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Successful fundraising and profile-raising concert

GE Free Canterbury held a successful fundraising and profile-raising concert at the Canterbury Horticultural Society Hall on Sunday, attended by a passionate audience concerned about the threat to the environment and food safety if GE is released.

The afternoon's highlights included inspiring messages of support from GE free campaigners Dr Caroline Lucas the MEP (member of the European Parliament) for South-East England, British journalist and political scientist George Monbiot, and Indian journalist Devinder Sharma. All three of them were read out by former After School presenter Te Hata Olly Ohlsen, and received a round of applause.

Entertainment for the afternoon was provided by Mr Ohlsen, and local artists Graham Wardrop, Elizabeth Braggins, Lisa Tui Bainbridge, the A Capellago World Music Choir, The Natural Magic Pirates, Matiu Tehuti, and the Garden City Big Band.

GE Free Canterbury's next event is a protest march at Lincoln on Sunday, September 21, from 2pm. The New Zealand Institute of Crop and Food Research Limited is the destination, to highlight concern over the recent application for growing GE crops at Lincoln.

Contact: Melanie White - 3299308 and melaniewhite@xtra.co.nz

Below are the three messages of support:

Message from Dr Caroline Lucas, Green MEP (Member of the European Parliament) for the South-East of England:

"I would like to express my heartfelt support for the GE Free Canterbury campaign. All across the world people are standing up to say no to Genetically Modified crops.

Here on the other side of the world, The Green Party is campaigning for a GM-free Europe, and an end to the genetic modification of our food. GM crops pose unpredictable and irreversible long-term risks to the environment and human health. We must oppose the release of GM crops into the environment, and reject the use of GMOs as food or animal feed.

As a Green Member of the European Parliament, I am working to prevent the spread of GMOs across the European Union, and to ensure European legislation minimises the risks they pose. Through international action and solidarity we can fight this threat to the very food we eat.

I am campaigning to ensure that the moratorium in the EU stays in place and I am thrilled to hear that you are doing likewise in New Zealand. Enjoy the day!

Yours, Caroline"

Message from George Monbiot, British political scientist, journalist and regular columnist in The Guardian newspaper:

"All that stands in the way of the complete corporate takeover of the foodchain is people like yourselves. The consequences of the biotech companies manouvering themselves into a position in which they can control not only what we eat but even whether we eat, are too terrifying to contemplate. Thank you for all your efforts and please never give up the fight to prevent them from succeeding."

George Monbiot

Message from Devinder Sharma Indian journalist, author, thinker, and chairperson of the Forum for Biotechnology & Food Security, New Delhi.



You are not alone in your fight for justice. You are not alone in your fight to protect and save the Earth from the clutches of genetic engineering. You are not alone in demolishing the myth that biotechnology is the 'silver bullet' that would address the problem of hunger and malnutrition. People all over the world are with you. Those who want their children to live in an evergreen environment, those who want to retain control over their natural resources, those who love independence and freedom are with you..

Genetic engineering will turn us into aliens in our own land. Genetic engineering will exacerbate the hunger crisis, drive out millions of Third World farmers from their small farms and lead to more suicides in the rural areas. Genetic engineering will turn the world into a vast colony of a handful of few multinational corporations.

In my own country - India - which has the dubious distinction of an unmanageable food surplus exceeding 40 million tonnes on the one hand and a staggering population of 320 million hungry people on the other, genetic engineering industry goes on making 'pledges' to remove hunger by the year 2015. If we were to eradicate hunger from India, a third of the world's hungry would be out of the hunger trap. We don't have to wait for the year 2015 to remove hunger from India. The food is there, stacked in the open, lying exposed to the vagaries of the nature.

Instead, the Indian government is being forced to accept genetically modified food as well as the faulty technology. While the poor are dying of hunger at a time of an unmanageable surplus rotting in the open, the international community is telling us to invest in genetic engineering to save the hungry in future.

This is because, the democratically elected governments the world over, and that includes New Zealand and India, have deviated from what Abraham Lincoln had once said: "Democracy is by the people, of the people and for the people." Today, democracies have gone far away from people, and unabashedly follow a new mantra: "Democracy is by the industry, of the industry and for the industry."

But let us not forget. There was a time when the sun would never set on the British Empire. That Empire was ruthless and cruel. But one man took the courage. And the Empire crumbled. Today, the sun never sets on the multinational corporations. And drawing inspiration from the spirit of courage demonstrated by that great man - Mahatma Gandhi - let us join hands, form a chain of resistance all over the world - in the right spirit of satyagrah - and I can assure you that the new Empire too will crumble.

All it needs is Peoples' power. Let us realise our power.


In solidarity,

Devinder Sharma

© Scoop Media

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