1. US FARMERS IN UK - OPEN MEETINGS - dates
2. *APRIL 10-17 CONTINENTAL CAMPAIGN & PROTESTS AGAINST GE CORN*
3. PRESS RELEASE on US FARMERS IN UK - OPEN MEETINGS
1. US FARMERS IN UK - OPEN MEETINGS
entrance free; 7.30 pm start:
20th March-Hereford, the Three Counties Hotel
21st March-Dorchester, Kingston Maurwood Agricultural College, Stinsford
For more information see below or SFFA on 01726 843647
2. ACTION ALERT: APRIL 10-17 CONTINENTAL CAMPAIGN & PROTESTS AGAINST GENETICALLY ENGINEERED CORN
Farmer, environmental, indigenous, and consumer groups will stage protests and hold press conferences across North and South America the week of April 10-17--launching a Continental Campaign Against Genetically Engineered Corn (Campana Continental Contra el Maiz Transgenico).
Mexico, the center of origin and diversity of corn, has been contaminated by Genetically Engineered varieties of corn. The genetic contamination of Mexican native corn varieties threatens not only the genetic integrity of corn, one of the world's most important basic crops, but the food security for millions in the Americas.
The entrance of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) in 1994 has provoked the widespread economic displacement of local farming communities and the genetic erosion of corn resulting from the "dumping" or sale of corn under the price of production.
Corporate control of basic grains, patented seeds, and chemical inputs like fertilizers is undermining food sovereignty and threatening biodiversity. In Mexico, the hardest hit are indigenous campesinos or farmers who account for the vast majority of Mexican corn producers. Although the source of contamination of native Mexican corn varieties is unknown, most evidence leads to the some 6 million tons of corn exported each year to Mexico from the United States. 35-40% of the corn planted in the United States is Genetically Engineered.
Rural and urban activists throughout the Americas will call on grain exporters, the biotech industry, and the US and Canadian governments to stop dumping untested and unlabeled genetically engineered corn on Mexico and other nations, where irreplaceable corn varieties are being damaged by "genetic pollution."
Campaign activists are also demanding that corporations and governments heed the concerns of consumers, North and South, and remove genetically engineered corn and other foods and crops from the market, unless they can be proven to be safe for human health and the environment. Recently hundreds of US consumers have reported allergic reactions to the FDA after eating Kraft and other brand name products likely containing genetically engineered corn. In Mexico researchers have detected widespread contamination of traditional varieties of corn, caused by surreptitious imports of genetically engineered corn into Mexico by grain export giants such as Archer Daniels Midland and Cargill.
On April 10-17, activists in North and South America will dump corn and organize picket lines, protests, press conferences and petitions to government, corporate and supranational organizations . Key demands include: 1) Continental prohibition of Genetically Engineered corn, 2) Stop dumping Genetically Engineered corn on Mexico and other centers of diversity; and 3) Guarantee a fair price to all corn producers, North and South.
Protesters will target US Embassies, Mexican Consulate offices, grain ports, corporate offices (Kraft, Archer Daniels Midland, Cargill, Monsanto) as well as major grain exchanges in Winnipeg, Minneapolis, and Chicago.
For full background information on the global GE Corn Conflict see BioDemocracy News #37
and visit www.laneta.apc.org/biodiversidad.
3. PRESS RELEASE: THE SMALL AND FAMILY FARMS ALLIANCE
The Small and Family Farms Alliance with the support of Sheepdrove Organic Farm has invited a group of American farmers to the UK next month to meet with and speak to British farmers about the situation facing American family farmers and its similarities to UK farming, and about GM crops and their experiences with them.
The many problems facing UK farmers are not unique. The "farming crisis" is world-wide and with many of the same causes- among them food imports cheaper than home production costs; the demands of food safety; environmental care; the power of the supermarkets and global food companies; the power of those companies over governments. The control of farmers' inputs such as seeds by very few companies; the pressure by the biotech companies on farmers through governments to grow GM crops, which many consumers have already rejected.
The solutions being put forward by governments and "expert advisers" are also the same: restructuring of farming (bigger farms) of export lead agriculture competing on the world market using technology and science such as GM crops. Of farmers diversifying to earn income from sources other than food production and that while farmers must supply food at ever-lower prices they must produce to ever-higher standards.
The USA is much further along this road than the UK with its 1996 Freedom to Farm Act, and with GM crops now widely grown.
We believe that UK farmers could learn valuable lessons from these farmers on many of the problems facing UK farming and by linking our farmers with theirs, to fight for a sustainable future for family farming globally.
One of the US farmers' John Kinsman, President of the Family Farm Defenders said: " I welcome the opportunity to meet with farmers in the UK to talk about the situation facing family farmers in the United States and to see how we can work together to campaign for a future for family farms everywhere, and for us to share our experiences of GM crops with UK farmers"
Michael Hart chairman of the Small and Family Farms Alliance said: "We have a global farming crisis not just a UK one. And if we are to have sustainable farming, food and environment in the future, farmers around the world must work together and with others to campaign for just such a future. Rather than it is now, with us being played off against each other to the advantage of a very small number of national and global companies and to the detriment of a sustainable food supply and environment for consumers".
The open meetings are taking place on
Wednesday 20th March- Hereford at the Three Counties Hotel, Hereford
Thursday 21st March- Dorset at Kingston Maurwood Agricultural College, Stinsford, Dorchester
Entrance to all meetings is free and they are open to everyone and all start at 7.30pm.
For more information contact
SFFA on Tel 01726 843647, fax 01726 843630 or Mobile 07771594237
Notes for editors
The three USA farmers are
- John Kinsman: President of the Family Farms Defenders and Vice president of the National Family Farms Coalition. He has been farming with his family in Wisconsin for over 30 years, and has campaigned on farming issues for many years. Family Farm Defenders is a national organisation working for fair farmgate prices for family farmers through political lobbying and farmer controlled direct marketing of their produce. They also work with farming organisations in other countries for policies for fair prices for family farmers while ensuring quality food security for consumers. National Family Farms Coalition is a national group representing the interests of rural America farming, consumers and environmental.
- Corky Jones farms in Nebraska growing Soya and Maize on 2,800 acres, the farm grew GM Soya for the first time in 1999, Corky has also been active in campaigning on farming issues.
- Jim Goodman, his wife Rebecca and brother Francis, farm 400 certified organic acres raising dairy and direct market beef. Jim is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Platteville with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Animal Science. He also holds a Master of Science Degree in Reproductive Physiology from South Dakota State University. Jim currently works with several state and national organisations to promote sustainable agriculture, energy conservation and renewable energy. Jim spends much of his off-farm time working, speaking and writing to promote fair farm prices and a safe food supply. Jim is also the Wisconsin representative on USDA's North Central Region Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program Administrative Council.
The Small and Family Farms Alliance - campaigns for a sustainable future for family farmers in the UK, with fair farmgate prices. SFFA also works to promote a better understanding of farming and rural Britain. It is currently working with consumer, environmental and other organisations interested in food and farming. It has links to other farming groups around the world, and is through one of its members (the Family Farmers' Association) part of the Co-ordination of European Farmers based in Brussels. SFFA is a founder member of Rural Futures a coalition of nine national consumer, environmental and farming groups with a combined membership of over 4 million people.