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2-Plants: Korean Protest "Stop developing GM crops!!"



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"Stop developing GM crops!!" - Korean Protest

Korean students and environmental activists today organized a direct 
action against the irresponsible use of GM (genetically-modified) 
technology, at the center of Korean agricultural biotechnology - the 
National Institute of Agricultural Science and Technology (NIAST).
NIAST, funded by the Korean Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (MAF), 
proclaims itself to be the key research institute responsible for the 
development of sustainable agricultural technologies that are 
environment-friendly. However, it was revealed last year that NIAST had 
secretly carried out the field trials of GM crops even though Korea did 
not have any legislations regarding the release of GMOs into the 
environment.
On February this year, the Rural Development Administration (RDA) 
announced that NIAST developed eight different GM crops, including Rice, 
Cayenne, Chinese cabbage, Tobacco, and Tomato. According to the RDA, 
these GM crops will be put on market by 2001. And yet, the Korean 
government keeps silent about the issues of biosafety and bioethics.
The action started at 11 a.m. when about ten students and activists 
occupied and blockaded the greenhouse at the NIAST, where the field 
trials of GM crops were being conducted. They placed a big banner with 
the "X" symbol over the greenhouse, and chained themselves to its 
entrance. Other activists demonstrated outside the greenhouse with 
placards raised, which read "No Genetic Engineering".
"Koreans are shaken by the fact that the government allows the field 
trials of GM crops while it does not even have a legislation or agency to 
monitor and regulate the experiments," said one participant. "Genetic 
engineering is good for the economy, they say. But can this be a good 
excuse for ignoring the environment, public health and ethical 
considerations?" "We're here today to let the government and those 
researchers involved know how the public feels about their incompetence, 
arrogance, and lack of responsibility."

The students and activists called for:
1) Immediate ban on the release of GMOs into the environment (including 
GM foods and field trials)
2) Immediate ban on the import of GM crops and foods
3) Moratorium on agricultural R&Ds using GM technology until strict 
legislations regarding biosafety and bioethics have been enacted and come 
into force
They also demanded:
4) Establishment of an independent institution to organize democratic 
debates on the health, ecological, societal and ethical consequences of 
Genetic Engineering
5) Democratic participation in the regulatory decision-making.

The action wasstopped around 3 p.m. when the police intervened to break 
the protest. Some of the activists and students were arrested and were 
released after being held for 3 hours.

We need your support!!
A rapid growth of genetic engineering in Korea is not just the problem of 
Korean people. It reflects the New World Order of neo-liberalism, in 
which the transnational corporations use genetic engineering to further 
monopolize world food production, and we, global citizens, are subject to 
an increasing industrialization and contamination of the food supply. 
Only by campaigning together on an international basis, we can stop the 
inappropriate and irresponsible use of biotechnology before it causes 
havoc on the environment, the food chain, public health, and the survival 
of rural and traditional communities.

Please express solidarity by sending protest messages to the following 
addresses:
You can write a protest letter at Korean government (Chongwadae) website
http://www.cwd.go.kr/e_mail_president.html
or Korean Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry
wmaster@maf.go.kr


===================================================
-| Hartmut Meyer
-| Co-ordinator
-| GENET
-| The European NGO Network on Genetic Engineering
-|
-| Reinhaeuser Landstr. 51
-| D - 37083 Goettingen
-| Germany
-| 
-| phone: #49-551-7700027
-| fax  : #49-551-7701672
-| email: genet@agoranet.be
===================================================

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