“Since genetic engineering manipulates the basis of life, the
risks involved are more frightening than any other developed so
far... We feel it is unjust of the richest of the world to expect
us to bear the risks of their experimentation.” - Tewolde Egziabher,
Ethiopian Delegate (CBD).
In April UN delegates will be yapping about the state
of the world’s biodiversity resources over two-headed salmon and
champagne at the sixth meeting of the Convention on Biological Diversity
(CBD) in Holland. Set up during the UN Rio Earth Summit in 1992,
the CBD have only just agreed on the useless Biosafety Protocol
and The Law of the Seed. Neither will have the power to stop the
legal or illegal spread of GMOs, protect farmers rights or stop
finite resources being plundered for profit. This is because these
UN organisations didn’t have the power or force of will to fight
powerful biotech corporations and the World Trade Organisation.
“What’s frightening is how fast it has spread” said
Yolanda Lara, spokesperson for Oaxaca’s non-governmental Rural Development
Agency about the spread of GM corn in Capulalpan, a village in the
hills of Mexico’s Oaxaca State. Normally locals might be thankful
for this new source of corn, the staple food of villages in the
area. But they now know this corn is GM, which is surprising because
GM crops have been banned in Mexico since 1998. Berkeley scientists
have confirmed that this new corn is the spawn of Monsanto: it has
the same DNA as the biotech giant’s commercial GM maize. David Quist,
responsible for the study suggests that “It’s more likely that the
contamination came from food aid brought into these regions. A lot
of it comes from the United States and a lot of it is transgenic.”
So under the guise of offering support to poverty stricken villagers
in remote parts of Mexico, the US has managed to off-load tonnes
of subsidised GM maize on unsuspecting shopkeepers and subsistence
farmers. Locals are worried that the GM corn, which they say has
been around in their shops for several years, will out-compete native
varieties. The Berkeley study confirms their fears, suggesting that
GM corn is likely to dominate local corn and may also threaten the
research of the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Centre,
home to the largest variety of endangered maize in the world. Quist
believes a well-enforced ban on imported GM corn and a programme
to encourage traditional habits of swapping and testing wild seeds
is the way forward.
In February this year Greenpeace Asia activists blocked
the unloading of 17,000 tonnes of GM soybeans from the United States.
The Philippine government buys about 300,000 tonnes of soybeans
and over one million tonnes of soymeal annually, mainly from the
United States. Last October, Swiss corporation Novartis AG confirmed
allegations from Greenpeace that some samples of baby food it sold
did contain genetically modified soybean. Beau Baconguis of Greenpeace
Asia said, “We should not be forced to feed our children with food
the rest of the world is increasingly rejecting.”
India is the biggest cotton producer in the world
so it was big news when, in 1998, 500 farmers committed suicide
in Andhra Pradesh because of the failure of their cotton crops.
Dr. Pushpa Bhargava, an Indian biologist, told the Indian Science
Congress that the failure of the cotton seed in Andhra Pradesh in
1997 and 1998 should be investigated since Monsanto could have been
using local seed companies to market bad seed in order to destroy
the supply system. “The destruction of the seed supply and Monsanto’s
purchase of Indian seed companies would have ensured that Indian
farmers had no option but to buy Monsanto’s Bt. cotton and in future
Monsanto’s terminator crops.” The Indian farmers ain’t taking this
lying down and in 1998 the Karnatka farmers union occupied and burned
down the three fields of GM cotton and 500 farmers occupied Cargill,
the biotech multinational offices, throwing loads of their processing
kit out of windows. They did loads of other actions too as part
of ‘Operation Cremate Monsanto’ and hundreds of farmers and activists
took part in the Intercontinental Caravan, which toured through
The struggle against biotech giants in India continues
today and on Monday 18th Indian women farmers will be in London
to challenge British Government aid to the state of Andhra Pradesh’s
“Vision 20\20” programme, which will displace 25 million rural people,
and corporatise agriculture in the state. This action opposes the
Memorandum of Understanding signed by Chief Minister of AP and Monsanto,
which will give the company free rein to plant GM crops throughout
Andhra Pradesh. They will present the findings of a Citizen’s Jury
at 2pm in the House of Commons.
While 9 EU states have a legal postponement of genetically
modified organisms, countries such as Sri Lanka and India have been
forced to bow to the ‘superior’ power of US backed World Trade Organisation
and sign the Trade Related Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS)
Agreement which limits their ability to deny access to Monsanto
and the like. That said, anti GM and anti-capitalist actions are
growing, so get yer arse in gear and see what you can do to stop
the greedy corporate elite (and their government chums) from controlling
our food supply.
The first GM crop bashing of the year kicked off in
Warwickshire last weekend. Following a procession about 100 people
pulled up some plants in a field of GM oil seed rape for half an
hour before police made five arrests. Despite the non-violent protest
a police spokesman said “We were treating it as a peaceful protest,
but it did go beyond that.” - probably unaware of cops enjoying
tea and cakes provided by the local Women’s Institute, in the village
hall, with the protesters after the event.
* To see if there’s any farm scale trials in your
area contact: 020-7272-1586, www.geneticsaction.org.uk.
* After suing Canadian farmer Percy Schmeiser for
infringing patent rights when his fields were contaminated with
GM oil seed rape, even though he was unaware of the contamination
and was unable to prevent it (SchNEWS 300) Monsanto are now threatening
other farmers. See the threatening letters at www.percyschmeiser.com.
In a separate case two Canadian organic farmers are
trying to sue Monsanto and Aventis. They seek compensation for damages
caused by GM oilseed rape, and an injunction to prevent Monsanto
from introducing GM wheat into the region. The local organic farmers
group said “…losing wheat to genetic contamination would devastate
organic farming…our very future is at stake.” Info: www.saskorganic.com.
* This Sunday (17th) there’s a Global Day of Action
for Farmer’s Struggle, www.viacampesina.org.
And on 27th March is a Genetic Futures in Food and Farming CDB talk,
12-4 pm, Main Lecture Theatre School of Oriental and African Studies,
London. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org.
And running alongside the UN Conference in Holland, Resistance is
Fertile are organising actions, workshops and activities for a world
without GMOs and patents on life April 6th-19th. www.resistanceisfertile.org.
month in the Ecuadorian Amazon provinces of Sucumbios and Orellana
thousands of striking construction workers and local residents protesting
against the new oil pipeline were attacked by the country’s armed
forces. Three children were killed by asphyxiation from tear gas,
close to forty people were arrested and over three hundred people
were wounded after the military crackdown ordered by President Gustavo
Noboa. Demonstrators occupied over 60 oil wells and 5 refineries-halting
all construction on the pipeline bringing oil production to a near
standstill and erected roadblocks. Nearby in the highland cloud
forests of the Mindo, people continue to put their lives on the
line by tree-sitting to block the pipeline’s passage. The government
declared a state of emergency for the provinces in defence of the
oil multinationals, immediately suspending civil rights, and invoking
the military to break up the demonstrations while the local radio
stations were kept off the air.
Meanwhile on Monday Indian tribal leaders from Ecuador began the
lengthy and expensive process of taking Chevron-Texaco to the US
courts. This groundbreaking environmental class-action lawsuit,
the first filed by foreigners in a U.S. court, is being watched
closely to see if federal courts find American corporations accountable
to crimes abroad.
“We simply want Chevron-Texaco to pay to clean up the damage it
caused.” The lawsuit asserts that Texaco installed defective drilling
technology that led to the spillage of millions of gallons of toxic
wastewater over a 20-year period. Rather than pump the poisonous
water back into the ground - as is the industry standard, and as
Chevron-Texaco does in the United States - they dumped it into hundreds
of unlined pits. From the pits, the wastewater contaminated with
oil and heavy metals slowly poisoning the rivers and wetlands of
“To Chevron-Texaco, the clean-up costs represent a small fraction
of its annual profits,” said prosecuting lawyer Joseph Kohn, “To
our clients in the Amazon, this is a matter of life or death.
” Texaco and Occidental Petroleum have extracted more that $60
billion dollars worth of oil from these provinces in the last 30
years, yet 90% of the region’s population lives in poverty. Despite
the huge profits from oil the locals surprise, surprise have seen
none of the loot and all of the pillaging has left them impoverished
and sick with cancer. www.amazonwatch.org
* At the end of last month a court gave the go ahead for the families
of Ken Saro-Wiwa to take Shell/Dutch Petroleum to court for participation
in crimes against humanity, torture, summary execution, arbitrary
detention, cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment. Environmentalist
activist and writer Ken Saro-Wiwa, and eight other Ogoni activists
were hanged by the Nigerian military government in 1995. The “Ogoni
Nine” had opposed Shell’s pollution and oil development in the Niger
Delta. Saro-Wiwa told the military tribunal that sentenced him to
death, “Shell is here on trial. The Company has, indeed, ducked
this particular trial, but its day will surely come...”
Judith Chomsky, Attorney for the prosecution commented , “Shell
had direct involvement in human rights violations against the Ogoni
people. Any company that profits from crimes against humanity should
be brought to justice wherever they are.” Lawsuits have also been
filed against Exxon-Mobil by people from Indonesia’s embattled Aceh
province, Members of ethnic minorities in Myanmar (formerly Burma)
against Unocal And Chevron-Texaco (again) by other Nigerian groups:
A Peat Alert activist will talk about the campaign to
save Britain’s peat bogs and 4 days of direct action coming
up at Hatfield Moors this Easter. 7pm Sunday 17th upstairs at
the Hobgoblin, London Rd, Brighton www.peatalert.org.uk
This Saturday there’s a meeting to create a crew that the authorities
can deal with to run a 4 day celebration of the summer Solstice
at Stonehenge. It’s at the Art Space, 491 Grove Green Road,
Leytonstone London E11 (by Leytonstone tube station) 2pm 0798-402-6853
The South East Alternative Science Network are holding their
first Brickhurst Science FunDay on Saturday at Brickhurst
Farm in Pembury, Tunbridge Wells. The kids science and environment
activity day has been set up as an alternative to the usual
overcrowded and overpriced corporate sponsored science events.
Tel 01892 863 941 www.geocities.com/seasonscience
Manchesters Okasional Café will be back in business
this weekend ( Saturday 6pm) with a vegan supper and a gig with
local bands. See www26.brinkster.com/okcafe/home.html
for details of the location.
Zimbabwe now has it’s own Indy Media Centre http://zimbabwe.indymedia.org
Two presidents resigned on the island of Mauritius in the Indian
Ocean rather than give the green light to a new Prevention of
Terrorism Act. Mass protests complained that the law
was an infringement of human rights and an attack on the country’s
sovereignty, because it allows the CIA to interfere in national
affairs. The law was eventually passed when the Chief Justice
The Anti-capitalist Action group will be hosting a number
of workshops, discussions and film-showings on direct action
at their newly occupied social centre this coming weekend. The
social centre is in Cambridge: on “0” Covent Garden, on the
corner of Mill Road just past the Kelsey Kerridge sports centre.
There will be a Healing UK Medical Training next weekend
(22nd-24th) to teach people about first aid at demonstrations.
It’s at the London Activist Resource Centre, corner of Fieldgate
and Parfett, St’s, London, E1 (Whitechapel tubes) 020 7249 6996
wondered why anti-capitalist protesters always get over the top
sentences for minor offences? Well, the Legal Defence and Monitoring
Group (LDMG) have uncovered secret documents that tell judges to
come down hard on activists. These documents were being passed to
Crown and Youth Court judges after both May Day 2000 and May Day
Monopoly 2001 festivities. The document titled “Mayhem” came to
the attention of LDMG in June 2001 at Middlesex Guildhall Crown
Court. The defence barrister Ed Rees QC asked to look at the document,
but the court refused this on the grounds that it was secret! Sentencing
in England and Wales is supposedly based on individual circumstances
and the seriousness of the offence, but clearly in the case of anti-capitalists
this is not the case. Glaring examples of over the top prison terms
are Roger Davis who got 3 months for threatening words and
behaviour, which results in a fine at worst; Karl Hodgkinson got
15 months for affray; and another person received a £1000 fine for
common assault (the lowest form of assault). Paul Jones,
spokesperson for LDMG told SchNEWS “The police have spent millions
of pounds preventing the May Day actions from proceeding peacefully
and in prosecuting people for minor offences. Now we discover that
the judiciary is instructed to send those convicted to prison. Even
the pretence of justice has been abandoned. We demand an amnesty
for all May Day protestors.” LDMG 07949 061 333 e: email@example.com
*All sorts of pranks and actions are being planned for this year’s
May Day. For more info check out www.ourmayday.org.uk
* Brighton Anarchist Black Cross are hosting a Mark Barnsley
info/debate night upstairs at the Prince Albert, Trafalgar St. Monday
18th at 7.30pm. Mark has spent seven years inside after being attacked
by 15 drunken students whilst out with his baby and a friend. Mark
has spent all his time in maximum and high security prisons and
has been denied parole as punishment for protesting his innocence.
* Emily Apple the activist that “society needs a break from”
didn’t go to prison as feared (SchNEWS 345) but got a fine instead
for locking onto a train carrying arms dealers to last year’s arms
fair in East London.
24 hours before a campaign was due to be launched against AMEC,
for their participation in the controversial Yusufeli Dam in Turkey,
the company announced its withdrawal from the project. The dam would
displace 30,000 people, destroy many old churches, fortresses and
a citadel aswell as displacing endangered red vultures and brown
bears. The withdrawal of AMEC now casts doubt over the future of
the whole project. Kerim Yildiz, Executive Director, Kurdish Human
Rights Project said “We are delighted that AMEC has withdrawn from
this project. For minorities on the ground whose homes, livelihood
and ways of life are threatened by this project this a huge victory.”
At Taurus Crafts in Lydney, Gloucestershire, peddlers will be connecting
their own pedal generator to the national grid via a plug socket
from 2nd-30th April.
Tom from ‘Power of the People’ told SchNEWS “The paperwork I have
generated dealing with the natural grid, power supply companies,
and planning department is enormous... In the Netherlands these
same panels can be stuck on the roof, plugged in at a wall socket,
and your meter will run backwards corresponding to the number of
units produced. No paperwork required.” Info: 01594-836546 firstname.lastname@example.org
“The Corporation took over your country and proceeded to impose
its strict rules on an unsuspecting public. Questioning this new
authority led to unrest. Unrest led to full scale rioting.” – So
goes the blurb for a new Sony Playstation 2 game where armed with
molotovs, grenades and AK47s you fight the corporation. The company
backing it, Take-Two, will profit greatly from this anti-capitalist
bestseller at a time when it is in financial woes. Yet another example
of a capitalist company selling the anti-capitalist idea. SchNEWS
reckons its more fun (and risky) to get out on the streets and demonstrate
than sit and smash things up on a TV screen.
SchNEWS warns all readers if there’s any seed of doubt go for the
best of the crop. Honest
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