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Updates from just a few of the many events that took place on April 17, 2002- Continental Campaign Against GE Corn

Actions, press conferences and workshops were carried out in the  cities/towns (Chiapas) of Tuxtla, Tapachula, San Cristobal, Sabanilla, Comitan, and San Andres. The Diocese of Tuxtla took out a full page add in Cuarto Poder (most  popular Chiapan daily), explaining the GM corn contamination, and priests  made a special effort to mention the GM corn situation in their sermons  during the week of action. Some parishes had teach-ins, marches or sent  faxes to the SEMARNAT and SAGARPA. Teach-ins, fax-actions and conferences where held in the rest of the  cities. I participated in a academic forum at ECOSUR, the leading enviro-ag  university in S. Mexico. Guatemala had 5 protests (including some 8 land takeovers, where GM corn contamination was mentioned in each press release). Our Guatemala  counterparts also had a series of debates at the leading universities (ag/science) in Guatemala. In Argentina, Brazil, Ecuador, Paraguay, Honduras and Colombia press  conferences, teach-ins, land takeovers and fax actions where carried out during the week of action. We are still waiting on a report back in terms  of press coverage, etc. The second step now deals with the CONABIO's announcement at the CBD,  revealing contamination in 90% of communities tested. The Mexican civil  society and progressive press is seems lost, with no mention since the  announcement on Friday. I have a conference call with some tomorrow, and will fill you in on the details.  

We spoke to CBC, several radio and tv stations (7altogether). Here is the article from the CBC website Web Posted | Apr 17 2002 03:34 PM MDT

Commodities Exchange site of anti-GMO protest Winnipeg - A small group protested against genetically engineered foods Wednesday afternoon outside the Winnipeg Commodities Exchange building. Three protesters gathered as part of a larger protest by the international farmer's organization La Via Campesina. Charlene Rowland, an organic vegetable and seed farmer outside Clearwater, Man., believes genetically-engineered foods pose an unacceptable risk to human health. "There have been many allergic reactions through products which contain corn which has been genetically engineered, and soybean products which have been genetically engineered," she says. "A lot of these products have not been tested, they just plain haven't been around long enough to have the long-term effects known to the public. They're being released into the public without testing, and this is unfair."

We had a good event in San Francisco.  About fifteen people showed up in front of the Mexican consulate.  We had some nice visuals, great corn signs from Art and revolution, the big sign that Liz made, and we were able to distribute several hundred leaftets, some of which had a kernel of GE corn attached.  Greenpeace donated a bag of StarLink corn which we dumped in a biohazard bin in front of the building. Telemundo 48, and an AP writer and Photographer showed up but I'm not sure if anything ran. I will keep checking.  Carleen and I went up to the consulate to request a meeting with Jorge Castenada, the external affairs minister who was visiting SF, but he was not in the office.  We left a press packet for him. 

We had a beautiful day in Chicago too, there were at least 75 people assembled at the high point of the event, there was a lot of interest from people going into and out of the Board of Trade, including the traders and commodity folks...some of whom were sympathetic....very interesting discussion with one trader, who said he is watching the way the wind is blowing, and he thinks it's in our favor, and is watching the growing consumer pressure closely for his clients. One English gentleman, the owner if several IT companies, said he was very happy to see this kind of an event and protest in the states, finally, and urged us to study further what happened, and is happening in Europe, and how our campaign has different needs, in some ways, and the same needs in others. It was interesting that we had only one heckler the whole entire time, for about 3-4 mintues, who just yelled "STOP PROGRESS" periodically......what. ever. We had great involvement and logistical support and participation the day of the event from Family Farm Defenders, Earthsave, and Sustain, and of course, from Genewise folks. We passed out over 400 flyers, gave out 70 posters, and some of our participants got some great quotes in the press. The police were very cooperative, and we negotiated good-naturedly about the event. Sgt. O'Reilly happened to look the OCA up on the internet, found out it was labeled a "protest" and got on my case a bit, but I went out of my way to cooperate with them, and assure them it would be a peaceful protest, and entertaining as well!....there was confusion as to whether or not they were going to let us use a sound system and have a stage, but we negotiated with a very nice guy who works in the city permits dept. who took our side, and won the Sgt over. So we had very cooperative police detail who even ok'd our using a power outlet on what was technically Board of Trade Property. We had at least 9 media reps out at one time...all the press packets went, as well as 9 copies of extra press releases that I made. Reuters, Oster Dow Jones, both did stories, the Oster Dow Jones was pretty good, and she wants to keep in touch with us...reporters from Medill School of Journalism, two Spanish stations did stories and interviews, one on camera with Maria Isabel Casas, of the Mexico Solidarity Network....but I still have to follow up on who those media sources were...WBBM radio here did a piece....the Sun Times might have been there, but have not yet had a chance to follow up with the reporter I had been feeding info to. Andy Cobb from Second City, as Mr. Corporate Agribusiness....( we had a sign on him that clearly identified him as "Cargill, ADM, Monsanto, Dupont, Novartis, and Syngenta, etc.)....and Sophia from Genewise who played the FDA/USDA troll on a leash, held by Mr. Agribusiness...were an amazing comic team, and stole the show during some cameos...the little FDA troll was at one point treated to fake money dollar bills in the shape of doggy biscuits with some great one liners on them! Sophia wore an old second hand suit, and knee pads so that she could crawl around after those dollar bills. The folks from several activist orgs as well as Maria Isabel from the Mexico Solidarity Network are very excited and very interested in working with the OCA, and were VERY happy to hear that we have materials in Spanish...they all requested copies of the GE fact sheets and BioD 37's that I had with me. They requested that I take part in a conference on April 27th called: "From Local to Global: the Midwest on Fire" and attend their workshop entitled: "Defendind the Agro: Family Farms Rights, Justice for Farm workers and Food Sovereignity for all!!" and, we all enjoyed ourselves immensely!

Just to let you all know, we did an action at shaw's in east Boston  yesterday where we inflated a 20ft GE corn cob to highlight the  contamination of corn products at shaw's and the world's center of corn  genetic diversity in mexico. it was lots of fun! we highly recommend the corn inflatable - in fact we were thinking of holding onto permanently.

W e got some spanish press: a radio station and a local weekly. I think the  coverage in those two mediums was really positive. The photos are really cool, and the factsheets we made are pretty  amazing as well.

Over 50 folks showed up to a beautiful blue sky day. All speakers showed up and were great. The press was slim but we didn't get skunked.  Mary Louser from MN Public Radio, KFAI and Native American News. I bellowed it out OK but people being heard was a problem.  I did have  the bull horn and that helped a bit but was still a problem. After it was all done a volunteer, dressed in a tyvek suit  carried the bag of corn, that has been placed in a biohazard bag, over  to the grain Exchange and we dropped it on the floor of the lobby. The giant veg head puppet we made at HOTB  looked great. About 4 people took pictures and have asked for any scans or digital  Ones to be sent to me.  I will forward them on if and when I get them.

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