SOC/BIO: Chicago Anti-genengineering conference

Date: Sun Feb 11 2001 - 09:45:47 MST

[ I pass this along in my continuing reportage on the anti-technology front.
Note the way that this material is presented as "questioning the safety of GE
orgainisms and the ethics of genetic engineering," then you note that all the
sponsoring organizations are explicitly anti-technology activist groups. ]

6:30- 9:00pm

FREE Public Forum on Genetic Engineering!

Come hear the reasons why a recent New York Times front page article claims
the biotechnology industry is 'in trouble'!

Where: Conference Center, Apparel Center at Merchandise Mart

(the north bank of the Chicago River, between Wells and Orleans Streets,
Merchandise Mart Brown Line el stop, wheelchair accessible)

Speakers presenting a critique of genetic engineering, public discussion
with genetic engineering activists in Chicago for a weekend of strategy
sessions, and information tables.

Speakers include:

Brian Tokar, Institute for Social Ecology & Northeast Resistance Against
Genetic Engineering. Brian will serve as the panel's moderator, and will
also open the evening with an overview of the concerns raised by genetic

Brian has been an activist since the 1970s in the peace, anti-nuclear,
environmental and Green politics movements, and is currently a faculty
member at the Institute for Social Ecology and Goddard College in Vermont.
He is the author of The Green Alternative (1987, revised 1992) and Earth
for Sale (1997), and his new book, Redesigning Life?, an international
collection on the politics and implications of biotechnology, will be
published early in 2001 by Zed Books. Brian graduated from MIT in 1976
with degrees in biology and physics and received his Masters degree in
biophysics from Harvard University in 1981.

Marsha Darling, Associate Professor and Director, Center for African
American and Ethnic Studies Programs, Adelphi University. Marsha will
describe how the privatization of the gene industry evolved, and will
describe the meaning of intellectual property rights and patents. She will
also discuss the biodiversity issues that the gene business invokes,
bioagriculture and especially the impact of corporate interest in
indigenous peoples' mineral, human and plant genetic materials on the
dynamics that drive international development.

Marsha previously taught in Georgetown University's Women's Studies
department, and has a long research history in the areas of biotechnology's
impacts on indigenous and minority communities, feminism, reproductive
rights and technologies, and international development.

Percy Schmeiser, Saskatoon, Canada. For 40 years, Percy Schmeiser has grown
canola on his farm usually sowing each crop of the oil-rich plants with
seeds saved from the previous harvest. And he has never purchased seed from
the St. Louis, Mo.-based agricultural and biotechnology giant Monsanto Co.
Even so, he says that more than 320 hectares of his land is now
"contaminated" by Monsanto's herbicide-resistant Roundup Ready canola. And,
like hundreds of other North American farmers, Schmeiser has felt the sting
of Monsanto's long legal arm: last August the company took the 68-year-old
farmer to court, claiming he illegally planted the firm's canola without
paying a $37-per-hectare fee for the privilege. Schmeiser fought back. He
claims Monsanto investigators trespassed on his land -- and that company
seed could easily have blown on to his soil from passing canola-laden
trucks. "I never put those plants on my land," says Schmeiser. "The
question is, where do Monsanto's rights end and mine begin?"

Chaia Heller, Institute for Social Ecology. The debate over GMOs is more
than a debate about the risks and benefits associated with a new genetic
technology. It is also a debate over power; about the power to determine
not only matters of science and technology, but matters of social and
economic life generally. Chaia will explore ways to radicalize the debate
over GMOs, linking questions of technology to vital issues of democracy,
freedom, and quality of life in an age of globalization.

Chaia has taught ecological philosophy and feminist theory at the Institute
for Social Ecology in Vermont for almost two decades. During this time,
Chaia has also been involved in the ecology and feminist movements an
activist, educator, and writer. Currently, Chaia is researching the
controversy surrounding genetically manipulated organisms in France. She
has recently published Ecology of Everyday Life: Rethinking the Desire for
Nature, Black Rose Books.

Dr. Gregor Wolbring, University of Calgary, International Network on
Bioethics & Disability, and the Edmonds Institute.

Farmers and disabled people are groups who are both quite strongly affected
by the food and human genetics debates. This talk will highlight some of
the similarities between farmers and disabled people from around the world
in regards to the debate of food/human biotechnology issues.

Gregor is a research scientist at the Department of Biochemistry and
Molecular Biology, Faculty of Medicine at the University of Calgary and an
Adjunct Assistant Professor (specialization bioethics) at the Dept. of
Community Rehabilitation and Disability studies, Faculty of Education at
the University of Calgary.

This free public forum is sponsored by the Genetic Engineering Action
Network, USA and Sustain.

GEAN is a national network of more than 80 organizations working to address
the risks and concerns about genetic engineering. GEAN exists to support
and further the work of those organizations and individuals working to
address the risks to the environment, biodiversity and human health, as
well as the socioeconomic and ethical consequences of genetic engineering.
Some of GEAN's members include Greenpeace, the Organic Consumers
Association, GE Free LA, Northeast Resistance Against Genetic Engineering,
the National Family Farm Coalition, and the National Catholic Rural Life

For more information, visit our website at, or contact
GEAN's National Coordinator, Renske van Staveren, at:

2105 First Avenue South
Minneapolis, MN 55404
612.870.3423 OR

Sustain is a Chicago-based non-profit organization that uses innovative
communications strategies to help win environmental victories. Sustain
partners with other non-profits that have legal, policy, and organizing
expertise on particular issues. Together, they create campaigns to educate
and inspire the public and policy makers to take actions that contribute to
a healthy, sustainable environment.

For more information on Sustain, visit their website at

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