their march from Dewey Square
to the BIO Convention, we caught up with Ciclovida activists Ashley Trull,
Taylor Miles, Matt Feinstein, Scott Guzman, and Dania Flores to talk about their day of action.+ + + + +
Trull: My name’s Ashley. I’m out here with Ciclovida. I’m out here today protesting
the 2012 BIO International Convention happening up the street. It’s a gathering of
some of the largest corporations in industrial agriculture and the big farm
industry. So it’s a lot of folks like Monsanto, Syngenta, Novartis. Sponsors
like Coca Cola, Dupont, all the big players in the corporate world. And they’re
right now having a week full of workshops, talking about how to get GMOs
further into our food supply, how to further industrialize agriculture, and
basically how to make people think GMOs are okay, and to want [GMOs] in their
out here today to make sure that they know, and that the public knows, that
there is another way … and we don’t want genetically modified food. We want
local agriculture, small scale, family farms. We don’t want GMOs. There’s an
enormous health risk with it, and it’s not sustainable for continuing to farm
and provide food for ourselves.
of what we’ve been trying to do, with what we’ve been calling like a
counter-conference and a coordinated action against the corporate control of
food at the biotech convention, is to just basically say: we don’t even need
what you’re been talking about in there. We’re going have our own counter-conference
and bring together local farmers, food justice and environmental justice
a really awesome alternative gathering last night at Spontaneous Celebrations,
and we’re really hoping that with alternative solutions we can do things like
sharing seeds. There was a lot of seed networking last night and we’re hoping
to keep in touch about some of the seeds we’ve shared and how that development
is happening and just stay in solidarity together in that way.
this protest related to Ciclovia? Can you explain that group?
is an international project, a group of activists, mostly based around a
documentary of two landless workers in northeastern Brazil
who traveled to Argentina
and back slowly by bike. And they were spreading awareness about the
devastating effects of industrial agriculture on the environment and
communities and in all the places they were stopping they were getting seeds
from that area and then brining those back and kind of creating a seed bank.
People think of biofuels as an alternative to fossil fuels, but in
fact they are not creating any benefit for farmers, for climate change issues,
they are in fact causing more deforestation and displacement of small farms
throughout the world, and lots of health effects with the pesticide use that it
takes to grow these agro fuels. So
that’s large plantations of soy, of sugar cane …. and now they’re trying to do
what are called second generation agro fuels where they feel the pressure from
the critique of food crops. We’re not going to use food for fuel anymore right?
We’re going to use these crops that maybe take trees, like eucalyptus trees,
and cellulosic fuels. They’re going to try to break down these very fibrous
plants and make them into fuel. Well it’s actually not very effective. They’re
not generating a lot more energy than they’re using to create the fuels, and
not to mention all the potential impacts from the genetically modified
organisms that they’re using like trees that can spread their pollen for
thousands of miles. So some scary stuff. So we’re doing some education, we’re
doing some networking, we’re doing some public speak outs here today so we want
to hit up all the different avenues to get the word out to empower folks to
have more power over their local food.
from Ciclovida, what other sorts of activism surrounding these issues is going
on in Boston right
connected to a lot of awesome projects happening here and around the northeast.
A lot of our connections so far have been with folks doing urban agriculture
projects, folks turning lots into farms, working on growing food organically
here in an urban setting. I can’t speak specifics right now but we’ve also had
a lot of great support from people doing farming all around the Northeast. And
a lot of people who are just starting out, a lot of young farmers who are saying
‘I want to learn this, I want to do this’ and going out there and learning how
to grow their own food, how to save seeds and building that network of support.
So it’s been really cool to see that there is a growing movement around this.
And a lot of it is very solutions oriented. It’s like saying we’re going
to build what we want to see. We’re not going to waste more time yelling at a
building trying to fight industrial agriculture, we’re going to learn what we
need to learn and do it and create new systems of local food and local power.
collaborating a bit with Occupy Monsanto and Occupy Boston, and I just generally
think that we found that the Occupy movement is really relevant here because
[their goals are in line with] what needs to happen within our food system. You
know, the food system needs to be back into the hands of the 99 percent, so …. occupy
the food supply.
last night we had Claire Allen from Roxbury Safety Net come, who has been
resisting the BU Biolab for about ten years now. So we were really trying to
draw the connections there, because BU has been very supportive of the 2012 BIO
International Convention.. So, part of our event last night was being in
solidarity with the community of Roxbury who has not consented about the
placement of that level four lab.
If you had to just really
simply explain to someone how the
conversation surrounding GMOs is relevant to their life, what one thing would
you tell them?
It mostly comes down to food. Everyone needs food. And what’s
happening now is a lot of our food has GMO products in it, and we don’t know
what the health implications are, but it is thought to be attached to a lot of
health concerns. So, it’s just the fact that this is something we used to
nourish ourselves with. Food. Everyone needs healthy food to sustain ourselves, but when you’re messing
with genetics and what goes into the food, we don’t know the impacts. It is
probably causing a lot of the diseases we’re seeing on increasing levels today.
There’s a lot of research going on about it, but also Monstanto is doing a lot
to cover up that research, to make sure it’s not getting out there. So people
don’t know the health risks of genetically modified food. The biggest thing I
say to people is, “hey do you know what you’re eating? Do you know that your
food is genetically modified? Do you know what impact that has here? Wouldn’t
you like to know if your food is genetically modified?” We don’t have a
labeling for it here in the US,
so there’s no way to know. But its very pervasive in a lot of the food that we
the main way I like to connect to folks about these issues. And then you can
get into from there just to the fact that it’s not sustainable in the long term
because of the seed issue. Genetically modified seeds are designed to be
terminator seeds to not reproduce, so you can’t save the seeds, you need to
keep buying them. And that’s not a way to sustain farmers and sustain small
scale agriculture. Not to mention they’re usually paired with pesticide use,
which is another toxin we’re putting in our food, connected with cancer levels
and lots of developmental diseases and disorders that are happening with
yeah …. food. We don’t want to poison our food. It’s as basic as that.
Flores: I think also part of it is that [the seed market] is a
created market. Seeds. Everybody should be able to have access to seeds. Usually
farmers harvest the seeds for next season. And usually those are the best seeds
that they collect from the crops. But right now they cannot do that … there’s
going to be a point where we’re not going to be able to harvest seeds. We’re
going to have to buy them. And it’s a created market. Having control over our
food supply? That’s basically like playing God, for money. The way I talk to
people is asking, “do you want to control what you eat? Or do you want somebody
else to control it?”
not just food, it’s what animals eat, too. Because they grow [GMO-filled food]
for animals too. And that modifies the animals. It’s dangerous stuff.