriate the commons both at home and abroad," said Meddle Bolger of Direct Action to Stop the War, whose anti-war protests last year resulted in over 2000 arrests.

Brian Tokar of the Institute for Social Ecology, an RTC co-sponsor, said, "The biotech industry is a case study of out-of-control corporate power and reckless development—their WMDs include irreversible genetic pollution and bio-weaponry, and they have a revolving door policy with government: USDA chief Anne Veneman was a former Monsanto lobbyist."

Organizers define the commons as everything needed to support healthy life on earth; from air, water, and food, to public spaces, culture, and genes. They say that RTC is not just a one-time mass protest against corporate power and biotech, it's also about movement-building and creating just and sustainable alternatives to the corporate model.

"With this mobilization, the Peace, Global Justice, and the Racial Justice Movements are going much further toward creating one single, unstoppable movement," said Luna Pantera, a long-time racial-justice activist and single parent from Oakland, California. Pantera stated, “The links are obvious: What’s happening in Iraq is happening here everyday, in our prisons and in low-income communities of color. The same corporate power-brokers who are defining international military and trade policies that exploit poor countries of color, are also responsible for domestic policies that institutionalize poverty and racism—like huge tax breaks for the rich, staggering inequality in public education, unbridled prison spending, racist police brutality, and open season for big developers—policies that favor Big Business over the common good."

RTC activists say they also intend to leave the Bay Area greener than they found it—starting in low-income neighborhoods of color. They are using permaculture in a new form of direct action that also strengthens communities. Food forests, propagation for massive plant give-aways, and community gardens are already in progress. Plans are in the works for eco-villages for the homeless, intersection beautification projects, and sustainable-living showcases. "We are helping ourselves and others get off of the corporate grind and out of the corporate cage. We envision thriving, sustainable local economies, and neighborhood councils participating in authentic democracy. We're creating that reality while we're composting the Empire," said Eileen Rose of the Green Bloc, a national activist network that is pioneering solutions-oriented direct action.

Highlights of the week-long series of events include a teach-in with an impressive roster of international presenters, a "really, really free market" that contrasts an experimental gift economy with free-market capitalism, a biotech world café, where participants engage in deep, democratic discussion of the impacts of the biotech industry on San Francisco, a peace march, biodiversity ball, and a racial justice day of actions.

Go to a Print friendly Page

Email this Article to a Friend

Back to the Archive