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April Global Actions Against Biotech--Progress Report (fwd)

Global Days of Action Against Genetically Engineered Foods--April 21-27, 1997

Campaign Progress Report March 14, 1997
by Ronnie Cummins, Pure Food Campaign USA
Tel. (218) 226-4164
Fax. (218) 226-4157
e-mail <alliance@mr.net>
world wide web <http://www.geocities.com/athens/1527>

At the end of January the Pure Food Campaign began circulating a call-
signed by leading activists from 16 different organizations in a dozen
countries--for April global actions against genetically engineered foods
and crops. These actions are meant to complement the considerable amount of
global campaigning that has already taken place over the past six months in
Europe, North America, Japan, India, Malaysia, Australia, and other
countries. The call for Global Actions has been distributed so far via fax,
mail, and e-mail to over 400 non-governmental organizations and activist
groups in 40 countries. Publications and internet lists have also begun
reprinting the call. The response to the call has been very positive-
people are inspired by the idea of globally coordinated actions--although a
number of NGOs in the South have pointed out that genetically engineered
foods and crops are not yet issues of major concern in their regions.
Everyone seems to agree, however, that agricultural biotech and cloning
issues will become increasingly important as time goes on.

In Europe activists are also having to deal with the life form patents
debate at the same time as the gene-foods controversy, given that an
important vote is coming up soon in the European Parliament over whether
genetically engineered organisms and life forms can be patented. Media
calling in from around the world seem to be interested and intrigued by the
notion of globally coordinated resistance to biotech. In the United States,
recent activism has been somewhat hampered by the fact that the major media
are just now beginning (see New York Times article from February 24, 1997
on our web site) to give coverage to the biotech foods and labeling
controversy. Previous media coverage of consumer and farmer resistance
against the first US biotech food, the Bovine Growth Hormone, rBGH (rBST),
on the other hand, has been significant over the past three years. A poll
released in late January by the multinational biotech firm Novartis found
93% of U.S. consumers demanding mandatory labeling of G-E foods, with a
majority 54% favoring organic farming.

The "Sheep Cloning" story has been headline news in North America, as well
as the rest of the world for the past two weeks, and has fueled citizen
concern, not only over animal and human cloning, but over gene altered
foods as well. A CNN/Time poll released March 1, found 93% of Americans
opposed to human cloning and 66% opposed to animal cloning. 56% say they
would not eat meat from cloned animals. Many groups have decided to
incorporate an anti-cloning (human and animal) perspective into their April
actions as well, wearing identical animal and human masks as they hand out
leaflets, picket, hold press conferences, and dump grain. Over 220
non-governmental organizations from around the world have already signed a
petition circulated by the Foundation on Economic Trends to ban animal and
human cloning. An open letter on the cloning controversy directed to
anti-biotech activists around the world written by Jeremy Rifkin is
attached to this report.

So far campaigners have committed themselves to organize actions and press
events in over 20 countries, including:

(1) United States--commitments in New York, Washington, D.C. (National
press conference April 18), Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco,
Minneapolis, Milwaukee, Madison, Detroit, Atlanta, Austin, Tucson, and
Albuquerque; with anti-biotech activities also being incorporated into
Earth Day Week activities in many other cities. Contact: Pure Food Campaign
(Ronnie Cummins) Tel. (218) 226-4164 Fax. (218) 226-4157 e mail:
<alliance@mr.net> <http://www.geocities.com/athens/1527>

(2) Canada--actions planned at the GATT Codex Alimentarius labeling meeting
in Ottawa the second week of April, and for Global Action Week during the
third week of April. Also press conference planned for Prince Edward
Island. Contact: Council of Canadians (Dave Robinson) Tel. (613) 233-2773
Fax. (613) 233-6776 e-mail <robinson@web.net>
Also contact: Campaign to Ban Genetically Engineered Food (Richard Wolfson)
Tel. 613-564-8517 Fax. 613-565-6546 e-mail: <rwolfson@concentric.net>

(3) U.K.--actions planned across the country by Women's Environmental
Network and other groups. Contact: Women's Environmental Network (Ricarda
Steinbrecher) Tel. 44-171-247-3327 e-mail <ricarda@gn.apc.org>

(4) India--actions planned in April. Contact: Research Foundation for
Science, Technology, and Natural Resource Policy (Vandana Shiva) Tel. 91
11-696-8077 Fax. 91-11-685-6795 e-mail <vandana@twn.unv.ernet.in>

(5) Malaysia--actions planned by Third World Network and Consumers
Association of Penang. Contact: Third World Network (Martin Khor) Tel.
60-4-226-6728 Fax. 60-4-226-4505
e-mail <twn@igc.apc.org>

(6) Philippines--actions (still tentative) planned by Center for
Alternative Development Initiatives. Contact CADI (Nicky Perlas) Tel. 63
2-928-3986 Fax. 632-928-7608 e-mail: <CADI@phil.gn.apc.org>

(7) France--actions planned by Ecoropa and other groups. Contact: Ecoropa
(Etienne Vernet) Tel. 33-1-43-38-38-17 Fax. 33-1-43-38-37-88  e-mail:

(8) Austria --actions planned by Global 2000 including an important
national referendum on biotech foods the second week of April. Contact:
Global 2000 (Daniel Hausknost) Tel. 431-812-57300 Fax. 431-812-5728 e-mail

(9) Netherlands--actions planned by ASEED, the Amsterdam-headquartered
European youth network (also Friends of the Earth), possibly coordinating
actions in a number of European countries. Contact: ASEED (Stephanie
Howard) Tel. 31-20-668-2236  Fax. 31-20-665-0166 e-mail:

(10) Spain--actions planned by AEDENAT. Contact: AEDENAT (Ramon Duran) Tel.
34-1-319-8782 Fax. 34-91-571-7108 e-mail: <adenat@nodo50.ix.apc.org>

(11) Australia--actions planned by Australian GeneEthics Network and
Australian Consumers Association. Contact: GeneEthics Network (Bob Phelps)
Tel. 61-3-9416-2222 Fax. 61-3-9416-0767  e-mail: <acfgenet@peg.apc.org>
Also contact: Australian Consumers Association (Carole Renouf) Tel. 61
2-9577-3332 Fax. 61-2-9973-2328  e-mail: <carolr@peg.apc.org>

(12) Japan--actions planned by Network for Safe and Secure Food and
Environment April 19-20.  Contact: NESSFE (Mika Iba) Tel. 813-3327-6444
Fax. 813-3325-5890 e-mail: <eric@gol.com>

(13) Sweden--actions planned. For further information contact Martin Frid
Tel & Fax. 46-479-10010

(14) Italy--actions planned. Contact Greenpeace (Alessandro Gianni) Tel.
39-6-575-0053 or 39-6-578-2484 Fax. 39-6-578-3531 e-mail:
Also contact: Crocevia (Antonio Onorati) e-mail: <mc2535@mclink.it>

(15) Norway--actions planned. Contact: GATT WTO Campaign (Helge Christie)
Tel. & Fax. 47-6249-6096 e-mail: <christie@powertech.no>

(16) Belgium--actions planned. Contact: Pesticide Action Network Belgium
(Catherine Wattiez) Tel. 322-358-2926 Fax. 322-358-2926 e-mail
Also contact: CPAQ (Patrick Vander Linden) Tel. 322-218-4727 Fax. 322
217-6078 e-mail <pvlinden@skynet.be>

(17) Denmark--contact NOAH (Jesper Toft) Tel. & Fax. 45-3879-1415 e mail:

(18) Germany--actions planned in Bonn, Munich, Dusseldorf, Bochum, and
Cologne. Contact Gen-Ethisches Network (Werner Reisberger) Tel. 49-234
540-294  Fax. 49-234-540-239  e-mail: <werner@tribe.ping.de>

(19) Switzerland--actions planned for Basel April 21. Contact: No Patents
on Life (Florianne Koechlin) e-mail <nopatents@igc.apc.org>

(20) Poland--actions planned. Contact Krakow Green Federation (Darek Szwed)
e-mail <ehkozuch@cyf-kr.edu.pl>

(21) Hungary--actions planned. Contact Daniel Swartz and Ada Amon e mail
<kuka@swartz.zpok.hu> or <ada@geg.zpok.hu>

(22) New Zealand--ongoing actions. Contact Natural Food Commission (Guy
Hatchard) Tel. 9-522-1043 Fax. 9-524-6003 e-mail <natlaw@nlp.org.nz>

March 14, 1997

Dear Activist Friends,

As you know, two weeks ago, scientists in Great Britain announced the first
cloning of a mammal. The news of this historic event shocked the
international community and raised, for the first time, the specter of a
"Brave New World" of genetic engineering in the 21st Century.

Civilization stands on the cusp of a frightening new eugenics era. At stake
is the very survival of the biodiversity of our planet. The cloning of a
mammal signals a fundamental commercial shift out of the Petrochemical and
Nuclear Age and into the Biotech Age, with dire potential consequences to
the whole of the biological kingdom. A number of multinational
corporations, with the support of the scientific community, are rushing
ahead--determined to reduce the genetic blueprints of plant, human, and
animals to the kind of engineering values and standards used so wantonly to
shape the inanimate world of matter and energy during the Industrial Age.

I am writing you and several hundred other non-governmental organizations
(NGOs) in countries around the world who have worked so tirelessly over the
years on behalf of the Earth and its many inhabitants. The time has arrived
to launch a new environmental era--one dedicated to defending and
preserving the Earth's rich genetic heritage.

Already NGOs in more than 20 nations have agreed to hold simultaneous press
conferences and protests during the week of April 20-27 to oppose the
forced introduction of the first genetically engineered grains- Monsanto's
herbicide-resistant soybeans and Ciba Geigy/Novartis' Bt spliced corn--and
other foods onto the global market. The recent cloning revelation makes it
imperative that we broaden our opposition and hold events in every country
to announce the beginning of a world wide resistance to genetically
engineered foods and crops, as well as to animal and human cloning.
Together we can help mobilize world public opinion and begin to challenge
the current commercial agenda with an alternative course of action for the
21st Century--one dedicated to sound ecological principles and sustainable
economic development.

For more detailed information on plans to expand the scope of the April
International Days of Action to include cloning issues, contact Ronnie
Cummins, the director of our Pure Food and corporate biotech campaigns.

We look forward to continue working with you.

Regards and Solidarity,

Jeremy Rifkin, President, Foundation on Economic Trends