Biodevestation (3/00)

An international gathering of genetic engineering opponents will convene in Boston on March 24-30. Their gathering, Biodevastation 2000, is planned to coincide with the convention of the Biotechnology Industry Organization at the Hynes Convention Center.

"Biodevastation 2000 will highlight biotechnology’s growing threat to our health, the environment and the future of our farms," said Jessica Hayes, spokesperson for Biodevastation 2000. "Following last November’s events in Seattle, we also hope to bring the resistance against corporate globalization back to the center of public attention, as we bring diverse organizations and individuals together to express the growing rejection of genetic engineering."

Biodevastation 2000 is the fourth in a series of international grassroots gatherings on genetic engineering that began in St. Louis in July, 1998. The theme of this year’s gathering is  "Resistance and solutions to the corporate monopoly on power, food, and life." The Biodevastation conference, to be held at Northeastern University on March 24-26, will bring together scientists, activists, students, farmers, consumers and community leaders from around the world to explore the facts, questions, and myths behind genetic engineering and its partner, corporate globalization.

Workshops and speakers at Biodevastation 2000 will take an intensive look into the impacts of genetic engineering on human health, the environment, food and farms, and communities. Presenters will also explore ways for communities to organize and create community-centered solutions to avoid the dangerous impacts of genetic engineering. Speakers will include Vandana Shiva of India’s Research Foundation for Science, Technology, and Ecology; long time biotechnology critic Ruth Hubbard of Harvard University; and Steve Wilson and Jane Akre, former Fox TV reporters fired for their expose of Monsanto’s Bovine Growth Hormone, a genetically engineered drug used on dairy cows.

"Consumers and farmers in Europe and Asia have voiced loud objection to the life-threatening technologies of genetic engineering," said Heather Albert-Knopp, one of the organizers from the Institute for Social Ecology’s Biotechnology Project, "While resistance against genetic engineering has been slower to materialize in the US, it appears the tides are beginning to turn."

An estimated 60 percent of processed food contains genetically engineered ingredients, and with export markets refusing these products it is likely that US consumers will be ingesting more genetically engineered food. "As people learn about the broader implications of these technologies, their reactions are often very strong," said Albert-Knopp. "It’s not that folks in the US don’t care about these issues, it’s that they don’t understand or know it is happening and that the products of genetic engineering affect them daily."

Biodevastation 2000 is a collaborative project of Northeast Resistance Against Genetic Engineering, Institute for Social Ecology, and People’s Earth Network; Co-sponsors include Clean Water Action, the Council for Responsible Genetics, Boston Global Action Network, Greenpeace USA, Native Forest Network, Mass PIRG and many others.

The counter-conference will take place March 24-26 at Northeastern University, and will be followed by other public events including a rally and parade on Sunday, March 26, featuring international speakers and a colorful display of larger-than-life puppets.

For more information, contact: Northeast Resistance Against Genetic Engineering, (802) 454.9957, nerage@sover,net; Boston Biodevastation Clearinghouse (1-877) 9RESIST (toll free), For media related questions contact: Jessica Hayes (617) 623.4715,