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Call to action/Oz GM fears growing among farmers (20/5/2003)

20 May 2003

Call to action/Oz – GM fears growing among farmers

While Victoria may be only one of two Australian states growing GM canola if it gets the go ahead...

"ALMOST three quarters of Victoria's farmers dispute a finding by the nation's gene technology watchdog that genetically modified canola does not pose a threat or environmental risk." (item 2)

"Seventy one per cent of those surveyed had concerns about the commercial release of GM canola, 67 per cent were worried about their ability to market the grain, while 80 per cent said they had fears about GM and non-GM canola co-existing." (item 3)

"Victoria and Queensland will be the only Australian states growing genetically modified canola this season if they get the final go-ahead from the Gene Technology Regulator in time. Moratoriums in Tasmania, Western Australia and NSW and a temporary ban in South Australia will mean no GM canola will be grown in those states this year." (item 4)

"Victoria and Queensland have yet to signal if they will [also] ban the crop if it is approved for commercial release." (item 5)

*CALL TO ACTION IN SACRAMENTO
*Modified canola worries
*GM FEARS GROWING AMONG FARMERS
*NATIONAL APPROACH FALTERS
*VIC FARMERS CONCERNED ABOUT GM CANOLA
*GM Food in America
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CALL TO ACTION IN SACRAMENTO
by bunchgrass Wednesday April 09, 2003 at 12:55 PM
http://sf.indymedia.org/news/2003/04/1598014.php

 Leading up to the WTO ministerial in Cancun this September, a mini-ministerial is taking place this June in Sacramento. The US Dept. of Agriculture (USDA), USAID, and the US State Department are hosting a summit to which the Ministers of Trade, Agriculture, and Environment from 180 nations have been invited. The Ministerial Conference and Expo on Agricultural Science and Technology will take place in Sacramento from June 23-25, 2003 and will showcase industrial agriculture, chemicals, irradiation and biotechnology. A coalition of activists and community members is making a worldwide call to action.

!!CALL TO ACTION!!
STOP CORPORATIONS FROM HIJACKING THE WORLD'S FOOD SUPPLY AND INCREASING HUNGER
JUNE 23-25
SACRAMENTO, CALIFORNIA
CALL TO ACTION! CALL TO ACTION! CALL TO ACTION!

Sacramento is an important destination on the World Trade Organization's (WTO) pre-Cancun itinerary. The United States Dept. of Agriculture (USDA), USAID, and the US State Department are hosting a summit to which the Ministers of Trade, Agriculture, and Environment from 180 nations have been invited. It will take place in downtown Sacramento from June 23-25, 2003. An "Expo On Agricultural Science and Technology" will run concurrently to showcase transnational agribusiness and biotechnology corporations and promote an industrialized, hunger inducing, agricultural model. These events are intended to build up to the WTO's September 2003 meetings in Cancun, Mexico. Agriculture is the most contentious issue inside the WTO. Neither the meeting nor the Expo are open to the general public. "This is not a public event," say EXPO organizers. A broad coalition of community organizations from Sacramento and Northern California are organizing a response to these events.

COME TO SACRAMENTO

The resistant spirit of Seattle, D.C., Prague, and Quebec is alive and flows through Sacramento towards Cancun and beyond. The Coalition for Sustainable Agriculture is in the process of planning a response to both the meeting and EXPO. Events in Sacramento will include a "permitted" public demonstration and march, media events, street theatre, public education forums and literature, and non-threatening but disruptive direct actions. Our intent is to non-violently confront the powers that control our food systems with an alternative to their destructive, self-serving vision. We have adopted some basic guidelines of non-violent direct action for this mobilization and encourage a diversity of creative responses. They are not philosophical, political requirements placed upon participants or judgments about the validity of some tactics over others. The guidelines are agreements that create a basis for trust, so we can work together for this action and know what to expect from each other.

We will use no violence, physical or verbal, towards any person. We consider speech or acts that are racist, homophobic, or sexist to be violent. We will carry no weapons. We will not bring or use any alcohol or illegal drugs. We will not destroy property. We will respect the rights of others: we want your energy, ideas, and participation regardless of differences of race, ethnic background, sexual orientation, age or previous political affiliations. We invite others to join us who are willing to accept our "guidelines" which we believe best serve the interests of our community, here in Sacramento.

LINKING ARMS

The Coalition for Sustainable Agriculture is made up of organic farmers, family farmers, environmentalists, labor, religious, and economic/social justice groups. We encourage everyone who is concerned about the injustice of corporate globalization to join our network and/or organize actions leading up to June 23-25. This is a worldwide call to action, inviting the participation of social justice, human rights, animal rights, peace activists, workers, students, trade unionists, environmentalists, indigenous groups, artists, community campaigners, consumer advocates, citizens and anyone else who is concerned about the violence and inequality of the corporate economy.

People and ecosystems worldwide already suffer the effects of polluted water, air and land: illness, death, anxiety, economic hardship, wrecked communities, loss of biodiversity and more. The "Agri-Business" model has not eliminated hunger in the U.S. The same unaccountable global corporations which, in their relentless quest for bigger and bigger profits, brought us the Roundup Ready and Terminator seeds, the toxicity of Love Canal, the 30,000+ causalities of Bhopal, the ecological catastrophe of the Exxon Valdez and the twisted torsos and missing limbs of Thalidomide, will now bring you genetically modified foods and escalating corporate control of all our food and water supplies, abroad and here at home.

WHAT CAN YOU DO?

 Seize this opportunity to demand safe, sustainable agriculture, the rights of farmers to practice the time-tested traditional methods of their forebears, and wholesome, delicious, non-toxic, naturally grown food for every man, woman and child on the planet. Please join us, as an individual or as an organization, in organizing to get the message out to ag officials, the media and the public alike that the world wants to see an end to the horrors of industrial agriculture. Come to Sacramento this June. If you want more information or to get involved email: [email protected] or call (916)-456-9435 Web site: http://www.biodev.org/sacramento/

CALL FOR ENDORSEMENT
Please call or email us if your organization would like to endorse this mobilization.
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Modified canola worries
Daily Telegraph
10apr03
http://www.dailytelegraph.news.com.au/common/story_page/0,5936,6260267%255E704,00.html

ALMOST three quarters of Victoria's farmers dispute a finding by the nation's gene technology watchdog that genetically modified canola does not pose a threat or environmental risk.

A survey, commissioned by ICM Agribusiness in consultation with the Network of Concerned Farmers, found 70 per cent were worried, with fears including GM canola's possible contamination of traditional crops.  It follows the finding last week by the nation's gene technology watchdog that the grain did not pose a health or environment risk.

Gene technology regulator Sue Meek's finding cleared the way for formal approval of general use next month.  Wimmera farmer and member of the Network of Concerned Farmers, Geoff Carracher, said the survey showed Victoria was not ready for the crop.  He said the poll found 71 per cent had concerns about the commercial release of GM canola, 67 per cent were worried about their ability to market the grain, while 80 per cent said they had fears about GM and non-GM canola co-existing.
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GM fears growing among farmers
April 9, 2003
The Age [via agnet]

A survey has found mounting opposition to the release of genetically modified canola as calls grow for a full poll of farmers' attitudes towards the new technology.

The survey conducted in Victoria of 200 growers found a large level of concern about the impending release of GM canola and its impact on traditional crops.  But Biotechnology Australia, a government organisation, was cited as saying there were serious problems in the surveys being conducted of farmer attitudes towards GM crops.

Seventy one per cent of those surveyed had concerns about the commercial release of GM canola, 67 per cent were worried about their ability to market the grain, while 80 per cent said they had fears about GM and non-GM canola co-existing.

The survey found 52 per cent of respondents believed they had enough information to make a decision about growing GM canola.  Eighty per cent said they had concerns about on-farm contamination issues, while 72 per cent were concerned about liability issues.

But Biotechnology Australia's public awareness manager Craig Cormick said too many surveys were about the attitudes of farmers to GM crops, and not of their willingness to use the new technology.  He said a random national poll was needed to really discover the attitude of farmers towards GM crops.
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National approach falters
April 9, 2003
Herald Sun [via agent]
Xavier Duff
http://heraldsun.news.com.au/

Victoria and Queensland will be the only Australian states growing genetically modified canola this season if they get the final go-ahead from the Gene Technology Regulator in time. Moratoriums in Tasmania, Western Australia and NSW and a temporary ban in South Australia will mean no GM canola will be grown in those states this year.

Approval of Bayer's herbicide-resistant hybrid canola is pending, although it is not clear if the final decision will be made in time for the winter cropping season.

Efforts to reach a nation-wide consensus on the introduction of genetically modified farm produce have been frustrated by the states' own regulatory decisions.

While none has yet banned GM products permanently and all allow some GM research, three states have moratoriums of up to five years on the commercial release of GM farm products.

A state can legally enforce a moratorium or GM-free status through its own legislation, usually by prohibiting GM farm produce under quarantine laws. But whether a permanent ban is possible would depend on what a federal court would decide on any legal challenge to those laws.
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Vic farmers concerned about GM canola: survey
AAP NEWSFEED April 9, 2003, Wednesday
April 9

Seventy per cent of Victorian farmers are concerned about the likely commercial release of genetically modified canola, a survey by GM opponents has found. The survey, commissioned by ICM Agribusiness in consultation with the Network of Concerned Farmers, found their worries included GM canola's possible contamination of traditional crops. It follows the finding last week by the nation's gene technology watchdog that the grain did not pose a health or environment risk. Gene technology regulator Sue Meek's finding cleared the way for formal approval of general use next month. Wimmera farmer and member of the Network of Concerned Farmers, Geoff Carracher, said the survey showed Victoria was not ready for the crop. He said the poll found 71 per cent of those surveyed had concerns about the commercial release of GM canola, 67 per cent were worried about their ability to market the grain, while 80 per cent said they had fears about GM and non-GM canola co-existing. Mr Carracher said the results provided overwhelming justification for Victoria to ban the grain's release. "If the Victorian government wants evidence to support a moratorium on the release of GM canola, here it is," he said in a statement.

 Victoria and Queensland have yet to signal if they will ban the crop if it is approved for commercial release. The survey of 200 grain farmers found 52 per cent of respondents believed they had enough information to make a decision about growing GM canola. Eighty per cent said they had concerns about on-farm contamination issues, while 72 per cent were concerned about liability issues. Peak farmer organisations the National Farmers Federation and the Grains Council of Australia have both enthusiastically backed GM as the way of the future. But Scott Kinnear, a spokesman for the Biological Farmers of Australia, said most farmers backed GM research but had concerns about the canola. "This is not an anti-GM response, even though most farmers don't trust the biotech companies," he said in a statement.

 "Their opposition to GM canola is specific: they don't want GM canola released commercially based on the current technology, current markets and the inability of current quality assurance systems to stop genetic engineering contamination of conventional crops."
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Genetically modified food: Would it solve, or worsen, world hunger?
By: Betty Smith, Press Staff Writer April 09, 2003
http://www.zwire.com/site/news.cfm?BRD=1825&dept_id=129120&newsid=7655333&PAG=461&rfi=9

When Nigeria was experiencing a famine, America sent the country tons of corn to assist in feeding its citizens.  They never ate it. Nigerian officials refused to accept the corn because it was genetically modified.

Whether America should try to force other countries to consume, and grow, genetically modified food products was the topic of Monday's Great Decisions program at the Tahlequah Public Library.

Great Decisions, sponsored by the Foreign Policy Council, discusses issues and participants vote their opinions. The Foreign Policy Council shares the results of each vote with the country's foreign policy makers.

Europe and other parts of the world have resisted genetically-modified food products. People in other countries argue that food, such as corn, may not be eaten. If the corn is planted, it can cross-pollinate with native corn and modify it.

Today, much of the grain grown in the United States is genetically modified. "Unfortunately, the United States farmers are locked into it," moderator Fred Gibson said. "They've already planted it and the pollen is free to travel wherever it wants. This country has largely ignored the moral values involved in things like this."

He said about three-fourths of Europeans fear genetically-modified food, as do about half of Americans.  Mary Jane Saeger is among the latter.  "There are too many complications," she said.  She believes the large agricultural corporations, such as Monsanto, are not answerable to the results of genetic engineering.  "The monarch butterflies are very much affected by genetically-modified products," she said. "What effect is that going to have in time? We can't just stop at the bottom line."

She noted that heirloom crops - old varieties that largely have been discontinued as hybrid seeds gained popularity - are gaining in popularity. People who have saved old seeds are selling them to new growers and gardeners.  "Many of the old things were resistant to the problems we have with our new crops," she said.  "You have to consider what's it going to do to our kids and grandkids," Gibson said.

Participant Tom Borella cited European studies showing no harm from consuming food made from genetically-modified plants.

Northeastern State University student Matty Jones said there is a fear factor - people don't understand the genetically-modified foods and so are reluctant to consume them.  "They call it Frankenstein food," Gibson said.  He also discussed the "slow food" movement, to eat more natural products rather than the typical fast food fare.  "We tried to McDonaldize the world and the world fought back," he said. Saeger said she had attended a lecture in which a man from a native tribe discussed his distaste for the fast food products he had eaten when he came to the city.  "He much preferred worms and bugs to [fast food] hamburgers," she said. Jones said he favored the slow food movement.  "It shows that people are willing to make a choice. If they don't want McDonald's, there's no reason to force it down their throats. The choice is important," he said.

Participants agreed America should open its market to food produced in other countries, especially third world nations. They agreed that it should not affect U.S. farmers much, since most of the items imported are goods such as bananas, that are not grown here.

But Jones predicted that brand name loyalty will remain a factor. "People who buy Chiquita bananas are still going to buy Chiquita bananas," he said.

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It may well be that if Saddam's regime falls there will be dancing on the streets of Basra. But then, if the Bush regime were to fall, there would be dancing on the streets the world over. - Arundhati Roy http://www.guardian.co.uk/g2/story/0,3604,927712,00.html

PROTEST THE WAR - PROTEST THE CORRUPTION OF THE POLITICAL PROCESS
from Schnews:  The Labour Party have a Freepost address, which means they have to pay the postage on anything you send them. Please don't send bricks or heavy phone directories to: The Labour Party, FREEPOST LON 10417, London, SW1P 4UT. All the local party offices also have freepost addresses that can be found on election leaflets

THE PARTY IS "IN THE POCKETS OF THE RICH AND POWERFUL"
'Mark Seddon, a member of Labour's National Executive Committee, claimed such donations were causing Labour to lose members amid criticism from the grassroots that the party was now "in the pockets of the powerful and the rich".   He told the Today programme: "In any other country I think a government minister donating such vast amounts of money and effectively buying a political party would be seen for what it is, a form of corruption of the political process." ' http://ngin.tripod.com/030403c.htm

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