Dear Activist Friends,
The Foundation on Economic Trends, the Pure Food Campaign, and the undersigned activists from around the world would like to invite you and your organization to join us and participate in the April 1997 Global Days of Action against genetically engineered foods and crops. During the week of April 21-26, consumer, farm, and public interest organizations from over 40 nations will be holding simultaneous protests, press conferences, and "grain dumps" in front of supermarkets, corporate headquarters, and government offices to strengthen the growing global boycott against the forced commercialization of unlabeled, untested gene-altered corn and soybeans (Monsanto's "Roundup Ready" Soybeans, Ciba-Geigy's "Maximizer" Bt Corn) and other biotech foods and crops.
The April Global Days of Action will be the first coordinated international actions against agricultural biotechnology and genetically engineered foods. We expect the April events to generate worldwide media coverage. By staging simultaneous actions and press conferences in countries throughout the world, we hope to mobilize broad public support against unlabeled, untested genetically engineered foods.
Growing global opposition to Monsanto's RRS soybeans and Ciba-Geigy's Bt corn has already affected world markets. A growing number of grain dealers and supermarket chains have broken ranks with the biotech companies and the grain cartels and are now filling orders for certified non genetically engineered grains. On December 5, the first shipload of certified non-genetically engineered soybeans arrived in the Belgian port of Antwerp, destined for delivery to customers in Switzerland, Austria, Germany, and Sweden. Because of strong opposition by consumers, in the first four weeks of European protests, US soy exports to Europe fell by over $150 million. With the recent launch of parallel boycott campaigns in Australia, Japan, and other countries, the White House and the US Department of Agriculture are having to revert to intimidation tactics--warning that a "trade war" may erupt if wholesalers, processors, retailers, and consumers refuse to purchase genetically engineered grains from the United States.
The global boycott of genetically engineered soy and corn is shaping up to be one of the first serious challenges mounted by global civil society against the New World Order of GATT and the WTO. As Vandana Shiva and others have pointed out, the growing global anti-biotech foods movement is part of the real democracy movement of our times. As the multinational corporations attempt to use genetic engineering to further monopolize world food production and to further restrict citizens' right to know what's been done to their food, they will meet a determined opposition. If international resistance against gene-foods continues to grow, grassroots organizations could win our first major battle against the transnational corporations, and for the first time in modern history successfully stop a new, non-sustainable technology before it wreaks havoc on the environment, the food chain, public health, and the survival of rural and traditional communities.
In this era of intensified economic exploitation and corporate globalization, we are all being subjected to an increasing industrialization and contamination of the food supply. In this context, progressive-minded people have no choice but to organize and campaign on a transnational basis. Isolated and fragmented, civil society is no match for Monsanto, Ciba-Geigy, and the other giant chemical and agricultural corporations. By campaigning and organizing together on an international basis we can win this battle.
So let us accelerate this "peoples grassroots globalization" process now by carrying out joint actions April 21-26, which will coincide with Earth Day activities in the US as well as the formal reevaluation by the United Nations of the state of the global environment "5 Years after the Rio Summit." Attached you will find a suggested plan of action, as well as sample materials produced by the Pure Food Campaign for grain dumps and press conferences held in the United States.
If you want to organize a joint action/press conference in your country or local area during the week of April 21-26, please contact the USA Pure Food Campaign office at:
Telephone (218) 226-4164 or (218) 226-4155 Fax (218) 226-4157 e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org world wide web: http://www.geocities.com/athens/1527April 21-26 Global Days of Action Against Gene-Foods: Suggested Plan of Action
Jeremy Rifkin, Foundation on Economic Trends, USA Ronnie Cummins, Pure Food Campaign, USA Maude Barlow, Council of Canadians, Canada Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, Tebtebba Foundation, Philippines Brent Blackwelder, Friends of the Earth, USA Agnes Bertrand, Forum sur la Globalisation, France Vandana Shiva, Research Foundation for Science, Technology, and Resource Policy, India Monica Moore, Pesticide Action Network, USA Nicky Perlas, Center for Alternative Development Initiatives, Philippines Stephanie Howard, ASEED Europe, Netherlands Martin Khor, Third World Network, Malaysia Mika Iba, Network for Safe and Secure Food and Environment, Japan Nilo Cayuqueo, South Meso-American Indian Rights Center, USA Ramon Durand, AEDENAT, Spain Daniel Hausknost, Global 2000, Austria Ricarda Steinbrecher, Women's Environmental Network, UK
Note: The following tactical suggestions, which we hope you will find helpful, are based on the Pure Food Campaign's experiences over the past few years in the USA. Many of you no doubt have already organized successful actions and media events of this type before.
* Contact the USA Pure Food Campaign by telephone, fax, or e-mail and let us know your plans for anti-gene-foods action during the week of April 21-26. To effectively coordinate international press coverage, the PFC needs this information at least one full month in advance of the April actions. Many groups in the USA are planning major events for Tuesday, April 22. You may wish to consult with the PFC staff about the specific tactics and logistics of your event, as well as get an update on what groups in different countries are planning.
* Select a media contact person for your April events so that the international press can be told who to call in your country for information and interviews. Prepare leaflets and a press release well in advance so that these can be shared with participating NGOs and sympathetic media in other countries. Also it's important to have a complete list of news organizations in your city or country (including reporters' contact names, telephone numbers, and fax numbers) so they can receive not only your press release, but also an international press release detailing events in the other countries where actions will be held.
* Select a suitable time and location for your protest, press conference, or "grain or gene-food dump." We recommend a range of speakers with pre-prepared written remarks, including a consumer advocate, a farmer, a progressive businessperson, a chef, a labor and/or religious activist, and a scientist. We also recommend that these 30-45 minute well-choreographed events (speakers first, followed by the dumping of the foods and grains) be held in front of grocery stores, corporate headquarters (Monsanto, Cargill, Archer Daniels Midland, Ciba-Geigy/Novartis, etc.), or government offices (regulatory agencies, the US Embassy, etc.). Previous experience has taught us that it's usually better to publicize our events as something other than "protests," unless we are certain beforehand we can turn out a large number of demonstrators. We also suggest that the press events be visually graphic with everyone carrying signs or banners. US press events around the country will generally conclude with a dramatic "finale" of dumping grains and food products into a garbage barrel or onto the streets or sidewalks to provide visual footage for TV and print photographers, although of course we understand that this particular tactic may not be appropriate in your particular country or area.
* You need a minimum of 15 people (of course the more the better) to stage your event, as well as perhaps certain "props" including large sacks of corn and soybeans to dump, sample tainted or "suspect" consumer food products containing soy or corn ingredients, a plastic or metal garbage barrel plastered on its outside with boycott posters, signs or banners, leaflets, etc. And you need to alert the media beforehand by fax and telephone so that they cover your press event. Because this is the first global food protest of this type ever organized, we expect major national and international news coverage of the April actions. Finally, we hope that by cooperating together on these April events we will solidify an ongoing global activist network that can continue to work together in the future. ###