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(en) Britain, SchNEWS 482, Friday 28th January, 2005 - WAKE UP! WAKE UP! IT'S YER LOST THE PLOT...

From Jo Makepeace <webmaster@schnews.org.uk>
Date Fri, 28 Jan 2005 09:11:36 +0100 (CET)


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Growing Dissent!
"The US has been imposing patents on life around the world through
trade deals. In this case [Iraq], they invaded the country first, then imposed
their patents. This is both immoral and unacceptable." Shalini Bhutani, GRAIN.
"Seeds are the software - and we have the seeds." - Anonymous corporate seed company executive.
With agriculture providing the main source of income for two and a
half billion people the effects of biotechnology are immense.
Farmers across the world are being locked into a cycle of
dependency on biotechnology companies, who of course just want to
help them to feed the world.

Take the specialized GM seeds which only prosper if you spray em
with the right agrochemicals. Who makes those chemicals? Well, the
dodgy firm that sells the seeds of course. Just like Microsoft and
Windows - remember now, "Seeds are the software...".

One of the bio-tech giants, Novartis, applied for twelve patents
on altered genes that would create 'addict' seeds with 'junkie'
genes that will not perform well without chemical supplements'. As
campaigner Vandana Shiva points out, this allows "the seed
industry to realise one of its longest held and most cherished
goals: to force all farmers into dependence on the companies every
year".

The rise and rise of the biotech industry has come hand in hand
with the rise of intellectual property rights or 'patents' in the
seed industry. The Trade-Related Intellectual Property laws are
the weapon the World Trade Organisation uses to force governments
to enforce patent rules. Patents give a right of monopoly over an
invention or discovery, for example in the field of manipulating
the genes of seeds. These monopoly rights make patents a powerful
tool for those in search of power, profit and control, as they
allow companies to buy 'ownership' of staple food crops. The US
based chemical giant DuPont has filed over 150 applications for
patents on genetic resources in their attempt to dominate
agricultural production. The effects of these patents on seeds is
that farmers can lose the rights to their own original stocks and
the cumulative knowledge they have built up over centuries to a
few giants whose reach knows no limits.

We can see this colonisation in full effect in Iraq. After the
so-called 'transfer of sovereignty' last June, Paul Bremer, chief
of the occupation authority, left behind 100 orders which had to
be incorporated into Iraqi legislation, having the status and
force of binding laws. Among them is Order 81 which amends Iraq's
original patent law to favour the vultures of the West, with
disastrous consequences for the farmers of Iraq.

For generations Iraqis have been freely exchanging farm-saved
seed. An estimated 97% either use saved seed from a previous
year's harvest or purchase them from local markets. This has now
been made illegal under the new law. The law is presented as being
necessary to ensure the supply of good quality seeds in Iraq and
to facilitate Iraq's accession to the World Trade Organisation.
What it will actually do is allow the penetration of Iraqi
agriculture by the likes of Monsanto, Syngenta, Bayer and Dow
Chemical, the corporate giants that control seed trade across the
globe. Eliminating competition from farmers is a prerequisite for
these companies to open up operations in Iraq, and the new law has
achieved that. The Iraqi peoples' right to food sovereignty, the
right to define their own food and agriculture policies, is fast
vanishing.

However, actions against these corporate giants have seen
impressive successes. After a campaign of direct action , bio tech
giant Bayer have more or less given up hope of growing their
genetically modified greens in the UK. Only a few months ago,
Monsanto's patent on the wheat variety Nap Hal was revoked after
Greenpeace took them to the courts. Monsanto had claimed to have
invented the special properties of the wheat used for chapatis,
which was in fact developed by generations of farmers in India!
The practice of seed swapping is also being kept alive at seed
fairs, which are lifelines for farmers, and guarantee they always
have seeds for the next season. They also safeguard the rich
diversity of crops that feed all of us. In Peru, for example,
local farming communities keep more than 250 varieties of
potatoes. In Kenya farmers swap more than 150 different varieties
of local farm seeds at annual seed fairs. In Brighton the fourth
Seedy Sunday community seed swap will be happening at the Old
Market on Sunday 6th February at the Old Market, Upper Market St.,
Hove 10am-5pm. Check out the full programme for the event at
www.seedysunday.org or pick up copies in Infinity Foods.

RICES? WHAT RICES?

Mary, Mary, quite contrary, how does your garden grow?

"It's a commercial secret, I have patented the growing process.
Now ORF MY LAAAND!"

Syngenta is already the world's largest agrochemical company and
the third biggest seed company. That's not enough for them,
though, now they are looking to extend their control beyond
patenting seeds and species and tighten their grip on the global
food chain. They want to patent the flowering process and 'plant
architecture' of rice in 115 countries. The scope is massive and
their patent could extend beyond rice to all flowering plants
including those we still haven't found or classified. Syngenta
would then be able to claim "ownership" of the flowering processes
of most of the world's major food crops. This terrifying situation
would be a threat to world food security and could limit
agricultural research. Kathy Jo Welter of the ETC group says
"Effectively, the completed rice map provides a template for most
of the world's major food crops. Syngenta is arguing that since it
can identify certain gene sequences in rice, it can monopolize the
same sequences when they turn up in other species."

So can we trust them with the keys to the worlds food supply?
Syngenta already has a dodgy history with genetically modified
rice. It developed the GM "Golden Rice" which they touted as a
technological fix for the vitamin A deficiency much of the world's
population suffers from. Syngenta sent out lots of shiny PR
releases about how they were trying to feed the world, ignoring
the fact that most food shortages are caused by economic factors,
and problems of supply rather than there just not being enough
food in the world, or rice being not good enough. Syngenta reckon
it has no commercial interest in Golden Rice, which is now being
developed by the Golden Rice Humanitarian Board. Nice name, but
like all good front groups it has lots of dodgy business groups
funding it. Syngenta still holds the patent, so if Golden Rice is
ever commercialised they will get a golden shower of royalties!

* Action group on Erosion, Technology and Concentration,
www.etcgroup.org

* Monsanto has been recently been fined $1.5million by the US
Department of Justice for trying to bribe the Indonesian
authorities to bypass controls on the screening of new genetically
modified crops. Between 1997 and 2002 it bunged officials
$750,000.

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CRAP ARREST OF THE WEEK

For breakdancing!

A breakdancer was busy head-spinning outside the American Embassy
when he was rushed into a police van by armed cops. They thought
he must be a terrorist as this was the only explanation for his
behaviour. After being searched it became apparent that he was
nothing other than a, er, baffled breakdancer and he was told to
go on his way.

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Guilty as Charged...

As the World Social Forum tries to create new worlds in Porto
Allegre, Brasil, with tens of thousands of international
activists, SchNEWS takes a look at some of the continental
processes that led to it...

"We do not want to be oppressed/ No more killings/ Let's crush the
blood sucker for justice and freedom to blossom!" Opening hymn to
the Labour party conference? Not quite. This was the anthem that
thundered at the opening of the third African Social Forum (ASF)
as thousands of activists thronged the Mulungushi Conference
Centre in Zambia. Held in early December it created a space where
activists from all over the continent could meet to attack
injustices from majority world debt to HIV/AIDS to the
International Monetary Fund.

The Forum was held under the shadow of the New Partnership for
Africa's Development (Nepad). Nepad is a dodgy African homegrown
neoliberalism developed by South African President Mbeki. "Soon
enough the programme was referred to as a 'kneepad' required by
African leaders for comfort while bending down to beg," jokes
Masimba Manyanya, a Zimbabwean activist. It's western
neoliberalism in traditional African garb: more privatisation and
more unfair trade terms. And the IMF and World Bank just love it!
The Nepad issue saw differences emerging at the ASF with radicals
criticising the ASF secretariat for not turning anti-Nepad
positions into action. With echoes of radicals invading the stage
at the ESF, the Social Movements Indaba pushed for an emergency
meeting where activists talked of the need to create an open
decision-making structure for the ASF and to agree on common plans
of action.

Positively, the ASF saw the launch of the Stop EPAs campaign with
activists agreeing to launch global days of action in 2005 against
these Free Trade Areas between the EU and Africa. There was a
rowdy Africa Youth Camp happening at the same time as the Africa
Women's Court where dozens of women spoke of their oppression
under patriarchy and globalisation, their resistance to it. The
tribunal found globalisation GUILTY! There was an overflow of
discussions happening at the ASF, from 'The Zimbabwe Crisis' to
'Economic Alternatives', from 'Nepad' to 'Fighting the Debt'. This
was the most powerful thing to be born out of the ASF - networks
of anticapitalists across the continent, the strengthening of a
movement.

The ASF was supposed to end with a big demonstration but
repressive laws meant there was no 'permission' to demonstrate.
However, radicals from across the continent weren't gonna sit
around for six days talking and networking without doing a bit of
the old direct action with the coppers running behind. So,
permission or no permission, a hundred up-for-it grassroots
activists marched and chanted to a nearby shopping mall - a
disgusting example of South African imperialism with nearly all
shops owned by SA's corporations. So a Spar supermarket was
invaded while Zimbabweans and South Africans showed other
activists how to do toyi-toyi war dances outside a big SA bank
screaming 'IMF is the devil!' Didn't the cops have a tough time
threatening to arrest this mini-army of colourful African
militants!

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SchNEWS in brief

* Peace News Relaunch Party - Poetry, acoustic acts, bands, DJ's,
a peace quiz and vegan food and drink to celebrate the launch of
the new-look Peace News. 5th Feb, 4pm, RampARTS occupied social
centre, London. 020 7278 3344 www.peacenews.info

* There's gonna be regular politika nights in Chester last Sunday
of every month - sometimes music, poetry, guest speakers,
leaflets, petitions. Starts this Sunday (29) at Alexanders wine
bar, Rufus Court 8pm till 12.30 £2

* Issue 11 if the Nottingham Alternative News is out now
www.veggies.org.uk/AlternativeNews

* Notorious mercenary Tom Spicer's talk was cancelled - thanks of
course to last weeks article in SchNEWS! (SchNEWS 481)

* Get off yer backside this Valentines Day, tape two XXs to it and
march from Whitechapel to the Imperial War museum to demonstrate
against psychiatric assault such as forced drugging and Compulsory
Electric Shock Treatment. 01332 366447 www.kissit.org

* London Rising Tide are showing 'Reach For the Sky' and 'The
Weather Underground' 6th Feb 5.30 pm LARC 62 Fieldgate St E1
02073779088 www.londonrisingtide.org.uk

* Join in the demo against the anti terror laws next Monday (31)
9am, outside the Special Immigration Appeal Commission (SIAC)
Field House, Breams Buildings, London, EC4A. Nearest tube Chancery
Lane. 0207 586 5892 www.cacc.org.uk

* The animal rights movement is on the verge of being champs
against Oxford University's plans to build yet another animal
research facility. National demo this Saturday (29)12.30pm, Broad
St, outside Balliol College, Oxford, OX1 3BJ 0845 330 7985
www.speakcampaigns.org.uk

* Join Amy Goodman, producer of radical American radio show
'Democracy Now!' for a chat about independent media in the US this
Sunday (30) @ Clement House, London School of Economics 2pm
07734079757 www.radicalactivist.net

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FUN-RAISER

After 3 and a half years of monthly club night mash-ups, raising
awareness about and funds for loads of groups and campaigns
(including us) Funraiser is going weekly! They've raised money for
everyone from the Zapatistas to PDSA, from an East London
community playground to the 9 Ladies protest camp. Up till July
half of the money donated is going to the Anti-G8 Dissent! Network
with the other half going to other worthy causes - in February its
Injustice (see www.injusticefilm.co.uk).

There'll be different music every week from techno and drum and
bass to psychedelic trance to live bands. And to get things
started they're showing the new SchNEWS Film - A film ten years in
the making. From the Courthouse and the CJA demos to Seattle to
the anti-war protests to our recent massive party and direct
action conference in London - and everything in between! Film
starts 9pm followed by techno, electro, raggadubdnbdisco with
Shindig and So Squalid Crew till 3. Wednesday 2nd Feb, The Volks
Tavern, Madeira Parade. Donations. Check www.funraiser.org.uk for
more info.

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Anarchist CNTs

In these days of rampant globalisation, Anarchism is often talked
about but little understood so The Projectile Collective in
Newcastle are hosting a weekend of films, talks, speakers,
bookstalls and even a cabaret covering anarchist history, action
and art. They'll show some of the best films out there, including
'Aurora De Esperanza', one of only a handful of films made by the
anarchist CNT in Spain at the time of the 1936 revolution.
There'll also be the world premiere of 'Ten Days That Shook the
World', a film of the 1994 anarchist gathering in London. You can
join in the many talks covering things like 'Anarchism and Direct
Action' and 'Indiscipline and Rebellion in the Coal Industry'.
Speakers include Stuart Christie famous for trying to blow up
General Franco! The speakers will also give a short presentation
on 'What anarchism means to them'. Projectile runs from Friday Feb
11th to Sunday Feb 13th 2005. www.projectile.org.uk

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..On Both Counts!

In Russia protesters have defied the weather and taken to the
streets in city centres all over the country. Militant Russian
pensioners have been leading crowds of war invalids, Chernobyl
victims, disabled people, police officers, old-time communists,
trade unionists and anarchists. It began with protests against
benefit 'reforms'. Under the old regime they had been entitled to
free public transport, medicine and telephone use. Of course, much
of the social state is bankrupt, so these benefits were often just
a nice idea. After the 2003 elections, which left Putin and his
KGB cronies in control of the Duma, the state started a massive
program of neoliberal reforms - the kind that the World Bank and
IMF have been pushing on governments around the world.

Benefits are to be 'monetarized', which means that free services
will be taken away and claimants will get (an inadequate amount
of) cash instead. The money is often not enough for a pensioner to
afford a couple of trips a month to the out-of-town allotment
where they grow their food. Many people in Russia survive on this
kind of subsistence farming, and losing their free transport will
drive many of them towards hunger and malnutrition.

In the town of Perm the Governor came to talk with a crowd of
7,000 who were demanding to speak to him. They took him hostage
and refused to let him go until an anarchist prisoner was
released. In Moscow, the road to St Petersburg was blocked by a
group of pensioners who were spontaneously joined by hundreds of
passers-by. Many local governments have rapidly backtracked after
widespread actions like these, and made services free again.

Little surprise then that in some cities anarchists and their
friends organizing and participating in these protests have been
targeted with fierce repression and there are reports of savage
beatings of suspected organizers. Police are not crushing
demonstrations, though, because there is a culture of respect for
old people in Russia (although that respect obviously doesn't mean
an adequate pension anymore).

Local activists in Perm are now expecting a wave of repression
after they humiliated the governor and the police and there have
already been some arrests. They have put out a call asking for
solidarity, asking people to call the city administration and ask
them to refrain from opening criminal cases against people and to
demand liberation of prisoners. Call +7-3412-12-64-57
+7-3412-12-64-57 To stay updated www.russia.indymedia.org and
www.avtonom.org

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..and finally...

It might be reassuring for some to know that the reason for North
Korea's development of nuclear weapons is not to wage a war on us
mere mortals but to wipe out the serious threat that is
dreadlocks. So Brightonians, if you have chosen to develop these
weapons of mass infestation it is time to reconsider your
hairstyle. Apparently men's hairstyles reflect their 'ideological
spirit' and North Korea has launched a media assault alerting the
population of this fact. Tidy attire is a spring board for
"repelling the enemies" and combating "corrupt capitalist ideas
and lifestyle and establishing the socialist lifestyle" booms the
radio. Nits, you scare nobody!

A TV Common Sense programme in N. Korea states all kinds of
logical explanations as to why the "flat-top crew cut" is
necessary including the "negative effects" of long hair on "human
intelligence development". Oi Students! The reason you may be a
bit baffled in your lectures isn't because of disturbing amounts
of alcohol you consume but cos yer locks are robbing your brain
energy! If you want to be a communist and pass your exams, get the
chop!

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Disclaimer

SchNEWS warns all readers not to take any crop from anyone...
Honest!

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INFORMATION FOR ACTION - IF YOU LIKE IT PASS IT ON...

What's On? Check out out Party and Protest guide at
www.schnews.org.uk/pap/guide.htm - it's updated every week, has
sections on regular events, local events, protest camps and
more...

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Phone: 01273 685913 (NO FAX)
Email: schnews@brighton.co.uk Web: www.schnews.org.uk

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