Today's Topics in AgBioView.
* NZ Lifts Ban On Genetic Crop Field Trials, Imposes Tough New Controls
* Greens Want to Have It Both Ways
* Cotton is Not For Burning
* Indian Farm Leader Demands Immediate Approval of Bt Cotton
* Contraceptive Corn, Healthy Tobacco: 'Pharming' Takes Root
* Biotech: The Baby and the Bath Water
* Sowing The Seeds of Revolution
* Plant Biotechnology: 2002 and Beyond: IAPTC&B Congress
* Response to "Bioterror and biosafety" by Ms. Shiva
* Vandana Again: Diverse Women for Diversity Statement on Terror in the Modern World
New Zealand Lifts Ban On Genetic Crop Field Trials, Imposes Tough New Controls
- Ray Lilley, Associated Press, October 31, 2001
WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) _ The government lifted an 18-month voluntary ban on field trials for genetically engineered crops Tuesday, but also imposed tough new controls on any trials and banned the release of GE products for the next two years. Announcing the decisions, Prime Minister Helen Clark said science and research "must continue with strict controls in place to protect the health of New Zealanders and our environment."
Debate has raged for years in New Zealand between environmentalists keen to protect what they call the country's "clean, green" image and scientists seeking more freedom to develop genetically modified crops. Clark said the measures sought to appease both groups. "We will not close the door on science, ... nor will we allow unrestricted use and development of genetically modified organisms," she said. The only exceptions to the ban on releasing genetically engineered products applies to medicines for the treatment of both humans and animals. Clark said the two-year ban would be extended if questions about the environment, safety and health remained to be answered.
Among the new controls will be requirements that:
_ all material associated with a field trial will "be able to be removed from the site, either by destruction or otherwise."
_ any "reproductive structure above the ground" must be immediately removed as soon as it produces seeds.
_ any seeds below the ground must be either destroyed on site or removed securely contained for destruction.
_ the Hazardous Substances and New Organisms Act will be strengthened to provide for inspection and monitoring regimes for all GE trials.
All the measures will be passed in a new law which will be backdated to Oct. 30, 2001. New Zealand did not want to stop scientific advance, Clark said, "but equally, science must accept appropriate controls in the public interest." The two-year control period will allow the government to carry out extra work on socio-economic, ethical, environmental and agricultural research issues relating to genetic engineering, pass the new laws controlling field trials and set up a new Bioethics Council to review research proposals.
Environment Minister Marian Hobbs said that New Zealand "already (has) the strictest controls in the world for contained research and we are making them stronger." In the past decade scientists have carried out genetic engineering experiments on sheep, calves, tamarillos and potatoes. Tamarillos are a tomato-like fruit grown in New Zealand and widely exported.
Dr. William Rolleston, chairman of Life Sciences Network, a pro-genetic engineering lobby group called the new policy "pragmatic and a victory for commonsense." But he warned that threats from environmentalists promising to destroy field trial sites remain "a major concern."
Greens Want to Have It Both Ways
- David Ramsay The Evening Post, 26 Oct 2001
As a scientist working in areas involving the genetic modification of organisms I find the stance of the Greens quite concerning. New Zealand already has some of the toughest regulatory procedures in the world regarding the creation and use of GMOs (genetically modified organisms). To propose further controls on this work will not improve safety, but will hinder economically and scientifically important research, and will drive New Zealand scientists and their research overseas. The Greens appear to want to have their cake and to eat it too. They demanded the royal commission of inquiry, and now they have decided that because it did not tell them what they believed, that it is obviously flawed and must be ignored.
I personally agree that we should be cautious with open releases of GMOs, but we cannot expect to advance our knowledge of how GMOs interact in the environment if limited field trials for research are banned or ripped up by activists. If we have no field trials we cannot determine the facts that will allow us to make informed decisions about releasing GMOs, and our current situation of relative ignorance does not assist anyone except those proposing fear-based, knee-jerk reactions.
I think most scientists and companies would also agree to not release GMOs if it were shown that there was a real risk, and not just paranoia and propaganda.
Cotton is Not For Burning
- Editorial, The Tribune (India), Oct 30, 2001. http://www.tribuneindia.com/20011030/edit.htm#3
Cotton growers in Punjab and Haryana are protesting against the loss of their crop to the American bollworm and demand Rs 10,000 an acre as compensation from the Centre. In Bhiwani farmers burned their cotton crop recently to lodge their protest against the open sale of spurious pesticides. In Bathinda farmers don’t want compensation; they seek a solution to the recurring bollworm attacks which damage their crop year after year. In Gujarat farmers have found a way out to get rid of the pest . They have used genetically modified seed to grow what is called Bt cotton on some 10,000 acres. The use of such seed, which contains a gene that kills bollworms, is illegal in the country as field trials to determine their safety and test the claims of their being superior and high yielding are still incomplete.
US-based Monsanto holds the patent for Bt cotton and has licensed it to Mahyco in India, which raised the issue when it saw a variant of Bt cotton called Navbharat 151, supplied by Ahmedabad-based company Navbharat Seeds, being grown in Gujarat. The government is now debating whether to burn the crop. Union Agriculture Ministry officials favoure the proposal, while others in the Department of Biotechnology oppose it saying the cultivation of Bt cotton is perfectly safe. Agriculture Commissioner C.R.Hazra feels if the harvest of GM cotton is allowed, it would rob the law of all its sanctity and set a bad precedent. Farmers, meanwhile, are busy picking the controversial cotton and selling it. It is felt seeds of GM cotton may have found their way into other states like Punjab, Haryana, Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh. So burning of the crop in one state won’t help.
The real culprit behind the controversy is an inter-ministerial group called the Genetic Engineering Approval Committee which has taken too long to decide whether to allow the GM seeds. Certain scientists are convinced that Bt cotton is safe for cultivation. Department of Biotechnology Secretary Manju Sharma has openly described Bt cotton with the Cry 1 A(C) gene as “perfectly safe”. This cotton, according to media reports, is grown in 15 countries — America and China among them— and it raises the yield by at least 35 per cent. Besides, farmers do not have to spend on pesticides. The seed of Bt cotton was sold on blackmarket in Gujarat for Rs 800 to Rs 1,200 per 450 gm against the actual price of Rs 550. (US$1 - Rs. 45)
Given the global scenario where the Indian cotton is either failing due to pest attacks or becoming unviable because of being overpriced, it is criminal to delay or deny the benefits of improved seeds to Indian farmers just because a handful of experts cannot make up their mind despite overwhelming evidence on hand. Why burn the crop worth crores of rupees just to cater to the whims of a few indecisive experts? India cannot progress fast if the decision-makers take so long to wrestle with so important an issue as this one.
Indian Farm Leader Demands Immediate Approval of Bt Cotton
Following statements were sent to AgBioView by Mr.P.Chengal Reddy, President, Farmers Federation AP (India) regarding the Bt cotton issue.
1. Plea to clear the air on transgenic seed (The Hindu, Hyderabad, Oct 28):
Mr.P. Chengal Reddy, President, Federation of Andhra Pradesh Farmer's Associations, has welcomed the decision of the Parliamentary Committee on Science and Technology to visit Gujarat and study the recent controversy over Bt cotton testing and the use of untested transgenic seed there.
He demanded that the committee state clearly whether yields had increased with the use of the transgenic seed and whether they had controlled pests. The committee should also state clearly whether any environmental damage had been caused by the use of this seed. Mr Reddy claimed that there was a campaign against transgenic seed in India by vested interests. Giving the example of China, he said in five years 2.5 million hectares of land had been sown with transgenic seed, leading to massive increase of productivity and profit for farmers.
2. Federation demands transgenic seeds' study (October 28, 2001 Deccan Chronicle, Hyderabad):
The Federation of Farmers Association, Andhra Pradesh has urged the Standing Committee on Science and Technology to study the trails results of transgenic cotton seeds manufactured by MAHYCO in collaboration with Monsanto.
President of the Association, P Chengal Reddy said the standing committee led by its Chariman C Ramachandraiah, is visiting Gujarat to study the implications of Bollgard. The committee would study the results of using Bollgard seed, its impact on other crops, soil, water and environment with special reference to cattle and farmers. It will also find out if the attack by bollworm had reduced due to usage of transgenic Bollgard seeds. The farmers have been waiting endlessly to use the transgenic seeds developed by MAHYCO. However, the Government is delaying the availability of the seeds on the pretext that no studies have been carried out on the trial users," he said. Reddy also urged the standing committee to release transgenic cotton seeds by Rabi season so that farmers can sow them to get a bountiful crop.
2. Chengal Reddy asks Govt to allow transgenic crops (Newstoday, Hyderabad):
The Federation of farmers association on Sunday demanded that the government should immediately allow the use of transgenic seeds by farmers. Addressing a press conference, President of the association P Chengal Reddy observed that such seeds were successfully used by farmers in both developed and developing nations. He disclosed that a parliamentary committee for science and technology had agreed to visit Gujarat to study transgenic cotton crop relating problems faced by farmers there. He appealed the committee to find out whether the crop had caused any damage to other crops in its vicinity, to farmers, animals and environment. Transgenic seeds not only reduce the use of pesticides but also required less investment, he maintained.
Contraceptive Corn, Healthy Tobacco: 'Pharming' Takes Root
- Paul Elias , AP, October 28, 2001
In a greenhouse tucked away in Indianapolis flourishes corn being engineered to provide the active ingredients in gels that fight herpes and kill sperm. On 27 acres of Kentucky farmland grows tobacco that someday may actually help fight cancer. And in the tiny northern California farming town of Live Oak, rice laced with disease-fighting antibiotics usually found in mother's milk sprouts on a 10-acre paddy.
It's called molecular farming, and it's blossoming at biotechnology start-ups across the country. The idea is to implant human genes into crops to grow disease-fighting proteins, which can then be extracted and turned into profitable drugs and therapies. Some companies trick crops into accepting human genes spliced into the plants' DNA. Seeking to produce a contraceptive, Epicyte Pharmaceuticals Inc. is splicing into corn a genetic defect found in some women with the aim of making the plant generate a protein that kills sperm.
Another company, Large Scale Biology Corp., sprays plant viruses injected with human genes onto tobacco plants; the resulting infections produce cancer-fighting human antibodies. Molecular farming offers an elementary yet revolutionary proposition: It seeks to "grow" human therapies in the fields and crack the antibody drug market, which had $2 billion in sales last year and is expected to grow to $8 billion by 2004.
Some biotech companies have been able to grow antibodies - disease-fighting proteins that protect the body - in labs and turn them into drugs. Proponents say molecular farming could significantly cut the costs of developing such substances. Ten genetically engineered antibody drugs are on the market today, all developed using mice. Among the best known is Herceptin, which is used in treating some breast cancers and made by Genentech.
It took Genentech, Novartis, MedImmune and other companies decades of research and hundreds of millions of dollars to persuade the Food and Drug Administration that these drugs would not harm humans. All ten are mass-produced in state-of-the-art laboratories in huge vats - called bioreactors - after the antibodies have been extracted from the mice where they are manufactured.
Typically, it takes $100 million to $500 million and up to 10 years to discover, develop and deliver a single such drug. Molecular farmers believe they can get their drugs to market for as little as $50 million by using fields instead of bioreactors to grow the raw material - and because less costly laboratory processes could be used to refine the useful proteins for use in medicines. "We can inexpensively produce a huge number of high quality plants to manufacture human proteins," said Robert Erwin, chief executive of Vacaville, Calif.-based Large Scale Biology.
ProdiGene Inc., based in College Station, Texas, is developing eight human therapies, including a hepatitis B vaccine. It also says it won't need an elaborate infrastructure to produce its drugs. ProdiGene's main manufacturing tool - corn - is fueled by sun, air and water, said its chief scientist, John Howard. But technological obstacles loom. Few of these plant-generated proteins have been tested in people.
One of the furthest along, Large Scale Biology's non-Hodgkin's lymphoma test at Stanford University, involves just 16 subjects and is in Phase I testing, the first and smallest of the three human trials required by the FDA for any drug. "Molecular pharmers" hope FDA approval for wider trials will be easier because their drugs don't involve another animal species, and so there is no danger of animal viruses infecting people. But they must not only persuade the FDA that their drugs are safe and effective. They must also show the Department of Agriculture that their transgenic crops aren't likely to contaminate the food supply.
"Production of pharmaceutical compounds in crops is intriguing and possibly lucrative in the long run," said C.S. Prakash, who manages the Center for Plant Bio Research at Tuskegee University in Alabama. "It does take many years of research and the long regulatory process involving FDA and USDA to get their products out."
Both agencies began meeting last summer to draw up guidelines to better regulate biotechnology farming. Nothing formal has been proposed. Currently, a USDA permit is required to grow transgenic plants outdoors, and the crops must be isolated from fields that produce food. Activists who reject genetically modified food as unsafe - because it is not fully understood, they say - will be watching closely, determined to keep up the pressure for strict safety standards.
In September, Greenpeace protesters donned biohazard suits and carried 10-foot-tall syringes in front of a farm growing rice for Applied Phytologics, Inc., which is experimenting with growing human proteins found in mother's milk. The company's USDA-approved buffer zone was a four-foot row of traditional rice, and chief executive officer Frank Hagie said the experiment wouldn't harm humans, plants or animals. But Greenpeace said the impact of the transgenic rice hadn't been studied, and contamination couldn't be ruled out.
"There are environmental concerns as well as unknown consequences," Jeanne Merrill of Greenpeace said. All these companies insist their technologies are safe and that they've taken every security measure possible. Large Scale Biology sprays its tobacco crop in Kentucky with the tobacco mosaic virus, which "can't be transmitted by pollen, insects or seeds," Erwin said.
ProdiGene and other companies say they control their bioengineered crops through every step of the process, from seed to harvest to disposal and field cleanup. "We have a very tight program," Howard said. But Merrill points to the StarLink debacle last year as evidence that corporate security measures and promises don't always work. StarLink, a genetically engineered corn, won government approval as animal feed but not for human consumption.
Though StarLink was grown on less than 1 percent of the U.S. corn acreage and was thought to be tightly regulated, it nonetheless cross-pollinated widely, contaminating 430 million bushels of corn and triggering nationwide recalls of taco shells, corn chips and other foods. "Can you imagine if sperm-killing corn got loose in the environment like that?" Merrill said.
Biotech: The Baby and the Bath Water
- Michael Jacobson, Executive Director, Center for Science in the Public Interest; Nutrition Action Health Letter, http://www.cspinet.org/ (I thank MJ for forwarding this to me in response to my request...CSP)
I know that this month’s cover story on biotech foods will surprise many of you. A number of consumer and environmental groups have criticized, boycotted, or otherwise rejected genetically engineered foods. I don’t agree with them... or with those who maintain that agricultural biotechnology is inherently harmless and needs no oversight. There’s a third perspective. Here’s how I see it.
Over the past half-century, American agriculture has become enormously more productive, thanks to the massive use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides, sophisticated new means of breeding crops and livestock, and innovations in mechanization. But we’re paying a price for that success. Among the severe side effects: polluted water and enormous harm to insects, birds, and farmers from pesticides. The same farming practices have decimated rural communities, left pesticide residues in fruits and vegetables, and, in some cases, led to perfectlooking-but-tasteless food.
Organic and “sustainable” agriculture is clearly one of the smartest reactions to the ills of modern farming. It protects the environment by using little or no synthetic fertilizers and pesticides and by keeping the soil healthy. Thanks to consumers’ concerns about pesticides and the growth of huge supermarket chains like Whole Foods, organic farms now produce about four percent of all food grown in the U.S. Although organic food is more expensive than conventional food (in part because of inefficient or greedy middlemen and retailers), and although lower yields mean that it requires more farmland, organic methods are far safer for the environment and farmers.
But organic farming isn’t the only solution to agriculture’s environmental costs. Genetic engineering has the potential to increase productivity, while protecting our water, wildlife, and farmers better than conventional agriculture can. It has also turned the sleepy scientific discipline of plant breeding into a storm of controversy.
Many people oppose biotechnology, arguing that engineered crops pose intolerable ecological risks, that engineered foods might be toxic or trigger allergies, that the technology will help only big farmers and seed companies, that the government is not regulating engineered crops and foods adequately, that engineered crops threaten organic farms, and that moving genes from one organism to another is morally wrong.
I share some of those concerns, but I don’t agree that the solution is to reject the technology. Used properly and with adequate government oversight, genetic engineering should be a boon to farmers, the environment, and, especially in developing nations, consumers. Already, a few key genetically engineered crops—like cotton and soybeans—appear to be a great improvement over conventional crops. While few farmers have switched to organic agriculture, they have adopted insect-resistant cotton and herbicide-tolerant soybeans faster than any other new technology.
The interview in this issue with CSPI’s two experts on biotechnology discusses the hot topic in detail (Note: Interview excerpts were posted in yesterday's AgBioView.....CSP). Instead of throwing out the baby with the bath water, we need to minimize the risks of genetic engineering and maximize the benefits, both in this country and abroad. At the same time, we need to vigorously support organic and sustainable agriculture. Both can help protect our environment from the ravages of modern agriculture.
Sowing The Seeds of Revolution
- Tina Hesman, St. Louis Dispatch, October 28, 2001
The Donald Danforth Plant Science Center's $75 million research center will open Friday in Creve Coeur. Scientists armed with state-of-the-art labs and strong funding could improve the nutritional value of crops, increase agricultural production and help develop a more stable food supply. And the center will help solidify St. Louis' importance in the biotech world.
Fire alarms set off by clouds of sawdust punctuate the low hum of activity at the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center as workers rush to complete a high-tech research building in time for its opening Friday. When the sawdust clears at the $75 million facility at Olive Boulevard and Warson Road, a team of 11 principal scientists will begin their work -- revolutionizing plant research.
If scientists at the Danforth Center succeed in their mission to increase the understanding of plant biology, their work could lead to improved nutritional quality in crops, increased agricultural production, a more stable food supply and entirely new uses for crop plants. Roger N. Beachy is the center's director. Beachy's work on plant viruses led to the creation of the first genetically engineered tomato. His work launched plant biotechnology and inspired the creation of crops genetically engineered to resist insects, viruses and other pest or to stand up to herbicides.
Beachy envisions the Danforth Center as a research institution that will tackle overlooked and difficult problems in plant biology. And he intends to do it in a way that's never been tried in plant biology circles -- with a team of interdisciplinary scientists free from the often stifling confines of academic ivory towers. University researchers often complain of a lack of interaction among different labs, limited resources and the time-consuming quest for grants.
The scientists Beachy selected for the center have training and interest in several different areas of science. Much of their research will focus on the relationship between the structure of a given protein and how that protein functions in a cell. Proteins do most of the chemical work in a plant or animal cell. How a protein works determines how cells work and, further, how an entire organism functions.
The answers can't be found with one set of techniques, Beachy said. That's why the scientists will team up and combine skills. The faculty at the Danforth Center eventually will consist of 17 principal investigators, each with their own research staff. The United States Department of Agriculture will fund two of the faculty members to work specifically on improving the nutritional quality of soybeans. The remaining 15 will work in a variety of fields. Part of the center's work will focus on reducing hunger in developing nations. That research will center on crop plants that may not be important here but are major food crops in other parts of the world.
A mission to feed the world
One of the center's most important missions is training scientists from developing countries to use biotechnology in improving food crops, said Claude Fauquet, director of the International Laboratory for Tropical Agricultural Biotechnology. The laboratory is a research and training organization that helps promote biotechnology and tropical agriculture. The Danforth Center will be the new home for that laboratory and for the visiting scientists who come to learn how they might use molecular biology to solve agricultural problems in their own countries.
Both Beachy and Fauquet speak passionately about the center's role in helping to establish scientific programs in the Third World. That work, they say, eventually could lead to a stable food supply, reliable income for farmers and better nutrition for everyone. Fauquet spent 14 years in Africa learning first-hand about how devastating viruses can be to staple food crops. In 1987, he and 275 scientists from 21 African countries gathered to talk about stemming the spread of viruses that attack cassava, a root better known to Americans as tapioca. The plant ranks behind only wheat and rice as food source for people around the world. A week after the meeting, Fauquet read Beachy's work on using genetic engineering to protect plants from viruses and thought he'd found a solution that could work for cassava.
What followed was a long collaboration between the two men that will continue at the Danforth Center. Already Fauquet and the organization have trained 135 scientists from 19 countries. Most of those trainees were Asian scientists who came to learn about genetic engineering of rice. Scientists at the tropical plant lab were the first to develop a reliable method for introducing pieces of DNA into the rice genome. Now more than 140 labs around the world are capable of genetically engineering rice, Fauquet said. He hopes to repeat that success with cassava and other food crops important in the developing world.
The effort at the Danforth Center is just a drop in the ocean, Fauquet says, but he's hopeful that others will emulate the program. "If the droplet is shiny enough and a good example, we're going to get more droplets in the coming years," he said.
Plant Biotechnology: 2002 and Beyond: The 10th IAPTC&B Congress
Orlando, Florida, June 23 - 28, 2002. http://www.sivb.org/iaptcb.htm
The 10th IAPTC&B Congress will be held at Disney's Coronado Springs Resort at Walt Disney World Resort. The Congress program will include plenary lectures, symposia, workshops, contributed paper and poster sessions, continuing education programs, exhibits, and other events that reflect the state-of-the-art in plant tissue culture and biotechnology. Orlando is easily reached by air from all parts of the world, and is one of the most popular international tourist sites. It is home to the Walt Disney World, the EPCOT Center and many other attractions. The famed Kennedy Space Center is a short distance away. Visit http://www.hos.ufl.edu/iaptcb/#XthCong to download the First Circular of this meeting
Yet Unpublished Letter to The Editor of 'The Hindu'
/Response to "Bioterror and biosafety" by Ms. Shiva
In the commentary headlined "Bioterror and biosafety" (The Hindu, October 9, 2001), Ms. Vandana Shiva exploits the recent stray terrorist events of anthrax cases to advance her anti-science agenda. By painting a gloomy scenario against economic freedom, she calls for an isolationist and backward policy for India.
The use of these biological agents by malicious individuals to inflict harm and fear on an innocent public is evil. But for Ms. Shiva to use this unimaginable evil and horror to rail against imaginary ills of recombinant DNA technology, trade liberalization and patenting system is the worst form of intellectual chicanery. Her argument is akin to saying that because terrorists used planes and mail system to cause destruction, we must ban aircraft and the postal system - in other words throw the baby out with the bath water!
Bioterrorists do not need sophisticated recombinant DNA technology to spread germs or fear. Simple microbiology would suffice. Bioterrorism is not new either. History is replete with instances of germs being released into enemy territory by catapulting plague-infected rats into enemy forts in medieval Europe, and the British spreading smallpox among Native Americans by gifting them infected blankets..
The best hope for civilized societies to protect themselves against terror is the continued development and dissemination of scientific knowledge. Effective antibiotics such as Bayer AG's Cipro, used to treat anthrax, were developed after many years of research and testing, spending hundreds of millions of dollars. This required a systematic use of scientific knowledge, a patent protection system to stimulate innovation, and a free-market system that rewards such risk-taking -- all of which Ms. Shiva despises so much. But look how she has built a career out of opposing them! More recent developments in science offer hope of effective vaccines against many diseases using recombinant DNA technology,an area of science vehemently opposed by Ms. Shiva.
We must be on guard against rhetoric and dubious arguments of the kind made by Ms. Shiva and her ilk. She is using the Hindu's columns to confuse readers by creating a mish-mash of false arguments to trigger fear, and interspersing them with legitimate issues related to the biosafety of genetically modified crops. Her purpose is not to spread rational, scientific knowledge and promote a quest for answers, but to foist a fear of scientific developments in agriculture on a gullible public and to block progress. Biotech crops have been grown on 125 million acres this year in more than a dozen countries, and they have been grown cumulatively on 400 million acres since their inception six years ago, without a single credible instance of harm to humans, livestock or the environment. Farmers and consumers in countries such as USA, Australia and Argentina continue to benefit from this technology. Using irrelevant arguments to deny Indian farmers the benefit of these crops is deceitful.
The real bioterror plaguing India has to do with poverty. Millions of people die every year in India by natural, but preventable causes, through diseases like cholera, malaria, AIDS and TB. These diseases can only be fought through economic progress and development of modern medical systems.
We must support the responsible use of science and technology for the betterment of society at large and shun fear-mongers who perpetuate myths about scientific progress for self-serving reasons.
- C. S. Prakash
>Bioterror and Biosafety
>- Vandana Shiva, The Hindu (India)
>The reports of anthrax cases in Florida and New York have put a renewed
>focus on bioterror - the risks and hazards posed by biological agents.
>From the U.S. to India, Governments are on high alert.
(Our Vandana Again...........blaming all the ills of the world on biotechnology, globalization, pesticides, capitalism, NATO, World Bank, monoculture........and without providing one solution.......she never has.......CSP).
'Diverse Women for Diversity Statement on Terror in the Modern World'
Statement from Diverse Women for Diversity; 1 Oct 2001, New Delhi, India, From: "Upasana"
We, Diverse Women for Diversity (DWD) committed to a peaceful world, celebrate our differences. From our differences come our strengths. We come from all the continents, and from different cultures and races, and are united in our vision for peace and justice for the world today. We want to leave a peaceful and just world for our children and for the generations to come. We celebrate and uphold cultural and biological diversity. We will defend all forms of diversity and resist all forms of monoculture, fundamentalism and violence from which intolerance and hatred arise.
The tragedy on September 11 has shown us another face of terror.
We join in the pain of all people who have faced the terror of those who do not value the sanctity of human life. We especially abhor the use of human beings themselves as weapons. In this regard the terror of September 11 cannot be viewed as a lone event. Many acts of such terror have been inflicted on the peoples of this earth. The sacredness and dignity of life, and the right to peaceful existence and justice have been destroyed through imperialistic globalization and all forms of fundamentalism.
Among the many tools of terror in the modern world are:
* economic sanctions and structural adjustment policies by the WB, IMF, WTO, the transnationals, and their accomplices in the different governments that lead to starvation and disease epidemics;
* biotechnologies that threaten the roots of life;
* monocultures that destroy social and biological diversity,
* degradation of the environment for monetary gain;
* widespread application of pesticides that lead to deformities, illness and death;
* pollution of soils, water and ecosystems at large;
* the pursuit of profit by global corporations which is the driving force behind terrorism - terrorism which destroys sustainable livelihoods, cultural identities and the right of people to basic necessities of life;
* the marginalization of indigenous peoples through continuing colonization,and the loss of sovereignty;
* the growing disparity between the rich and the poor between countries, and within countries, including countries of the "developed" nations;
* the US-led NATO alliance with its new strategy which is fostering war all over the globe, with other governments being blackmailed to join in -- this leads to further militarization and violence
within all countries.
Given the extent of such structural terror in the world it is perhaps surprising that direct terrorist attacks, like that of September 11, are not more common. If we want to end terrorism we must pay attention to all sources of injustice that widen the gap between rich and poor, men and women, nature and human beings, and which create the hopelessness that can lead to terrorism. We stand with those who are working to remove the structural causes of injustices.
Women, children, the differently-abled and the aged are the worst victims of this reign of terror:
* the terror of not having water to drink and food to eat;
* the terror of food and water contamination;
* the terror of loss of livelihood;
* the terror of losing home, homeland, family and community and becoming a refugee;
* the terror of persistent poverty that leads to the sale of life and body organs;
* the terror of being forced into prostitution as a means of survival;
* the terror of living in communities where drug abuse has become a way of life;
* the terror of losing our children to a culture of violence;
* the terror of increased violence, in all forms, against women;
* the terror of patriarchy, racism, and casteism which affects the vast majority;
* the terror of living in a society where basic human rights for women are not respected.
We, Diverse Women for Diversity, pledge to overcome this capitalist patriarchal terrorism. We will work towards a world free of war, hunger and social and economic injustices. We condemn all acts of war and call on all nations to boycott pacts of aggression. We invite all women of the world to join with us in stopping governments from rushing into a mindless global war. Together, we will find peaceful, creative and non-violent ways to end terrorism in all its forms.
We ask all peoples of the world to stand with us in defending and celebrating diversity, peace and hope.