Panel: International Threats to Farms and Farmers





will be one of the major themes at

Biodevastation 7: A Forum on Environmental Racism, World Agriculture and


May 16 – 18, 2003, St. Louis, Missouri,

The opening panel at Biodevastation 7, “The International Threat to Farms and

Farmers,” will highlight the destructive impact of corporate policies,

including those of Monsanto, on farms and farmers throughout North America

and around the world.

Perhaps the best known speaker on the panel is Percy Schmeiser, the Canadian

canola farmer who was sued by Monsanto in 1998 for the “crime” of having had

his crop contaminated by the company’s genetically engineered, herbicide

tolerant canola. Percy has appealed his case to the Canadian Supreme Court,

and traveled the world telling his story and explaining how the biotechnology

industry is systematically undermining the rights of farmers everywhere.

Lawrence Tsimese of the Agricultural Reform Movement in Ghana will offer an

African perspective on farmers’ growing resistance to genetically engineered

crops. Lawrence has been working to educate both farmers and urban dwellers

in Ghana about the dangers of pesticides and biotechnology and the benefits

of organic agriculture.

George Naylor, the newly elected board president of the National Family Farm

Coalition, will relate the problem of biotechnology to the economic plight of

farmers in the US. In a ‘free-trade’ environment with crop prices dropping steadily, small and medium-sized farms have become increasingly marginalized. George will explain how biotech companies play on farmers’ insecurities to sell genetically engineered seeds, and how farmers are organizing for public policies that genuinely benefit both farmers and consumers.

Felder Freeman, an agriculture specialist working in the South Carolina

office of the Federation of Southern Cooperatives, will relate these issues

to the unique struggles of black farmers in the southern United States. The

Federation works to help black farmers stay on the land, and to form

agricultural cooperatives to facilitate land-based economic development. In

recent years, the Federation has become increasingly interested in organic

methods as an alternative to the corporate serfdom being perpetrated by

agribusiness interests.

The Gathering will also include workshops on resistance to GE crops in

Africa, farmer organizing, and on globalization, biowarfare, environmental

racism and the impacts of genetic engineering on indigenous agriculture

worldwide. The event is the seventh in a series of international grassroots

gatherings known as “Biodevastation.”

This year’s event immediately precedes Monsanto’s annual World Agricultural

Forum in St. Louis, and promises to be the definitive event linking issues

around biotechnology and food genetic engineering with the wider movement for

environmental justice. On the afternoon of Sunday, May 18 farmers and

supporters will have an anti-globalization convergence at the World

Agricultural Forum. or 314-771-8576

Biodevastation 7 also includes the following panel discussions:

7:00 pm, Friday, May 16. “Globalization and Food Imperialism”

10:00 am, Saturday, May 17. “Backyard Bioweapons: Biolabs, Biodefense,

Biotech, & Billions of $”

7:30 pm, Saturday, May 17. “Environmental Racism”

10:00 am, Sunday, May 18. “Crop Contamination and the Future of Indigenous