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MODIFIED FIELDS FOREVER
- fighting against genetic crops
(from SCHNews 169, 29 May 1998)
"It now seems that direct actions of this kind are the only way left for people to put this genie back in the bottle."
Last Saturday saw the UK's first occupation against the growing of genetically engineered crops (GE). The occupation, in Kirby Bedon near Norwich, Norfolk, promises to last a month and is on a field previously used to test GE sugar beet. We say 'used to' cos the sugar beet was mysteriously trashed a few weeks previous.
The idea of the occupation is to transform the land into a working alternative to industrial agriculture, with organic gardens, compost toilets and an information centre.
Genetic engineering basically means taking genes out of one thing and splicing them into another. You can pick'n'mix genes with everything from bacteria, viruses, plants and animals. Over 3,000 GE foodstuffs are poised to enter the food chain around the world despite the fact that we don't know what effects eating them will have on our bodies - or on those of future generations.
On March 3rd an American cotton seed company and the US Dept of Agriculture announced they had received a patent on a technique that genetically disables a seed's capacity to germinate when planted again. So far only cotton and tobacco seeds have responded to the new technique, but in time it could mean that farmers would no longer be able to save their own seed - and instead have to buy seed each year from the massive agribusiness companies. The company in question (Monsanto) has now been bought in by leaders in the frankenstein technology. Massive agribusiness companies like Monsanto say this is all needed to help feed the world, and is of course nothing to do with profit. They could be right. If they can patent umbiliacal blood, why not sperm, then we will all have to pay to produce more job slaves and if we don't... there will be a smaller world to feed!
There are currently 332 GE test sites in the UK, but resistance is blooming - with around a dozen sites trashed in the past year. One of the occupants, Chris Cooper from Action Against Genetic Engineering, explained: "By seizing this land, our aim is to establish a working demonstration of the alternatives to the genetic engineering of crops... The action is a protest against genetic engineering and the companies responsible. It is certainly not an attack on farmers... who are losing even more of their freedoms to the big seed and chemical corporations."
Join the camp! The site is located near the sewage works near Kirby Bedon, approx. ten minutes drive from Norwich with buses from the city centre running nearby. They can be contacted on: 0831 332520 or 0961 517324. Web: www.dmac.co.uk/gen.html
To find out where your nearest GE site is check out www.foe.co.uk or call the Biotechnology Unit, Floor 2/G9 Department of the Environment, Ashdown House, 123 Victoria St., London SW1E 6OE 0171 890 5275. Don't take no for an answer - they are required by law to provide this information to the public.
For an in depth look at genetics get a copy of New Internationalist issue 293 (August '97) PO Box 79, Hertford, SG14 1AQ Tel: 01992 822899
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