World Social Forum Protests Transgenic Foods
Agence France Presse 28jan2005
French activist Regine Bandler best known as Gigi is dressed up as Uncle Sam during a protest in front of Monsanto offices in Porto Alegre, Brazil against genetically modified foods. (AFP/Vanderlei Almeida)
Currently companies are not legally required to label products which contain genetically modified ingredients in Mexico. REUTERS/Henry Romero
PORTO ALEGRE, Brazil — A hundred environmental groups, from Greenpeace to Brazil's Landless Peasant Movement, protested genetically modified foods outside Monsanto offices here.
Groups at the annual World Social Forum in this southern Brazilian city have been protesting globalization and unfettered capitalism, as well as the US war in Iraq.
The annual meeting is billed as a counter to the World Economic Forum, of world leaders currently meeting in Davos, Switzerland.
Demonstrators outside US-based Monsanto chanted and carried a banner saying, "Monsanto: Don't play with our food and future."
"The families of farmers are denouncing the devastation Monsanto is producing with transgenic soya," said Paul Nicholson, a member of international peasants organization Via Campesina.
Nicholson said the protest had been coordinated with members of Via Campesina and Greenpeace who on Friday boarded a freighter on the high seas laden with 32,000 tonnes of transgenic soy from Argentina, headed to France.
A female theater troupe, Loucas de Pedra Lilas, from Recife, Brazil, clowned in Uncle Sam outfits to protest US promotion of transgenic foods.
Meanwhile, a British group, Stop the War, asked participants of the WSF to join a worldwide mobilization on March 20 to mark the second anniversary of the US invasion of Iraq.
"The situation now is as grave as that of the 1970s, during the Vietnam war, because the Middle East is of much more strategic importance than Southeast Asia," said spokesman Chris Nineham.
"Since the re-election of George W. Bush, many feel the need for a large protest on March 20."
Stop the War says it is a coalition of dozens of anti-war groups worldwide.
On Thursday, the WSF urged people around the world to press for adherence to the UN Millennium Development Goals, which aim to cut poverty by half by 2015.
Many participants at the WSF see the gathering in the Swiss Alps as a celebration of the crass capitalism they oppose.
In Porto Alegre, the NGOs urged "world citizens" to wear white ribbons around their wrists to show their support for the anti-poverty campaign, which they said would be backed by publicity spots featuring personalities such as former US President Bill Clinton, UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, and rockers Bono and Lenny Kravitz.
Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, a left-leaning former trade union leader, hailed the new campaign.
Following his appearance at the event, Lula headed to Switzerland to attend the Davos summit of the world's political, financial and business heavyweights.