Brazil militants invade Monsanto biotech test farm/Hundreds Protest Modified Foods at Forum (19/5/2003)

19 May 2003

Brazil militants invade Monsanto biotech test farm/Hundreds Protest Modified Foods at Forum
1.Brazil militants invade Monsanto biotech test farm
2.Hundreds Protest Modified Foods at Forum
3.Protesters destroy last Scottish GM-crop field
1.Brazil militants invade Monsanto biotech test farm
BRAZIL: May 19, 2003
SAO PAULO, Brazil - Militants of the Landless Peasant Movement (MST) in Brazil invaded a Monsanto Co. test farm last week in a bid "to expel" the U.S. biotech giant and set up an organic farm on the site.
The incursion by some 80 members from the MST and other landless groups onto an experimental farm in Ponta Grosso, Parana was aimed at stopping Monsanto from using farming methods unpopular in the state, according to the group. "The government of Parana says it doesn't want transgenics and we producers don't want it," said MST leader Celio Rodrigues. "Thus, it is not right for it (Monsanto) to have a technical center here."

Parana is a large farm state in southern Brazil where Monsanto tests conventional and genetically modified corn and soybeans.  Rodrigues said the objective of the occupation was "to expel" Monsanto from the state and convert the 43 hectares (106 acre) farm to organic production.
The commercial planting of GM crops in Brazil has been banned since 1998. But a thriving black market in Monsanto's trademark Roundup Ready GM soy has developed in southern Brazil. The GM beans are thought to be smuggled in Argentina and Paraguay were RR soy is widely planted.

As much as 30 percent of Brazil's total soy output was estimated to be illegal GM, according to the seed producers association Abrasem, and illegal planting in the south, where the climate is favorable to the Argentine and Paraguayan varieties, is much more wide spread than in other regions.

Monsanto said it has always condemned the illegal planting of GM soy in Brazil.

Experimental GM planting, however, is legal and much of the company's research is conducted jointly with the government crop research arm Embrapa. Monsanto said test planting on its farms was in accordance with Brazilian law.

Monsanto is one of Brazil's biggest producers and sellers of conventional soy, corn and other crop seed stock, as well as farm chemicals and fertilizers.

"They can go back to the United States, Argentina or Canada, where transgenics are liberated," said Rodrigues.

The Ponta Grossa farm was invaded on May 9 by 800 militants who destroyed some laboratories and burned down corn fields.

Monsanto said it has asked authorities to prosecute those responsible for "acts of violence against its staff, property and research and development in Brazil."  "We have big assets of biodiversity in Parana and Monsanto represents a threat," said Antonio Volochen from the Forum of Rural Workers in Parana, that participated in the occupation.
2.Hundreds Protest Modified Foods at Forum
Monday May 19, 2003 2:59 AM
Associated Press

ST. LOUIS (AP) - A few hundred people opposed to genetically engineered food marched past police protecting the site of an agricultural forum Sunday, but no confrontations were reported.

Demonstrators banged drums and chanted slogans as they walked past barricades and boarded up windows near the hotel where the World Agricultural Forum is being held.

Scientists, agriculture experts, educators and farmers from 26 countries were expected at the forum's 2003 World Congress.  

The protesters contend that genetically modified seeds and foods harm consumers and the environment. One chant was ``Say No to Monsanto,'' directed against the St. Louis-based biotechnology company.

Regulatory agencies throughout the world have deemed Monsanto products safe, said spokesman Bryan Hurley.

Demonstrators contend most of the forum's participants support biotechnology, but forum organizers said the gathering is a neutral conference addressing agricultural issues such as hunger.
3.Protesters destroy last Scottish GM-crop field
The Scotsman
 AN INVESTIGATION was launched yesterday after protesters cut down areas of the last field of genetically modified crops in Scotland.
Police in Fife said they were making inquiries into the damage to GM oilseed rape plants at Wester Friarton Farm, Newport-on-Tay, near Dundee. No arrests have been made.

Protesters said the plants had been chopped down overnight as part of an ongoing campaign in which another trial GM crop at Daviot, Aberdeenshire, was damaged last weekend.  The action is the latest setback to Scotland's GM crop programme, after the Scottish Executive abandoned a farm trial at Munlochy, on the Black Isle, following pressure from campaigners.

In January, the Scottish Parliament's health and community care committee published a report that cast doubt on the Executive's claims that there was no risk to human health linked to GM crops.  The report, which was welcomed by protest groups such as the Munlochy Vigil, claimed that public health risk assessment procedures were "flawed" and voiced alarm over monitoring procedures.

A spokeswoman for the Fife protesters said: "That massive swathe of dark green now scythed across the bright yellow slope of the flowering field is a shout of the people's defiance against the madness of GM farming.

"It expresses people's serious fears for the safety of public health, for consumers' right to choose GM-free food and their fears of a long-term environmental catastrophe.  

"This field of GM rape is now the last one standing in Scotland since Aberdeenshire saw its already damaged one at Daviot finished off last weekend by nocturnal protesters.

"Both fields were attacked last November under cloak of darkness, with a giant symbolic cross scraped into the Fife field on St Andrew's night."

The spokeswoman added: "A MORI poll last month showed the majority of Scottish people are still wary and opposed to GM food and crops.
"Well-attended local public meetings in Newport-on-Tay have shown even stronger opposition to the GM field scale trials.

"Food pollution fears were inflamed by the publicised discovery last year that traces of GM DNA were found in the honey of a local beekeeper. Local organic farmers now fear for the future purity of their produce."

A spokesman for Fife Constabulary said: "An investigation has been launched by police in Cupar into damage that has been caused to a field of GM crops."

A spokesman for the Scottish Executive condemned the attack, saying the field posed no threat to public health. He said: "We recognise that people have concerns about GM crops, but taking illegal action against other people 's property is unacceptable.

"It is important that all facts surrounding GM foods are debated in the open in an honest and transparent way.

"The destruction of crop sites is counter-productive, as it prevents collection of scientific information with which an informed decision can be taken in the future.

"The GM crop being grown at Newport-on-Tay as part of the final round of farm-scale trials has been assessed thoroughly over many years for its impact on human health and the environment. It would not be grown if there were any doubts about its safety."

Friends of the Earth Scotland's head of research, Dr Dan Barlow, said it was unacceptable for individual Scottish communities to have to accept trials of GM crops.

He said: "In its recently published partnership agreement, the Scottish Executive said that it wished to exercise the 'precautionary principle' when it comes to the planting of GM crops. However, there is absolutely nothing precautionary in the way these farm-scale trials have been conducted so far.

"The open-air experimentation we have seen poses an unacceptable threat to the environment.

"Instead of stopping to ask whether we even need GM crops, communities have nevertheless had trials foisted upon them. We hope no other communities ever have to be forced to put up with GM crops as they have in Fife, Aberdeenshire and the Highlands."

Last June, four people were arrested following a protest against GM crops at the Fife farm.  An estimated 250 people from across Scotland converged on Wester Friarton Farm in an event billed as a "Tea in the Field" protest, involving barbecues, music, stalls and speeches. Organisers said about 70 anti-GM crop demonstrators trampled on crops.

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