All posts by Viola Lee-Blue

Bring Down B.I.O.

People across the continent are organizing to disrupt the global meeting of the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) June 6-9 at San Francisco’s Moscone Center. BIO is the largest biotech lobbying organization in the world. It works to promote mega-corporate control of human food supplies and the environment. Its corporate members and supporters — Monsanto, Dow, DuPont, Genentech and all of the major pharmaceutical companies — are quite literally threatening the continuation of life on earth with their pollution, unsustainable agricultural practices, and genetic engineering experiments.

BIO’s decision to meet in San Francisco is a surprising opportunity — why would the biotech industry voluntarily have a huge meeting in a politically hostile, well organized community with a history of successful and militant direct action? Their blunder will be the people’s gain. 16,000 industry representatives, scientists and government officials are expected at the convention, filling local hotels for miles around. To say “logistical and security nightmare” understates the vulnerability of the BIO 2004 conference. Police will have to make the difficult choice of turning San Francisco into an armed camp — shutting down major streets around the convention center for days and deploying thousands of police — or allowing activists to turn the meeting into a chaotic, embarrassing fiasco.

June 6-9 may well become San Francisco’s Seattle. If you live in the Bay Area, now is the time to get together with your friends, neighbors and family to form affinity groups and figure out how you can plug into the uprising. If you live elsewhere, you might consider planning a trip to SF.

What is planned

Protest organizers under the umbrella “Reclaiming the Commons” are hoping to couple powerful street protests with inspiring examples of positive alternatives to a corporate controlled, biotech future: “It’s time to put as much energy into creating a better world as we have been putting into resisting the exploitative one! We need to get off the corporate grid, exercise democracy outside of party-driven, corporate-funded electoral machines, live sustainable lives, and create just and thriving communities amid the corporate-controlled world!”

They hope to showcase “community-based, eco-solutions to urban problems” — planting gardens, practicing mutual aid and direct democracy, and experimenting with sustainable, do-it-yourself ways to meet human needs. In addition to a welcome center with a food forest, composting toilets, solar showers, gray-water system and bike taxis and bio-diesel shuttles, there will be teach-ins, panels, and workshops all leading up to direct action against the BIO 2004 convention. Events are schedule June 3-9 — starting three days before the start of the BIO conference.

What is BIO 2004

According to BIO’s website: “BIO represents more than 1,000 biotechnology companies, academic institutions, state biotechnology centers and related organizations in all 50 U.S. states and 33 other nations. BIO members are involved in the research and development of health-care, agricultural, industrial and environmental biotechnology products.” The conference will include “biotech executives, investors, journalists, policymakers and scientists from more than 55 countries.”

BIO’s role is to clear the way for ever-increasing corporate control of agriculture and to promote biotechnology. According to Reclaim the Commons “The biotechnology industry is a prime example of how global corporations are eroding democracy, threatening our health and environment, and concentrating control of our food and resources in the hands of a few profit-driven companies. With almost no public debate, over 100-million acres of genetically engineered (GE) crops are planted each year in the United States. That’s almost 70% of the world’s GE crops. Once released into the environment, these GE life forms can’t be recalled, and there’s no way to predict their effects on our bodies, ecosystems, and our future. Gambling with the future of human and environmental health is gravely affecting food sovereignty throughout the world, dramatically increasing the risks of biowarfare and further entrenching the health-for-profit system with the creation of biopharmaceuticals that are ‘grown’ in GE plants and animals. Already these artificial life forms have contaminated seeds and crops that have been cultivated over thousands of years.”

According to the BIO website, the convention will include “150 panel sessions, 1,200 displays, a business forum with 200 company presentations, and a career fair.” It costs $1,995 to register for the conference, guaranteeing that only those friendly to the industry will be in attendance. BIO notes that “the Bay Area is the world’s leading bioscience corridor, with 820 companies generating an annual payroll of $5.8 billion, according to BayBio. But the region is not alone. Some 4,000 biotech companies worldwide are using biology to create products that solve health and environmental problems.”

June 3-9 will be our chance to show the corporations and their politicians that we don’t want BIO’s “solutions” to our health and environmental problems. We demand real solutions that work with the earth and are controlled by the people. At this stage in history, the best way to help the environment is to leave it alone and re-learn how to live simply and lightly on the earth.

Get involved

Make your travel plans / schedule your vacation now. There will be action spokes councils in SF on May 2 and May 31 from 4-6 at St. Boniface Church, 133 Golden Gate Ave. June 3-5 there will be teach-ins, panels and workshops from 9:30 – 5:30 at the Women’s Building at 3543 !8th St, at New College at 777 Valencia and at the Unitarian Hall at 1187 Franklin. Direct action is expected June 6-9. For more information, contact (877)806-2871 or www.reclaimthecommons.net. To check out what BIO is up to, check out www.bio.org.