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mail-out 68: Feast of all senses

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MAIL - OUT 68                   (June/ July 1999)

Dear friends
Here the mail-out 'No patents on life!'  (which will bechanged to 'No
control on life!' to broaden the scope).
(Those of you receiving the mail-out will get it on 'normal' mail too,
because of added fotos)
Best regards Florianne Koechlin

Genetech-food is out. A "de facto" moratorium on approval of GMOs in
Europe, and most of the the biggest European supermarket-chains going
GMO-free - a great chance, and time for us to rethink our strategies. In
Basel, CH we celebrated end of May the "feast of all senses - the pleasures
of eating, genetechfree". This event got an overwhelming and surprising
press-coverage all over Switzerland, in TV, radio and print-media. Why?

Up to now our campaigns mainly aimed at the negative, at warnings of the
new risks, be it for humans or for the environment. Up to now it was mainly
industry's agenda we had to react upon; now it's time for our own agenda,
in an offensive way, and in a broader scope. Last year we (NGOs in CH)
tried to strengthen the bridge between the No (to GM-food) and the Yes (to
organic food), with new coalitions between the organic and the
antigenetech-movement, between organic research and GMO-risk-research.

But let's go a step further: We now need new forms of resistence, on a
plattform of enjoying life and good food: We say Yes to delightfull eating,
to enjoying life , and therefore we say No to genetech-food. This sounds
simple enough, but in the end this encompasses nothing less than a cultural
change (the "de-genetification of our culture").

At the "Feast of all senses"  Simonetta Sommaruga (from a Swiss
consumer-NGO) pointed out that the image of genetech-food may also be that
bad because it comes at a wrong moment in history: For a long time organic
food was connected with the image of being healthy, rather special, for
eco-freaks in handknitted pullovers only, and it needed much conviction to
buy a shrivelled apple for double prize. But things changed. Today (in CH)
you can buy organic food in every supermarket, and it tastes great (did you
ever taste the difference between an organic asparagus and a normal one?).
You can also buy your good conscience with it: Organic food not only tastes
good, it also has a peacefull history of good quality. Organic food is
becoming the modern, healthy option of tomorrow.

Genetech-food is another story. Consumers got chased around in the last
years by BSE-, hormon- , dioxine- and unapproved gentech-food-scandals, and
they may become sick of it. Genetech-food, with its taste of manipulation
and power-misuse, may already be yesterdays option, outmoded even before it
got off.
Again: This cultural change seems easy enough, but I dare say this will
also be an enormous step for all of us who fight genetech-food; because,
looking around among ourselves I see lots of workoholics and not so many
bon viveurs and life-enjoying gourmets... but can we advocate a good life,
delightfull and genetechfree eating, without living it too (to some extent
at least)?

The "Feast of all senses - the pleasures of eating, genetech-free" was a
first attempt in this direction: A 7-course diner "organic gourmet" was
served embedded in music- and theater-happenings, with "Song books" by John
Cage , with Swiss folklore music and - before dessert - with a drink
"Natural Viagra" (an Ayurvedic drink from Sri Lanka) - and so on, a feast
of all senses... Afterwards the "Declaration of all senses - the pleasures
of eating, genetechfree" was launched on the Rhine, with music, fire and
water, while a Swiss cook, a German farmer and a French wine-producer said
a few words.  Some of the most famous Swiss cooks and gourmet-critics
already signed this declaration: the launching of a broad movement "good
eating, genetechfree". A one-day-seminar on this topic provided the
political imputs.

Foto 1: The safe of the "Mitte" (former bank) became a seed-safe, with
indigenous, genetechfree and biological seed-varieties. So that our
children and childrens children too can enjoy unmanipulated good  food.
Foto 2: Music, theatre, a genetechfree diner 'organic gourmet' - a feast of
all senses.
Foto 3: people could test their senses during a 'degustation-parcours'

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