When an insect feeds on Monsanto’s genetically-modified MON810 maize plant, it is in for a nasty surprise. Encoded within the seed’s DNA is an especially insidious insecticide called cry1Ab that causes the insect’s stomach to explode after ingestion. Given its brutal assault on pests, the modified crop is pitted by the agri-giant as the cure-all solution to international food shortages.
But an increasingly loud fervor has rung out across the globe against both Monsanto and their GMOs. Citing risks to biodiversity and super-bugs that require even more pesticide to control, some governments are resisting GM crops – including Egypt.
Monsanto in Egypt
Writing for Egypt Independent, Louise Sarant reported that in 2008, Egypt first agreed to import, grow and sell Monsanto’s genetically-modified crops. A 70-ton shipment of seeds followed soon after in December, 2010; these were then planted in ten governorates throughout the country.
But in January this year, the Ministry of Agriculture seized a second 40 ton shipment that was not approved.
Biosafety expert for the Ministry of Environment and Microbiology and Immunology Professor at Egypt’s 6th of October University, Osama El Tayeb told Sarant that the two former Ministry of Agriculture advisers who authorized the shipment acted in direct contravention of the Constitution and the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety that Egypt ratified.
An international agreement that monitors “the safe handling, transport and use of GMOs between countries,” the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety was ratified by Egypt in 2003.
“There was a total consensus between the different stakeholders for the implementation of the law, and I have no problem saying that we wrote one of the best laws regulating GMOs in the world,” Tayeb told Egypt Independent.
But then the Ministry of Agriculture blocked it. Adel Soliman from the Environmental Affairs Agency claims that Monsanto representatives bribed government officials to prevent the law from passing.
In February this year, after years of no action, the newly-appointed Minister of Environment sent the draft to the Egyptian Parliament. Since dissolved and reinstated, it is unclear when the law will be evaluated, but Soliman is convinced it will happen soon.
(For a much fuller account of the law and Monsanto’s influence in Egypt, we urge you to visit Egypt Independent, from where this post has been adapted).
Monsanto’s Global Reach
Cables released in 2011 by WikiLeaks demonstrate just how far Monsanto is willing to go in order to maintain their control of the world’s seed markets. When France attempted to ban GMOs in 2007, then US ambassador Craig Stapleton recommended that Washington penalise the EU and particularly countries which did not support the use of GM crops, according to The Guardian.
“Country team Paris recommends that we calibrate a target retaliation list that causes some pain across the EU since this is a collective responsibility, but that also focuses in part on the worst culprits,” he wrote.
The United States is saturated with transgenic crops. These are seeds that are implanted with genetic material from unrelated organisms to increase pest or drought resistance (such as Monsanto’s MON810) compared to normal genetic modifications that favor naturally-occurring traits.
According to the US Department of Agriculture, in 2011 nearly 90 percent of all soybeans, corn, canola and sugar beets raised in the United States were grown from transgenic seed. And Monsanto rules the roost.
Despite efforts to expand their reach, Monsanto and similar firms are meeting growing resistance. Peru recently banned the import of all genetically modified foods for a decade (pending safety reviews) not long after Hungary burned 1,000 acres of crops contaminated by Monsanto GMOs, which are banned in that country.
We hope that Egypt will soon follow suit.
Reblogged this on NonviolentConflict.
Pingback: UPDATE: Egypt Resists Monsanto's Genetically-Modified Maize « Earth First … « Regional Wars!
Pingback: UPDATE: Egypt Resists Monsanto's Genetically-Modified Maize « Earth First … « Regional Wars!
The Nighttime Gardener (GE Crop Destruction)
Evening Attire for The Nighttime Gardener
Gardening is a very dirty job. For the least hassle it is recommended to wear a complete set of old clothes that can easily be discarded in dumpsters after gardening. Don’t be cheap. It’s really necessary, even if like us, you hate wasting anything. Black evening attire is the most appropriate for shy gardeners. You may get very wet and cold, so wear appropriate cold-weather and rain gear. Have some comfortable clean clothes and shoes to change into before you get home.
A forensic scientist can tell roughly where you’ve been from the composition of the dirt and soil that you will have picked up on your travels. Say, for instance, you’ve been gardening at a Monsanto test site of GE corn, then traces of earth will be upon you, as will traces of plant life, such as pollen that you may have brushed against.
These traces are used to put you at a certain place, and in some instances, at a certain time. Once again, it is best to dispose of any gardening clothing. i.e. give up your attachment to your clothes! And before you leave for the action, empty your pockets and don’t bring along anything (even to leave in a vehicle) you don’t need and wouldn’t want to see in court.
On soft surfaces, such as mud, earth, dog shit, etc., shoe impressions will be left behind. From these marks identification can be made. The only sensible thing to do is to wear old shoes and to throw them a long way away immediately afterwards. Shoes (and clothes) will also carry traces away with them, such as oil, gas, glass splinters and other such gardening giveaways. Don’t wear them in your vehicle or in your home. When gardening in urban areas, consider the impact that you may have on a passer-by wearing all black from head to toe. Wearing inconspicuous clothes such as dark pants and a hooded sweatshirt may serve the purpose.
Make sure you don’t have activist bumper stickers on your action vehicle. A “Smash The State” sticker may narrow down the pool of suspects.
Gardening just after a spraying of RoundUp, Liberty or other toxic herbicides may pose a grave threat to the health-conscious gardener Gore-Tex or rubber rain gear (cheaply purchased or easily stolen from Wal-Mart) as well as medical masks, and chemical-protective gloves (Home Depot, etc.) are necessary. It is possible to find out from county extension offices whether or not there is a particular timing for spraying of certain local crops. Particularly sensitive gardeners may want to hit the phone company or other pest-resistant crops rather than Roundup-Ready/Liberty Link (herbicide tolerant) crops. It is more likely that commercial GE. crops (those grown for market) will be sprayed. Be careful!
The Nighttime Gardener’s Toolbox
The tools you use for gardening will vary, but for some crops you won’t need any at all. Your hands in good work gloves (for fingerprint guard and protection) will do just fine. Gardening without tools is great when the crops are easy enough to rip up by hand because you’ll have less weight to carry, and less gear to accidentally leave at the site or get nabbed with. Night gardeners have had success with rolling their bodies over the crops as well, but this may only bend certain crops at certain ages, instead of damaging them beyond repair.
However, some GE crops (older trees, for example) are nearly impossible to take out without tools. Some people like to use saws, scythes, machetes, hoes, shears, or other gardening tools, but it’s really a personal preference. Think simple and streamlined. Ever try to carry a machete over barbed wire? Not easy! They can sometimes be too much trouble, too time consuming, or difficult to part with after gardening. One group reported that a long metal pole pushed across one or two rows of corn (dubbed the California Corn Cutter”) worked well for quick, convenient, and energy-efficient gardening. Be creative. Practice beforehand if you are using any fancy methods.
Bolt cutters are good for getting through locked gates or into greenhouses. Another technique for gaining access into glass greenhouses is to duck tape a square one could crawl through, and then punch it in. The tape will muffle sound by absorbing the blow and keeping the glass from scattering all over the ground. There are also hand-held, manual, spring-loaded punches which paramedics use to break glass on car windows that work very well. Corrugated plastic greenhouses can be cut into with a sharp knife as well.
Another tool for rows of some crops is a strong board with holes in both ends through which a rope is strung. The board is placed on the ground, and then the gardener puts a foot on top of it and lifts up the rope to a comfortable waist height. Then, the gardener can go step by step stomping down the crops, and avoid stooping or kneeling on the ground, which can easily get very tiring.
Lots of tactics have been created since the need for nighttime gardening came about to survive in this modern (biotech) world. If not properly handled, some tools can also be a serious safety issue.
If you do use any tools, make sure they are cleaned of all fingerprints before taken on site. A good way to clear up those pesky fingerprints is with warm, soapy water. In a time-crunch, extensive rubbing with cloth can be satisfactory. Be thorough: even the batteries inside a flashlight have been touched, and you wouldn’t want to drop anything while you were out and about!
On the subject of dropping things, it’s easy to lose things such as jewelry and glasses when working hard in the garden, so take them off beforehand or make sure they are secure. If something is dropped (especially a hat with hair stuck to it) it might be a good idea to go back and get it if it’s not too sketch.
Entry and exit of the site is often the most risky aspect of nighttime excursions. If you need to use a vehicle, it’s worth parking away from your gardening and walking in, as tires leave those horrible distinctive marks and can accumulate soils that are easily identified. Leave someone with your vehicle, as there can be unexpected people about, and make sure the driver has a reason to be where s/he is. A pair of people making out can be a good excuse, or a problem getting the car started. Better yet, have a driver who can quickly pick you up when done gardening. The driver might need to come around at several different times before the final pick-up in order to make sure the gardening is going well. Set up an interval of time (such as 15 minutes) for the driver to wait and come around again if nobody’s at the pick-up site. This way if you’re running late, you don’t miss your only chance for a pick-up.
If the site is located in a residential neighborhood, a drop-off may look suspicious. Therefore, it may be appropriate to have two different pick-up and drop-off points, and possibly alternate sites as well if access is cut off in one place. It is also essential to plan an emergency pick-up time/place where a crew can run to and hide all night if they are detected and the cops are crawling around the neighborhood.
When you’re waiting by the road for a car, you can’t make out what kind of vehicle it is until the last second because of the headlight glare. One technique is to leave some distinctive marker, such as a bag of trash (not yours) or a can at certain place by the road. When the driver comes by, if the marker is no longer there, s/he knows to pull over and pick up the crew. Another method is for the driver to flash a turn signal during the approach if there is clearly no place a regular vehicle would be turning, and that way the crew can identify their ride to safety. Lastly and best of all, get radios (see below).
Remember when you get home to vacuum and clean the whole car. Oh, and get rid of your directions, too!
For a smooth night of gardening it is best to bring along a reliable set of radios and a scanner. Remove all serial numbers on the radios, and make sure you purchase them discreetly and with cash. Ear pieces work best while gardening because they free up your hands. Check everything thoroughly before you leave, wipe them down, and have extra batteries. You can then be in communication with your driver (and other gardeners) and they can alert you to any possible disturbances.
The Best Time To Go
The best gardening time for the shy gardener is obviously at night. And at the new moon is better than when it is full. You have two main choices: early a.m. is quite dead, but remember how long the job will take, starting earlier in the evening will give you more of an excuse to be out and about. Try and start at a time that provides you with enough time to garden thoroughly for the specific site and have a buffer for the drop-offs/pick-ups if they take longer than expected, which is common. Agricultural areas or neighborhood garden plots can be a busy place as farmers usually get an early start on the day, sometimes before dawn. At this time a flash-beam or light of any sort will draw attention. Cover flashlights with blue or red saran wrap, tinted tape, or a gel to filter the stark white light into something more subtle.
It is worth bearing in mind that when it’s raining hard it will wash away most traces and provide visual and audio cover. You’ll often get drenched from the dew alone. It is a good idea to scout your site of interest at many different times throughout the day/night to get a clear idea of what the scene is like.
An all-night recon is a really good idea to make sure the garden is right for you. There may be cameras at university test sites/greenhouses or biotech corporation labs/sites/greenhouses. For the main part, these cameras serve to deter potential “gardeners,” and instill a healthy sense of paranoia. Paranoia, Nah! Those who are careful stay free!
How To Spot Your Crop
Firstly, the timing of your harvest is important if you want to actually sabotage their research and cause economic damage. Too early could let them replant, and too late could harvest their crop for them! Just before flowering obviously prevents the mutant genes from escaping through the plant’s pollen, and if you can’t get it by then, you can cut down the plant before the seeds are fully developed. Don’t just harvest the beans or corncob either, harvest the whole plant from the stalk/stems, or better yet, pull it right up out of the ground. A slick trick would be to bag up some of the offending matter and leave it on the doorstep of the facility, or on your local USDA or State Ag. Dept.’s doorstep!
It’s important to research WHAT you are targeting and WHO. Considering how pervasive commercial GE crops are, it’s a good idea to target research, both at universities and corporate facilities (is there really any difference??). Industry links up with local farmers as “co-operators” to grow seed and test varieties in their fields, often in return for advertising their more impressive trials with big signs advertising the company and the variety. Oftentimes you may see signs for a certain company’s seed trials in a field that is obviously belonging to a small farmer (there may be a house and driveway and family-type items around the yard). Targeting these types of sites will likely bring into question the intentions of night gardeners and may confuse the message of opposing the Ag-Biotech industry by targeting already desperate farmers.
On occasion you may be able to identify a commercial crop that is being grown specifically for a company, or on Agribusiness farmland where no family is present. You can sometimes find these type of sites by checking out property maps (“Plats”) at the County tax assessor’s office in the County Building closest to your target crop (or the local library, but they often don’t have current maps), or through the LEXUS property records database at your local library.
This is also a good process for locating corporate facilities not listed in the phone book (or on http://www.yellowpages.net). If you know the address of a facility or a plot of fields, a quick search on the county assessor’s web site will tell you the value of the property, the acreage, and possibly the types of structures on the site.
The basic reality is that commercial GE crops cover 20 million acres of American farmland, and attacking random commercial fields is simply not strategic, especially when there are so many better research targets. If a research project is “nipped in the bud,” so to speak, it may never make it to the commercial market!
For example, the same colorful signs that hug the backroads are often posted in the same fashion in front of rows of research crops at corporate facilities, often boasting the “Roundup Ready” or “YIELDGUARD” trait, depending on the company. Bt crops are often listed on signs by a certain variety number ending in Bt. Corn and Soybeans are the most common GE crops, both commercially and in research. But at universities, one might also see a wide variety of GE crops including sunflowers, alfalfa, and wheat.
A helpful, but not infallible, tool for zeroing in on your target crop is the U.S. government database Field Trials listed through the USDA/APHIS web site. You can request searches of current trial notifications and permits as well as registered trials by state, crop, institution or phenotype (GE trait). The results will tell you the states these trials are being performed in, the acreage of the trial, and a contact person, usually a company researcher, for information.
What To Do When You Get There
Obviously the number of people you need will depend on the size of the GE site. Most sites can be done quite happily with 2-4 gardeners. The actual work could be 1 hour, or it could be all night. For larger sites you may need many gardeners, but it’s harder to avoid detection in larger numbers. Again, make sure you’re suitably dressed and scout out the site extensively, including in/out routes and an emergency escape plan/meeting place if things go awry. The group should decide what to do if confronted with an angry farmer. Instead of everyone scattering on their own, we strongly recommend sticking together as a group, at least at first, and then making a call to scatter if necessary.
Remember, a well-placed sheet over a camera can have a rather numbing effect on their security. A well-placed kick or spray paint shot over the lens can do the same.
The goal is to destroy the plants: you will either have to snap them off at the stem, or when uprooted pull them apart at times. At a release site in East Anglia (England), sugar beet was uprooted and left lying on the site. It was later replanted by the farmer (and later still, dug up by concerned gardeners and removed from the site). In 1987, the Strawberry Liberation Front in the U.S. pulled up a crop of strawberries that were to be sprayed with ice-minus bacteria. For the photo opportunity the next day, the scientist placed the strawberries back in the holes from which they’d been pulled.
Remember, the test sites are experiments (with our future). If your aim is to disrupt this misguided experiment then you may not need to destroy all of the crop. Destroying 50-75% of the research plants will call into question any data collected. It will also disrupt the experiment if all the markers and identification tags are scattered around or taken, but be safe. Don#t stick them in your closet. Make the garden messy, and it is less likely to be considered salvageable. Scattering bags and bags of organic or non/GE seeds can also ruin a test site and spread a little bit of consciousness as well. A good idea is to scatter seed in the beginning of the season and not issue a communiqué about it until a month later. By that time, your seeds have wreaked havoc on the GE varieties.
Don’t forget to target irrigation equipment, greenhouses, solar thermometers and the like. Groups such as Reclaim The Seeds and the Future Farmers have sabotaged thousands of dollars of this sort of equipment in different actions. It is suggested that computers, data files, clipboards with research information, and other documentation should be removed for our own research, or quietly destroyed.
What You Will Be Gardening
Canola (Oilseed Rape)
There are two different breeds of canola that you might be gardening, winter and spring. The spring crop is sown mid March and April, and harvested late September to mid October. The winter crop is sown late August to mid September, flowering during May and is harvested mid July – mid August.
The plant has erect branching stems up to three feet high bearing deep-lobed, grass green, bristly lower leaves and lobed blue upper leaves, with distinctive yellow flowers. It may be harvested early by breaking the stalk of the plant. This can be achieved by holding a large disposable stick outstretched and falling onto a row of the crop. The California Corn Cutter is used the same way.
Corn is usually sown in late March early April and is harvested from July onward, depending on the region. It has a single main stem with irregular long thin drooping leaves. It can be harvested in the same way as canola. A good snap is enough to finish off the corn plant. Tomatoes
This crop is usually sown in seedbeds at the end of winter and then transplanted to the test fields between late March and early April. It is then harvested between mid-July and early September. They have a main stem with branches. Each branch produces a green fruit that turn red with ripening. To harvest early, pull or dig up the plant and snap the main stem.
Winter wheat is sown between late September and early October. Summer wheat is sown in early March and harvested in August or September. When young it is difficult to distinguish from barley, both of which look like large-leafed grasses, but as they grow you can see that wheat has a much larger head. To harvest when young, pull up, if older use a “grass hook” (a type of crescent shaped knife). Barley
Spring barley is sown February to March and harvested mid-May to mid-August. The winter crop is sown September to October and harvested July to August. Garden the same as wheat.
This crop is sown in seedbeds in late February and then transplanted to the fields between late March and late April, and is then harvested in early November.
It has a whitish conical root that produces a lot of stems each with a single irregular green, lobed leaf as well as a garland of flowers. It can be harvested early by pulling or digging up the crop and removing the root bit from the leaves and scattering in opposite directions.
There are lots of varieties of GE potatoes grown in North Amerika, many of which would be appropriate to garden. The description and the growing times of the plants will depend on the variety, but generally potato plants look like straggly tomato plants with either small yellow flowers or small green flowers. To harvest early, pull or dig up the plant and snap the main stem and pull apart or smash the root.
Weyerhaeuser, International Paper, Westvaco, and Boise Cascade, among others, are working in conjunction with the oil industry ($hell) and universities to create GE trees for herbicide tolerance, higher growth rates, improved fiber yield/uniformity, salt tolerance, and much much more! Douglas fir, eucalyptus, banana, papaya, walnut, radiata pine, loblolly pine, Amerikan sweetgum, poplar, European larch, white spruce, orange, kiwifruit, cottonwood, alder and elm are all being genetically mutated and mutilated.
GE trees take a lot more energy, time, tools and research. For nighttime forestry it is important to have the right tools. Saws, hand saws, loppers, pruning tools, and ring-barking/girdling equipment are essential. Sometimes just good old brute force can bring down a small sapling. Or you can just snap it in two with your gloved hands. For small seedlings, cutting and pulling work together to make sure they not only are out of the earth, but cannot be put back in. Apparently, our distant cousins in England used a tool to “ring-bark” trees, which involves cutting a ring into the bark in a complete circle, which will end the tree’s life. They also used knives to cut away the bark. The benefits of this silent method hold great potential.
Some GE tree sites are absolutely enormous and you can easily get lost in them. Others are small plots that won’t take much time. Research sites generally have various sizes of trees, so come prepared accordingly. Frankentrees will most likely be out in the fields year round and are part of long-term research. Years of research have gone into them, so be meticulous in your work. Nighttime forestry works because the potency of economic sabotage is strongly felt at the frankenforest institution. GE trees are also likely to be in pots in greenhouses at the research sites. Greenhouses can be spray painted, stink-bombed, broken, and have every pot within them emptied.
More, including Appendices: http://shawnewald.info/aia/act_gehit.html