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TITLE:  Opening of USDA Agricultural Ministerial Met with Mass
        Protests Against Bush Agenda of Corporate “Free Trade”
        and Genetically Engineered Food
SOURCE: Sacramento Mobilization
DATE:   June 23rd, 2003

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Opening of USDA Agricultural Ministerial Met with Mass Protests Against Bush
Agenda of Corporate “Free Trade” and Genetically Engineered Food
Thousands March, Dozens Arrested as Protests Show Corporate Control and GE
Food Increase Hunger, Hurt Small Farmers and Threaten the Environment

[more ionformation at:]

Sacramento, CA - As ministers from over 100 countries gather for a U.S.
government sponsored 4 day "Ministerial Conference and Expo on Agricultural
Science and Technology," activists took to the streets with marching bands, giant
puppets, and nonviolent direct action to protest increasing corporate control
over the global food system. Peasant and small farmer groups from around the
world representing over 400 million farmers have denounced the ministerial
as an effort by the Bush administration to promote the interest of U.S. AG and
biotech companies at the expense of food safety, the environment and
democracy. The Sacramento Ministerial is one of the key international meetings in
the lead-up to September's World Trade Organization (WTO) meeting in Cancun
where the Bush administration will be pushing its agenda of promoting corporate
globalization and a biotech future by expanding sweeping "free trade"

Representatives from farmers groups in the United States, Canada, the
Philippines, and Africa have joined environmental, global justice and anti-war
activists in organizing mass creative demonstrations. A massive march featuring
family farmer contingents, chefs, agriculture, a battalion of threatened
monarch butterflies, genetically engineered mutant trees and killer tomatoes,
showed the growing opposition in the U.S. to so-called “free trade”
and the genetic engineering of food. 50 Sacramento gardeners reclaimed and
began replanting a local, organic community garden, which has been sealed off
from the public and slated for development. Locking themselves with metal pipes
to fruit trees, they described the threat to the garden as “a local
microcosm of the global assault on sustainable food systems.” They were
forcibly removed from the garden at midnight by over 100 riot police and 12
remain in jail on a hunger strike claiming, “if we can’t grow
local, organic food, we don’t want to eat.”

Among the most controversial issues at stake in the Ministerial is the U.S.
government's efforts to push genetically engineered (GE) food on the world -
a long running global controversy that has isolated US policy makers from
international public opinion. The recent U.S. WTO challenge to the European
Union's restrictions on genetically engineered food and the Bush Administration's
linking of AIDS relief for African nations to their acceptance of
genetically engineered food, has raised concerns that the Bush administration is using
the Ministerial to promote an agenda favoring U.S. biotech and agribusiness

"This ministerial is about U.S. arm twisting to force feed the world
corporate controlled "free trade" and genetically engineered food. Countries around
the world are rejecting genetically engineered food because it is an
unnecessary, dangerous technology which has been disastrous for small farmers,
consumers and the environment," said Doyle Canning of the Institute for Social
Ecology's Biotechnology Project.

Policy experts are challenging the US government's claim that the
Ministerial will address the problems of poverty and hunger around the world. "U.S.
foreign policy is currently treating food as a commodity or worse yet a weapon,
to pressure poorer countries into accepting U.S. corporate control of their
food supply. Food is a basic human right and we need policies that address the
underlying cause of hunger, which is the unfair distribution of food, " said
Dr. Raj Patel an economist and policy analyst with the Institute for Food
and Development Policy.

The week long mobilization from June 20-25th will bring together local
grassroots activists, policy experts, small farmers, democracy advocates and
representatives of farmer and social justice movements from around the world. The
mobilization will feature educational events, rallies, marches, non-violent
direct action and an alternative Expo of sustainable, organic food production.


 Hartmut Meyer       
 Kleine Wiese 6         
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 Jun 16 - Jun 23, 2003
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