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Observations from the Edge
Robert T. Nanninga
North County Times
June 15, 2001


Early next week the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) will bring together leaders of multinational biotechs, pharmaceutical corporations, industry scientists, bureaucrats, marketers, and venture capitalists at the San Diego Convention Center to further their agenda of a genetically engineered world, and an outright globalization of patent laws that privatize life as intellectual property. Yes ladies and gentlemen, the people who profit from playing god are coming to town.

Also coming to San Diego are thousands of people opposed to the corporatization and gross manipulation of DNA. Scientists, environmentalists, ethicists, biologists, academics, schoolteachers, and housewives, who for varying reasons feel strongly enough about the corruption of natural processes to take to the streets in peaceful protest. This action against the biotechnology industry is a wake up call, and everyone who is planning to eat in the future should listen to the growing chorus of voices warning against messing with the genetic structure of life's delicate balance.

Before anyone writes off opposition to genetic engineering as a knee jerk reaction to an emerging science, they would be well served to research the subject in depth because Rush Limbaugh and the mainstream media can hardly be counted on for unbiased communication. Pharmaceutical companies buy the news they want, as they are top advertisers on broadcast media and in the weekly newsmagazines. It goes without saying those doing the biological tinkering can not be trusted to tell the truth, if the truth would undermine their bottom line. Consumers have a right to know, and that is exactly what Biojustice 2001 is all about.

The biotech interests meeting at the San Diego Convention Center next week, try to justify genetic engineering by spinning Pollyanna prophecy of feeding the worlds starving masses. Those same companies are also engaged in replacing traditional food species with expensive hybrids that depend on hybrid seeds, which require expensive fertilizers to germinate. Claims of reducing the use of pesticides are also false. Genetic engineering is also geared to make crops more tolerant of herbicides, so more can be used.

Far from helping to feed the hungry, genetic engineering, and the patenting of seeds, plants, animals, genes, and the cell lines associated with these designer life forms, is actually forcing small scale into debt and outright poverty. Genetic engineering is also creating a global monoculture as agriscience reduces the variety of food crops being grown worldwide. Contrary to the claims of the biotech industry genetically engineered crops do not produce higher yields, reduce the use of pesticides, or benefit the majority of farmers planting them.

As for the long term effects of these products, little is known in regards to are being released into the market without any real testing, and without considering the consequences to the environment, small farmers, and the health of consumers. One thing that is known is genetically engineered crops are in wide use without any regulation. It seems the brave new world is built of silence, and government inaction.

The message being sent by opponents genetic engineering is clear. They want labeling, more testing of products before introduction to the market, no patenting of life, and decreased corporate power in regards to regulation and government policy. To find out more about the Biojustice 2001 teach-in and days of action, times and locations call (619) 237-5496 or go online at www.biodev.org.

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