Category Archives: Harvest 1997 (9/23/97)

Not Our Town

No New Police Station!

Police supporters in Berkeley are trying to jump on the bandwagon of "War on Crime" hysteria and the blitzkrieg expansion of the criminal justice industry to build a new fortress police station. The building will undoubtedly stand as a symbol of the fact that even in Berkeley repression is winning out as the solution to social problems.

Over 60% of the cases currently in the criminal justice system are from the drug war. History has shown us however, that reliance on the criminal justice system to solve social problems such as drug abuse merely perpetuates a cycle of crime and punishment, leaving the social problems unsolved.

With the ongoing economic, racial, and political polarization of American society, some would legislate the economically expendable out of existence, warehousing them in prisons. Instead of spending $18 million on a new police station, we should be building institutions of inclusively, of economic access for all to the goods of society, to solve the social problems and drug problems.

Since so many police services are drug related, if Berkeley moved from criminalization to a harm reduction drug policy, there would be no need for the proposed 66,000 square foot monstrosity. The police force could be downsized from its current size of 321 officers and the extra money spent on a whole array of social and cultural programs. Furthermore, billed as a "Public Safety Building," city planners are attempting to conceal the draconian nature of police by placing them in the same building as the fire department.

And finally, the City will need to divert money from seismic retrofit funds, a misuse of that funding. In the past the people of Berkeley voted for a seismic upgrade of the existing police station, not a new four story repression facility with a weight room, gymnasium and shooting range. This backroom decision by City leaders is a manipulation of the democratic process.

This issue must be opened up to the public for discussion. We need to consider the alternatives to the insane jail-everyone policy that has much of our society currently under its grip. Opposition to this proposed facility could represent a coalition against all kinds of repression.

Coalition for Alternatives
Berkeley, CA
(510) 841-7460

gmsasso@sj.bigger.net

Free Trade in Action: Disney Contractor Pulls Out of Haiti

H.H. Cutler, the largest manufacturer of Disney clothing in Haiti, announced on July 17 that it will pull all production out of Haiti. The National Labor Committee of New York claims Cutler will relocate to China, where wages are approximately 13 cents an hour, as opposed to Haiti, where the minimum wage is 28 cents, but where a living wage is at least double that amount. 2300 workers, mainly women, will be left jobless. One woman worker interviewed at a bus stop said If I lose my job, I might die, but I’m half-dead already.

Cutler blames the pullback on slumping sales of Disney children’s clothing, but Disney and Cutler have been targets of a worldwide campaign protesting starvation wages and miserable working conditions. Human rights organizations will be unable to monitor Cutler production in China. Cutler had previously moved most production out of its home base in Grand Rapids, MI, to relocate to Haiti. It thus follows the path of Nike, which moved production from the U.S. to Korea and now to Indonesia, Viet Nam and China.

To protest this textbook example of free trade in action, and to ask Cutler to stay in Haiti and pay a living wage, write to:

Tom Austin, President Michael Eisner, CEO
H.H. Cutler Walt Disney Company
120 Iona Avenue SW 500 South Buena Vista
Grand Rapids, MI 49503 Burbank, CA 91521

Encuentro Paper

In late July 4,000 people attended the Second International Encounter For Humanity and Against Neoliberalism held in Spain. Below we reprint excerps of a report issued from the working groups: Work and the Means of Production and Creating Conditions for a Life with Dignity

I. Introduction

We came together to help make a world of dignity and justice and well-being for all humanity. This should include the dignified, democratic participation of us all, women and men, in producing the material things we need, redistributing the wealth, raising our children, and taking care of each other. But neoliberal capitalism offers us misery and exploitation so that to work is to create the chains of poverty and subservience for most of us and wealth for a few.

II. Work

1. Changing North/South/East Relations

Today, there are similarities and differences in the forms of exploitation between north and south. The similarities are increasing, but there remain old forms of imperialism which are now being renewed by neoliberalism. Neoliberalism stimulates both development and underdevelopment in both north and south, so that we find the north in the south and the south in the north. Additionally, the workers in the east are now being prepared for various forms of exploitation by northern corporations. Workers in the north do not fundamentally benefit from imperialism — it is the ruling class and the transnational corporations, and particularly speculative financial capital, that benefit — but there is a lot of complexity and inequality in relations between the working class in the north and the working class in the south. Workers in every part of the world lose under neoliberalism, but the workers in the south lose more.

2. Many Faces of Work

Capitalists try to reduce all of human life to work and consumption in the market. Capitalist work is thus exploitation, so that the demand for capitalist work is the demand to be exploited. Many ways are used to force us into this exploitation. However, to work as humans is to produce and reproduce our conditions of life and means to relate with each other. The human way to work is not of competing atomistic individuals, but of social individuals working in cooperative, dignified, and democratic arrangements. The question of human work therefore opens the political question of direct democracy from below to determine the production and reproduction of our lives. However, we must all live, and to live today it often requires that we participate in one of the many forms of capitalist work.

Today, neoliberal capital uses every kind of work in its efforts to suck profit out of the lives of people. Much of the work in the world, perhaps that of half the people of the world, is done in ways that are not directly or immediately part of the market. This comprises mostly forms of agricultrual work and life, but also includes the many areas of the informal economy. The rule of money finds ways to exploit this work, make profit from it, and to bring it under market control.

At this most recent phase of world capitalist development, in both north and south slavery increases, as well as many forms of work that are semi-slavery, such as debt bondage, child labor, forced prostitution, prison labor and workfare . In free trade zones and the maquiladora factories, workers labor in near-slavery conditions.

Neoliberalism depends on increased exploitation of the unwaged and more unpaid work from everyone. Unpaid work includes all the work traditionally done by women in the home to raise children, make men ready for work outside the home, nurse the sick, care for the elderly, and reproduce the entire domestic sphere. It includes unpaid forced overtime, time spent looking for work, and labor obligations for landlords and local political bosses. Neoliberalism also blurs the distinction between waged work and semi- slavery by imposing flex-time, on-call labor, self-employment, working at home — all ways in which the whole life is, like in slavery, reduced to work for capital.

III. Struggles and Alternatives: Reducing Work Time and Creating Non-Capitalist Work

Struggles to reduce capitalist work time, to control land and the means of production, and to build alternative ways to produce and reproduce our life can unite diverse people against the inhuman vampire called neoliberal capital. We recognize that to survive we engage in many particular struggles over immediate issues, but when linked these struggles can open the door to wider and deeper struggles.

We need therefore to develop principles with which we can analyze our struggles to see if they put us in a better position to overcome the inhuman way of life we are forced into, whether they reduce hierarchies and create wider spaces of shared democratic participants. Some of these principles include: to reduce the risk of being co-opted by capital; to ensure that our struggles and demands correspond to many sectors, needs and aspirations; and to ensure they embody a principle of human liberation. We must therefore be sure that reductions in work in one place are not at the expense of work in another. We can also develop principles that distinguish between projects imposed from the top or outside by capitalism, and those from the bottom and inside, from the people.

The struggle to reduce capitalist work allows more time to struggle against capital and more time to develop alternative was to produce, live and redistribute domestic chores. We simultaneously demand higher wages and equalization of wages, between men and women, citizens and migrants, north and south, different kinds of workers, and races. The struggle to reduce work time for capital is a struggle not only of the waged workers, but also of the unwaged workers, the millions of farmers and peasants, students, unemployed, elderly, housewives and indigenous of the world. For example, a well in a village could mean the reduction of arduous work by men and women. When we reduce work time, we must ensure the equal distribution of the work that we decide needs to be done. While we reduce work time, me must insist on conditions that ensure dignity and health for the work that remains to be done.

A guaranteed income assuring life with dignity for all residents of nation is also right. We say residents because this right belongs to migrants as well as citizens: we all have rights to inherit the wealth and knowledge that are products of centuries of collective human activity. This right is independent of requirement to work for capital. Income without work can also be gained through various struggles such as occupying houses or land, reappropriations , and refusing to pay for services.

In the south, and in some places of the north, rights to land, water, and other means of agricultural production are essential to life with dignity and the creation of just societies. These rights must not be limited by requirements to produce for the capitalist market.

Creating alternative spaces for production and social life is good in itself because these spaces enable relations that are outside of and beyond the market. They also can put limits to capitalist expansion and support creation of spaces in which struggles can grow and be protected. We can learn through this how to create many visions of ways to organize our lives and production. The satisfaction of needs outside of direct control of the capitalist market enables us to fight capital on a terrain that is more favorable to us. These forms of alternatives can develop out of traditional forms of work, but some traditional forms involve exploitation and also must be abolished. Many forms of third sector work (supposedly depending neither on the market nor the state) are not true alternatives to capitalist work, but instead are a new form of lower-waged capitalist work.

British Activists Destroy Genetically Engineered Crop

An experimental crop of rapeseed (canola), owned by the US based biotech corporation Monsanto, has been destroyed by local residents in a “Do It Yourself” public protest at a farm near Coventry, England.

The action took place in the interests of public safety on the evening of Wednesday August 6 at Tibs Hall Farm, Kingsbury near Tamworth, Staffs. The genetically altered crop containing mutant DNA was uprooted from its experimental plot by people wearing protective clothing. The plants were then broken before being mixed together with ‘normal’ plants to invalidate the experiment’s results.

In a statement issued this morning, local people said: The mutant DNA in this crop could easily spread to the surrounding area either through cross-pollination or through virus infection. No one can guarantee that this will not happen.

Our natural world is being tampered with for private profit. We are not prepared to see the people and plants of Staffordshire – or anywhere else in the UK – used as guinea pigs in somebody else’s experiment.

Despite Monsanto’s claims that their field trials of genetically engineered crops are entirely risk-free, several studies have shown that the pollen of transgenic rapeseed plants can cross-pollinate with traditional or wild species, spreading the genetic pollution.

The campaign against genetic engineering has also taken to the fields in Germany where testing is carried out. In 1996 at least 12 fields were destroyed by protesters, and action by local people stopped the planting of several more. Four fields are currently being squatted full-time by German activists determined to stop them being planted with Monsanto’s herbicide-resistant sugar beet.

Genetic Engineering: We are the Guinea Pigs

The genetic engineering industry, assisted by the US government, has been making moves that will soon put the fate (and the currency) of the world in their hands. Patented engineered crops have been pushed into the market with no responsible testing on humans as to allergens or long-term effects, and no regard for the consequences to the ecosystem when they escape and spread.

These crops will quickly boost the income of the already money-bloated chemical/ agribusiness/biotech industry by at least 4-5 times. With this much money at stake, the corporate sharks are in a feeding frenzy of such intensity that any thoughts of caution, not to mention ethics, must be quickly suppressed. No expense is being spared to lay the groundwork and to alter the public’s opinion of the biotechnology industry. One of many examples of its influence is the enactment of laws that enable private entities to apply for patents on research that was largely funded by the government.

The World’s Breadbasket: Monsanto?

Chemical giant Monsanto stands as a prime example of this blatant bad behavior. Their executives regularly cycle in and out of top positions in the FDA. Consequently the FDA enacts whatever policies will further Monsanto’s interests. In 1992, over 150 FDA officials owned stock in the drug/biotech companies they regulated.

Monsanto’s biggest cash-cow at $1.5 billion per year has been the widely used herbicide Roundup. The use of Roundup is the third most commonly reported cause of illness among agricultural workers in California; for landscape maintenance workers, it ranks highest. It also destroys soil life and leaves residues that show up in food planted a year after the soil was sprayed.

Use of Roundup was previously limited to killing weeds around the borders of cropland. However, Monsanto is betting the farm on its new line of Roundup Ready crops, which are specifically engineered to withstand massive dousing with Roundup. In fact, a year’s supply of Roundup is sold as a package with the seeds–for which farmers must sign a contract promising not to sell or give away any seeds or save them for next year’s planting. Monsanto inspects its customers’ farms for violations.

Monsanto expects that its sales of Roundup will increase to $4 billion per year in 5 years. By early next century, Monsanto fully expects to be THE source of the world’s food, and is doing whatever it takes to make its dream come true. Other agribiz/biotech corporations are desperately fighting for their share.

Who Will Pay for these Profits?

The Third World countries will pay the highest price, first as the unpaid sources for the genes that are being spliced into the new mega-profitable patented crops, and again as they are made more and more dependent on big agribusiness. Small farmers in all countries can see their extinction on the horizon. It may be that, after cross-pollination occurs and spreads, and after the drifting of ever-increasing clouds of crop-dusted pesticides kill off all non-resistant crops, only patented crops will be able to grow. Only giant agribusiness concerns will be able to afford the patented seeds and accompanying pesticides that allow these crops to flourish, and the only way to get food will be to get in line at the agribusiness foodstand.

The needs of corporate interests do not reflect the needs of people. The alternative to prolonged shelf life and long-distance trade is not the reengineering of fruits and vegetables. The alternative is to reduce ëfood miles’. Cuba, for example, has used the crisis of the US trade embargo to create thousands of urban organic gardens to meet the vegetable needs of each city from within its municipal limits.

Long distance transport for basic food stuffs which could be grown locally serves the interests of global agribusiness, not the small farmer.

–Dr. Vandana Shiva, ecofeminist, physicist and philosopher

So What’s Wrong with Frankenfoods, Anyway?

Because of lack of testing, there will be currently unforeseen consequences on human and animal health. We do know that people with food allergies will soon not be able to tell if the vegetable or the food product they are buying contains genes from something they are allergic to.

One imminent result from a new product already on the market, Maximizer corn, which contains a gene resistant to the antibiotic ampicillin, is the increased spread of antibiotic resistance into animals and humans. (Antibiotic resistance makes these sometimes-crucial drugs ineffective.) Other probable consequences include increased strain on immune systems, more new diseases, and increased cancer rates.

Already infectious diseases are on a global rebound, killing thousands more and evolving into antibiotic-resistant strains. The US death rate from infectious diseases rose 58% between 1980-1992, becoming the third-leading killer of Americans, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. European countries have banned most US beef, poultry and dairy products because of detectable levels of drugs.

–Lee Hitchcox, D.C, Strategies for Staying Alive,1996.

As for reports that bioengineered crops will be able to use less pesticide or less-toxic pesticides and herbicides, such reports have been greatly exaggerated by PR firms receiving mega-bucks from agribusiness. It’s notable that many times more research is being done on ways to use greater quantities of highly toxic chemicals than on less-toxic methods.

Boo-boos and Surprises

What has reached the market so far is only the start of an onslaught of products, as biotech companies rush to cash in on their patented products and to develop more. In April, one mistake that supposedly could never happen because of tight quality control and regulations came to light: Monsanto had to recall some seed that contained an incorrect gene which had been inserted by accident. Research done in Denmark has shown that genetically-manipulated genes in crops can make their way into nearby weeds under field conditions. In this way, genetic errors can propagate into the environment and permanently alter the natural world in ways that no one is prepared to understand (Peter Montague, Rachel‚s Environment and Health Weekly, #549).

Another surprise is the speed with which insects are meeting the challenge of bio-engineering through their capacity to mutate. It had been hoped that bio-engineering toxins into crops would repel insects without need for external application of pesticides, but the insects turn out to be more than equal to the threat, adapting in one generation to toxins that were supposed to fend them off for four generations.

There are effective non-toxic ways to deal with weeds and insects, but since the industry can’t get rich off them, they are not likely to get much respect from agribusiness.

Other Countries Fight US Agribusiness

Meeting at its World Congress in Geneva on April 15-18, the International Union of Food and Allied Workers’ Associations (IUF) threw the weight of its 320 affiliated unions in 112 countries behind a call for a ban on gene-altered foods.

Egypt is proposing an import ban on transgenic (genetically-altered) foods, but because of US pressure has agreed to suspend it for three months.

European Union (EU) members have stated for years that they do not want bio-engineered food. Since their protests were ignored by US agribusiness, their next demand was that bio-engineered food must be labeled. However, they are finding that the US does not intend to comply, because separating the sources of crops is not economically feasible.

In June, major US agribiz companies signed a letter to President Clinton urging him to threaten the European Union with sanctions in order to force genetically modified crops on the European market. The letter instructs the President that the EU’s objections are based on emotions, not science, and clearly states that segregation of bulk commodities is not scientifically justified and is economically unrealistic.

Regulatory authorities in European countries such as the UK, Austria, Luxembourg and Denmark objected to the approval of transgenic maize (corn) because of the possible spread of antibiotic resistance. However they were overruled by the EU Commission under massive pressure from the USA.

The Clinton administration is guilty of collusion in this money-grabbing scheme, force-feeding bio-engineering to the world by promoting it as another end to world hunger, while in fact it is one of the biggest scams going today–a scam to steal the resources, control, and most probably the health of the peoples of the world.

Greenpeace activists from across Europe launched a major protest June 26, 1997, after receiving a leaked copy of a document outlining a multi-million dollar public relations campaign (led by the PR company Burson Marsteller, best known for its work for US chemical company Union Carbide after the Bhopal chemical explosion in India) to overturn public opposition to genetically manipulated crops and the food made from them. The same companies who brought us dioxins, PCBs, DDT, CFC’s and dozens of other dangerous chemicals, which have long since been banned, are now telling us genetically manipulated organisms are safe and even environmentally beneficial, Greenpeace spokesperson Marie-Jeanne Schiffelers said.

Patent laws in Brazil, India, and Argentina forbid the patenting of pharmaceuticals on the grounds that drugs are of such great importance that no one should have the right to monopolize them. Colombian researcher Dr. Manuel Patarroyo recently gave the World Health Organization exclusive royalty-free rights on an antimalaria vaccine he developed. We wanted to do this for the benefit of humanity, he explained.

Ironically, the European attitude toward bioengineering is influenced by their history of colonialism and the taking of many resources from the new world without payment. They say that to now claim that such things can be patented and to require payment for their use would be contrary to their historical actions.

According to a Dutch Green Party member of the European Parliament, Ninety percent of the genetic resources which are used in our agricultural production come from the Third World. We have never asked if we ought to pay anything for them. And now for the biotechnology industry to demand monopoly property rights over them is utterly unjustifiable. Whether wild species or crop plants, genetic resources are the common heritage of humankind. All farmers must be guaranteed free access to them.

To take part in nation-wide October actions against genetic engineering, contact the Pure Food Campaign, 860 Highway 61, Little Marais, Minnesota 55614, (202) 775-1132 or (218) 226-4164. E-mail: alliance@mr.net

Disabled activists blockade Greyhound Station

Forty members of American Disabled for Attendant Programs Today (ADAPT), trapped eight Greyhound buses at San Francisco’s Transbay Terminal on August 8. Protesters from the disability rights organization blockaded the station for nearly three hours, trapping the buses by blocking their entrance and exit with their wheelchairs. Greyhound was forced to offload two buses below the station on Folsom St. After the CHP arrested eight protesters, Greyhound was finally able to resume normal operations. This action was done in solidarity with forty-three other actions, staged across the nation by ADAPT against Greyhound.

The action was to protest Greyhound’s refusal to equip its buses with lifts and make its facilities accessible for persons with disabilities, as mandated by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). For years ADAPT has been pressuring Greyhound and other over-the-road bus (OTRB) lines to comply with the ADA in the same way as municipal buses, such as AC Transit and Muni. Beginning in 1988, ADAPT staged a two-year series of protests and freedom rides against not only Greyhound, but the American Bus Association (ABA) and the United Bus Operators of America (UBOA), the two lobby groups representing OTRBs. Through very powerful lobbying efforts, they convinced Congress and the Department of Transportation (DOT) that putting lifts on their buses was too hard. Both Congress and DOT gave Greyhound until 1996 to comply after the ADA regulations were written in 1990.

Congress formed a committee, composed of bus industry people, disability advocates, and bureaucrats, to study the best means to accommodate disabled people. In 1993 they concluded OTRBs must provide access to disabled riders. They also found lifts to be the easiest, safest, and most cost-effective way to do it, countering Greyhound’s claim. Despite these findings, DOT delayed drafting any new regulations forcing Greyhound to install lifts. DOT also allowed Greyhound to sneak an amendment into the Federal Highway Act not requiring them to buy lift-equipped buses until two years after any regulations came out.

This entire issue has become especially time-critical. Greyhound is now hurriedly replacing its entire fleet with inaccessible buses, in an underhanded attempt to beat any new regulations. These new regulations would not be retroactive to cover any new or existing buses. Since OTRBs have an operational lifetime of twenty years, Greyhound might not be accessible until the next century. Persons with disabilities are unwilling to have their rights to accessible transportation violated well into the twenty-first century.

Also of concern is the large number of disabled living in rural areas who badly need the type of affordable transportation OTRBs could provide. Sixty-eight million (or 23%) of the nation’s population live in rural areas. Fifteen million (22%) of these are disabled. Since disabled people are among the nation’s most impoverished citizens, affordable transportation is crucial. This is especially true for rural disabled who often are scattered and without any way to get to medical care, schools, and other activities necessary for a full, equal life.

Industry Selling Its Hazardous Wastes as Fertilizer

In an example of prevailing attempts to greenwash industries by co-opting progressive terminology, heavy industry has been selling its hazardous waste as fertilizer while claiming to be recycling byproducts. Federal regulation has made the cost of disposing of toxic waste a significant factor. A loophole in EPA regulations allows the use of industrial waste products as fertilizer, no matter what they contain. This is now a fast-growing phenomenon, saving industry millions of dollars at the expense of public health.

It’s really unbelievable what’s happening, but it’s true, Patty Martin, mayor of Quincy, WA, a small farming community, said. They just call dangerous waste a product, and it’s no longer a dangerous waste. It’s a fertilizer.

Ingredients Not Regulated

Unlike Canada and European countries, the U.S. has a hands-off policy as to what can constitute fertilizer. There are actually state programs to match up recyclers of toxic waste with fertilizer companies and farmers. Factories are building fertilizer plants close to their emissions control systems, to increase convenience and profitability. The resulting fertilizer needs no labeling as to the dangerous ingredients it contains. Industry representatives would like the public to believe that they are civic-minded (and smart and wise) enough to police themselves, but horror stories resulting from the use of such fertilizers indicate otherwise.

Consequences to Farmers

In Tifton, GA, more than 1,000 acres of peanut crops aimed for human consumption were killed by Lime Plus, a brew of hazardous waste and limestone that had been sold to unsuspecting farmers.

An Oregon farmer, Wes Behrman of Banks, OR, won an out-of-court settlement from L-Bar fertilizer company after seeing his red-clover crop mysteriously wilt. He refused to discuss terms of the settlement with reporters, but he had told other people it was substantial.

In Gore, Oklahoma, a uranium-processing plant is getting rid of low-level radioactive waste by licensing it as a liquid fertilizer and spraying it over 9,000 acres of grazing land (with 2-nosed cows, 9-legged frogs, and very high rates of cancer and birth defects occurring in the vicinity).

In Quincy, WA, to dispose of a 54-foot long concrete pond full of toxic waste, the Cenex fertilizer company struck a deal with lessee farmer Larry Schaapman. He was paid more than $10,000 to let Cenex put the material, which the company claimed had fertilizer value, on his 100 acres. It killed the land. The corn crop failed there in 1990, even though Schaapman and Cenex applied extra water to try to wash the toxics through the soil. Hardly anything grew there the next year, either.

The land belonged to Dennis DeYoung, whose family had farmed it since the early 1950s before he leased it to Schaapman. Since the land was poisoned, DeYoung couldn’t make his payments, and the company that financed him foreclosed on a $100,000 debt. DeYoung also owed Cenex money for fertilizer and seed. Soon after, Cenex bought the land from the financing company. DeYoung sued Cenex for damages for ruining the soil, lost in summary judgment but won a reversal in the State Court of Appeals earlier this year. He’s preparing for a new trial.

Tom Witte is a 53-year-old farmer with 200 acres and about 100 cows a few miles east of Quincy, WA. His father purchased the farm in 1956. Witte had a disastrous year in 1991, associated with the use of contaminated fertilizer. His red spring wheat, silage corn, and grain corn all yielded about one-third the normal levels. Six of his cows got sick and died. The veterinarian found cancer in the three that were tested.

Witte and DeYoung submitted hair samples to a laboratory that tests for heavy metals in human tissues. The lab found high levels of aluminum, antimony, lead, arsenic and cadmium in hair samples from DeYoung, Witte, and Witte’s children.

Jaycie Giraud of Quincy, WA, said that the Giraud family, which has been farming in the area for three generations, is now broke due to the use of toxic fertilizers. Her father-in-law, a farmer for 50 years, lost a $1 million potato crop. Her husband and their two children, aged 7 and 14, have all developed respiratory problems that she believes are related to fertilizer products.

Farms Destroyed

The industries that are benefiting financially from recycled waste are claiming that there are no known risks in the use of toxic waste in fertilizer. However, farmers‚ land has been destroyed, livestock has been dying of cancer, and the health of the farmers themselves has been damaged by recycled waste. After determining that these problems coincided with the application of these fertilizers, some farmers have begun to protest the devastation of their lives and livelihoods.

Kerr-McGee Bags

Monsanto’s Waste

Monsanto Corp., a major pesticide manufacturer, sold the toxic waste from its Soda Springs, ID factory as a fertilizer component for six years. In 1994, they became the first company so far to STOP, because of fear of possible liability. They are still selling some waste to Kerr-McGee, who have taken over the process of turning it into fertilizer. A Monsanto rep stated that, in effect, Kerr-McGee is being paid to take on the risk of liability. Kerr-McGee is a pretty big company. If they have a (liability) problem, they’ll probably face their problem without dragging Monsanto into it.

A Growing Phenomenon

Although a big corporation like Monsanto has seen the liability at the end of the tunnel, this phenomenon is not about to go away. It is increasing. Soil scientists report that waste brokers from metal-, cement-, paper- and wood-products companies call constantly, trying to get matched up with farmers who will accept their waste products so that they will not have to pay to dispose of them.

Nor is it just currently produced toxics that are being cycled into fertilizer. Toxic waste from old dump sites is also making its unregulated way into fertilizer. And at one of the sites on the EPA’s Superfund list, Lowry Landfill near Denver, there is a plan to send liquid waste from the site through sewage treatment and apply it to government-owned wheat farms. The EPA is considering the novel disposal plan in a pending ruling that may set a precedent for new ways to clean up Superfund sites. The official EPA fact sheet on the landfill omits the fact that the waste is radioactive.

Follow-ups and Food Slander

Fertilizer industry reps seem willing to admit that mistakes were made (by scofflaws), but seem to define mistakes as the instances in which crops or livestock were destroyed or obviously damaged. They do not seem to acknowledge that (1) poisons put into the soil will become part of the plants or (2) eating such plants will have harmful effects. They would like to deny the following:

- Toxic heavy metals build up in soil.

- Radioactivity does not go away.

- Pesticide residues have harmful effects.

- Some plants take up more or less of certain chemicals from the ground than others.

- When the plants are eaten by animals, the toxins build up and multiply in their tissues. It’s the animals at the top of the food chain (such as predatory animals and meat- and dairy-eating humans) that receive the heaviest doses of toxins.

There has been very little coverage of this issue in the mainstream press, possibly because of the new Food Slander laws in 13 states, which warn that anyone saying bad things about agribusiness is likely to be sued (e.g., Oprah Winfrey is being sued by Texas cattle business for her show about mad-cow disease).

But the one major article, which appeared July 3 in the Seattle Times, apparently did have an effect. On August 7th regulators from states all over the US convened to discuss the labeling of fertilizers. A panel of regulators and fertilizer executives was appointed to come up with a policy on labeling, and it was announced that it would be proposed in six weeks. One thing that is not known is whether there will be actual testing, which would be difficult and expensive, especially since the toxic products are variable in nature.

Some Anti-toxics Organizations

The Pure Food Campaign
860 Highway 61
Little Marais, MN 55614

Citizen’s Clearinghouse for Hazardous Waste
150 S. Washington, Suite 300
P.O. Box 6806
Falls Church, VA 22040

Pesticide Action Network

http://www.igc.apc.org/panna/others.html

Headwaters

For the third year in a row, Headwaters Forest supporters are in the woods demonstrating for the preservation of ALL 60,000 acres of Pacific Lumber Company’s (PL) Humboldt County redwood forest holdings. After years of encroaching chainsaw massacres, the last six groves of ancient trees stand tall in a sea of devastation. Caring activists have dedicated years to opposing the insatiable greed of this corporation. Last fall, PL and its Texan parent company Maxxam, entered into negotiations toward a deal for Headwaters that equals nothing but a big fat SELLOUT for the largest unprotected redwood forest on the planet. The resounding consensus is that Clinton’s slick election time dealmaking might leave the Headwaters complex more vulnerable to habitat loss, while saving less than 7500 acres and only two of the six ancient groves as a tree museum.

Earth First! is committed to oppose this pathetic whitewash at every turn. By maintaining high profile nonviolent direct action and civil disobedience throughout September and October, we hope to create political and financial pressure that presents a real crisis to the corporate and governmental powers-that-want to be. We know that true power-staying power- lies with the people united. Over 1500 supporters were arrested last fall, breaking the law for a greater good. This year we want to see those numbers skyrocket, as more and more folks come to the woods, gates and city streets to defy the property lines that serve to silence the will of the people.

The 1986 takeover of PL and the Headwaters Forest by Charles Hurwitz’s Maxxam is a classic robberbaron tale. After being bailed out of debt from his failed Texas Savings and Loan bank, the real estate tycoon bought PL and several other companies, hoping to use their profits to eventually pay off his debt. After 10 years on his chopping block, less than 5000 fragmented acres of the 60,000 remains untouched. The new PL is logging faster than ever before, as Hurwitz races against time to avoid losing out on potential profits. In exchange for the 7500 acres, the Feds are giving him 380 million dollars and other as yet undisclosed state lands. Congress approved the cash in July, but Pete Wilson is having a hard time dealing. Always paving the way for extractive industry, he seems stumped as to how to engineer something so unconventional. Alongside the land sale, PL is supposed to submit a Habitat Conservation Plan for the future management of all their Humboldt Co. forestland. It’s a process under the Endangered Species Act that’s supposed to define how the company or developer will avoid trashing an endangered species’ habitat., U.S. Fish and Wildlife consults, collects date and makes the final decision. What it usually ends up being is a loophole around the law.

On September 15, the endangered marbled murrelet’s nesting season officially ended, and PL can salvage again in all the groves except those in the Deal. Until then, while the parties are negotiating PL’s HCP and waiting for the money to come through, business continues as usual. Besides the six isolated groves of ancient trees in the Headwaters Forest, thousands of acres of residual ancient forest remains. With so much focus on setting the main Grove (3000 acres) aside for the deal, these residual stands are easily overshadowed, but they make up a network of crucial endangered wildlife habitat. EF! plans to give these places the attention they deserve.

Ecologically, the redwood forest is an endangered ecosystem that is found in its native state only in small regions far north and south of the Bay Area. The last viable ancient redwood wilderness is found only in Humboldt County. Outside of the National and State Parks, Headwaters Grove, at 3000 acres, is the very last of its size. Three different endangered species inhabit the old groves, and are quietly receding in numbers as their habitat shrinks. Marbled Murrelet, Spotted Owl and Coho Salmon are all indicator species- they rely on intact and mature forest habitat. The only way to bring their numbers back is to protect ALL of their habitat, and restore the forest that once supported them, and this cannot be done through compromises.

Last fall, huge fallen redwoods of Headwaters Forest suffered a major blow when PL carried out their plans to salvage downed trees by dragging them out of at least two smaller ancient groves with steel cables. EF! locked down to dozers and blocked their gates, but the dirty work was done in the blink of an eye. The salvage permit was issued by The California Department of Forestry (CDF) as an exemption to the Federal and State laws that had kept these groves unmolested for so long. The CDF takes policy orders from the state’s Board of Forestry, a panel of 9 timber pimps appointed by Pete Wilson, which speaks for itself. CDF is seriously on Earth Firsts! shit list.

The clenched fist of corporate greed has consumed every avenue we’ve used to defend this special place. Now is the time for a massive push from the grassroots, backed by the voices of future generations and the ancient ecological wisdom we have learned from this land. A nonviolent revolutionary mass movement for Headwaters Forest is the only thing that will create a serious disruption to business as usual. Either we watch the forest fall to fill the pockets of a corporate eco-terrorist, or we unite for justice, and reclaim the power to hold Hurwitz accountable for his crimes.

Sept. 14 Headwaters Rally: A Missed Opportunity

I want to start with a story. Twenty years ago the anti-nuclear movement was in its infancy. The Clamshell Alliance in New Hampshire was born in 1975. The state had broken ground for Seabrook, a nuke plant in that same state. First they had an action with 18 people planting trees on the site. They were arrested. Then they had a rally that was attended by 1500, and 180 marched to the site and were arrested. Then in May of 1977, they planned a mass occupation. Numbers surpassed their expectations and over 1400 people were arrested and over 1000 did bail solidarity for several days, costing the state $50,000 / day. Then in 1978 they planned another mass occupation, the biggest ever, as the anti-nuke movement was exploding everywhere and the Clamshell Alliance was one of the most together organizations. They got bogged down in discussions over whether cutting the chain link fence to occupy the site was non-violent, discussions over tactics used by police against other anti-nuke demonstrators in Europe like water cannons and tear gas, and discussions with the cops who wanted them to just occupy a part of the site symbolically, have some speeches, declare victory, and go home without any arrests. The group meeting decided that they couldn’t reverse a decision made by a larger group in consensus months earlier, and the occupation would proceed. Pressure continued to mount, and a smaller group ultimately reversed the decision. They held an alternative energy fair on the site, everyone had a wonderful time, no arrests occurred, and the Clamshell Alliance was never the same again.

It is hard to criticize the Headwaters activists that made the decision to cancel the post-rally civil disobedience action on Sept. 14 because they are my friends and comrades and because they were dealing with absolutely impossible logistics and living in a pressure cooker. When the rally site was moved to Stafford, the only opportunities for cd would be to bus people to the Carlotta site we did cd at in September of 1996, and we could assume the cops would not let the buses down Fisher Road, much less let people disembark; or a march to the town of Scotia (PL company town) a couple miles away, only accessible by interstate 101 or by fording a small river. Given the show of force by cops from every county north of the south Bay (I saw a city bus sized prisoner bus from Alameda county), we could assume they would not let a march onto highway 101. Impossible logistics. Question is, would a cd on a freeway onramp be better than no cd at all? Personally, I think so. The support rally would have had terrific acoustics under that overpass and at least the cops would’ve been the ones to smother the cd, not us.

I’ve been invoking a perspective learned from John Trudell in many of my rants about Headwaters of late. That being, that what the corporations and governments think they have is not power at all, it’s authority. The true power lies with the people, but only when we recognize that fact, when we gather it together and use it. We had that power in great numbers and we won’t have it again for quite a while.

The sandbagging action was a great one, and there was nothing symbolic about it at all. I’m amazed at the local people coming out saying, yeah, we want Hurwitz and Maxxam out of our neighborhood, too. But it still feels like a missed opportunity. A big one.

Ian Ray: 1964-1997

Ian Ray, an early member of Slingshot and a Berkeley activist in the late 1980s, died on August 24. He was 33 years old.

Ian was remarkable both for his commitment to radical political movements and for the way he lived his life. In the late 80s he organized the Berkeley chapter of the Rainforest Action Network. He was arrested repeatedly protesting militarism, injustice and environmental destruction. Ian always pushed toward greater awareness of environmental issues at a time when those issues seemed less prominent.

After moving to Berkeley in 1986 to attend UC Berkeley, he almost immediately moved to the fringes of Southside wingnut culture. Ian had such a creative mind and liberated spirit that the confines of hierarchical, industrial education couldn’t hold him. He turned not only his dorm room, but his entire floor in the uptight dorm, into a musical, pharmacological and artistic experiment.

Ian later moved to Barrington Hall, a large and extremely weird University cooperative in South Berkeley. It is hard to explain to someone who never saw Barrington what it was all about. It was a liberated zone within puritan America. Every surface in Barrington was covered with psychedelic murals and layer upon layer of graffiti. The graffiti wasn’t just tags–it contained long debates about revolution, religion, art, everything. Ian’s handwriting was often visible in the long graffiti debates, which would go on for years.

Most of the people in Barrington were outside of mainstream culture in one way or another. Often, residents were outside the mainstream in almost every way. Ian became part of an informal Nudity Liberation Front at Barrington and would often go entire days without clothes. If you visited him at Barrington, you might find him coming out of the shower. After drying off, he would just walk away and go about his business.

When conservative coop officials campaigned to shut Barrington down in 1989-90, Ian was in the forefront of unsuccessful efforts to save it. Ultimately he was one of the squatters who stayed until police moved in.

Ian was a drummer who loved music. He studied bugs (entomology) at UC Berkeley. He dropped out of school because he loved bugs so much: he had to kill bugs for his classes and after a while, he just couldn’t do it anymore.

He wrote numerous articles for Slingshot, some under the pen-name Dinsdale Pirranha. He was one of 4 Slingshoters featured naked on the back of issue #28. He loved being silly and he loved life, living things and being alive. He hugged everyone he met. He will be missed and remembered. After years of struggling against illness, Ian took his own life.