Protests in France, Germany and Argentina (16/8/2004)

Among those tearing up GM plants were Verts Yves Contassot, assistant to the Mayor of Paris, and Francine Bavay, Vice President of the regional council for the d'Ile-de-France region. (item 1)

1."Voluntary reapers" strike again in France
2.GM lobby meets in Cologne / Protests and Counter Conference
3.Farmland Fight Moves to Isolated Argentine Woods

1."Voluntary reapers" tear up a GM field in the Loiret, France
14 August 2004 - AFP

About 160 anti-GM activists, according to the police and the organisers, took part on Saturday afternoon in the tearing up of a field of genetically modified maize near Pithiviers (department of Loiret), confirmed an AFP reporter.

The activists, supported by the Confederation Paysenne and the Greens, gathered following a request from the "Voluntary GM Reapers Collective" on a field of a little less than 3000 square metres at Greneville-en-Beauce, a few kilometres from Pithiviers.

Notably, amongst these were the green representatives Verts Yves Contassot, assistant to the mayor of Paris, with responsibility for the environment, and Francine Bavay, Vice President of the regional council for the d'Ile-de-France

Fifty police, supported by helicopters, were mobilised. They did not prevent the cutting of the maize but checked the identities of the drivers of vehicles transporting the activists at the beginning of the event.

"This information will be sent to the judicial authorities, who will take action which they consider to be useful", the departmental police office stated.

The demonstrators cut down and trampled a field where GM trials were taking place with the american company Monsanto. They believe that the trials are harmful to the environment and to "rural agriculture" and even to human health.
(translation: Marcus Williamson)

2.GM lobby meets in Cologne / Protests and Counter Conference
CBGnetwork, Mon, 16 Aug 2004

ABIC 2004: The international biotechnology and seed lobby is meeting in Cologne

Alternative Conference with Vandana Shiva and others on September 12, 2004
Protest at the Cologne Fair on September 13

From September 12-15 the Agricultural Biotechnology International Conference (ABIC 2004) http://www.abic2004.org/index.html will meet at Cologne’s historic trade fair center. According to its own publicity, the ABIC is one of the ‘internationally most important conferences on biological and genetic technology’ for ‘scientists, industry representatives, investors and politicians.’ On the program: Philippe Busquien (EU Commissioner for Research), North Rhine-Westphalian Premier Steinbrück, Robert Zoellik (US trade representative - invited), and the 20 biggest agribusiness and food multinationals of the world: Monsanto, Nestlé, Bayer, CropScience, Pioneer Europe, Syngenta and BASF. Along for the party are professors who fabricate innovations for the world market in sponsored universities, and the lobby for biotech business, which plans to make gene-food tasty for doubting customers.

The better alternative: social justice and ecologically sound agriculture
On September 12-13 the lobbyists from industry, science and politics will have to reckon with those who are not impressed by their PR events and myths of progress. They are the countless critics of genetic engineering in farmer’s organizations of the South and Europe, in consumer, environmental and church groups, and initiatives against the neoliberal world economic order.

Protest Action: on Monday, September 13, 2004, from 10:30 a.m. at the Cologne Fair: Critical organizations and initatives will make it clear that the high-tech solutions from the laboratories and corporate meetings are not wanted.
Coordination: Regina Schwarz, [email protected], Tel. 0221-37 31 02

Alternative Conference 12 Sept.

Maternushaus (Kardinal-Frings Str. 1-3) 15:00 – 20:00

Speaking on global trade, genetically manipulated food and patents:

Vandana Shiva (India, Research Foundation for Science, Technology and Ecology)

Rafael "Kaps" Mariano (Philippines, KMP farm organisation) (invited) and Irene Fernandez (Malaysia, Tenaganita). Both have been involved in the People's Caravan for Food Sovereignty, which will take place throughout September in 13 Asian countries.
Gerald Choplin (European Peasant Coordination (CPE), Via Campesina) (invited)
Christoph Then (Greenpeace Deutschland)

Conference supporters: Brot für die Welt, Misereor, Greenpeace , BUND Köln, attac Köln , Netzwerk gentechnikfreies Oberberg, BioSkop-Forum zur Beobachtung der Biowissenschaften, Genethisches Netzwerk, Pesticide Action Network Asia and the Pacific (PAN AP), BUKO Agrar-Koordination, Coalition against BAYER-dangers, Netzwerk gegen Neoliberalismus, Bonner AK gegen Gentechnologie, BUKO Kampagne gegen Biopiraterie

For more information: BioSkop e.V., Erika Feyerabend [email protected]
Tel. 0201-53 66 706; Misereor, Bernd Nilles [email protected] Tel. 0241 – 442515
Directions: www.maternushaus.de/wegbeschreibung.html

The problems of the present were created in corporate meetings and high-tech laboratories!

The declared goal of the ABIC 2004 conference is that agricultural genetic engineering should be profitably used in Europe – against the will of an overwhelming majority of consumers and producers. That’s the reason why proponents stress the "international advantages of genetic engineering, especially for the lands of the South." The illusion is spread that traditional plants will not be contaminated through cross-pollination by GMO plants. Public relations like these should boost the marketing/commercial exploitation of "golden rice" (genetically engineered to include Vitamin A otherwise available in native plants) for the South and garnish the European market with alleged "consumer advantages." The conference is taking place in Germany for the first time. Hans Kast from BASF Plant Science sees the opportunity, after five years of stagnation because of citizen protest and tedious negotiations in the European Union, finally to be able to commercialize genetically manipulated foodstuffs in Europe. The guidelines for gene technology, for labeling and on the coexistance of traditional and genetically-armed agriculture would now offer the necessary protection "for the exploitation of the great potential for plant biotechnology in the European economy." The new German gene technology law allows for the planning and introduction of genetically manipulated versions of traditional crops.

Our Response:

Hunger in the South is neither the result of low productivity from small farmers, nor can it be fought with genetically manipluated seeds. The solutions will be based on fair access to land, water, seeds and agricultural tools.

Plant diversity will not be secured through genetic research and patenting, but rather through cultivation for local consumption and organic agriculture. Instead, the policies of the World Trade Organization (WTO) encourage large-scale cheap imports, dumping and monocultures for export, which local markets and plant varieties cannot compete with in the long run.

Tasty and easily digestible foods are not guaranteed by Euopean policies, rather by small and middle-sized companies, organic farmers and attentive consumers. With the lifting of the moratorium against the cultivation of genetically manipulated crops, the EU bureaucracy has pushed open the door for those seed and agrochemical giants that dominate more than 30% of the commercial seed market.

Coalition against BAYER-dangers
[email protected]
Fax: (+49) 211-333 940 Tel: (+49) 211-333 911
please send an e-mail for receiving the English newsletter Keycode BAYER free of charge. German/Italian/French/Spanish newsletters also available.

3.Farmland Fight Moves to Isolated Argentine Woods
Mon Aug 16, 2004
By Hilary Burke

GENERAL PIZARRO, Argentina (Reuters) - General Pizarro, a one-telephone town in the northern province of Salta, gained notoriety last month when environmentalists chained up bulldozers to protest the sale of a nearby nature reserve.

Plans to raze forests have sparked wider fears that a push north by Argentina's farming frontier could sacrifice the environment at the altar of growth.

A boom in easy-to-grow genetically modified soybeans in Argentina, the world's No. 3 soy producer, has brought farming to plots never before seeded. After a surge in prices, soy is now grown on half of all farmlands, and northern provinces represent 16 percent of that acreage, up from 9 percent a decade ago.

Some see the expansion as a godsend for backwater areas like General Pizarro, a dusty, depressed town of 3,000 people 1,000 miles northwest of Buenos Aires. The economic crisis of 2002 left half of all Argentines living in poverty.

But environmental groups say clearing trees for big farms or ranches will bring few jobs and do great ecological harm, undermining long-term growth.

"People complain that landowners want to convert their property into farmland, but no one offers economically viable alternatives," said Carlos Suarez, an agricultural engineer and forestry specialist from Salta province.

"There's got to be a balance between environmental, social and economic factors," he said. "If not, there will always be conflicts."

Greenpeace, which staged last month's demonstration in General Pizarro, is seeking a two-year, nationwide ban on tree clearings to assess and protect forested areas. In June, environmentalists won a six-month halt to deforestations in neighboring Santiago del Estero province.

Besides sheltering unique plants and animals, woodlands help clean the air by producing oxygen and prevent flooding and erosion. Scientists say they may also harbor plant components that cure grave ailments, like cancer.

"The main threat to Argentina's remaining native forests is the advance of the farming frontier, especially to make way for genetically modified soybeans," said Emiliano Ezcurra of Greenpeace Argentina.

This year Salta's government stripped the Pizarro reserve of its protected status and divided 39,500 acres among three private companies -- only one of which focuses on soybean production. Continued ...

Reuters 2004. All Rights Reserved.

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