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OCA & Our Allies Are Attacked in the Right-Wing Press--
We Must Be Doing Something Right

The Washington Times
April 14, 2000, Friday, Final Edition
SECTION: PART A; COMMENTARY; OP-ED; Pg. A21

HEADLINE: A campaign of hysteria;
Who is funding the anti-globalization demonstrators?
BYLINE: John Frydenlund

Thousands of demonstrators are converging on Washington this week to
protest joint meetings of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the
World Bank. Among the demonstrators' specific complaints with the IMF and
the World Bank are that these institutions' lending practices cause harm to
the environment and hurt poor countries.

While IMF and World Bank policies have not been perfect, the irony is that
the greater threat to poor countries and the environment comes from the
groups protesting, not the IMF or World Bank.

In a call to action, anti-biotechnology activists say they intend to
disrupt and shut down the IMF and World Bank meetings, continuing their
campaign of hysteria against agriculture biotechnology. The Mobilization

for Global Justice, an umbrella group that calls Seattle their "coming out
party," considers the IMF and World Bank meetings the "next big opportunity
to demand a peaceful, people-centered, and environmentally-sound global
economic system." Just as they did in Seattle, the protesters will, at the
very least, disrupt traffic, interfere with public transportation and
otherwise make Washington workers' commutes even more miserable than the
norm. Since the organizers refuse to condemn violence as a tool, they may
also destroy property worth millions of dollars.

In the long term, they could also do even more damage to the environment
and to less developed countries - the very causes for which they will be
paralyzing our capital city. Despite lackluster leadership from the Clinton
administration, the World Trade Organization is the only way to provide a
more open global economy that provides the potential to meet world food
needs, lift people of all nations out of poverty and build a foundation for
lasting peace and prosperity. The miracle that is biotechnology could do
more to further these goals, plus end world hunger and malnutrition, wipe
out countless diseases and make the environment cleaner.

So why do environmental groups oppose technology that promises to improve
the environment? Take a look at some of the leading groups trying to
prevent the use of biotechnology: Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth,
Pesticide Action Network, Rainforest Action Network, Earth First, Food
First, Consumers International, Organic Consumers Association, Public
Citizen, and Jeremy Rifkin's Foundation on Economic Trends, just to name a
few. If they really want to solve problems like world hunger, disease and
environmental degradation, they should be the leading proponents of
biotechnology. It's high time that someone questions the real motivation of
the groups that will be protesting here in D.C., particularly their
opposition to biotechnology.

A good place to start this exploration is to examine the list of financial
supporters for the Campaign to Label Genetically Engineered Foods, which is
loaded with organic food producers and retailers. As Gregory Conko,
director of food safety policy at the Competitive Enterprise Institute
says, "it is a backhanded and deceitful way of promoting organic products"
and perhaps of diverting the public's attention from the real dangers of
eating excrement-fertilized organic foods loaded with deadly contaminants.

With the organics/natural foods industry bankrolling much of the
anti-biotech movement in the United States and Europe, it is little wonder
that these groups oppose a technology that holds such great promise to
provide the solutions to the very problems they are supposedly organized to
fight.

This week's protests in Washington are just the latest tactic from groups
determined to preserve a "cause" that allows them to continue to raise
millions of dollars.

C.S. Prakash, director of the Center for Plant Biotechnology Research at
Tuskegee University, points out that the effectiveness of fertilizers,
pesticides and hybrids have reached a plateau. With a growing world
population, only biotechnology will increase yields enough to prevent the
need to put more land - like rainforests - into production. Isn't that what
the Rainforest Action Network wants?

Biotechnology will lead to crops that are resistant to pests and disease,
eliminating the need for pesticides and fungicides. For example, biotech
has produced corn plants resistant to major pests, which could eliminate 90
percent of the insecticides used in corn production. You would expect a
group called the Pesticide Action Network to favor technologies that reduce
the use of synthetic chemical pesticides. Wrong.

Groups like Mobilization for Global Justice say they are organizing for a
greener world. When it comes to biotechnology, though, it turns out they
are organizing for greenbacks. The fact is that if this campaign against
biotechnology succeeds, it would harm the environment and threaten the
well-being of millions of people.

John Frydenlund is director of the Center for International Food and
Agriculture Policy at Citizens Against Government Waste.

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