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9-Misc: Anti-GM protest at South African biotech conference



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TITLE:  Anti-GM protest at biotech conference
SOURCE: Business Day, South Africa, by Lisa Andrews
        http://www.bday.co.za/bday/content/direct/
        1,3523,1354439-6078-0,00.html
DATE:   May 28, 2003

------------------ archive: http://www.gene.ch/genet.html ------------------


Anti-GM protest at biotech conference

Two South African lobby groups today picketed a biotechnology conference
in Johannesburg today over the controversial issue of genetically
modified (GM) food.

A small group of protesters from the Environmental Justice Networking
Forum and the South African Freeze Alliance on Genetic Engineering held
up placards with slogans like "Say Yes to Organic Agriculture" and
"Warning: GM foods can damage your health".

Sister Angelica Loub, one of the protesters, said she had environmental,
social and economic concerns about genetically modified foods.

"GM technology has not been tested. It damages the health of our
people... It destroys the livelihood of small farmers because it makes
them dependent on US seed," she said.

Sister Angelica said the forum was lobbying for greater consultation by
the SA government with the public on the issue of GM crops and seed. In
addition, she said, the labelling of GM products should be a priority, in
order to allow people to make an informed choice.

The Freeze Alliance on Genetic Engineering accused conference organisers
of excluding community representation due to the high cost of attending
as delegates.

"The cost of over R5,000 per person effectively excludes the public and
this sort of exclusion has epitomised the introduction of GE crops and
biotechnology in South Africa.

"There has been no public consultation or input on the need or
desirability of the technology and these types of conferences only serve
to further this exclusivity," alliance spokesman Peter Komane said in a
statement.

The Environmental Justice Networking Forum issued a memorandum to the
meeting of multinational biotechnology companies today, demanding:
- that all field trials on GM crops in South Africa should be suspended
until adequate research has been done on the impact on health and the
environment;
- that multinationals allow the public access to information about their
technology and the location of their field trials; and
- allow for independent assessments and monitoring of the trials.

The biotechnology conference ends tomorrow.




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