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Thousands Protest GMO food at US Ag Ministerial


Thousands Protest GMO food at US Ag Ministerial

Mobilization for Food Sovereignty, Democracy and Justice www.sacmobilization.org

Opening of USDA Agricultural Ministerial Met with Mass Protests Against Bush Agenda of Corporate "Free Trade" and Genetically Engineered Food

Thousands March, Dozens Arrested as Protests Show Corporate Control and GE Food Increase Hunger, Hurt Small Farmers and Threaten the Environment

Sacramento, CA As ministers from over 100 countries gather for a U.S. government sponsored 4 day "Ministerial Conference and Expo on Agricultural Science and Technology," activists took to the streets with marching bands, giant puppets, and nonviolent direct action to protest increasing corporate control over the global food system. Peasant and small farmer groups from around the world representing over 400 million farmers have denounced the ministerial as an effort by the Bush administration to promote the interest of U.S. AG and biotech companies at the expense of food safety, the environment and democracy.

The Sacramento Ministerial is one of the key international meetings in the lead-up to September's World Trade Organization (WTO) meeting in Cancun where the Bush administration will be pushing its agenda of promoting corporate globalization and a biotech future by expanding sweeping "free trade" agreements.

Representatives from farmers groups in the United States, Canada, the Philippines, and Africa have joined environmental, global justice and anti-war activists in organizing mass creative demonstrations. A massive march featuring family farmer contingents, chefs, agriculture, a battalion of threatened monarch butterflies, genetically engineered mutant trees and killer tomatoes, showed the growing opposition in the U.S. to so-called "free trade" and the genetic engineering of food. 50 Sacramento gardeners reclaimed and began replanting a local, organic community garden, which has been sealed off from the public and slated for development. Locking themselves with metal pipes to fruit trees, they described the threat to the garden as "a local microcosm of the global assault on sustainable food systems" They were forcibly removed from the garden at midnight by over 100 riot police and 12 remain in jail on a hunger strike claiming, "if we can¹t grow local, organic food, we don¹t want to eat."

Among the most controversial issues at stake in the Ministerial is the U.S. government's efforts to push genetically engineered (GE) food on the world - a long running global controversy that has isolated US policy makers from international public opinion. The recent U.S. WTO challenge to the European Union's restrictions on genetically engineered food and the Bush Administration's linking of AIDS relief for African nations to their acceptance of genetically engineered food, has raised concerns that the Bush administration is using the Ministerial to promote an agenda favoring U.S. biotech and agribusiness corporations.

"This ministerial is about U.S. arm twisting to force feed the world corporate controlled "free trade" and genetically engineered food. Countries around the world are rejecting genetically engineered food because it is an unnecessary, dangerous technology which has been disastrous for small farmers, consumers and the environment," said Doyle Canning of the Institute for Social Ecology's Biotechnology Project.

Policy experts are challenging the US government's claim that the Ministerial will address the problems of poverty and hunger around the world. "U.S. foreign policy is currently treating food as a commodity or worse yet a weapon, to pressure poorer countries into accepting U.S. corporate control of their food supply. Food is a basic human right and we need policies that address the underlying cause of hunger, which is the unfair distribution of food, " said Dr. Raj Patel an economist and policy analyst with the Institute for Food and Development Policy.

The week long mobilization from June 20-25th will bring together local grassroots activists, policy experts, small farmers, democracy advocates and representatives of farmer and social justice movements from around the world. The mobilization will feature educational events, rallies, marches, non-violent direct action and an alternative Expo of sustainable, organic food production. Details at http://www.sacmobilization.org

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