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Saturday, August 16, 2003

Community Supported Agriculture Growing in California

Strike a blow at agribusinesses, support the strengthening of local community, decrease petrochemical use through not having to ship food on average 2000 miles from producer to consumer, know where your food is coming from, that it is grown organic and with loving care...AND no shopping!

Via: Organic Consumers Union

As cutting-edge operations go, the one taking root at Tom Willey's organic farm in the Central Valley is surprisingly simple.

In the shade of a tin-roof shed, workers wedge bunches of sweet carrots, stalks of broccoli and other chemical-free crops into cardboard boxes headed straight to family dinner tables. Willey runs the equivalent of a home-delivery service for organic produce, a new way that small growers are making ends meet.

"I think there are ways to survive and leverage your smallness into something that corporate producers can't mimic," said Willey, 55, who delivers fresh-picked produce three times a week to more than 200 Fresno-area customers. "Educating people to eat locally, to eat seasonally, to have a personal relationship with the grower and the land the food comes from, I think that is the best [hope for] the future of the small farmer."

The grass-roots approach is rapidly winning converts. Thousands of Californians now pay farmers to pick, pack and deliver produce just for them.

The movement began in Japan decades ago and migrated to the United States in the mid-1980s. Nearly 1,000 so-called community-supported farms have sprung up across the country, and as many as 100 are now doing business in California.

In most cases, the produce is trucked to central distribution points, such as schools and natural foods stores, where customers collect their deliveries. Subscribers pay in advance by buying memberships in the farm's food club, which supplies a portion of a grower's production expenses upfront.

Some of the largest food clubs have more than 700 subscribers, and many of the programs regularly invite members to take part in life on the farm through tours, potluck dinners and cooking classes.

"It's like Christmas each time a package arrives," said Jo Tarantino, a 70-something grandmother who gets weekly produce deliveries at her La Crescenta home via UPS through a Fresno food club.

"The food is absolutely awesome --- I mean a carrot really tastes like a carrot," she said. "It's picked one day and you get it the next. You can't beat that."

The prices are pretty good, too. Researchers have found that customers generally pay less for produce through subscription programs than they would at supermarkets or organic food stores because there is no middleman.

Still, the food clubs are not for everyone.

Selection is limited to what is grown seasonally on any particular farm. In addition, some customers complain that they receive more produce than they can consume and that they often get stuck with food they don't like or can't use.

At Tierra Miguel Foundation Farm in San Diego County, manager Robert Farmer said he conducts twice-annual surveys to determine what consumers want and tracks turnover to find out why customers drop out.

"That's one of the good things about [the subscription program], customers have an active role in deciding how it runs," Farmer said.

The trend comes at a time when corporate growers have moved into the fast-growing organic industry, forcing some family farmers to shift to direct-marketing strategies.

But, at least in part, it is also a component of a larger movement aimed at changing America's relationship with food and farming --- in essence forging personal ties between environmentally conscious growers and consumers.

"It's really a philosophy of life," said Karrie Stevens, program director for the Davis-based Community Alliance with Family Farmers.

"Most [farmers] see it as an opportunity to make a connection with their customers," she added. "It's one thing the big guys can't do. And that's the only way that small- and medium-scale farmers are going to make it in the California market."

It's an approach that Willey and his wife, Denesse, embraced late last year at their 75-acre farm near Madera.

Although most of their business has come by word of mouth, they have also promoted their enterprise at special events and through brochures placed at local wineries and restaurants.

The pitch won over Sherri Lewis, who drives 30 miles each week from the Sierra foothill community of Tollhouse to retrieve her produce in Fresno.

"We want to support our small farmers," said Lewis, who arrived at a vitamin store recently with her three daughters in tow for her weekly pickup.

"I don't believe in using pesticides or chemicals --- it's bad enough we have to breathe it, we shouldn't have to eat it," Lewis said. "I wish all farmers would be this conscientious."

On a delivery route that takes him from the exclusive subdivisions of San Juan Capistrano to the edge of inner-city Long Beach, 46-year-old farmer Mil Krecu basks in the aroma of basil and soaks in the scent of sweet onions.

"I wasn't really looking for a driving job," said Krecu, who racks up more than 500 miles a week making deliveries in a big blue pickup better suited for a rutted road than an urban freeway. "But you've got to get your produce to the people who are supporting you or you're not going to make it."

Krecu is a founding board member of the Tierra Miguel Foundation Farm, a nonprofit organic venture launched in early 2000 on 85 acres in San Diego County's Pauma Valley.

About 80% of the farm's revenue is generated by its community-supported agriculture program, with produce trucked each week to distribution points in Orange, Los Angeles, Riverside and San Diego counties for 260 subscribers.

About half of those customers are in Los Angeles County, living along a route that takes Krecu and other drivers two days and 18 stops to complete.

Customers pay $111 a month for a small assortment of produce, $133 for a large.

There is little advertising involved; most subscribers sign up after learning about the service from someone else.

"I love that they are organic and I love supporting anything that doesn't harm the planet," said Joiline Hardman, whose Montecito Heights home near downtown Los Angeles serves as a drop-off site for 10 of Tierra Miguel's produce boxes.

After learning about the food clubs on public radio, the mother of three searched for years for one to join before stumbling upon Tierra Miguel a couple of years ago. She has since spurred others to sign up.

"I really trust what they do and I get to support the farm directly," Hardman said. "They can count on me and I can count on them."

What customers can count on each week depends on the weather and what is in season.

For Krecu's recent trek, his truck was loaded with lemons and oranges, strawberries and Swiss chard, red potatoes, cucumbers and carrots.

The veritable salad was picked the previous afternoon, cooled overnight and packed into boxes shortly after sunrise on delivery day, ensuring that it would travel from farm to family within 24 hours.

"It can't get any fresher unless you pick it yourself," said Krecu, a construction inspector turned farmer, who by 10 a.m. is dropping off his third load of the day: 11 bags of veggies at the Waldorf School of Orange County in Costa Mesa.

He leaves the produce on a table in front of the school, stuffing into each bag a leaflet with a list of its contents and recommendations on how to put the week's supply of arugula and zucchini to good use.

Subscribers will arrive throughout the day to retrieve their shares, making it the next best thing to home delivery.

"That's why the [community-supported agriculture program] is so amazing, there is no way big competitors can compete in this market," he said. "This is one of the few places where the little guy still has the advantage."

The little guys need all the help they can get. While small farms remain the majority in organic agriculture, the biggest producers are the ones really cashing in on what has become the fastest-growing segment of the food industry.

The top two percent of California's 2,100 organic growers generate half the organic produce sales, estimated at $450 million a year. Big growers also dominate distribution channels and shelf space at supermarkets and organic-food superstores.

The competition has forced small growers to find new ways to survive.

"It can work if you stay modest in scope and don't try to conquer the world," said Ojai Valley farmer Steve Sprinkel, who runs an organic restaurant and store, and recently launched a small food club in his community.

"It's a consequence of the [fast-growing] marketplace," he said of the squeeze on the small farmer. "You can complain about it if you want, but it's not going to go away."

With shopping centers on one side and subdivisions on the others, Fairview Gardens is surrounded.

Yet the organic farm near Santa Barbara keeps pumping out produce, bursting this summer with French filet beans, four kinds of beets and skin-blemished, but very sweet, apricots.

Fairview launched one of the first community-supported agriculture programs on the West Coast in 1988, a time when such ventures were still rare. It started with about 30 subscribers. Today, 130 families take part and there is a waiting list to join up.

Unlike most programs, subscribers pick up their produce at the farm, where the tractor runs on recycled cooking oil and the office is a tepee-like structure known as a yurt.

Farm co-manager Michael Ableman likes his subscribers to see for themselves how this 12-acre urban garden has kept development at arm's length. People should know who grows their food, he said. Farmers should know who they are feeding. And children should know that their food comes from the soil, not the supermarket.

"I think there is something that happens in this kind of exchange that never happens down the sterile aisles of the supermarket," Ableman said. "There's a sense of the land, and its health and well-being. This is such a brief, passing moment in the lives of busy urban people, yet such a powerful one."

For more information on community-supported agriculture or to find a food club in your area, contact the Community Alliance with Family Farmers at http://www.caff.org.

Posted by Richard
8/16/2003 08:23:22 AM | PermaLink

 
Friday, August 15, 2003

NO! San Diego and Lowry Zoos to Import African Elephants

Lowry is set to receive 4 elephants for a Safari exhibit and 7 to San Diego. The trade in these fantastic beings is wrong wrong wrong and the idea that it is being done to conserve or help them is ludicrous. The real deal is that zoos compete and bank on a relatively limited number of high profile species, like elephants, who will serve as "stars" and bring in revenue to the operation. Even if it could be argued that having more elephants means more visitors, hence more dollars, and hence better conditions and treatment for zoo animals and conservation programs, such logic is a catch-22. Zoos are akin to American war occupations like Vietnam and Iraq, where the logic is that more soldiers sent increases the likelihood of victory (and hence peace); whereas it also certainly increases more death, destruction, and continued warfare on the planet.

If the Swaziland elephants are in trouble and American zoos want to help them, let them invest directly in the region and expand their operations into meaningful international conservation endeavors. The reason this will not happen is b/c zoos are capitalist institutions and constrained by the commodity logic of capital. So here is another example of how animal rightists need to begin to get educated about political economy and how it destroys ecologies and constructs relations between species.

This came in from an animal rights list:

The San Diego Zoo and Lowry Park Zoo in Tampa have devised a despicable and cruel plan to capture and import 11 African elephants from their homeland. The 12-year-old elephants will be forced to trade freedom for a miserable life of captivity and an almost certain premature death. The import could take place any day, so your help is urgently needed. Please contact the zoos right away and urge them to immediately cancel plans to obtain wild African elephants.

Douglas Myers, Executive Director
San Diego Zoo
P.O. Box 120551
San Diego, CA 92112
Tel.: 619-231-1515
Fax: 619-231-0249
E-Mail: DMyers@sandiegozoo.org

C. Lex Salisbury, President and CEO
Lowry Park Zoological Garden
7530 North Blvd.
Tampa, FL 33604
Tel.: 813-935-8552
Fax: 813-935-9486
E-Mail: Lex.Salisbury@lowryparkzoo.org

Please contact the Swaziland embassy to urge them not to allow the country's elephants to be exported to zoos. Let them know you will never visit Swaziland as long as they sell off threatened wildlife to the highest bidder.

Ambassador Mary M. Kanya
Embassy of the Kingdom of Swaziland
1712 New Hampshire Ave., NW
Washington, DC 20009
Tel.: 202-234-5002
Fax: 202-234-8254

Please call, fax, and write immediately, and urge friends, family, and coworkers to do the same! For more information, visit SaveWildElephants.com.

Thank you for everything you do to help animals.

Posted by Richard
8/15/2003 11:20:34 AM | PermaLink

PBDE Levels High In Breast Milk of Texas Women

PBDEs are added to materials to decrease the likelihood and intensity of fire in a wide variety of products, including vehicles, furniture, textiles, carpets, building materials, electronic circuit boards and cases...just about anywhere that plastics are used.

Some of the most common plastics to which PBDEs are added are high-impact polystyrene, polyurethane foam, wire and cable insulation, and electrical and electronic connectors. PBDEs can constitute quite a large percentage of the final product...up to 30%.

Via: EMS and Our Stolen Future

The first study of polybrominated diphenyl ether (PBDE) contamination in the breast milk of American women finds levels 10-100 times higher than typical for Europe, and consistent with data on other tissues in Americans. Recent rapid increases in American PBDE levels are raising concerns because of the ability of this family of chemicals to interfere with brain development.

Posted by Richard
8/15/2003 10:34:40 AM | PermaLink

 
Thursday, August 14, 2003

Feds Detail $1B Plan to Fight Climate Change

While Canada's liberal government sure does seem progressive compared to its GNP big brother down south, one needs to be honest at the same time. While a billion dollars is nothing to sneeze at, one needs to compare it to the hundreds of billions of dollars the US spends to maintain its military might and fight a global terror war. Further, as this article goes on to point out, such spending is expected to only get Canada 1/10th of the way towards meeting the limits set by the Kyoto protocol, something Chretien promised to do; and then we need remember that Kyoto itself is only a drop in the bucket towards really solving the global climate problem caused by industry and could itself be improved upon happily by the power of 10. Thus, Canada is one country that is making (for the sake of argument) a 1 percent decrease towards where its emissions need to be in order to end global scorching...and, again, this IS progressive comparatively, so that's the state of the capitalist world as we know it ladies and gentlemen.

Via: The Star

Jean Chrétien painted a vision of a green future today as he presented a $1 billion plan to cut Canada's greenhouse emissions, but the hardest part of achieving that vision will fall to his successor. "I have always believed that the fundamental role of government is to introduce the present to the future," the prime minister said as he revealed a basket of incentives for consumers and industry to conserve energy and cut pollution. The package includes subsidies for homeowners who upgrade the energy efficiency of their dwellings, with rebates of up to $1,000 to be based on measurable improvements proven by energy audits before and after renovations are done. Major funding will go to support hydrogen fuel technology ($130 million), expanded ethanol production ($100 million) and cleaner fossil-fuel technology ($115 million.) There will also be $160 million for joint projects with provinces and aboriginal communities.

Posted by Richard
8/14/2003 09:04:37 AM | PermaLink

 
Wednesday, August 13, 2003

Israel's Supreme Court Cans Foie Gras Farms

There has been much discussion the last couple days about this important and historic decision that has been long in coming. As my wife remarked, it really is a no-brainer because such industry practices are in violation of Jewish law as regards animals; so even those right-wing Israelis who will only consider Israel a singularly Jewish state would therefore have to be opposed as it violates religious commandments.

What I have not heard much discussion of, however, is the way in which Israel's economic situation impinged on the court ruling. Though the court found the industries in clear violation of the law -- making them both unethical (i.e.; illegal) and immoral -- they were given a year and a half leeway in which to find an alternative method and so continue such practices. Again, my wife had the perfect take on this: "It is as if a court found and charged a rapist in the midst of his violation and then proceeded to let him 'finish up' for good measure before beginning treatment and penance." Of couse, Israel is not the only country to parade such wishy-washy enforcement of the law against corporate violators...one need look no further than the good ole US for the current trend-setter of such activities.

This story presents an opportunity for people to awaken to the double-standard of how the law is invoked against individuals and likewise corporate and military entities. With this foie-gras case, and of the porpoises below, the cases just can't be any clearer. There should be widespread outrage and the global laxity of states demanding ethical conduct of all. Instead, there is only the appearance of law and the reality of massive corruption and heart-wrenching incompetance.

Via: BBC

After a decade-long fight, which has bounced between the courts and the Knesset, or parliament, the Supreme Court has agreed with activists who argue force feeding breaks Israel's laws banning cruelty to animals.

Israel has the world's third biggest foie gras industry after France and Hungary, worth $25m a year, and the ban could cost 600 workers and farmers on 150 farms their jobs.

But the severity of Israel's current recession - more than 10% of the workforce is without a job - means the court is delaying the ban until the beginning of 2005.

The industry has till then either to come up with a non-cruel alternative to force-feeding - which swells the bird's liver far beyond normal size to create the raw material for foie gras paste - to avoid being canned. [...]

Posted by Richard
8/13/2003 09:41:15 AM | PermaLink

Barrier Reef Bleaching Worsens

Also see this post by George Monbiot on global climate change.

Via: The Guardian

Coral bleaching caused by global warming could devastate swaths of Australia's Great Barrier Reef within 50 years, according to a report. The study, commissioned by the Queensland government, found that bleaching could be an annual occurrence by 2050. Coral bleaching happens when high water temperatures kill off the algae which live alongside coral polyps and give reefs their vibrant colours. At first the only serious damage is to the reef's appearance, but serious bleaching can destroy coral altogether. Scientists classify the event as catastrophic if high temperatures occur for more than 100 days in a year. Such reefs do not regain their appearance for 10 years, and can take 50 years to recover their ecological diversity.

Posted by Richard
8/13/2003 09:36:36 AM | PermaLink

Sonar Tests Linked to Porpoise Deaths

This story was one of the hot stories earlier this summer, but the media appears to have lost interest (this is the only citation i've found): After a naval destroyer, in eyesight of porpoises and killer whales, was caught by a tourist boat and other fishing outfits blasting a sonar so loud it could be heard above water (something that existing law prohibits it from doing), the porpoises and whales were so visibily distressed that they were seen desperately fleeing the scene. We have no idea about the effects of such sonar on the marine ecology altogether but there is every reason to believe that such extreme noise pollution not only kills and injures cetaceans like whales but also fish and the environment generally. Following this incident, first the Navy issued the lie that it did not see the whales, but this case was rare in as much as so many people viewed directly what happened, and so the military changed its tune. Thus, next the Navy issued an apology saying that it was perhaps a mistake and was being "looked into." This remains ongoing, apparently...

Meanwhile, porpoises soon washed ashore in the region dead as the Navy denied any connection despite the fact that naval sonar has been linked to such cetacean beachings and deaths the world over. Now, an autopsy on the porpoises has finally revealed what common sense knew from day one -- yes, indeed this horrible naval sonar is literally blasting whales and other species out of existence. How would you like it if a thrash metal concert went on perpetually in your house at 230 decibels? Get the picture...

Meanwhile, the Bush administration is looking to get another historic environmental law -- the Marine Mammal Act -- cut down so that it doesn't pose any limits to such things as naval sonar whatsoever. The media needs to pick up on this story and not allow the Senate to cave in and roll over on this one. This is a travesty and another place where Bush militarism should be outed and disgraced.

Via: Canada.com

Necropsies were done on the porpoises to try and learn whether sonar testing in the strait could be linked to their deaths.

The porpoises had severe internal bleeding.

Necropsy results implicate the U.S. Navy in the deaths of several marine mammals on the West Coast, some animal experts say.

Days after a U.S. Navy ship passed through the Haro Strait in May, dead porpoises began washing up on shore.

The USS Shoup had been conducting sonar testing in the strait. Whales were seen fleeing the area and acting erratically during the tests. Soon afterwards, porpoises began washing up on the shores of the San Juan Islands.

The porpoises were frozen, checked under a CT scanner and necropsied.

Photos from the necropsies show trauma that some animal experts say is clearly the result of the sonar testing.

Ken Balcomb of the Centre for Whale Research says the photos show very severe hemorrhaging.

"This is another smoking gun for me," Balcomb says of the necropsy results.

Marine mammal expert Anna Hall agrees.

"What that tells us is that there was enough energy in that sound to actually rupture membranes and cause internal bleeding and perhaps death," Hall says.

Hall says it is impossible to be absolutely sure that the piercing sound of the sonar testing caused the porpoises' deaths, but in her opinion there is "a high probability."

The U.S. government is investigating the deaths, but the final results of the inquiry aren't expected for another couple of months.

A decision is expected from Congress next month on whether to exempt the U.S. Navy from the Marine Mammal Protection Act.

"I'm concerned that the design of the way this whole investigation has gone on is intended to slow things down," Balcomb says.

Posted by Richard
8/13/2003 08:00:01 AM | PermaLink

 
Tuesday, August 12, 2003

Choice for EPA Hailed by Industry

Bush says bi-partisan and fair but this is an absolute joke. The idea that Leavitt "rejects the old ways of command and control from above" is the spitting definition of the sort of aggressive neoliberalism that is the Bush administration hallmark -- as I have written many times, the very concept of the neoliberal (which mixes liberal ideas of personal liberties with a laissez-faire conception of corporate state freedom in relation to the individual persons and communities that they are suppossed to serve) is anti-ecological and the worst possible model for so-called environmental stewardship. Whitman was bad, but at least there were two cases where she openly challenged Bush before being hushed and forced to change her tune. This is like jumping from the frying pan into the fire...

Meanwhile, Bush sells his fire plan in Arizona -- a right-wing forestry state -- and Murkowski in Alaska pushes hard to open protected wilderness to logging, drilling, and mining as the Senate debates the issue of how the national wilderness can be best "protected," that is, opened to industry without appearing so eggregious that an incredbily docile and politically slothful public is stirred from their slumbers and demands a few heads roll on voting day.

Ho hum...it's just another day in the ever-burgeoning nightmare that is the land of the free and home of the brave.

Via: LA Times

President Bush nominated Utah Gov. Mike Leavitt on Monday to head the Environmental Protection Agency, again turning to his fraternity of governors to help him address the nation's problems.

In Leavitt, Bush chose a like-minded Republican who wants to shift authority over pollution control from the federal government to the states and favors voluntary cleanups by industry rather than mandatory government regulations.

Leavitt "rejects the old ways of command and control from above," Bush said. He hailed the 52-year-old, three-term governor as "a trusted friend" and a man who "understands the obligations of environmental stewardship."

Industry groups, applauding Leavitt's nomination, said he would take a balanced approach to pollution control.

But environmentalists said Leavitt had a poor record on protecting Utah's air, water and land and would probably weaken environmental protections nationwide in the lead job at EPA.

If confirmed by the Senate, Leavitt will take charge of the agency that until June was run by Christie Whitman, the former governor of New Jersey, who often battled the White House to make environmental regulations more protective than others in the administration sought.

Environmental activists said they worried that Leavitt would not fight back the way Whitman did. As a result, they predicted, the EPA will become more friendly to polluting industries.

"Although administrator Whitman got rolled on just about every environmental issue, she came from a Republican moderate background and at times was an independent voice in the administration," said Jim Angell, a Denver-based staff attorney for Earthjustice, an environmental law firm. "That's a very different background than the Western radical anti-federal views espoused by people like Gov. Leavitt. This is a dramatic lurch rightward."

Posted by Richard
8/12/2003 10:30:59 AM | PermaLink

Glaciers Melt as Europe Sizzles

Via: Globe and Mail

Britain sweltered through its hottest day on record Sunday and Alpine glaciers melted as the heat wave that has baked much of Europe for days sizzled on relentlessly. "It is just miserable. You can't get any respite from it," says Londoner Ranald Davidson, squinting in the late afternoon sun as Britain surpassed 37.7 C for the first time. The national weather service recorded 37.9 Celsius at Heathrow Airport, near a parched and baking London. Northern parts of the country were cooler, and torrential rain created problems in North Yorkshire.

Germans, too, have had record heat. In the Bavarian city of Roth, the temperature hit 40.4 C on Saturday. The previous record of 40.2 C was also in Bavaria, set in 1983. ...In Britain, many trains have had to reduce speed because of the danger the heat will buckle tracks. The London Underground is so hot that signs have appeared at stations advising people to take bottled water with them and to let staff know if they are feeling unwell before they get on the train.

Posted by Richard
8/12/2003 10:03:07 AM | PermaLink

 
Monday, August 11, 2003

The Bird Whisperer

Just to document cross-species communication and note how new relationships to animals based on respect, peace, care and understanding seem to pay off marvelously on both sides. It may be that some people are more prone to "whisper," but in my work I am arguing that education right now globally (but especially in the advanced capitalist nations) needs to center these new sorts of relations -- i.e.; teach the grammar of whispering as much as it teaches the grammar of stock transactions (more so, actually, much much more). Ideas of Humane Education are in the forefront of this, trying to get children outside of the classroom and animals involved in such curricula that there is more understanding on the part of children about the important responsibilities they have to the world and how to practice the art of being gentle.

This article goes on to downplay why the parrots at the sanctuary are "problems" however. Nichols remarks correctly that people don't know what they are getting into when they buy a parrot. But he qualifies this by remarking about the bird's wildness, that it is not domesticated. This is a half-truth. To the degree that it speaks to a parrot's need to live in habitats that favor it - lush rainforest regions filled with open space, canopy, and other parrots - that is correct. To the degree that it is taken to mean that they aren't trainable, etc., that is wrong. Parrots, in particular African Greys, are amongst some of the most sentient and communicative beings we know of on the planet and have shown themselves to be eminently trainable. The real problem is two-fold -- parrots stolen from the wild undergo tremendous trauma, and it's not clear that many parrots born in capitivity for sale have it that much better. Further, parrots have a variety of needs in order to be happy and well-adjusted and the fact of the matter is that clipping their wings and placing them in a cage has been shown to lead to psychological distress over and over again. Finally, most people do not care well for their parrot in terms of cleaning, socializing, etc. -- "Polly wants a cracker" is not the basis for a good relationship. That parrots then go on to live an especially long life span, in many cases outliving the people who originally purchased them, makes the parrot trade especially sad.

To repeat, then, the problem with "problem" parrots is generally not the fault of the parrots' intelligence or genetics, but the casual consumer who on a lark springs for a bird companion with no idea what they are getting into or supporting when they do so.

Via: BBC

Steve Nichols has a way with birds. The founder of the UK's National Parrot Sanctuary connects with them in a way few people can understand. Strolling through the centre at Friskney, in Lincolnshire, he can individually name most of the 414 parrots under his care. And like a horse whisperer who can 'break' troublesome equines, Mr Nichols has the ability to bond with the wors behaved birds.

Posted by Richard
8/11/2003 08:06:38 AM | PermaLink

 
Sunday, August 10, 2003

More than 100,000 Join Bove at Anti-WTO Rally

Bove is the leader of the French peasant-class farmers who stand for regional "bio" food (i.e. organic, anti-GM) and is the leading proponent against "malbouffe" -- the hormone, antibiotic bred corporate beef of McDonald's and their ilk. He is not an animal rights spokesperson, but is a leading figure that is attacking anti-globalization from the standpoint of food and health.

Via: AFP

More than 100,000 people have flocked to a rally to welcome the release from prison of French eco-warrior Jose Bove and to protest against the agenda for World Trade Organisation (WTO) talks next month, organisers said yesterday.

"We had already allocated lay-bys and campsites for 100,000 people, but we had to open up new ones during the night," said a spokesman for Bove's Small Farmers' Confederation.

Local authorities had estimated around 40,000 people were present on Friday evening and were due to update their figures yesterday to take account of new arrivals.

The three-day Larzac 2003 festival, held one month before a scheduled WTO ministerial meeting in Cancun, Mexico includes speeches, debates, street theatre and film shows, as well as a rock concert featuring French singer Manu Chao and British group Asian Dub Foundation.

Organisers from a coalition of anti-globalisation groups including Attac say the aim is to draw attention to the danger to democracy posed by the WTO, trade liberalisation and multinational corporations.

For 30 years the stunning Larzac plateau has been an emblematic location for the French left, after veterans of the 1968 student movement successfully joined forces with local farmers to resist government attempts to turn it into an army shooting range. Bove himself works as a sheep farmer on the plateau.

In June 2000 around 50,000 activists camped near Millau for a rally that coincided with the trial of Bove and nine others for vandalising a McDonald's restaurant.

Bove eventually served six weeks in jail in 2002 for that offence, and in June this year returned to prison for uprooting genetically modified crops.

Posted by Richard
8/10/2003 12:57:13 PM | PermaLink