Protesters Swarm Calif. Biotech Meeting
The Agriculture Department has closed the conference to the public and certain events to the media. The press did not receive an agenda until the day before the conference. Department officials cited security reasons. (AP article below)
Images from the street:
BREAKING NEWS - http://www.biotechimc.org/
23-06-2003 07:26: Pain compliance being used in garden People still locked down in the garden are having pain compliance used on them by the police right now. Bystanders told to step aside or be arrested. About 50 people chanting "No police state".
23-06-2003 06:33: FNB Truck Impounded
The truck that was seized at 15th and K was a Food Not Bombs truck - with food inside.
23-06-2003 04:31: Arrests at IMAX
4-5 people have been arrested in front of the IMAX. Also, a large contigent (50-60) of "what looks like paramilitary troopers" with "machine-gun" type guns marched by the IMAX.
23-06-2003 03:37: Activists being chased from IMAX by police Arrests are becoming progressively more violent. Police have given an order to disperse and are threatening use of chemical weapons if people refuse.
Protesters Swarm Calif. Biotech Meeting
By KIM BACA
The Associated Press, 23 June 2003
SACRAMENTO, Calif. - Hundreds of protesters descended on city streets Sunday as agriculture officials from around the world prepared for a meeting where U.S. officials will pitch advances in genetically engineered agriculture.
Chanting, banging drums and carrying signs that read "We Don't Want to Eat Their Corporate Creations," protesters swarmed the streets around the state Capitol and nearby conference center.
Demonstrators blocked traffic and overturned a trash bin near a hotel where agriculture ministers were staying. At least 11 people were arrested, charged with unlawful assembly, vandalism and possessing weapons, including a switchblade and other sharp objects, police said.
Agriculture officials from more than 100 nations are expected to attend the three-day Ministerial Conference and Expo on Agricultural Science and Technology, which starts Monday and is sponsored by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
The conference convenes at a time when the debate over genetically modified foods has reached a fever pitch. The United States is demanding that the World Trade Organization force the European Union to end its ban on genetically modified food. In the process, opposition to biotechnology is galvanizing outside the United States, and the protesters say inside the country as well.
Department officials say the conference is designed to help developing countries reduce hunger and improve nutrition using advanced technology. They say biotechnology in particular can help reduce pesticide use and yield better harvests than conventional crops, helping preserve the environment and improving health.
But activists argue that biotechnology is not the antidote to the complex food problems facing developing nations. Instead, they fear the conference is an attempt by corporate farming and biotech interests to push into new markets.
"The policies they are talking about do not benefit poor people in the world, they benefit large agriculture companies," said protester Eddy Jara, a 30-year-old nutritionist from Berkeley.
U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Ann Veneman said the conference will also highlight farming methods and pest management to help developing countries cut world hunger by 2015, a goal set by agriculture secretaries at the World Food Summit last year. More than 800 million people face chronic hunger or malnutrition, she said.
"What we're talking about is increasing food productivity in areas of the world where people are both hungry and poor," she said. "Many developing countries get 90 percent of their food from local production and there isn't any infrastructure."
The Agriculture Department has closed the conference to the public and certain events to the media. The press did not receive an agenda until the day before the conference. Department officials cited security reasons.
On the Net:
Ministerial Conference and Expo on Agricultural Science and Technology: