No. 103, Jan. 4-10, 2001

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New Zealand GE protest ends in arrests


A policeman attempts to remove the activists from the ship's crane.

Auckland, New Zealand, Dec. 27, (ENS)— Five Greenpeace activists who boarded a ship carrying genetically engineered (GE) soya meal were arrested by New Zealand police today.

The group was charged with unlawfully being on a ship and appeared in Auckland District Court, where the activists were remanded on bail until January 8.

The cargo ship, Federal Pescadores, had been carrying animal feed from the United States to New Zealand. The five boarded the ship in the Hauraki Gulf, prior to docking at Port of Auckland, and called on Jossco, New Zealand’s largest importer of soya meal, to reject GE soya meal.

One activist attached herself to an anchor chain and four others scaled the ship’s cranes to unveil a protest banner.

The action followed independent tests on a previous shipment of Jossco’s soy, which, according to Greenpeace, confirmed the presence of Monsanto’s Round-up Ready GE soy. The meal is mainly used as chicken feed.

“Greenpeace is very concerned that this shipment is also GE contaminated, and we do not want it entering New Zealand and our food chain,” said Greenpeace campaigner Sarah Duthie.

“Food companies in New Zealand are aware of the consumer rejection of GE contaminated products,” said Duthie.

“The animal feed market globally accounts for the use of 80 percent of the genetically engineered crops that are grown,” said Duthie. “To ensure that the environment is not exposed to the risks of growing GE plants, we are calling on the largest users of GE crops - the animal feed industry - to commit to GE free supplies.”

Genetically engineered organisms have had their genetic material modified in a way that does not occur naturally by mating or natural recombination. By genetically engineering an organism, individual genes can be selected and transferred from one organism to another, sometimes between non-related species.

Food companies might transfer useful genes into plants that lack them to make them more resistant to disease or pesticide. But some scientists and non-governmental offices such as Greenpeace are concerned about possible side effects of genetic engineering.

Their concerns that GM crops and GM food could create allergies, harm biodiversity and eliminate indigenous species have raised awareness among consumers who are increasingly demanding tougher labeling laws.

“Consumers in New Zealand are concerned about GE contamination in the food chain,” said Duthie. “The feed industry needs to listen to New Zealanders and reject GE soy.

“The rejection of genetically engineered organisms from the food chain will send a clear message to the growers of GE crops that they are not wanted,” said Duthie. “We are inviting the users of GE soy to protect the environment.”

Last week Greenpeace protested the use of GE soya meal in animal feed by another New Zealand company, Tegel Foods Limited. Today, the group contacted Jossco, calling on the company to reject GE soya meal and make a commitment to use only GE free ingredients.

Speaking to the New Zealand Press Association, Jossco manager Terry O’Connor said it was no secret that United States soya bean products contained genetically modified material. He added that for the last 12 months, the company had been looking for alternative supplies of GE-free soya bean meal.

“We have been as a company very proactive in exploring not only soya bean meal but other types of protein that are GE free,” said O’Connor. “I feel we have been pretty responsible in this area.”

Local third party coalition vows to fight for democracy

Statement of Buncombe Co. Libertarian Party

Asheville, NC, Dec. 29— Libertarian, Natural Law and Green Party leaders met in Asheville today to discuss working together to overcome the ballot access hurdles that third parties face in North Carolina.

The meeting, which was characterized by good humor and constructive commentary, was seen as a success by all participants. Several ideas were debated including nominating “fusion” candidates, helping each other to bring in the 57,000 signatures that each party needs to get ballot access and working as a coalition to make the public aware of the undemocratic regulations that prevent competition in political races.

Natural Law state chair Catherine Carter proposed having a multi-party convention each year to nominate one “fusion” candidate for each office and give that candidate the backing of all of the member parties.

“On the ballot you would have the same candidate three times,” said Carter. “Once for the Libertarian. Once for the Green and once for Natural Law.”

“Then, even people who have trouble voting wouldn’t be able to miss our candidate,” joked Peggy Palms, who ran last year for state attorney general on the Reform/Natural Law ticket.

The Buncombe County chairmen of the Libertarian Party and the Natural Law party questioned the workability of having multiple parties with differing viewpoints support the same candidate. Kevin Rollins, the Buncombe Co. Libertarian chairman asserted that “we might end up like the Reform Party with different ideological factions pulling in opposite directions.”

Carter remarked that in many ways the 3rd parties were already supporting each other. “Sean Haugh[Libertarian Party of NC Executive Director] endorsed me and Peggy [Palms] in the last election and we both voted for Barbara Howe.”

The parties agreed that they should work together in helping each other get ballot access and in fighting for a reduction in the number of petition signature requirements. Currently, if a party’s gubernatorial or presidential candidate does not get 10% of the vote that party must file 57,000 petition signatures from registered voters with the state board of election to get ballot status for the following four years. Generally many petition signatures are found to be invalid, so political parties have to gather as many as 95,000 to make it. North Carolina has the third highest signature requirement in the country behind California and Oklahoma.

“North Carolina is the third most undemocratic state in the country,” declared Rollins. “Basically, you can’t have a democratically elected government if you can’t vote for the person you support.”

In a show of tri-partisan cooperation, the representatives signed each other’s petition forms. This sparked discussion about what changes were needed in the forms.

“They need to remove the line that says ‘the signers of this petition intend to organize a new political party’ and replace it with ‘the signers of this petition ask that the candidates of this party be placed on the ballot,” said Carter, “people think it means they have to get involved in the party and they won’t sign.”

Michelle Murphy, who was a Reform/Natural Law candidate for state representative last year asked why “we can’t have one petition that gets all three parties on the ballot.”

The attendees set February 14th as the date for a ballot access rally in Asheville.

For More Information call Kevin Rollins (828)254-7214 or email kevin@rollinsit.com

 

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