We had a server outage, and we're rebuilding the site. Most of the site features won't work. Thank you for your patience.
imc indymedia

Los Angeles Indymedia : Activist News

white themeblack themered themetheme help
About Us Contact Us Calendar Publish RSS
Features
latest news
best of news
syndication
commentary


KILLRADIO

VozMob

ABCF LA

A-Infos Radio

Indymedia On Air

Dope-X-Resistance-LA List

LAAMN List




IMC Network:

Original Cities

www.indymedia.org africa: ambazonia canarias estrecho / madiaq kenya nigeria south africa canada: hamilton london, ontario maritimes montreal ontario ottawa quebec thunder bay vancouver victoria windsor winnipeg east asia: burma jakarta japan korea manila qc europe: abruzzo alacant andorra antwerpen armenia athens austria barcelona belarus belgium belgrade bristol brussels bulgaria calabria croatia cyprus emilia-romagna estrecho / madiaq euskal herria galiza germany grenoble hungary ireland istanbul italy la plana liege liguria lille linksunten lombardia london madrid malta marseille nantes napoli netherlands nice northern england norway oost-vlaanderen paris/Île-de-france patras piemonte poland portugal roma romania russia saint-petersburg scotland sverige switzerland thessaloniki torun toscana toulouse ukraine united kingdom valencia latin america: argentina bolivia chiapas chile chile sur cmi brasil colombia ecuador mexico peru puerto rico qollasuyu rosario santiago tijuana uruguay valparaiso venezuela venezuela oceania: adelaide aotearoa brisbane burma darwin jakarta manila melbourne perth qc sydney south asia: india mumbai united states: arizona arkansas asheville atlanta austin baltimore big muddy binghamton boston buffalo charlottesville chicago cleveland colorado columbus dc hawaii houston hudson mohawk kansas city la madison maine miami michigan milwaukee minneapolis/st. paul new hampshire new jersey new mexico new orleans north carolina north texas nyc oklahoma philadelphia pittsburgh portland richmond rochester rogue valley saint louis san diego san francisco san francisco bay area santa barbara santa cruz, ca sarasota seattle tampa bay tennessee urbana-champaign vermont western mass worcester west asia: armenia beirut israel palestine process: fbi/legal updates mailing lists process & imc docs tech volunteer projects: print radio satellite tv video regions: oceania united states topics: biotech

Surviving Cities

www.indymedia.org africa: canada: quebec east asia: japan europe: athens barcelona belgium bristol brussels cyprus germany grenoble ireland istanbul lille linksunten nantes netherlands norway portugal united kingdom latin america: argentina cmi brasil rosario oceania: aotearoa united states: austin big muddy binghamton boston chicago columbus la michigan nyc portland rochester saint louis san diego san francisco bay area santa cruz, ca tennessee urbana-champaign worcester west asia: palestine process: fbi/legal updates process & imc docs projects: radio satellite tv
printable version - js reader version - view hidden posts - tags and related articles

Industry, opposition bringing their viewpoints to San Diego for Bio2001 (SD UT)

by Thomas Kupper , UNION-TRIBUNE (reposted by S Friday, Jun. 22, 2001 at 3:31 AM

Growing debate: Industry, opposition bringing their viewpoints to San Diego for Bio2001 By Thomas Kupper , UNION-TRIBUNE Staff Writer June 20, 2001

Growing debate: Industry, opposition bringing their viewpoints to San Diego for Bio2001

By Thomas Kupper , UNION-TRIBUNE Staff Writer

June 20, 2001

As recently as three years ago, biotechnology conferences were quiet events. The talk was about initial public offerings and the latest breakthroughs in science, not about marches in the street.

What was there to protest? Much of the industry's work focused on developing drugs to save lives. Laboratory-manipulated food products -- corn and soybeans engineered to resist insects or chemicals -- had just entered the market and hadn't drawn much attention.

But things have changed quickly.

Opposition to biotech is on the march, propelled by growing public awareness, success in driving genetically altered crops out of Europe and increased visibility of activist movements. Genetically modified foods, which many Americans consume without question, have created a growing controversy, particularly in Europe. Beyond the food debate are ethical issues, such as the patenting of human genes, that have gained prominence as research progresses.

The anticipated protests around the Biotechnology Industry Organization's annual conference would be the latest example of a biotech backlash. Beginning Sunday, the four-day Bio2001 event at the San Diego Convention Center is expected to draw 12,000 to 15,000 industry executives. Outside the center and in other parts of the city, police are preparing for 4,000 to 8,000 demonstrators. In recent months, opponents of genetically modified food have stepped up efforts to interfere with crop experiments. Last month, for example, a tree-research lab at the University of Washington was burned, apparently by activists.

Meanwhile, farmers in the United States are worried that resistance overseas could make it difficult to sell bioengineered crops, and bills to regulate the crops have been introduced in several state legislatures. "It's not going to be that long before we'll have the same movement around industrial agriculture and genetic engineering that we had around nuclear power," said Ronnie Cummins of the Organic Consumers Association, a Minnesota-based group that advocates organic farming.

Thus far, opposition to biotech does not appear to be spreading rapidly through the general population. Thomas J. Hoban, a professor at North Carolina State University who tracks public attitudes toward the industry, said studies show that a majority of the American public remains unconcerned about what activists call "Frankenfood." For instance, though the percentage of Americans who say they would buy biotech produce is falling, a survey last October found 67 percent acceptance. Still, even a slight dip in consumer support is enough to alarm leaders of the biotech industry, even as many of them dismiss much of the criticism as ill-informed. The industry responded last year with a public relations campaign based on the theme of "Biotechnology -- a big word that means hope." "Biotech is the perfect villain," said Jerry Caulder, the retired founder of several agricultural biotech ventures in San Diego. "When you have something that's difficult to understand from a scientific standpoint, it's no different from when people thought the sun revolved around the Earth."

Movement in Europe

Hostility toward biotech surfaced in the late 1990s in Europe. As American companies, most notably Monsanto, increased shipments of genetically engineered corn and soybeans across the Atlantic, opponents seized the issue. They didn't have much success at first. Public reaction was minimal -- even though soy is an ingredient in virtually all processed foods, from a can of soup to a pizza. Then, in August 1998, scientist Arpad Puztai went on British television and said he had evidence that biotech food stunted the growth of rats. Other scientists discredited the findings, but the anti-biotech frenzy was on. British activist groups with names like Genetix Snowball invaded farms to destroy biotech crops. They dropped tons of bioengineered crops outside the prime minister's residence at 10 Downing St. The campaign succeeded in getting biotech ingredients largely banished from the European diet, and observers said it was only a matter of time before the issue got more attention in the United States.

American farmers were quickly adopting the first biotech crops, herbicide-resistant soybeans and insect-resistant corn and cotton. By last year, half the U.S.-grown soybeans and more than a third of the corn were genetically modified. Few consumers seemed to notice, and activists didn't do much to try to get their attention. Then came the 1999 finding by Cornell University researchers that monarch butterfly caterpillars died in the laboratory after eating pollen from genetically modified corn. Many people have questioned the significance of that study, and the debate continues over whether there is any actual danger to monarchs, but it didn't stop the issue from gaining momentum.

Last year's much-publicized StarLink debacle, in which unapproved genetically engineered corn from a mill in Texas was discovered in taco shells, only added to the industry's problems. "It was bound to happen," said Charles Margulis, an anti-biotech activist with Greenpeace, the environmental group. "Americans were bound to get wise to this sooner or later and be outraged by it."

Cummins, from the Organic Consumers Organization, said the biotech protest movement gained momentum in 1998 when Greenpeace put new focus on the issue. Until then, it had been difficult to raise money or get attention. Around the same time, anti-globalization protesters ran wild in the streets of Seattle during a conference of the World Trade Organization. The destruction they wrought on the city's downtown drew worldwide media coverage and was a vivid demonstration of the potential for massive protests to attract attention to an issue.

Biotech's opponents thought the annual meeting of the Biotechnology Industry Organization, or BIO, would be a good place to showcase their own movement. Their first "Biodevastation" conference, held in the same city and at the same time as the BIO's 1999 meeting, drew several dozen activists to Seattle. They marched on the convention center, some dressed as mutant ears of corn or other genetically ravaged vegetables.

Gathering in Boston

Last year's Biodevastation event during the BIO's conference in Boston drew more than 1,500 people. Security precautions included police on rooftops and on horseback to prevent problems like the WTO riots in Seattle. Police have been getting ready for even bigger protests in San Diego.

Activists have attacked research facilities in the United States, including the University of Washington lab that was burned, and University of California labs in San Diego, Berkeley and Davis. Experimental crops at UCSD were trampled last August, leading the university to install ,000 worth of security equipment to protect the plants.

Opponents of biotech food cite many reasons for their concerns.

The most obvious is that biotech food might not be safe to eat. Though there's no proof of that -- Americans have consumed massive amounts of bioengineered corn and soybeans in recent years -- skeptics believe these crops carry long-term risks. Then there is concern about unpredictable impacts on the ecosystem. Some worry that non-biotech crops will become more susceptible to pests and eventually lose a Darwinian struggle to biotech crops, which are engineered to resist insects and chemicals. Or they worry that biotech crops could crossbreed in unforeseen and possibly undesirable ways. Finally, there are economic issues. Farmers worry about becoming dependent on chemicals that are designed to maintain the bioengineered crops. Consumers overseas worry about dependence on American companies for their food supply.

Many of the skeptics don't trust the U.S. government to protect consumers. "As more information becomes available about the subject, it continues to raise more concerns instead of quell them," said Richard Caplan, a food safety advocate with the U.S. Public Interest Research Group.

Industry leaders say that legitimate questions about environmental impacts have been thoroughly studied and continue to be reviewed.

Caulder, former chief executive of Mycogen, a San Diego biotech, said much of the commotion is driven by a small group of activists who don't represent public opinion but get attention anyway. "It's a problem for the world," he said. "It's a problem for us in that it's a distraction for us in producing the products."

Many of the activists won't be happy until the bioengineered food industry is shut down, at least temporarily. They say there should be a moratorium on growing the crops until they are tested further, an unlikely prospect given the large number of American fields already given over to biotech crops.

Cummins, from the Organic Consumers Association, says it was a mistake for biotech companies to start selling their products in the first place. "This is a very experimental technology that should have stayed in the biohazard lab for a long time, if not forever," he said.

Report this post as:

LATEST COMMENTS ABOUT THIS ARTICLE
Listed below are the 10 latest comments of 1 posted about this article.
These comments are anonymously submitted by the website visitors.
TITLE AUTHOR DATE
SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY IS GOOD Judy Friday, Jun. 22, 2001 at 2:41 PM

Local News

Woolsey Fire: Worst News of 2018? J01 12:18AM

Oppose Environmentally-Harmful Development D10 4:03AM

Oppose Environmentally-Harmful Development D10 3:58AM

OUR HOUSE Grief Support Center Presents Night for Hope O30 5:38PM

Marshall Tuck’s racist dog whistle O27 5:01AM

Marshall Tuck’s ethnocentrism contradicts Californian values O27 4:32AM

Contra Costa-Hawkins O25 3:48AM

Debunking Some Anti-Prop 10 Propaganda O12 6:56AM

Why Should California Choose De Leon Over Feinstein? O10 9:55PM

Change Links September 2018 posted S02 10:22PM

More Scandals Rock Southern California Nuke Plant San Onofre A30 11:09PM

Site Outage Friday A30 3:49PM

Change Links August 2018 A14 1:56AM

Setback for Developer of SC Farm Land A12 11:09PM

More problems at Shutdown San Onofre Nuke J29 10:40PM

Change Links 2018 July posted J09 8:27PM

More Pix: "Families Belong Together," Pasadena J02 7:16PM

"Families Belong Together" March, Pasadena J02 7:08PM

Short Report on the Families Belong Together Protest in Los Angeles J30 11:26PM

Summer 2018 National Immigrant Solidarity Network News Alert! J11 6:58AM

Watch the Debate: Excluded Candidates for Governor of California M31 5:20AM

More Local News...

Other/Breaking News

FARCELONA 8.17.2017 J17 3:23PM

DEAD MAN LIVING J17 10:46AM

DIARY OF A CON MAN J16 10:40PM

PR Debt Cancel, Judge Reviews Cofina Debt J16 9:04PM

Réseautage, fragmentation du capital J16 4:20PM

Paraphysique de manipulation mentale et sociale J15 9:51AM

The Global Justice Project and Human Survival: We're Badly Off Track J15 5:08AM

The Global Justice Project and Human Survival: We're Badly Off Track J15 5:08AM

The Global Justice Project and Human Survival: We're Badly Off Track J15 5:08AM

Markets as a Fetish, Globalization, and Dissent Management J14 1:03PM

State Debts - The Primal German Fear J13 5:09PM

Sans liberté, sans égalité, sans fraternité J13 8:09AM

From Progressive Neoliberalism to Trump - and Beyond J12 9:22PM

Copper Cures Cancer J11 1:42PM

Steven Taylor, Investor who Evicts J11 9:24AM

Du sectarisme, des sectes, des clans J11 8:10AM

“Animaniacs in Concert!” Starring Voice Legend Rob Paulsen J10 6:34PM

Patrick Kilpatrick discusses and signs Dying for Living J09 11:51PM

SexActs vs Sexuality USA 2018 Invitations to Power Marriages without Affection J09 8:36PM

Changer de mentalité, changer de société J09 9:17AM

Teacher Strike? Time for Labor Studies J09 6:26AM

December 2018 Honduras Coup Update J08 10:12PM

Paraphysique de la désespérance J07 9:38AM

The Unification Church with Rev Moon is in La and Orange Counnties J07 9:07AM

Time to Start Imagineering a Post-Ayatollah Iran J05 10:00PM

L'écomorphisme, du culturel et du temporel J05 10:33AM

Sexual Harassment Charges of Men Suing Women who are accused of Harassing Men are now 10% J05 4:08AM

Stases psychiques et stases sexuelles J04 11:34AM

More Breaking News...
© 2000-2018 Los Angeles Independent Media Center. Unless otherwise stated by the author, all content is free for non-commercial reuse, reprint, and rebroadcast, on the net and elsewhere. Opinions are those of the contributors and are not necessarily endorsed by the Los Angeles Independent Media Center. Running sf-active v0.9.4 Disclaimer | Privacy