december 22, 1999
This ratitorial is a recounting of my journey to Seattle beginning
Friday November 26th, and ending Friday, December 3rd, 1999.
I went to Seattle to learn from and participate in both the workshops,
teach-ins, services, marches and rallies, as well as the group mind I
knew would be manifesting there. Although I participated in a number
of marches and rallies -- The Make Trade Clean, Green and Fair March
and Rally (Monday, 12-2pm), The Jubliee 2000 (3rd World Debt
Forgiveness) March (Monday, 7-8:30pm, 30,000 people estimated),
Big Rally and March for Fair Trade (Tuesday, 10am-late afternoon),
Food and Agriculture Day March to and Rally at Pike Place Market (Thursday,
12-2pm), and the March and Rally starting at Labor Temple (Friday,
12:30-afternoon) -- I didn't experience these demonstrations so much as
protests, but rather as people expressing the heartfelt and mind-intent
yearnings of all humanity for honoring and serving Life's needs throughout
our irreplaceable planetary home. The ripples of changing energy,
maintaining their outward expansion from that moment in the life of
our time, are nothing short of magnificent.
My journey to Seattle included two purposes: to join in with the throng of humanity I knew would be present to experience the group mind that can truly change -- and is already changing -- the course our human family pursues. We can manifest a wisdom culture living in total partnership with all other life forms on Earth, a culture that honors and serves Life's needs. As Oren Lyons, Faithkeeper of the Onondaga, explains, manifesting the power of the good minds embodies good health and reason to be employed for the benefit of all our relations.
The second purpose was that of "roving reporter", to take in all I could of the week's activities. I knew beforehand that being in Seattle would plant a new seed inside. This seed is growing in rich measure, urging use of all the wits and imagination I have been blessed with to collaborate in the work of birthing a new springtime of the human spirit where each of us truly loves our own selves. From this actualized self-loving, the natural flow of respect and love for all life and the universal kinship such energy manifests will genuinely usher in The Post-Corporate World: Life After Capitalism. A facet of this work is now on-going in the newest section on ratical, co-globalizing gaia's children.
January 5, 2000: I have begun receiving audio recordings of a number of events during this week. In the coming weeks and months text transcripts of some of these will be created and included in co-globalizing.
Friday, November 26
Views From the South
Sunday, November 28
WTO and Global War System
The World Trade Organization and the links
between economic globalization & militarism
Monday, November 29
Environment and Health Day
The Human Face of Trade:
Health and the Environment Peoples' Tribunal
Make Trade Clean, Green and Fair March
Rally for the Environment, Health, and Animal Welfare
Human Chain to Break the Chains of Global Debt
Service and March
Tuesday, November 30
Labor and Human Rights Day
Big Rally and March for Fair Trade
Wednesday, December 1
Women, Democracy, Sovereignty,
and Development Day
The Ownership of Life, When Patents and Values Clash
No Patents on Life!
Thursday, December 2
Food and Agriculture Day
Farmer's Breakfast and Press Conference
Friday, December 3
Corporate Accountability Day
Friday, November 26
Flying to Seattle from San Jose International Airport the afternoon after Thanksgiving, I had the pleasure of sitting next to a UCSC student named Naomi. We talked of the significance of the time we are living in. She expressed deep concern about how the amount of natural terrain left in the world, that was not built over or contaminated by the hand of man, was shrinking much too fast. I was struck by the sense that for Naomi there was little that could be viewed in a positive light where human physical activity on the planet was concerned.
Landing in Seattle after sunset, I made it to the Benaroya Symphony Hall by 6pm to await my sister Pamela and her husband Jeremy's arrival for the first night of the International Forum on Globalization's Teach-In on "Economic Globalization and the Role of the World Trade Organization". Unfortunately, neither Pamela or I had realized that this Friday night and all day-and-evening Saturday Teach-In had been sold out the previous week.
Only yesterday did I finally place an order for all the cassette tape recordings of the Teach-In. The order form is available at http://www.ifg.org/tof4.html . The speakers for Friday night's session included Jerry Mander, Maude Barlow, Susan George, Martin Khor, Brian Derdowsky, John Cavanagh, Vandana Shiva and Lori Wallach.
[12/27/99: The 11/26 recordings have arrived and they are magnificent! --Everyone is urged to purchase all of these from IFG -- listen to them multiple times, learn what they communicate, share with your friends. The information in these recordings is extremely valuable!!!
1/26/00: Transcripts of four of the speakers are now available inside co-globalizing:
Maude Barlow: The Global Water Crisis and the Commodification of the World's Water Supply,
Susan George: On Overthrowing the Permanent Government,
Martin Khor: On What the Plot is For Seattle, and
Vandana Shiva: The Global Campaign Against Biopiracy
and Changing the Paradigm of Agriculture.
The rest of the tapes have arrived. This collection of recordings cannot be recommended highly enough. A feast for the spirit, full of hope and encouragement for all who understand we are alive in this time to learn what accepting the response ability for changing the world to honor and serve life means and involves.]
The WTO has become the most powerful institution in the world and I think we need to remember why we are here and why it is so dangerous because it now touches every part of our lives. What makes the WTO so powerful and dangerous is that it has both the legislative and judicial power to challenge the laws, policies and programs of countries that do not conform to the lowest common denominator rules set by the WTO and to strike them down if they're seen as being hostile to unregulated trade.
Saturday, November 27
On Saturday morning, Pamela, Jeremy, and I went to a Peacekeeping workshop for people who were volunteering to help with the The Jubliee 2000 March on Monday night. Some of the purposes we discussed and did role-playing on included: avoid riots, diffuse tense situations, keep the focus of the march on its purpose, facilitate the march, address provocateurs, prevent the march from devolving into just a mob, and engender a sense of security and being safe for all the people participating in the march. The National Lawyers Guide site at http://nlg.org/ was referenced for anyone who got arrested and a member of this organization spoke and answered questions.
Views From the South
Pamela decided we should go back to Benaroya Hall on Saturday night to try to get into the final IFG Teach-In session, Views From the South.
We made it in during the presentation being given by Dr. Vandana Shiva, a member of the Board of Directors of the International Forum on Globalization (IFG) and Director of the Research Foundation for Science, Technology and Ecology based in India. My scribbled, perhaps erroneous, notes mention her stating "We're suing the Indian government for letting Monsanto in [to India]". A paper she recently wrote was cited entitled "War Against Nature and the People of the South", part of the new book published by the IFG, Views From The South: The Effects of Globalization and the WTO on Third World Countries.
In all the following, I draw upon notes I took during the week. I regret not being an expert note-taker, and that my recountings below will necessarily come up short. Where quotation marks are included, I am quoting what was written in my notes -- which may or may not be the precise words of the speaker. All inaccuracies are mine alone and do not reflect in any way on the speakers. Please contact me if you can help correct any mis-statements below.
Dr. Tewolde Berhan Gebre-Egziabher, general manager of the Environmental Protection Authority of Ethiopia spoke next. He spoke about the WTO being "the pinnacle of the colonial structure, the result of institutions created after the fall of the League of Nations (International Monetary Fund, World Bank, United Nations)." He urged people to read WTO arguments, and prefix them with "Not", "Not", "Not" -- "and then you've got it." Speaking about the imbalances being created by transnational corporate globalization, Tewolde explained that "the only way to survive the instability that results from these imbalances is to be able to walk to where your food is."
I felt very drawn to Tewolde as he spoke. While his manner was soft and gentle, the depth of his understanding and his energy was palpable. Becoming aware of and learning from this man and his understanding of things for the first time during this evening was for me one of the gifts of being able to participate in the Seattle experience.
Next was Helena Norberg-Hodge, member of the Board of Directors of the IFG, a Director of the International Society for Ecology and Culture, and the head of Local Futures. I had read some of what she had written about the experiences of the people of Ladakh (high in the Western Himalayas) back in the early 1990s. What she conveyed -- about how these people had lived before the advent of modern influences brought on largely by economic "development", and how they were (by the 1980s) struggling with such a system of values -- went very deeply inside me. (A copy of the Learning From Ladakh Yoga Journal article I had created electronic copy of back in 1993, but never posted, now lives inside There Are Many Worlds . . .)
Thus it was I was primed with great anticipation to listen to Helena's words and feelings. She spoke of the necessity of "resisting a centralized consumer monoculture [which is] seducing people in the southern hemisphere with the programming of Dallas and Baywatch. But many people in the America are not accepting this image or value of the consumer monoculture." Such a "trend towards saying no to a consumer culture can move our species towards global local cultures and a global local future. Growth has come to mean unemployment around the world. We must all be about the business of "rethinking all this, bringing the food economy back home, of creating a local food movement. Community-supported agriculture works for the local farmers and the consumers."
The only way to survive the instability that results from these imbalances [created by transnational corporate globalization] is to be able to walk to where your food is.
We must all learn anew the act of "reweaving our connection to community and the land, of reweaving local relationships and connectedness to nature." At the same time we must engage "pulling power down from centralized institutions to local democratic structures." There is great potential for creating "new co-ops -- businesses linked together forming alliances with consumers that enable them to stay small. Always in the discourse, let's approach this from a global view -- not focused solely on the local level." I felt deep affinity with what Helena articulated as well as the heartfelt feeling and intense passion she expressed herself with and evoked in the audience.
Sara Larrain from Chile spoke next but I did not take any notes of her talk.
Next was Walden Bello, co-director of Focus on the Global South, Bangkok, Thailand, Professor of Public Administration and Sociology at the University of the Philippines, and a member of the Board of Directors of The Transnational Institute, where his current research focuses on the WTO and food security, Asian authoritarianism and democratisation movements, environmental politics, alternative security concepts, APEC and other Asian regionalisms, and the Asian financial crisis.
Walden opened with the observation that "monopolists are not only greedy, they don't have a sense of humor." He went on to point out that "we have had some victories of late" citing "the defeat of the MAI, and the non-granting of fast-track authority to Clinton." He went on to make the assertion concerning the International Monetary Fund (IMF): "we will not rest until we have abolished this Jurassic institution. This system is unreformable. We must overload this system. Our objectives must be: abolition of the World Bank, the IMF, and the WTO." I greatly enjoyed Walden's very clear-spoken delivery, energy, and his let's get on with it sentiments about the tasks at hand to replace the global capitalist system with democracies and true market economies.
The next speaker was Chakravarthi Raghavan, Chief Editor of the South-North Development Monitor (SUNS). Chakravarthi was, like the previous speakers very focused in the points he made during his delivery. The tenor and emphasis on speaking accurately, precisely and honestly was something that marked the entire week. One listens to official pronouncements, whether made in the corporate or political arenas, that are uniformly drenched in euphemism, vagueness, and insubstantial non-sequiturs. It was so very refreshing to listen to people speaking intelligently, with great insight, and calling so many of the spades of our co-stupidity culture the spades they are. Chakravarthi spoke of "recolonization;" of the way that "capital moved freely" during the period of globalization in the 19th century. He pointed out that today, "freedom for capital to move" is being hailed by the ideologues of corporate globalization just as was done in the 19th century. Except of course that now the magnitude of acceleration for everything -- including the movement of capital -- is of an entirely different scale than it was during the last century.
Then Victoria Tauli-Corpuz from the Philippines spoke. Director of the TEBTEBBA FOUNDATION (Indigenous Peoples' International Centre for Policy Research and Education), Convenor of the Asia Indigenous Women's Network (AIWN), and IFG Associate, she addressed the audience with a fire and power that electrified everyone. She spoke of "indigenous ways of living and thinking" and how these are so categorically different from the way of life being promoted by the transnational corporations (TNCs). Emphasis was also placed on the significance of "the patenting of life forms, a development which will destroy the way we look at life and the way we transmit knowledge to future generations." Her impassioned plea went out to work to stop "the colonization of our resources, minds, and bodies" and in the strongest terms to protest the patenting of life. "We must question ALL of the definitions of development, of trade, and of economics."
Lastly, Martin Khor spoke. A member of the Board of Directors of the IFG, he is also the Director of Third World Network. Martin emphasized that "the next step is very important. It is possible to stop it here, now. Let's simply change the wording at the very beginning of the "Statement From Members of the International Civil Society Opposing A Millennium Round or a New Round of Comprehensive Trade Negotiations" so instead of "governments of the world will meet" it says "governments of the world are meeting", and make that be our declaration for this week's event."
The day's sessions that we missed are listed below. Again, cassette recordings of all of this two-day Teach-In are available from IFG. Use the the order form at http://www.ifg.org/tof4.html .
Labor: Extinguishing the Rights of Labor in a Globalized Economy
Speakers: John Cavanagh, Barbara Shailor, Hassan Adebayo Sunmonu, Katie Quan, Kjeld Jakobsen
Agriculture: The Threat to Food, Health and Farmers
from the Globalization of Industrial Agriculture
Speakers: Mark Ritchie, Tim Lang, Anuradha Mittal, José Bové, Tetteh Hormeku
Environment: Impacts on Human Beings and the Natural World
Speakers: Brent Blackwelder, Steven Shrybman, Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, Patti Goldman, Cipriana Jurado, Thomas Kocherry
The Last Invasion: Biotechnology, Patents on Life, Frankenfoods
-- The Role of the WTO in the Corporate Takeover of the Structures of Life
Speakers: Peter Rosset, David Suzuki, Tewolde Gebre Egziabher, Mae-Wan Ho, Pat Roy Mooney
Corporate Rule and the Dismantling of Democracy:
It's Scope, It's Power and the Role of the WTO
Speakers: Tony Clarke, Anita Roddick, Kevin Danaher, Owens Wiwa, Randy Hayes, Angés Bertrand
Throughout the week I listened to many people speak who are part of the International Forum on Globalization, either on the Board of Directors or listed as IFG Associates (see http://www.ifg.org/assoc.html ). As is explained in the History Of The IFG :
The IFG first convened in San Francisco in January 1994 in the wake of the North American Free Trade Agreement's (NAFTA's) passage and the conclusion of the Uruguay Round of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT). For the groups and leaders who had worked tirelessly to explain to the public and to policymakers that the proposed trade agreements would lead to multiple negative consequences, it was time to regroup.
IFG associates felt that, despite setbacks, it was critical that activism continue, but that the full dimensions and scale of the problem be re-articulated. The issues could no longer be confined to the problems of the new "free trade" agreements or the policies of the World Bank. The problem needed to be understood systemically, as being a global process. A complete reorganization of the world's economic and political activity was underway, and with it the effective takeover of global governance by transnational corporations and the international trade bureaucracies that they established.
At first the IFG functioned as a think tank among some thirty people (later expanded to over sixty) to discuss the issues and develop alternative strategies that might reverse the globalization trend and redirect actions toward revitalizing local economies. The meetings enabled associates to work through differences among themselves--for example, the different frames of reference between "northern" and "southern" (Third World) activists. Other discussions focused on the differing views of environmental and labor issues within trade agreements; the role of new technologies in the globalization juggernaut; and the steps needed to relocalize control. The meetings provided an unpressured atmosphere to begin a process of co-education and collaboration.
Based on these meetings, IFG associates agreed to begin speaking out against economic globalization because it was clear that public discourse-in the media, academia, and among governments-had not seriously questioned the commonly held belief that a globalized economy would "lift all boats." Nor was it understood that viable alternative perspectives and analyses existed.
The goal of the IFG, therefore, is twofold: (1) Expose the multiple effects of economic globalization in order to stimulate debate, and (2) Seek to reverse the globalization process by encouraging ideas and activities which revitalize local economies and communities, and ensure long term ecological stability.
Following the above text is the January 1995, IFG Position Statement. I had originally heard of the IFG through my friend Carol Brouillet. Carol's inviting me to the February and August 1999 Gatherings -- second and third in a series of three conferences collectively called "Strategies for Transforming the Global Economy" (see Learning About community currencies from the march 1999 equinox ratitor's corner) -- primed me 1) for understanding I must go to Seattle, and 2) to participate with all my energy and attention to take in as much information as possible about all that could be experienced and learned about while there. By the close of Saturday night, I knew I was embarked on a week that would change, expand and renew me once again to join in the work of helping birth a future where humans experience the universal kinship with all life that is the essence of a wisdom culture.
Sunday, November 28
WTO and Global War System
The World Trade Organization and the links
between economic globalization & militarism
Pamela, Jeremy and I took the bus downtown to go the 1-3pm Alternatives to Corporate Globalization (Part 1) session happening at the Labor Temple on 1st Avenue. But we did not arrive until after this was already under way. The room was packed so we elected to go on to the WTO and Global War System forum starting at 2:30 at the Plymouth Congregational Church on 6th Avenue. The program for this event succinctly describes its focus:
This forum will examine how the World Trade Organization's pattern of economic globalization undermines security, creates conflict and promotes militarism. An international panel of four speakers will explain how WTO trade agreements endanger the social programs, public services and environmental regulations that are vital to survival and quality of life in the modern world.
Internal police forces, armies and weapons are exempted from WTO trade restrictions for "national security" reasons. Billions of dollars of public moneys are slashed from social programs and freely spent on militaries and invested in manufacturing new weapons. Unrestricted and highly profitable arms sales result, giving rise to the Global War System and undermining democracy.
The speakers will describe how this dangerous trend away from respect for human rights, legal obligations and diplomacy is also reviving the threat of nuclear weapons proliferation. One key cause of this dangerous trend is the United States' failure to honor its legal obligation under Article VI of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty to work to eliminate nuclear arsenals worldwide.
The forum will focus on the threat that the Global War System poses to our survival, the obligation of citizens to confront it and opportunities for Non Governmental Organizations to promote alternatives to it.
September 22, 2000: Multiple formats of a complete transcript of the conference proceedings are now available and linked to from within the hypertext version resident at http://www.ratical.org/co-globalize/WTOandGWSfp.html.
The first of the four speakers was Susan George, American born who lives in France. As the program describes, she is "the Associate Director of the Transnational Institute and is active in TNI's Global Economy Program. She holds degrees from Smith College, the Sorbonne and the University of Paris. She is active in the International Forum on Globalization and Jubilee 2000, whose aim is to eliminate the debt of the poorest countries. She has advised and worked with environmental and development NGO's in many countries. She gives lectures and press interviews worldwide, and her writings are translated into a dozen languages."
Susan described her sense of it being "Most significant that the forces of the peace movement are coming together in a very unitary way into this fight against the WTO. This is first time I have seen such a coalition coming together with all the other groups in Seattle this week. It is very encouraging.
"The WTO is one of the instruments of globalization. TNCs can't make rules by themselves so they use instruments like the IMF and World Bank. But the biggest rule-writer they've discovered is the WTO -- they missed it with the MAI. The WTO is writing the constitution to facilitate the affairs of TNCs.
"Globalization does three things:
pushes money from the bottom to the top
moves power from the bottom to the top and concentrates it on the international level.
creates myriad losers by creating a whole slice of people who are not useful to the global economy (either as producers or consumers).
"We're creating, through globalization, a two or three -track culture or society of exploitees, exploited and outcasts -- clearly a scenario for instability."
The de facto role of the US armed forces will be to keep the world safe for our economy and open to our cultural assault. To those ends, we will do a fair amount of killing.
--Major Ralph Peters, responsible for future warfare,
Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff for
Intelligence of the United States Army
Here she began reading -- pages 94-95 -- from a new book she has just completed, The Lugano Report, On Preserving Capitalism In The 21st Century:
Although research shows that fomenting war is complex because no war ever has a single cause, some strong causal patterns can be identified. The Peace Research Institute of Oslo (PRIO) conflict listings show that the 1990s have been rife with armed conflicts (98 from January 1990 to December 1996); these have been overwhelmingly civil wars, not inter-state ones. According to PRIO, conflicts demonstrate the following characteristics:
They take place chiefly in poor countries where agriculture is still the main contributor to GDP.
The environmental factors most frequently associated with civil conflict are `land degradation . . . low freshwater availability per capita and high population density', in that order.
The most war-prone political regimes are, statistically, `semi-democratic governments'.
A `particularly strong correlation exists between high external debt and the incidence of civil war'.
`Falling export income from primary commodities is closely associated with the outbreak of civil war' (PRIO's emphasis).
A history of vigorous IMF intervention is also positively linked with all forms of political and armed conflict. `The number of IMG arrangements and a high conditionality are crucial for the occurrence of both political protest and civil conflict.'
Peace Research Institute of Oslo (PRIO), Causes and Dynamics of Conflict Escalation, Report on a Research Project, June 1997; also Dan Smith (with PRIO), The State of War and Peace Atlas, Penguin, New York and Harmondsworth, 1997.
She went on to describe how a "two-track society promotes protests and upheavals. WTO is going to try to organize `trade facilitation and harmonization' (meaning fewer controls at the borders for arms, etc). Although arms sales are apparently going down, other countries are moving from heavy to light arms (eg, riot control gear, mobile/hand-held weapons, etc) being provided by smaller, cheaper, non-traditional arms suppliers."
The cover of The Lugano Report describes the book in this way:
What would you recommend if you wanted to preserve capitalism in the 21st century? A multidisciplinary Working Party convened by world leaders to consider the future of the world economy concludes that it is grossly undermanaged, gravely threatened by its own excesses, prone to ecological collapse and an unlikely candidate for long-term survival. How, then, can the winners in the globalisation game guarantee their own comfortable future? There is a way, but one which may be too awful to contemplate. The Lugano Report stakes out new territory and proceeds with relentless logic from uncompromising diagnosis to chilling cure.
If this is the future, you will be moved to seek out a different one. In her appendix and afterword, Susan George challenges the conclusions of the Working Party and offers alternative solutions.
Reading again from The Lugano Report, she quoted from Parameters, US Army War College Quarterly to demonstrate "how they are thinking" -- the following quotes are from articles by Major Ralph Peters, responsible for future warfare, Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff for Intelligence of the United States Army:
The de facto role of the US armed forces will be to keep the world safe for our economy and open to our cultural assault. To those ends, we will do a fair amount of killing.
"Constant Conflict", Parameters, Summer 1997, pp. 4-14.
Increasingly, however, the world doesn't give a damn about our laws, customs, or table manners . . . [w]e are constrained by a past century's model of what armies do, what police do, and what governments legally can do. Our opponents have none of this baggage.
[A]n archipelago of failure is emerging within the United States, posing problems so intractable and concentrated that traditional law enforcement may prove unable to contain them.
[M]ore and more governments are being overwhelmed by, run by, or supplanted by an astonishing variety of criminal organizations and innovative structures for controlling wealth through violence and coercion.
"After the Revolution", Parameters, Summer 1995, pp. 7-14.
- See also:
- "The Future of Armored Warfare", Parameters, Autumn 1997, pp. 50-59.
- "The Culture of Future Conflict", Parameters, Winter 1995-96, pp. 18-27.
One of the last points Susan made was the extremely disturbing situation of TNCs taking over the United Nations. She specifically urged everyone to help expose the conflict-of-interest in the Business Humanitarian Forum where the United Nations High Commissioner on Refugees, Sadako Ogata, is co-chairing this new organization with Nestle and with UNOCAL, a company with one of the worst human rights and environment records in the world. She also cited the voluntary association UNICEF is making with Nestle. See Corporate Watch's section on the Corporatization of the United Nations.
The second speaker was to be David Korten. Unfortunately, David was unable to attend most of the week's events for health reasons. Mark Ritchie (U.S.) joined the panel in his stead. A member of the International Forum on Globalization's Board of Directors, Mark Ritchie is the President and Globalization and Global Governance Program Director of Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy. The IATP was established in 1986 as a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization to create environmentally and economically sustainable communities and regions through sound agriculture and trade policy.
Mark began by affirming that "The issues of this week are peace issues. The U.S. has systematically defunded the United Nations leaving it with no options other than going to the TNCs. It is important to look at the whole system that comes out of the WTO with a central focus being economic globalization and militarism. The colonization, of this continent starting 500 years ago, was the lynch-pin of what has been happening in this century. Studying the history of this continent would be a good place to begin. With the WTO, things get much more murky.
"World War I was a world war over trade without rules. It provided the seeds for World War II. Woodrow Wilson, in a speech made just before he died, spoke of `wars over trade'. Before the end of WWII, the Bretton Woods conference was convened to find an answer to question, How can we avoid another world war? Bretton Woods was a mixed gathering. It sought to solve the economic problems to avoid WWIII.
"Bretton Woods created three organizations:
the World Bank - a bank for reconstruction
the International Monetary Fund - to prevent currency devaluation, and
the International Trade Organization (ITO) - which was needed to establish "rules of trade" (to curb cowboy capitalism)
"The ITO became the General Agreement on Tariffs And Trade (GATT) which was converted into the WTO."
Mark made the point that "the Bretton Woods time period occurred before the McCarthy red-baiting scare. During McCarthyism, many progressive people were driven out of the three institutions create by Bretton Woods. Since that time they have become instruments of crisis and of war."
50 years after it occurred, a group of people gathered together many of the Bretton Woods founders and asked them about what happened? Mark mentioned the book The Bretton Woods-GATT System: Retrospect and Prospect After Fifty Years as a useful resource for those interested in learning what came out of this 50-years-later gathering.
He went on to point out that "Oil, drugs, and guns are not in the GATT -- and WTO. With populations of impoverished people, their governments will come under enormous pressures and there will be war. Global institutions were created to sort out these conflicts and these institutions have been hi-jacked. The single most important movement is the peace movement."
Citing the importance of the Global Landmine Treaty, Mark stressed "we need to see the links in these movements go forward and provide and define and create real alternatives to the Bretton Woods Institutions. What do we want to have happen? We need global governance to address the issues of drugs, biotech and genetic engineering -- which create biotech weapons. Biotechnology is the under-pinning of the next-generation of weapons (past nuclear).
"Global governance is going to have to be the civil society of the planet constructing a solid, rooted basis to make peace. National governments are not the only, or single, or most significant part of the effective creation of global governance. Look for fair trade labels and organic foods."
(At the end of Mark's talk I have something written down about "Public Interest" and "The End of History, How Can History Be Over If Science Isn't" and following this, "If they have their way in the genetic engineering direction, 20-30 years from now, human history will be over." I vaguely recall something about how either "Public Interest" and "The End of History" were the titles of books, or citing a specific author. If anyone can clarify this please let me know.)
The third speaker was Alice Slater (U.S.), "President of the Global Resource Action Center for the Environment (GRACE) and a founder of Abolition 2000, a global network working for a treaty to eliminate nuclear weapons. She is a Board member of the Lawyers Alliance for World Security and a United Nations NGO representative. She has organized numerous UN conferences on nuclear and environmental issues and has spoken frequently at meetings and conferences worldwide. She has been widely interviewed by the news media and published in numerous periodicals."
Alice started by pointing out the critical necessity to stop Star Wars which has undergone a resurgence of momentum in the U.S. She then went on to explain that "The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) required that 25 years later (1995) it would be evaluated to determine how well the elimination of weapons had progressed. The PERM-5 [U.S., Russia, England, France, and China] extended the treaty indefinitely.
"1,400 organizations in 87 countries have signed the Abolition 2000 Statement." The new book was cited, Security and Survival: The Case for a Nuclear Weapons Convention. And the point was made about "the inextricable link between nuclear weapons and nuclear power. Ratifying the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) requires signatures of 47 countries that have nuclear power. With the CTBT Stockpile Stewardship program, underground nuclear tests are continued with what is called `subcritical tests'. Thus the nuclear arms race continues -- it has not stopped. The Vice Chair on the committee to expand NATO was from Lockheed Martin. The U.S. Military's United States Space Command (USSPACECOM) website includes its 17-page Vision For 2020 (pdf document) which comes out of the Stockpile Stewardship program." The graphic constituting pages 3 and 16 are nothing short of Star Wars made real:
GENERAL HOWELL M. ESTES III
"The increasing reliance of US military forces upon space power combined with the
explosive proliferation of global space capabilities makes a space vision essential.
As stewards for military space, we must be prepared to exploit the advantages
of the space medium. This Vision serves as a bridge in the evolution of
military space into the 21st century and is the standard by which
United States Space Command and its Components
will measure progress into the future."
US Space Command--dominating
the space dimension of military operations
to protect US interests and investment.
Integrating Space Forces into warfighting
capabilities across the full spectrum
. . . the Warfighter's Edge
Alice closed stating that the Abolition 2000 campaign will get 2,000 signatures (as of 12/16/99 the total is 1,415 activist organizations) by the NPT convention taking place in the year 2000.
The last speaker, Steve Staples (Canada) "is the British Columbia Organizer for the Council of Canadians, a national citizens group dedicated to promoting democracy and fair trade. He is a board member of End the Arms Race, BC's largest peace and disarmament group. In May at the Hague Appeal for Peace, Steve helped to found the International Network on Disarmament and Globalization, a network of activists formed to address the relationship between globalization and militarism."
Steve spoke about the work being done by the Citizen's Weapons Inspection Team organized by End the Arms Race. He went on to extend Eisenhower's famous warning to the people of the United States in his last speech as President about what he called "the military-industrial complex" to now more accurately be termed, the Military-Corporate Complex.
"Globalization has created a movement towards a single world economy, where TNCs roam the world for economic advantage. In the last five years there have been major mergers in military industries. The Pentagon can no longer resist transnational mergers -- it used to try, but no more. There is an evolving power imbalance expanding between corporate hierarchies and national governments. The WTO is the architect of this TNC expansion.
"One sacred cow remains: the Military-Corporate Complex. The WTO is based upon the premise that the only legitimate role of government is to maintain order. The war industries are completely protected from GATT-WTO regulations. In the future, trying to promote new technologies, the only way that will be protected through trade rules is via the military industries. If governments want to play a role in the global economy, the safe way to do it is through military spending -- expanding the arms race. Military spending is completely shielded from trade-rule restrictions and agreements.
"If WTO is allowed to continue, military spending will increase -- and with it the new emerging global war system." Steve closed by emphasizing three points:
"We need to educate everyone about the connection between militarism and globalization being pushed by the TNCs
We cannot address arms spending issues in isolation -- the same kind of focusing on the WTO that people are making happen here in Seattle must be applied to the full scope and influence of the Military-Corporate Complex
We must develop our own positive alternatives to such corporate globalization structures as the WTO."
Before the Question and Answer, a visual demonstration was given about 1996 military spending where in billions of dollars, Cuba was at $0.3, Libya was at $1, Iran at $2.8, Syria and Iraq both at $3, North Korea at $6, while the U.S. spent $263.
During the question-and-comment period one of the Bangor Nine made the point of the necessity to Resist Trident -- a lynch pin of nuclear weapon strategy. Someone else pointed out that the Nobel Decade of Peace -- a BIG ONE -- starts next year, approved by the U.N. They posed the question, "How do we build a movement that can really bring peace?" Another person brought up the issue of Depleted Uranium -- that these weapons are contaminated for over a billion years. Alice Slater responded that Abolition 2000 has a working group on Depleted Uranium weapons. Someone else stated that "The WTO system is a very unstable system -- to exempt the military from trade restrictions is completely incoherent." Another person asked if any country has seriously considered a way to be exempted from GATT by making a social program be related to security. Steve Staples responded that the only case he had read about was in the old (pre-WTO) GATT, where Sweden was able to exempt its shoe industry.
There was much literature available at tables that augmented what the speakers were articulating. A particularly salient handout from End the Arms Race on The World Trade Organization and War: Making the Connection expanded upon what Steve was saying:
The WTO views many government services and policies -- such as public education, public health care, environmental regulations and industrial programs -- as unfair interference in the free market. When governments challenge other governments' policies before WTO dispute panels, the WTO rules on whether the policies are unfairly interfering with trade. If they are, member governments must change or eliminate the offending laws, or face billions of dollars in WTO-authorized trade sanctions. . . .
The WTO is based on the premise that the only legitimate role for governments is to provide for a military to protect the country, and a police force to ensure order within it, And so while the WTO attacks social and environmental policies, it protects the war industry through a "security exception" in the GATT (Article XXI).
The security exception allows governments free reign for actions taken in the name of national security. It states that a country can not be stopped from taking any action it considers necessary to protect its essential security interests; actions "relating to the traffic in arms, ammunition and implements of war and such traffic in other goods and materials as is carried on directly for the purpose of supplying a military establishment (or) taken in time of war or other emergency in international relations."(GATT 1994, Article XXI) Article XXI is the most powerful exception in the WTO because governments define for themselves their "essential security interests" and protect what they want by couching it in these terms.
In shielding the war industry from WTO challenges, the security exception ends up stimulating government military spending and militarizing the economy. The danger is that governments will only be able to promote jobs, new emerging industries, or high-tech manufacturing through military spending.
There is evidence this is already happening. In 1999, a WTO dispute panel ruled against Canada and its Technology Partnerships Canada program -- a program that subsidizes the aerospace and defence industry. The program was being used by Bombardier Aerospace to build and export regional passenger jets. But the WTO ruled the non-military subsidies were unfair, and struck them down.
I wish there was time to put much more of what I gathered in online to include here. Work will continue in the coming months of folding more content from the entire week in Seattle into co-globalizing gaia's children. Another very informative group of publications had just been published by the LA/Caribbean Program of the American Friends Service Committee: Still Pulling Strings, U.S. Military Policy in Latin America and the Caribbean Post-Cold War. The graphic (below-right), "U.S. Military Programs in Latin America and the Caribbean," is the centerfold of Still Pulling Strings, providing important details about on-going U.S. Military engagement in the central and southern western hemisphere. Quoting from the flyer announcing this report:
Many of us took a sigh of relief when the Cold War drew to a close and peace gradually came to Central America. Perhaps, we hoped, the U.S. military would change its often brutal methods of involvement in Latin America. Because of spotty media coverage, many citizens are unaware of exactly how the U.S. military is engaged in the region. The purpose of this report is to shed some light on this involvement.
Not surprisingly, the U.S. military has continued many Cold War programs, such as training for Latin American military personnel and arms sales. However, U.S. policymakers and military officials have also adapted military policy and programs to an "uncertain" post-Cold War environment. The result is a focus on "alternative military roles" such as humanitarian relief, civic works projects, environmental conferences, police training, and counternarcotics programs. The 25-page Still Pulling Strings report examines how these seemingly benign roles can damage the process of democratization in Latin America and basic human rights. This report is a rich resource of information and analysis for activists and others.
Three country studies on Mexico, Colombia, and Puerto Rico accompany Still Pulling Strings and provide a more in-depth account of how U.S. military policy affects these areas of Latin America and the Caribbean. These three documents can also stand alone as informative introductions to issues of militarism in each of the three countries.
I came away from this forum with a new appreciation of one of the specific devastating effects the WTO has wrought worldwide: the expansion and magnitude of increased military spending based on the GATT's Article XXI security exemption. Global policy-making bodies such as the WTO -- that supersede the authority of national governments by supporting and promoting the military-corporate complex's further development of and trafficking in conventional and nuclear weapons and war-making materiel and ordinance -- pose one of the greatest threats possible to a stable, life-supporting world-wide human culture. This is precisely the opposite of what the ideologues of global capitalism claim corporate globalization will bring to our world.
To end this on an up-beat hopeful note, check out the web form of the The World Game Institute's double-sided handout provided in the forum regarding What The World Wants And How To Pay For It Using Military Expenditures. This is a magnificent explication of Eighteen Strategies for Confronting the Major Systemic Problems Confronting Humanity: "Below are annual costs of various global programs for solving the major human need and environmental problems facing humanity. Each program is the amount needed to accomplish the goal for all in need in the world. Their combined total cost is approximately 30% of the world's total annual military expenditures."
YES! Reception At Elliot Bay Bookstore
Sunday night I went to a reception given by the Positive Futures Network (PFN), publisher of YES! A Journal of Positive Futures at Elliot Bay Bookstore. Fran Korten, Executive Director of PFN, spoke first. Citing Chomsky she emphasized all the money at stake -- the deluge of dollars into public relations campaigns IF Seattle further degrades the WTO. She spoke of the Doctrine of Futility being false, "that we must all pull together with this convergence, pulling the positive visions and the message that engagement is where it's at." She spoke of her vision of a world where the interests of money serve the interests of Life, and cited David Korten's new article "A Planetary Alternative to the Global Economy" (which I will soon ask permission of the publisher to reprint on ratical).
Richard Conlin, a PFN boardmember, spoke about participatory democracy, emphasizing the need for expanding democratic dialogue about what the future of our world will be. "Real trade is built on a set of rules about how we trade. There is no such thing as `free' trade. Yes to trade based on rules that respect democracy, human rights and the environment."
Jerry Mander spoke briefly describing the "turning point" he saw taking place. Explaining how "this weekend has been one of the most incredible in my life," he cited the fact that the IFG had to turn away something on the order of 1,000 to 2,000 people from the Friday night and Saturday Teach-In. He went on to say that previously, as this event was in its initial planning stages, someone had scoffed at the idea of holding it in a place the size of Benaroya Symphony Hall saying `you'll never fill it.' And here a day-and-a-half event for the general public on the subject of Trade had been sold out! He described the process of Seattle as "shinning light in the back, dark, room" and that it's really become a popular movement.
Almost half of the global population is still living on the land. . . . The local food movement needs the support of everyone. We must shorten the distance between consumers and farmers. The hidden subsidies for trade and distribution create the imbalances people are being devastated by. For example, local butter made in Ladakh costs much more than butter made in Germany and shipped to Ladakh. This is made possible by a complex of hidden subsidies that favor global trade networks.
Monday, November 29
Environment and Health Day
The Human Face of Trade:
Health and the Environment Peoples' Tribunal
Monday I made it downtown to the United Methodist Church (Columbia and 5th Avenue) for the last half of the morning's Plenary Session, The Human Face of Trade: Health and the Environment Peoples' Tribunal. Panel One focusing on Environmental Issues had already happened. Later in the week I obtained a copy of Victoria Tauli-Corpuz's statment, presented in Panel 1, on the "Impacts of WTO On The Environment, Cultures and Indigenous Peoples." She explained how "In the past two years we have been actively involved in documenting the impacts of trade liberalization, the WTO Agreements and other regional trade agreements on indigenous peoples." Before she cited specific cases she made the essential point that,
. . . the whole philosophy underpinning the WTO Agreements and all regional agreements like NAFTA, MERCOSUR, etc. contradicts indigenous peoples' world views, concepts and practices related to environment, trade, and development, the way we regard and use knowledge, and our core values and spirituality. The principles and policies they promote such as trade liberalization, export-oriented development, trade barriers, leveling the playing field, comparative advantage, most-favoured nation and national treatment, and worst, the patenting of lifeforms are antithetical to most of our core-values and beliefs.
Trade liberalization and the push for the removal of so-called `trade barriers' has led many governments to change national laws controlling entry of imports, liberalization of investment laws, and to create legislation on intellectual property rights which protect the most powerful pharmaceutical, biotechnology, seed, and electronic corporations
After citing specific cases she posed three groups of incisive questions bearing deep implications about the depth of havoc corporate globalization is actually creating world-wide and closed with the following:
Esteemed members of the Tribunal, I submit that the WTO Agreements I cited, are creating more inequalities between peoples and countries, it further discriminates against indigenous peoples, and it destroys the environment, destroys biological and cultural diversity, and threatens the health of indigenous peoples. I, therefore, propose the following:
That a thorough assessment and review of the social and environmental impacts of these agreements be done.
That after such review there should be proposals on what should be changed and removed.
That there should be no further round called during this ministerial meeting because peoples and countries are reeling from the disastrous effects of the present agreements.
Finally, there should be a paradigm shift from the dominant development and trade model being pushed by WTO which will acknowledge and allow indigenous practices and models of development and governance to flourish.
Panel Two's focus was on Public Health & the WTO. Congresswoman Maxine Waters (Democrat, California), was speaking about biotechnology. She read out loud a Declaration on Food Safety given to the moderator that morning by Joan Russow, National Leader of the Green Party of Canada:We, 130 biotechnology activists from 20 countries[i] all over the world, met in Seattle on Sunday November 28, 1999 and agreed to the following actions:
To keep biotechnology out of the WTO Ministerial Declaration and out of its future activities.
To emphasize that the Biosafety Protocol is the correct forum to assess, regulate and monitor the transfer of GMO and products thereof.
To support the African Proposal to ban patents of living organisms and their parts.
To institute a global ban on all genetically engineered processes, foods, crops and animals.
To require complete labeling of all substances and processes, including GMOs and pesticides.
To criminalize biopiracy and stealing of indigenous genes and knowledge of farmers, peasants and indigenous peoples.
To establish strict corporate liability for all economic loss and personal injury resulting from genetically engineered crops and food.
To intensify our global campaigns for organic agriculture and other forms of ecological farming.
Afterwards she asked the other panelists if they thought this proposal was reasonable. The response was not only was it reasonable but that it should be required everywhere. I was able to meet and speak with Jean during the afternoon and obtained a copy of this Declaration. When I first heard Maxine read it I was struck by it's completeness. This is an exemplary model proposal that should be pushed for adoption by people around the world in everyone's local community as well as at the national level.
Make Trade Clean, Green and Fair March
Rally for the Environment, Health, and Animal Welfare
The morning Plenary ended with most of us going outside and beginning the Make Trade Clean, Green and Fair March going eight blocks to the Rally for the Environment, Health, and Animal Welfare held at the Washington Trade and Convention Center. The mood was very excited and energetic despite the clouds that gave some rain during the rally. People dressed as turtles were in attendance along with a wide-range of young, old, alternative, and mainstream looking folk. There were many speakers -- and a woman accompanying herself on the guitar (I think it was Patti Forkan) belting out some great, richly creative and rousing songs about the corporate hogs, greed, and the needs of Life on earth. Unfortunately I did not take notes -- even to the names of all who held forth. The 4-page handout for Monday lists Carl Pope (Sierra Club), Patti Forkan (Humane Society of the U.S.), Brent Blackwelder (Friends of the Earth), Senator Paul Wellstone, and Representative George Miller. I also remember indigenous people and ministers spoke with great passion for and commitment to the interest of all of life and humanity, not just the capitalists attempting to carve up the world inside the behind-closed-doors WTO meetings. It felt fabulous to join in with so many to express the interests of all life on earth, tragically all too commonly left out of the political and trade negotiations of our day.
Hands Off My Genes! WTO vs. Biosafety Protocol
At 2pm I went to the IATP Hands Off My Genes! WTO vs. Biosafety Protocol workshop, back inside the United Methodist Church. The Chair was Kristin Dawkins, Program Director of IATP's Trade and Agriculture Program. She started things off by describing the new "Life Sciences Industry" being composed of "Agro-chemical and Pharmaceutical companies, as well as the biotech giants attempting to position themselves as the wealthy holders and owners of genetic resources. The gene pool is being seen as a new form of wealth with the move to control this form of wealth being employed through the use of patents. According to the WTO, regulations on biotech are seen as barriers to trade." Along with many others throughout the week, Kristin made the point that the proper place to work out the rules about biotechnology was in the Biodiversity Treaty. Mention was also made of the Biosafety Protocol, five-plus years in the making but still not finalized. Such deliberations most assuredly do not belong inside the WTO, an organization composed of trade officials who are not qualified to make rules concerning the biological future of planet earth.
Phil Bereano, of the Council for Responsible Genetics (CRG) spoke next citing the importance of the International Petition against the patenting of life being circulated -- sign it on the web at http://www.gene-watch.org/petition.html . He also highlighted the new book Genetically Engineered Food: Changing the Nature of Nature by Martin Teitel, Ph.D. (Executive Director of CRG), and Kimberly Wilson (Director of the CRG's Program on Commercial Biotechnology and the Environment), with a Forward by Ralph Nader. Published in October, this book is extremely readable and instructive to the lay person. It should be widely read and shared (it's only $13). I found a signed copy at Elliot Bay and got about 30 pages into it on the plane home. For example:
. . . these food crops are already growing on millions of acres all around our world: at the end of the twentieth century enough genetically engineered crops are being grown to cover all of Great Britain plus all of Taiwan, with enough left over to carpet Central Park in New York. With this abrupt agricultural transformation, humanity's food supply is being placed in the hands of a few corporations who practice an unpredictable and dangerous science. (Introduction, "Hijacked Dinner," pp.2-3)
When we start to alter the genetic composition of organisms, we take into our hands the instructions for life -- instructions that have been slowly and carefully evolving since the first appearance of life on this planet, instructions that support the delicate balance of our ecosystem. In assuming the immense responsibility to change those basic instructions, we must honestly and thoroughly analyze every possible motivation and ramification of this novel technology -- not only environmental, but social, political, ethical, and economic as well. (Chp1, "How Genetic Engineering Works," p.28)
Dr. Mae Wan Ho, microbiologist with the Third World Network (U.K.) was next. She began by stating, "This science is based on a very mechanistic view of nature. The new world view is based on Interconnectedness, that we live in participation and balance with nature." She cited the more than 140 Scientists from 27 countries [as of 12/15/99 it is up to 229 Scientists] "calling on the WTO to ban all patenting of life forms because they are immoral, and a ban on all Genetically Modified (GM) Crops because they are dangerous." She spoke of "jumping genes and horizontal gene transfer -- that genetic material can be transferred to other species" and how she helped set up The Institute of Science in Society to counter the corporate sciences move to claim private rights ownership over the very fabric of life itself. Along with so many others throughout the week Mae Wan urged everyone to support your family farmers.
With biotech we are confronting conversion of the genetic resources of the world into corporate-owned patent monopolies. Everything that is not counter-veiled by the commonwealth is not `privatization' but `corporatization'. The trends and risks we are witnessing of ecological, consumer, and spiritual mass media provides clinical Exhibit 1 of mass insanity. We have to expand our own civic media. Public funding should be made much more conducive to the commonwealth.
Devinder Sharma, a journalist from India, spoke next about how biotech claims it will solve world hunger in India and the importance of fighting the complex train of issues relating to biopiracy.
Next was Peter Einarrson, of the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM) and Swedish Association of Ecological Farmers. He described how "Sweden does not use Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) because
manipulating genes is more unnatural and far-reaching than chemical agriculture
while this technology is being used to increase efficiency of highly industrialized agriculture it is NOT of use for self-sufficient farmers in the third world."
Mika Iba, of the National Coalition for Safe Food and the Environment in Japan, emphasized the importance of saying no to GM crops and foods. She cited the fact that some of "Those saying `it's more safe eating GM foods' are not lying -- they truly believe what they say", demonstrating this by themselves and their families consuming GM foods.
Aileen Kwa, a Research Associate at Focus on the Global South (Singapore) stated that "at present in a draft declaration under agriculture, biotech is already there. At the end of the draft there is a Canadian proposal for biotech working groups. FOCUS on the Global South is urging: `do not allow any further rules on biotech -- those there are sufficient.'" [I regret I do not have the actual name and source for this draft declaration. I have sent mail to Aileen asking for the specifics on this.]
Next, Michael Fox, of The Humane Society of the United States spoke about "the critical stage in our evolution we are now at, biologically and spiritually." He stressed the importance to "go for community-supported agriculture -- the best defense and offense against genetically modified unknowns. We are still looking at biotech from an anthropocentric world view." He then cited the Food Safety Declaration I mentioned above. (This is when I met Joan Russow and received a copy of this statement.)
During the question-and-comment someone made the point about how "there is no possibility of controlling food safety in the national or international arena -- it must be much more on the local level." Someone else emphasized the necessity to "negotiate a strong Biosafety Protocol in January based on the precautionary principle and not letting anything like the WTO work on this!" Another person pointed out that "If you could go into your favorite health food store and see all the foods actually labelled with genetically engineered stickers, you'd be shocked." Boca-burger (grain burgers) was cited as containing Genetically Engineered (GE) soybeans.
However, where labelling GE foods are concerned, I must emphasize the fundamental talking points made by Andy Savage (South Downs EF!) in his lucid 2/97 essay, Why Labeling Genetically Modified Organisms is Pointless:
The campaign for labelling is making the issue of a life-threatening technology appear to be merely an issue of civil rights. This is playing right into the hands of the biotech corporations.
Winning a "Consumer Right To Know" campaign certainly has its merits. But it is not going to resolve the fact that:
Genetically-Modified Organisms (GMOs) have and will cross with non-GM crops and wild relatives. This will make it impossible to have any foods that will be free of the modified genes, and any other dangerous bits and pieces that have been inserted into the organisms.
Other evidence shows that the vectors used are also dangerous, and this means that the whole process must be stopped until such time as the scientists themselves (free of the constraints imposed on them by greedy self-interested corporations) can prove conclusively that they have reached a level of expertise and knowledge that is needed to be sure of no danger.
WTO TRIPs Agreement and Effects On
and Access To Essential Medicines
Afterwards I tried to find my way to the workshop on Trading Away Public Health: Toxins & the WTO but the place it was supposed to be at in the Town Hall ended up being WTO TRIPs Agreement and Effects on and Access to Essential Medicines.
Carlos Correa (Argentina) spoke first describing how most people do not have access to the essential drugs they need. "According to the WTO definition, essential drugs must satisfy the health needs for a majority of a population. The Essential Drugs List (EDL) includes price and cost. Many new drugs cannot be included because they are priced out of the affordable range the EDL has had in the past. There is a 20 year patent-protection through the Trade-Related Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPs) which gives a company a monopoly of 20 years for a given drug. This widens the access gap and in many cases is the difference between life and death."
Carlos went on to explain the "main elements of the TRIPs agreement in terms of access of drugs. Before TRIPs, different countries had the right to develop their own patenting process and laws. With the coming of TRIPs an important, dramatic change was implemented -- all countries are now obliged to provide patent protection. The promises made to developing countries by accepting the TRIPs agreement were that there would be more investment in and more transfer of technology to their countries. But foreign pharmaceutical companies have been closing down since they cannot compete with their TNC competitors and so the transfer of technology has not been happening. An unavoidable effect in the granting of patents makes prices rise because of the monopoly nature of Intellectual Property Rights (IPRs).
"There are three strategies countries can implement to mitigate monopolistic effects of patents:
practice of Parallel Imports
This is achieved when a patent has been granted in two countries
Normally, a patent owner is the only one who can produce an item. Compulsory licensing allows a third party to produce the same item which is supposed to remedy anti-competitive prices, particularly for government uses.
[I did not make notes on what this was. If anyone knows about it, please let me know.]
Dr. Zafar Mirza was next and began by focusing on the main issue: "access to drugs -- when sick, people must be provided with necessary treatment. Period. There are three essential issues:
The existing situation.
How many people have reliable access? According to the World Health Organization (WHO), more than half the population in developing countries do not have access to essential drugs and 90 percent of drugs are sold through private pharmacies. Diseases are becoming resistant to existing treatment.
Are alternatives being developed? And will they be available? 20-30 percent of the people in Siberian prisons are suffering from multiple forms of tuberculosis. There are new diseases where no treatment is available.
Pharmaceutical companies are not interested in developing new treatments for developing countries. According to the WHO, in 1998 there were 30 new diseases discovered with no treatment available.
The above has serious implications on the already poverty-stricken populations of developing countries."
Another speaker (I did not get her name) spoke about how "for centuries, developed countries have been copying industrial processes from other developed countries. After this has happened the developed country that did the copying then set up its own patent laws."
Human Chain to Break the Chains of Global Debt
Service and March
After this I went back to the United Methodist Church to see the end of the interfaith service on the Human Chain to Break the Chains of Global Debt prior to the Jubliee 2000 March from there to the Kingdome. There was singing followed by a very inspired group of dancers that I think were called Seeds of Liberation. Among other presentations, they acted out in a very compelling manner the situation of women farmers being tricked into signing away their rights to save and exchange seeds by corporate suits representing the "Life Sciences" monopolists. They also roamed throughout the audience chanting "Seeds are the source of life" and "People's movements are the source of resistance" while throwing out little packets of seeds to everyone (the ones I received were Red Orach) with the words,
Seeds of Liberation
All creation is sacred.
Seeds, plants, animals and micro-organisms are our common heritage and not private property. Any claim to own or patent life is a theft from and a cultural assault on indigenous people. Indigenous peoples, farmers and women seed-keepers have the right to save, share and exchange seeds and medical plants.
Seeds are the source of life.
People's movements are the source of resistance.
Adapted from the Indigenous Peoples' statement on the Trade-Related aspects of Intellectual Property Rights of the WTO agreement.
Then two women came on to talk about Jubilee 2000 The first was from Africa. She asked everyone who is a mother to please stand up. Then she asked the same of everyone who is a father. Then for everyone who is an uncle or an aunt. I forget who else she asked. Then she asked that all the children in the church be brought up to the stage. She said she was extremely angry -- and that she didn't normally do this. But she wanted to make the point that the human beings who suffer the most from the financial debt being levied on the world -- particularly the world of the south -- are the children. Her words and her delivery were extremely powerful, evoking deep emotions and feelings. She cited periods of forgiveness such as the sabbath, being a day in every 7, where people would let the land rest, as well as -- and here is where I am not remembering well -- periods of 7 years and 7 times 7 years. She described global events both 7 and 49 years ago that were related to the forgiveness of financial debts. Then the second woman [I think she was from Ireland or some place in the U.K.] spoke about some of the specific details of the Jubilee 2000 movement and progress.
When I had come back to the Church from the Essential Medicines workshop there was a large mass of people out in front on the street all the way over to the building across the way's entrance with a more concentrated area -- from the far sidewalk to this other building's entrance -- filled with people drumming and dancing. When the interfaith service concluded we all joined the mass of people outside. It was raining slightly but the mood was extremely buoyant and charged with positiveness. The drumming was if anything more spirited from across the street and the sea of people now had swelled to a much larger size. Pamela and Jeremy had followed-through with their commitment to perform the role of peacekeepers while I had wanted the flexibility to move around throughout the afternoon (they needed to report much earlier to complete preparations).
Walking from the Church however many blocks it was to the Kingdome was a richly inspiring experience. Looking as far backwards as I could at one point at least 7 or 8 blocks, the sea of people filling the road was magnificent. People were up in buildings and on roadways overhead watching it all go by. Many were waving.
When we arrived at the Kingdome we were divided in two directions, half going to the left and half to the right. As I had learned at the peacekeeping workshop on Saturday, we were not going to be able to completely encircle the Kingdome because its far side bordered an Exhibition Hall where the WTO delegates were having their reception that night. We had learned there would be a lot of security around the Exhibition Hall and that the Human Chain would be completed by having something like 14 people with ropes linking up through the inside of the Kingdome to the farthest-most ends of marchers that came down each side closest to where the barricades stopped further movement any closer towards the Exhibition Hall. There was a period of stillness and singing and then it started to break up. The estimate was that 30,000 people participated in this march.
We've got to stop and turn around and we've got to do nothing less than overthrow the permanent government of the transnational corporations. This is difficult and we shouldn't hide from ourselves the difficulty because we've got to make a huge leap towards common action which transcends not just nationality, which is already hard enough -- but we did a pretty good job of that during the MAI struggle -- but we've also got to transcend all the other boundaries; all the boundaries of age, of class, of race, of gender -- all special interests. Because we can win if we pledge ourselves to each other because history is handing us an enormous opportunity and we've got to seize it. We are the actors who can create a real victory for international democracy and we're going to start doing that tonight against the WTO.
Tuesday, November 30
Labor and Human Rights Day
Big Rally and March for Fair Trade
Despite all the rain that had been falling on Seattle leading up to this week, Tuesday was remarkably clear and bright with sun and blue sky as well as some clouds. The Big Rally and March for Fair Trade began at 10am at the Seattle Memorial Stadium next to the Space Needle. Pamela, Jeremy and I arrived at around 10:30. Things were running at a roiling boil. A mass of people were on the stadium "floor" as well as up in the stands and surrounding areas from the entrance on. We listened to many speakers up in the stands for more than an hour and then went down to the floor where all the turtle people were assembled in their own group as Pam wanted to march with the turtles. Sometime after high noon we started moving out en masse to the parking area in front of the stadium. It took about an hour for those of us next to the turtles to actually be able to begin marching onto Broad Street [I think it was].
The energy was again extremely upbeat and warm. It felt very connected being amongst so many where looking someone else in the eyes was possible and the gaze (and many smiles) would be returned. There were quite a number of people along the march route looking from the sidewalks, some cheering and waving, others at least smiling, as well as many people up in buildings. There were construction sites where people were working and they would take time out to wave and respond to the cheers from the marchers directed at their laboring, honest work.
By the middle of the afternoon we had made it into more of the central downtown [I wish I had kept track of what streets we were on]. Pamela urged us to reconnoiter one block over to where we could see people standing and filling the entire space of that intersection. I helped a friend of Pamela's who had come from Oregon for the day's events up onto my shoulders so she could look into the throng of people and tell us what was happening. She described a circle of about 10 people sitting on the ground in the center of the intersection. Her sense that it was some sort of Direct Action demonstration
If I remember correctly (and I may well have this wrong) across the intersection on one corner was the Hilton Hotel. There were people standing, some dressed in suits, who were watching all this on steps leading down to the street from a corner entrance into the building. Something like a bottle-rocket shot up and traveled through the air near this corner leaving a smokey trail. Immediately many people raised up one or two hands with fingers pointing to the sky in the peace sign. I did this as well and felt the sentiment of the mass of people here being, "There will not be violence. We will continue shutting down this intersection and there will be no violence."
But there was already spray-paint on the glass of the Niketown building on the left-corner of our side (which would be straight-forward enough to remove with razor blades) as well as on the rock-veneer-faced surfaces framing the glass windows (not trivial to remove). Various younger-looking people had climbed up on some overhangs of the corner building to our right (10 feet or so above the sidewalks) and appeared to be waiting for something. Later Pamela (who has been fighting the good fight for something like 30 years) said she felt a very familiar young, male, macho energy brewing while we were taking all this in to which I asked, "Oh, you mean like the West Side Story movie?" "Exactly" she said.
My own sense of the dynamics of how things fell apart was that the initial physical damage that was visited upon the downtown incited the police to go overboard in their counter-response rampage which produced a spiraling escalation of tension and confrontation. The last thing the people in the intersection we briefly observed would have done to communicate the message they were expressing would have been to start destroying glass storefronts or looting buildings. The perpetrators of this destructive expression were younger kids, bored with nothing better to do, some pseudo "anarchists from Eugene" (who by their own statements did not understand what actual anarchy would embody and manifest), and most assuredly people acting in the same classic agent provocateur mode (ie, setting up the excuse to act) as those who lit the Reichstag Fire in Germany in 1933 which the NAZI party then cited as justification for carrying out the next escalated level of oppression against Jewish and other "non-Aryan" people. It was probably an hour to two after we left that intersection that it became on of the places where the violence started to pick up.
Words in the 500-plus page GATT rules need to be rewritten and redefined. Whatever affects all should be decided by all. The WTO agreement is the ultimate climax in the wrong direction -- of what life is about and how you measure growth. WTO says: if what you produce is just for your country then you are not producing anything. You must import and export everything you produce and consume.
Public Debate on Globalization
and the World Trade Organization
We finished our part of the march around 4pm and finally took a cab home as there were not many busses running given the way the downtown had been closed off for the day's march. We wanted to come back to the Debate on Globalization and the WTO happening that night at the Town Hall but started to see on the TV how things were heating up in the downtown and then learned how a curfew was going into effect starting at 7pm. Since the Town Hall was on the edge of the curfew zone we decided to go back in a car and see if we could get in. After waiting outside for close to an hour we were able to get in a few minutes before the debate began. (Again, I must apologize for the scattered nature of my notes -- they are quite incomplete. My convention of applying quotation marks is simply identifying a transcription of my own notes -- they are not necessarily accurate in representing precisely what was said by each speaker.)
Ralph Nader, Vandana Shiva and John Cavanagh (Institute for Policy Studies) challenged Jagdish Bhagwati (Columbia University), Scott Miller (Proctor & Gamble) and David Aaron (Undersecretary of Commerce for International Trade) on "the issues of globalization, liberalization and international trade, and models provided by the WTO to facilitate trade on a global scale." For the beginning each person made an opening statement.
John Cavanagh was first up, talking about "Corporate Managed Trade" and "its devastating impact on people citing that two-thirds of humanity has been left out or marginalized by corporate globalization." He stressed that "investments and trade flows expand but wages continue to fall." Citing the new IFG report, AFTER THE WTO: Turning Away from Failure - A Special Report on New Rules for a Citizens' Millennial Agenda, he called for "downsizing and scaling back globalization structures and instead, expanding national and local control. There are alternatives."
David Aaron was next. He said that "trade must reflect our deeper values and that the WTO conducts too much business in private."
Then Vandana Shiva spoke about her country of India where there is "a 30% increase in imported soybean and more and more people pushed into poverty. The people do not want trade controlled by global corporations. The rules of WTO are wrong rules. They are coercive and unjust. Changing them will protect and defend people who are currently being impoverished, suffering the destruction of their livelihoods." She spoke of the necessity for "calling on a freeze on implementations, that social and ecological audits must be performed. The rules of agriculture were written to protect Cargill; the rules of Intellectual Property Rights were written to protect Monsanto. We want a return to national sovereignty. Patenting is forcing countries like India to disassemble its own medicine industries. We want economic democracy at the local, national, and global levels."
Scott Miller spoke next. He said that "Trade is a powerful force for raising living standards. Many nations choose to join the WTO voluntarily. They join based on their own interests. Trade creates faster growth of the economy. One of the great benefits of such a trading organization is the benefit of peace. With the end of the Cold War and technological change, the economic system is changing faster than the political or social one. Debate needs to be increasingly open to deal with the issues confronting us."
Ralph Nader spoke about the "re-education of David Aaron and Bill Clinton. Child labor is producing imports to the United States. Our courts are open to press and public. None of that is available in the closed tribunals in Geneva. Now they're making them a little more accountable. `A voluntary association' -- Washington D.C. voluntarily gave up more of its sovereignty running massive trade deficits for 22 of the last 29 years. These trade agreements subordinate consumer interests. They are producing an homogenization of the world's economic trade practices. This is not free trade. The GATT agreement is 500-plus pages; it articulates corporate power.
Jagdish Bhagwati followed. One of his credentials has been the role he has played as an "offshore advisor to the GATT." He said that the "fear people have [of the WTO] is not justified."
Then a question-and-answer session ensued.
Vandana Shiva: "Food safety and security should be left to countries to decide. At the global level, the ability to make such decisions only further food hazards.
Ralph Nader: "We are seeing a `Corporate monetized mind" having too much power here and around the world."
Vandana Shiva: "Words in the 500-plus page GATT rules need to be rewritten and redefined. Whatever affects all should be decided by all. The WTO agreement is the ultimate climax in the wrong direction -- of what life is about and how you measure growth. WTO says: if what you produce is just for your country then you are not producing anything. You must import and export everything you produce and consume."
John Cavanagh: "Seattle is democratizing the globalization debate in the next century."
Ralph Nader spoke of the environment, worker, and consumer and that none subordinate the other.
There was, of course, so very much more to this. At some point the hope is to to create or mirror a text transcript of this entire event.
The WTO has made an absolutely brilliant end-run around local and national governments. Exercising a centralized, autocratic system of control, with tribunals in Geneva, no public transcript, secret, this is an expression of the `monetized mind'. The scope of the power-grab by corporate globalization is so vast, we need a countering set of civic ideals.
Wednesday, December 1
Women, Democracy, Sovereignty,
and Development Day
The Ownership of Life, When Patents and Values Clash
No Patents on Life!
On this day I attended the all-day No Patents on Life! workshop (this was the title on the podium -- different from that given on the program: "No Patents On Life: A Workshop About The Trips Agreement") sponsored by: The Council for Responsible Genetics (CRG), The Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP), The Third World Network (TWN), The Tebtebba Foundation, and the Washington Biotechnology Action Council (WashBAC).
After I arrived downtown by bus in the morning, I was initially challenged by a man wearing a sheriff's uniform along a police/sheriff line as I tried to walk up University from 4th up to 6th Avenue. He asked me what my business was being there. I showed him the program for the workshop and explained my interest in attending it. He let me pass but 100 feet or so further along a policeman inside the block stopped me, asked the same question, received my response and then said I could not proceed. When I asked how could I get up to the Plymouth Congregational Church on 6th and University he said i'd have to ask a man in police uniform back at the corner of 4th Avenue.
I approached this man and explained my purpose. He was tense and said he couldn't help me. I stood waiting, not knowing what else to do. In a few minutes a small march (perhaps 100-200 people) came along 4th both in the street and on the sidewalk heading south against traffic. They passed by without any outburst from either side. After a few more minutes of waiting I again approached the man apparently in charge, asked him once more if I could go up to 6th and University. He now said, "Go ahead."
Because I was not a Seattle resident -- other people were being allowed to through who appeared to be going to work -- and, I assume, because I have "long hair", I was viewed as a possible threat during the time before this group of marchers went past 4th at University.
It was a great relief to get into the Church. Phil Bereano (CRG) gave the welcome and introduced Tony Mazocchi, of the Paper, Allied-Industrial, Chemical and Energy Workers who gave the opening words. He talked about how "we have to be prudent and it has to be demonstrated that it is safe to proceed. There must be creation and promotion of linkage between labor workers in toxic polluting industries with the community at large. Reduce the esoteric nature of this debate and reduce it to terms the general public can understand and appreciate. Develop powerful forces to counter the powerful forces pushing genetic technologies."
Jonathan King of CRG was Moderator for the first section, The Historical Context: From Chakrabarty To Trips. Jonathan spoke of the "current drive of patent monopolies never before encountered in human history, of the monopoly control of food itself. Representing theft on a global scale", he suggested a more apt name would be the World Theft Organization.
Carlos Correa (Argentina) spoke next on "TRIPs negotiations: The story of the Uruguay Round". He started out describing the "history of Trade-Related Intellectual Property Rights Paris Convention of 1883 which left lots of freedom to individual countries. In that time period, patents were used only to monopolize imports. In the 1970s countries proposed additions to the Paris Convention to allow transfer of technologies. During the 1980s the code of conduct of TNCs was not to facilitate transfer of technology but rather to expand protection in certain areas -- to strengthen and expand the Intellectual Property System. The results of this were:
Research transferred from public to private companies the emergence of so many new technology systems
the creation of powerful lobbies (eg, U.S. government, E.U.) to link intellectual property and trade and to apply trade sanctions.
"In 1982 the U.S. formally proposed GATT to develop this system. In 1984, Section 301 of the Trade Act authorized the U.S. government to sanction against countries that were not requiring IPRs. Negotiation of the TRIPs agreement were very untransparent (10 countries were involved). There was no negotiation -- nothing given in exchange -- only concessions were made. We need to get much more balance into the TRIPs agreement."
Kristin Dawkins (IATP) speaking about "Farmers' Rights: the International Undertaking" described an "alternative arena where TRIPs are being negotiated -- the realm of contesting TRIPs. Farmers rights are a priori rights. They don't need to be re-negotiated. Innovations have been made for at least 10,000 years without recognition or protection. By 1983 it was clear there needed to be some kind of legislation to protect farmer's rights. In 1989 the International Undertaking on Plant Genetic Resources Treaty internationally recognized past, present, and future contributions of farmers. In 1994 another International treaty needed to be renegotiated but the U.S. blocked progress and was obstinate. In April, 1999, with the International Undertaking for Genetics of Food and Agriculture, concessions were made, and new language was presented for farmer's rights (that is not final, not yet binding). The present text says these rights are vested in national governments."
Maggie Chon, Associate Professor at Seattle University spoke next on "What's a patent? Who was Chakrabarty?" and "what these devices are." She stated her intent to present a "translation aspect of this work (so it's understandable)." She also pointed out that the material she was going to cover normally fills a many-week course she has taught. "The debate is between those in favor of high or low protection for consumer goods. IPRs are limited rights created by the state. The avowed purpose is to create incentive for innovations. A patent is a grant awarded by the state. It confers the right to make, use, or sell and exclude everyone else from doing the same thing. A patent is granted and in return, public disclosure is provided."
She then went into how to get a patent under U.S. law and described aspects of the 1980 Supreme Court ruling known as Chakrabarty (Diamond v. Chakrabarty, 447 U.S. 303 (1980)). Ananda Mohan Chakrabarty, an employee of General Electric, had developed a bacteria that could digest oil. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office rejected the application under the traditional legal doctrine that life forms (`products of nature') are not patentable. The case was appealed to the Supreme Court that handed down a 5-4 decision that life was indeed patentable, stating that the `relevant distinction [in patentability] is not between living and inanimate things, but whether living products could be seen as `human-made inventions'.
According to the Supreme Court, up to Chakrabarty living organisms fell within the subject matter categories of Section 101 of U.S. patent laws. There are four subject matter categories in Section 101. She described the four keys to unlock to get a patent: 1)subject matter, 2) novelty, 3) utility, and 4) non-obviousness. With Chakrabarty the Supreme Court caused the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to implement a policy of broad patent protection for microorganisms, plants and multicellular organisms, including animals.
At the end of her time Maggie was discussing the difference between U.S. copyright law and patent law. "In copyright law, there is a doctrine/defense known as `fair use,' which allows people to use otherwise protected material for purposes such as criticism, comment, newsreporting, education, etc. In U.S. patent law, there are very few ways for the public to access the patented invention; the U.S. patent system does not have march-in rights for, let's say, a drug that would save many lives. So in a way, this shows that the value we place on expressive rights or freedom of expression (as codified in the fair use doctrine in copyright law) is greater than the value we place on socioeconomic rights (as evidenced by the lack of compulsory licensing or other access rights in patent law)." (There was much more Maggie described here!)
Doreen Stabinsky (CRG) followed speaking about the "History of plant patenting" and the "history of Intellectual Property protection in the U.S. over plants." She described "three inventions:
passage of the "Plant Patent Act" in 1930 passage of the "Plant Variety Protection Act" in 1970
in 1985, following the Chakrabarty decision, it was decided plants are indeed patentable.
"The 1930 Act gave a 17-year monopoly protection (for a-sexual varieties of plant and food crops). Congress said food crops shall not be patented. The 1970 Act covered the rest of the plants in the world with 2 exemptions: research protection and an exemption allowing farmers to continue to save and sell seed."
Jonathan King then pointed out that the U.S. Constitution does not have the word "patent" in it. The first patent laws were written by Thomas Jefferson as the first Secretary of State.
Cecilia Oh (Third World Network) spoke next about "TRIPs'99 review: What's at stake in Seattle." She said she would examine three areas: "1)the TRIPs agreement, 2) what Article 27.3b actually means, and 3) what the situation is now. Article 27.3(b) of the TRIPs agreement tries to deal with the issue of patenting life forms and protection of plant varieties. Corporations wanted a means of protecting their investments and research. Currently, Article 27.3(b) must be implemented by countries by January 1, 2000. Developing countries are stating we want to change this and we don't want to patent life."
Cecilia described something called the African Group Proposal (supported by TWN) explaining that African countries said "We don't understand Article 27.3(b) which tries to make the distinction between micro organisms -- which are patentable -- and plant and animals which are not. We want 27.3(b) amended so there shall be no patenting of life. And community farmer's rights must also be protected." Her final comment was that TRIPs is supposed to impose an International standard on IPRs (where patents are only given jurisdiction domestically.)
In the question-and-comment for this session, Jonathan King mentioned something called the "Blue Mountain Statement - No Patents on Life" (which I have not been able to track down yet). Cecilia Oh said "While there are no property rights to be given for life, we want recognition of ownership by countries in the south." And someone asked about the difference between the rights accorded for copyright to which Maggie Chon responded explaining the difference of between copyright protection and 1st amendment rights versus patents.
Vandana Shiva began session two, The Problems With Patents: Why We Are Campaigning with her talk on "Biopiracy: Raping and Pillaging the South." She described "What we need to do as an action plan over the next 5 years is a Campaign Against Biopiracy. We can only make International change if it is rooted deeply with mobilization on the ground. We must ensure laws at the local, national, and international level that criminalize biopiracy. How many patent laws are being implemented nationally in each country? We must successfully engage and wage a campaign to stop biopiracy from the bottom up. A Declaration of biodiversity and indigenous knowledge is ours locally in each collective local sovereignty. It must include how we relate to other species. We must not rest until we have changed the laws of the U.S. with respect to Chakrabarty.
Michael Sligh, (Rural Advancement Foundation International) then spoke about the "Impact on Farmers". "We are concerned about the impact of new technologies on rural communities. There are three important trends here:
the loss of genetic diversity
with one of the single largest contributors being the green revolution;
the rapid concentration in control over the seed (Life Sciences) industry
40% of U.S. vegetables come from one company;
the loss of farmer's rights
there is a transformation taking place of farmer's as breeders of their own seed supplies to farmers as renters of germ plasm.
"Where does the industry want to go? Traitor Technologies are defined to be `genetic use-restriction technologies. They do not increase productivity or pest control. Regarding WTO, there are 147 reasons to cancel the WTO's requirements for patent rights of plant varieties. Plant patents are predatory upon the breeding work of farmers world wide. The human spirit is stronger than corporate greed or government incompetence."
A system of conditionality and reciprocity is needed. Corporate science violates the basic tenets of academic, open science. Its priority is not truth, it is media-marketability. A challenge to the 1980 Supreme Court Chakrabarty ruling is about to be launched which challenges the authority of the U.S. Patent Office itself. Ownership of the commonwealth of our planet is intolerable.
Bill Christison (President, National Family Farm Coalition (NFFC)) was next to speak describing the work the NFFC was engaged in with other groups on mounting anti-trust suits. He described the "four problems with GMOs being health, environmental, social and economic. Family farmers are leaving the land. Our goal is food for people produced by family farm agriculture. Family farmers may be turned into contract producers if proponents of the WTO have their way. We need to change the way corporations treat people around the world."
John Kinsman (NFFC), a family dairy farmer from Wisconsin, followed. He explained how they were attempting to "operate one-third below operating costs. This is a human rights issue. How can we stop it and mobilize around the world? Corporations are moving people off the land to complete their control of food. As long as farmers are on the land, they still hold great power. The conflict-of-interest of corporations with government is staggering. We are trying to start new local cooperatives and educating congress people. Buy right as a way of voting with dollars."
Debra Harry (Indigenous Peoples' Council on Biocolonialism (IPCB)) followed John speaking on "The flawed ethics of human genetics research". She began with the statement that "the issue of patents on human genetics is the ultimate breach of commodification. True genetic diversity is still more active and alive in indigenous global outposts. With such flimsy ethics, what protects people in the face of such commodification? Starting with the Nuremberg Code -- benefits have to equal the risks. What happens when those laws and ethics come into conflict with economics? We must take a stand as people to take action, declaring our territories and our people are life-form patent-free zones. Our rights to self-determination are not being recognized internationally in the countries we are in. Public funds are being used to facilitate private ownership of life. That's what western intellectual property law is."
Kim Wilson (CRG) spoke next on "How patents stifle scientific research". She pointed out that "gene patents are impeding access to affordable medicines. Patented pathogenes -- companies that own the cause of as well as the cure of diseases. What are we seeing? Increased cost, less availability, data sharing is no longer happening."
Tony Kasper (Doctors Without Borders) spoke on "The cost of essential drugs" about "making access to medicines linked with patenting life forms and how patents are taking lives. 16 million died in the last 20 years from HIV. While people in developed nations can get drugs to delay death by years or decades, people in developing countries cannot purchase such medicines.
Next in Session Three, the focus was on Alternatives To Patents, What We Are Campaigning For. Debra Harry was the moderator and opened with the question, "What are possible solutions people have envisioned?"
Tewolde Berhan Gebre Egziabher (general manager, Environmental Protection Authority, Ethiopia) spoke on the topic of "CBD, FAO, and TRIPs". He began talking about "the industrial revolution and privatization. And how the same is being extended globally through Intellectual Property Rights protection. When it was first developed (like a sewing machine), it seemed fair. Something new had been invented. But the definition of invention changed to include an `invented step', and from that, now anything can be `invented'. This is unfair because it enables claiming something that is not valid and it also disrupts the lives of people in their local communities."
"What are we doing to fight this? Using the Convention on Biopiracy, we need some legal convention(s). With so many troubles in the world `the glue' can very possibly come from people in their local communities.
"With the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), use only with the permission of the holders of the knowledge of biological diversity. Protection of community rights must also be formalized -- particularly farmer's rights -- and is being done through the UN's Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO). The pressure has to come from within states. We need national laws recognizing community rights. So far the life that exists should not be claimed as an invention.
"Genetic engineering is being used to justify the patenting of life. The U.S. is trying to defend this position at all costs. Europe is apparently also supporting the U.S. now. If this working group is formed, GE and Biosafety will be included in the debate of how to facilitate trade of and on GMOs. The world is being forced into accepting trade in GE products.
"Globally we should continue arguing in international forums about this. Noticeable change and rate of awareness has increased markedly in just the past few months. This could double by January." Again, as when I listened to Tewolde on Saturday night, I was struck by the magnificent understanding and insights of this man. His clear awareness, both of the given situation as well as feasible, workable strategies to remedy and set things right, and his way of articulating all this was very inspiring to take in and experience. And I am deeply grateful for his relaxed delivery and mastery of the art of public speaking. Such delivery makes possible more complete note-taking.
Shalini Bhutani (Diverse Women for Diversity) described the horrendous situation relating to "Geographical Indications: The Case of Basmati Rice." "Basmati is linked with patents and plant breeder rights. But they can't patent rice -- this violates the intellectual integrity of farmers in India who have been growing and developing this for centuries. We are not looking only at where it comes from. We filed a case in the Supreme Court of India in 1998 about what the government intended to do about this patent. I learned from a teacher while being a law student: convince, else confuse, else corrupt the judge."
As small farmers we're against the rise of importation. Resistance begins in the fight against GMOs. It is important that farmers must be in the first line of these demonstrations against GMOs, to stop further development and production of GMOs. This is a global fight -- we all have to participate.
Next, Vicky Tauli-Corpuz spoke on "Community Rights." "What Indigenous Peoples are campaigning for: to help Indigenous Peoples understand more clearly about IPRs and patenting of life forms. To understand the TRIPs agreement and participate in influencing what changes need to be made. Protecting, nurturing, and using our own natural resources is what we need to do. Article 27.3(b) tries to make a distinction between plants and animals -- that can't be patented -- and micro organisms -- that can be patented. Regarding this way of distinguishing essential biological processes, we don't recognize these distinctions.
"We call for the review of the substance of the TRIPs agreement. We are demanding the following:
"The UN, WTO, TRIPs should be more willing to explore alternative forms of protecting the rights of indigenous peoples. We call for other definitions of ideas like `knowledge,' for a distinction between `formal knowledge' and `informal knowledge.' This knowledge should not be appropriated through any corporate system. This model of an IPRs system does not represent our interest or protect our knowledge as indigenous peoples and we reject them."
- no patenting of life forms,
- no distinctions between different forms of life,
- respect the rights of indigenous people and their knowledge.
After lunch Ralph Nader gave the Keynote Speech: The Privatization Of Life. He opened with a quote from Cicero, "Freedom is participation in power." "As the world becomes increasingly corporatized, it's good to know a little history here regarding knowledge and the existence of the commonwealth.
"The WTO has made an absolutely brilliant end-run around local and national governments. Exercising a centralized, autocratic system of control, with tribunals in Geneva, no public transcript, secret, this is an expression of the `monetized mind'. The scope of the power-grab by corporate globalization is so vast, we need a countering set of civic ideals.
"Seeds, food, regenerative nature, is a commonwealth. This means a proprietary interest cannot distort its value. We need a global structure of thought to counter corporate globalism. There are many episodes in human history where concentrations of power were considered invincible, but then were overthrown when the people were informed and organized. Corporate global power is nothing compared to the informed mobilized power of the citizen. The degree of organization Bill Clinton is seeing now in Seattle" (to use a sports phrase) "`has legs'.
"With biotech we are confronting conversion of the genetic resources of the world into corporate-owned patent monopolies. Everything that is not counter-veiled by the commonwealth is not `privatization' but `corporatization'. The trends and risks we are witnessing of ecological, consumer, and spiritual mass media provides clinical Exhibit 1 of mass insanity. We have to expand our own civic media. Public funding should be made much more conducive to the commonwealth.
"A system of conditionality and reciprocity is needed. Corporate science violates the basic tenets of academic, open science. Its priority is not truth, it is media-marketability. A challenge to the 1980 Supreme Court Chakrabarty ruling is about to be launched which challenges the authority of the U.S. Patent Office itself. Ownership of the commonwealth of our planet is intolerable.
"People need to perceive a purpose to their lives that is larger than themselves." Ralph cited the new book Genetically Engineered Food: Changing the Nature of Nature and read from the Forward he contributed. He went on to pose a series of questions starting with: "Why does Monsanto want to promote these biotechnologies? To make more sales. Why does it want to make more sales? To increase its stock share value? Why . . ." Playing this out to its final purpose, "To make more and more money . . . And that is the reason for this pursuit of changing the Nature of Nature.
"The TRIPs agreement purpose is converting the resources of the planet into intellectual property and patenting them for 20 years. This is the corporate proprietary model: monopoly and exclusivity. One strategy for challenging this model is for each state and place around the world, make a list of all laws endangered by GATT. This will energize the constituencies of the given law. Then propose something likely to be called GATT-illegal to likewise emphasize the chilling effect of the WTO influence globally."
Next, session five focused on Imposing A Patent System On The World. David Hathaway (AS-PTA) began describing the situation in Brazil. "In the 1970s under the military dictatorship, Brazil passed a nationalistic law prohibiting patenting. Only with the new 1995-based TRIPs agreement, countries were told they have to patent everything. A new patent bill in Brazil (1996) has removed any restrictions on food products, pharmaceuticals, and metalurgy."
Michelle Swenarchuk (Canadian Environmental Law Association) spoke next about the "Biosafety Protocol and the failure where Canada has taken the deplorable lead in furthering this."
Then Christine von Weisacker (Ecoropa) described how, in the E.U., "historically, legislation was enacted to protect the weak against the strong. With TRIPs, the reverse has occurred. NGOs challenged the road into patents." She cited a study that asked children, "Who do plants and animals belong to? The 3 most common answers were, 1. God. 2. Themselves. 3. People who take care of them."
In the question-and-answer for this session, someone made the point about "questioning continued use of the term `intellectual property' -- most of the medicinal research comes from tax dollars, and then the government gives a specific company exclusive patent rights to produce and profit from this research." Another person: "The most important things invented in the past 10,000 years have not been patented and the human race would be much better off without patents." Christine von Weisacker responded at one point that "nobody learns alone. So `private intellectuality' is an oxymoron." She also went on to emphasize the significant need for "understanding that new organization decisions will be buried in the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO)  in Geneva."
I was not able to stay for all of session six, Post-Seattle Strategies, but it started out with Cecilia Oh speaking on "Renegotiating TRIPS". She cited "things to do organizing and protesting: Biopiracy of biotechnology and biosafety plant varieties. The Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) -- tries to protect the world's biological resources. Article 8j of CBD -- how to ensure indigenous peoples will have their knowledge and rights preserved. GE foods -- labelling? Prevent GMOs from coming into countries. Protect the right to know, the right to decide. Help indigenous peoples and local communities. If biopiracy is happening, inform networks of indigenous peoples and local communities that it is happening and mobilize them."
Jonathan King spoke about "outreach, education and communication. Sign the No Patents on Life! petition electronically on the CRG site. CRG will soon launch a `No Patents' Listserv. Living creatures are outside patent and personal property systems. Reclaim the natural world to protect it and sustain it."
One of the most lethal primary sources of runaway corporate greed is the entire "Life Sciences" industry -- although everything they do is anti-life -- comprised of Biotech companies like Monsanto, Novartis AG, Diversa, AstraZeneca PLC, DuPont, Aventis S.A. In a number of events speakers made the point that the TNCs pushing the further development of GE foods and GMOs are extremely vulnerable to a global-backlash of unprecedented proportions. For example, see
- "Mounting Evidence of Genetic Pollution from GE Crops Growing Evidence of Widespread GMO Contamination", by Kellyn S. Bett, Environmental Science and Technology Journal, 12/1/99
- "Burger King & McDonald's Worried About Serving GE Potatoes", Farmers Weekly, 3 December 1999 (UK)
- "US Biotech Companies Panic, Launch Major Propaganda Effort", by David Barboza, New York Times Corporation, 11/12/99
- "Biotech industry attacked" by Jane Martinson, UK Guardian, 10/13/99
A good way to begin participating in this campaign is to urge everyone you know to sign the No Patents on Life! petition (either thru e-mail or by sending e-mail to CRG via firstname.lastname@example.org with names and addresses and CRG will send them a brochure via regular mail). And read and share the Genetically Engineered Food: Changing the Nature of Nature book with everyone you can. These actions will help increase the momentum of this campaign to widen the vulnerability breach corporate globalization is deeply susceptible to. Just as it was in Seattle when the "Millennium Round" that the WTO Ministerial expected to formalize was stopped dead by the intense visibility all the people there caused to be applied to this autocratic system of attempted corporate hegemony.
Thursday, December 2
Food and Agriculture Day
Farmer's Breakfast and Press Conference
The subtitle on the 1-page flyer of the schedule of events for Thursday was An International Summit of Farmers and Advocacy Groups on the WTO and Agriculture. Pamela had signed up to help with the breakfast for Farmer's being given in the United Methodist Church so we arrived before 7:30. In concert with the breakfast there was a Farmer's Press Conference from 8:30 to almost 10am in which "Farmers and producers from around the world brief[ed] the media on how WTO impacts agriculture and rural communities. Speakers include[d] Jose Bose, French farmer and outspoken critic of agriculture globalization -- as well as farmers from the Phillipines, Japan, Korea, and the US."
I helped place almost 800 little receivers with headphones into the main church pews as there were speakers who did not speak English. These were used to simultaneously translate to most everyone in the audience what was being said.
The world grain supply is currently controlled by six companies. In India, agriculture land is open, for sale. `Free Trade' means one to two million farmers being displaced each year. 95 percent of the food is being grown by corporations.
WTO, Corporate Control and the Ravaging of the Countryside
There were three panel presentations in the morning plenary session that ran from from 10 am to 12 noon. The first was on WTO, Corporate Control and the Ravaging of the Countryside. Vandana Shiva was one of the moderators. She opened with a few observations including "In a globalized world it is everyone's ecological space that is being trampled on. . . After getting home from here, we have to build a democracy movement."
Walden Bello spoke next about how, in Southeast Asia, "there is a great deal of apprehension about the current negotiations. We DON'T want new negotiations in agriculture. After five years of the Uruguay agreement, there has been so much dumping from the U.S. and Europe in the Phillipines that millions of people have been moved from the land." As many people had declared through the week, Walden was very explicit with his statement that "Agriculture should be taken out of the WTO and the WTO should get the hell out of Seattle."
Nelson Carrasquillo (Farmworker Action Committee) described how "Agribusiness is reducing the cost of labor while the cost of work is already well below the current cost of living. The WTO agreement on Agriculture is in the interest of agribusiness." He was emphatic about the necessity that "there must be an alliance between small farmers and farm workers."
Anuradha Mittal (Policy Director, Food First and IFG Associate) spoke with deep concern and keen incisiveness about how "the world grain supply is currently controlled by six companies. In India, agriculture land is open, for sale. `Free Trade' means one to two million farmers being displaced each year. 95 percent of the food is being grown by corporations."
Nettie Wiebe (National Farmers Union, Canada) described how "Canada, over the last decade, doubled export of agri-food products. Canadian farmers themselves have suffered a serious decline in income. Farmers are losing their farms. In 1988 $29 billion was the total income for farmers throughout Canada. Ten years later, in 1998, Cargill made $75 billion in profits throughout all of Canada." She emphasized the critical fact to always keep in heart and mind is "The land is not inherited from our ancestors, it is borrowed from our children."
Then there was an unscheduled appearance by Ralph Nader who took the podium and described how "all of you people here have decentralized yourselves. This issue has now broken through the national and international media in a way that will never be suppressed again. Avaricious corporate autocrats is what we're dealing with. Without the taxpayer, there would be no agriculture or biotech industry." He again quoted Cicero with "Freedom is Participation in Power."
What Are We Trading Away: Food Security and Food Safety
The second panel presentation opened with Ruchi Tripahti (ActionAid, India) who spoke about the fact that "three-quarters of the people in developing countries are farmers." Regarding the issue of food security, Ruchi emphasized that "the agreement on Agriculture is about double-standards -- one for the rich and one for the poor. This is not `Free Trade' -- it's fixed trade and monopoly. In this system, there are three things countries are supposed to do:
The Market Access Provision
Countries are supposed to open their borders. This is true for developing countries but it is not true for the OECD [Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development]. In Sri Lanka 3,000 farmers have been pushed off their land.
The new rules state `you have to stop funding your farmers.'
With this, countries have to stop funding exports to make them cheaper -- this has a direct link with dumping. Women produce 60-80% of the food in the developing countries. Yet their voice is not being heard in the debate.
Doreen Stabinsky (CRG) focused on What Are We Trading Away? "Europe and the U.S. are in a struggle on Regulatory Procedures. Europe is urging the Precautionary Principle approach while the U.S. is claiming that `Sound Science' should prevail. The fundamental question in all this is Who bears the burden of proof? Under the Precautionary Principle the producers bears the responsibility. Under Sound Science it is the country importing the products that has to prove it is a danger.
"Concerning the Biosafety Protocol, the U.S. and a small group of allies are arguing that all regulation of GMOs should be based on Sound Science. But the majority of world countries are arguing for adherence to the Precautionary Principle; that it be applied to the regulation of all GMOs." Doreen stated her conclusion that "The objection must be to the fundamental misappropriation of legitimate sound science."
Farhad Mahzar (UBINIG, Bangladesh) followed, opening with the unequivocal statement that "we must all say No to WTO. Whatever comes out of this negotiation does not represent the interests of the people in Bangladesh. WTO is destroying the last source of food security in the world. Every culture is not a sector of the `industrial system' -- it is a way of life."
Beyond Globalization: Toward a Socially Just Agriculture
The third panel opened with Peter Rosset (Executive Director, Food First) who was extremely demonstrative in his rousing people up with his spirited call to oppose the WTO-based corporate globalization that is destroying life in multiple dimensions for the sake of unconscionable profits for the very few.
Then Jean Bakole (Coalition of African Organisations for Food Security and Sustainable Development (COASAD), Africa) spoke about how "Agriculture in Africa has completely collapsed. We must have our own farming and food sovereignty. We must struggle against the WTO on a world-wide level. We must forge a world-wide alliance with all the farmers of the world."
Anne Scharwartz (Tilth Producers) followed, speaking about how environmental protection is intimately connected with food security.
Pamela is the Executive Director of Seattle Tilth, which promotes the art of organic gardening in an urban setting. She had been telling me about their work throughout the city and beyond. During the week so many spoke about the critical importance of supporting organic farming. When people say "But I can't afford it," they are not taking into account the true dimensions of the costs of commercially grown food produced by agribusiness. For example, all the chemical fertilizers, herbicides and pesticides used are costs to our biosphere that are externalized to the public. We pay for these costs in pollution, environmental degradation and further breakdown of the ecological health of the planet.
Next Jose Bose (European Farmers Union) spoke. "As small farmers we're against the rise of importation. Resistance begins in the fight against GMOs. It is important that farmers must be in the first line of these demonstrations against GMOs, to stop further development and production of GMOs. This is a global fight -- we all have to participate."
Vandana Shiva spoke once more in closing on "Our principles are based on diversity, defense of the rights of people, and respect for safety. Diversity of decentralization is at the core."
March / Rally: Support Family Farmers!
The morning session closed and we all again walked out of the church (as we'd done on Monday at noon and Monday night), assembled outside on the street and marched through town to Victor Steinbrueck Park near the Pike Place Market for a rally that included words from Vandana Shiva, Jim Hightower, Helen Waller (Norther Plains Resource Council), Ralph Nader, Alberto Villarreal (Friends of the Earth, Uruguay), Roger Allison (Missouri Rural Crisis Center), Al Krebs, (Corporate Research Project), and Corky Evans (Minister of Agriculture, British Columbia). The number of people was vast and the energy felt very committed and coherent.
Three-quarters of the people in developing countries are farmers. . . . Women produce 60-80% of the food in the developing countries. Yet their voice is not being heard in the debate.
What Are We Trading Away?
Food Security in a Global Economy
Three workshops commenced at the same time in the afternoon. The two I missed were The Impacts on Globalization on Food Safety (led by the Center for Science in the Public Interest) and Farmer and Farmworker Strategy led by Via Campesina and the National Family Farm Coalition. I decided to attend the workshop on What Are We Trading Away? Food Security in a Global Economy. Although my notes here a quite incomplete it was one of the most significant events I attended in the feelings I experienced about people coming together to talk about and consider the common problems we all face and are trying to resolve.
Helena Norberg-Hodge was one of the panelists. She described the three hats she wears -- on the Board of the IFL, a Director of the International Society for Ecology and Culture, and the head of Local Futures -- to point out that she is involved with different groups and at times it is difficult to adequately represent which group-focus she is speaking about or on behalf of. She described how "almost half of the global population is still living on the land. The IFG wants to stop further development of the global economy as it is currently organized.
"The local food movement needs the support of everyone. We must shorten the distance between consumers and farmers. The hidden subsidies for trade and distribution create the imbalances people are being devastated by. For example, local butter made in Ladakh costs much more than butter made in Germany and shipped to Ladakh. This is made possible by a complex of hidden subsidies that favor global trade networks."
Flavio Luiz Schieck Valente (Brazil), of Global Forum on Sustainable Food and Nutritional Security, emphasized how "we have to work in the most diverse way we can. Diverse networks make possibilities for building a new society."
Ana Toni (Brazil) of ActionAid spoke of the need to offset the movement towards Trade and Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPs). She spoke about how "groups working at the local level are seeking to expand and support actions like seed networks, and saving, re-using, and exchanging seeds. The attempt to transfer discussions on GMOs that belong in the Biodiversity Protocol negotiations into the WTO is one process we must stop."
Yannick Jadot (Solagral, French NGO) spoke about "food security, agriculture and environment, and seeking ways to create rules to respect diversity. Regarding GMOs, there is an E.C. biotech working group attempting to put biotech into the arena of `trade' and outside of health where it belongs. Concerning the global governance of agriculture, we need fair, intelligent global rules. Multi-functionality, a concept promoted by the E.U., goes beyond the function of agriculture. There are other functions including health, culture, environment. The promoters of multi-functionality are very ambiguous in what they are trying to defend and promote."
There was a period of comments and questions from the people attending. At one point Helena mentioned the May/June 1999 issue of The Ecologist on Beyond the Monoculture, Shifting from Global to Local which focuses on food sovereignty and food democracy. She cited the importance of "the empowerment of people for how they control the process. There are partnership mechanisms being used throughout the world in very informal ways. We must all rethink the problems to figure out how to resist and renew. Supporting the local food movement is very important. With the marriage between biotech and free trade everywhere the pattern is the same. The problem that is creating a multitude of problems.
Flavio spoke about "the landless movement in Brazil, of the exclusion of tens of millions of families in Brazil as a result of the green revolution. The strategy to reverse this is to occupy the land, produce food, and resist. One march, of 2,000 kilometers, had an effect on national policy. Anuradha talked about human rights, and the United Nations Committee on Human Rights -- financial institutions should abide by the Universal Declaration on Human Rights. When public opinion expresses itself by mobilizing in the streets, this is when changes take place."
Ana Toni commented that "to keep the fight going in Brazil, we must show the farmers an alternative to the GMOs being pushed."
There was a point when the moderator was inviting a mother near me (her teenage son was in tow and didn't seem particular interested to be there, but she clearly was) to ask her question. She rose saying she didn't actually have a question but began to speak about experiences on the farm her family struggles on in Oregon state (she mentioned they had also farmed in southern Africa and another place I can't remember) and how difficult it is just to keep afloat. The prospect of actually trying to make time to keep informed about current situations -- like Monsanto tricking farmers into signing the one-page contracts where (without realizing it) farmers sign away their twelve-thousand year old rights to save seeds and become beholden to buying each year's seed stock from Monsanto -- was not an option for these people; it was all they could do to simply try and squeeze by.
She spoke very movingly about how where they lived ("where there is town anywhere nearby"), when people came from the outside trying to help, they immediately lost these people when they went into a scientific explication about the farming situation and started using words like evolution. She said with such outsiders there was no understanding of the necessity of faith. She said she did feel a great deal of faith in the group of people in this room. I was deeply struck by the clarity and experiential awareness this woman expressed, of the poignancy in what she shared and of the challenges her family faced and the sense of quiet desperation.
Helena responded from a place of great empathy. At one point she could not speak through the painful emotions welling up within her. Clearly she knew much too well of so many other instances of family farmers being wiped out and driven off the land by the TNC monocultured agri-business juggernaut. She concluded by saying that as critically essential as resistance is to the toxic and lethal effects global capitalism is wreaking planet-wide, such opposition must be accompanied by equal energy devoted to manifesting renewal of both the human spirit in each of us as well as of our local communities dedicated to supporting local farming, local trade, and local economies of exchange.
There was a group of Japanese people in three rows of chairs that were all taking notes with a little earphone in one ear. One woman was speaking quietly into a microphone she held directly in front of her mouth with a sort of cup around it to muffle her voice beyond the microphone. She was translating real-time everything that was being said in the room. Initially I thought they were Japanese journalists. But then three people got up at different times and spoke in rapid Japanese for up to more than two minutes at a stretch. The woman who had been translating appeared to be writing in shorthand. She would then translate for the room what had just been said. Her translation was so detailed, one felt as if one were listening to a very accurate real-time translated transcript of what the other person had just said.
I was struck by the incredible translating and transcribing skills this woman possessed. Clearly she was extremely practiced in the art of hearing and simultaneously translating from Japanese to English. And I was struck by how her very developed "communication processing" skills seemed such an apt metaphor for what was transpiring simultaneously in Seattle in so many venues throughout the week (all the events I have recounted here were going on at the same time many other event "tracks" were occurring). So much of such deep significance was being communicated and articulated in multiple places simultaneously, and all the understanding and kinship and hope that was being engendered and processed by so many from this expression: Seattle was truly and authentically transformational in the most profound sense.
That evening I found a message Jeremy had written that morning still sitting on the computer screen and liked it so much I e-mailed a copy back to myself. During the morning Jeremy had been listening to a commentary of two individuals, one of whom was Thomas Friedman, on Public Radio International (produced at USC). They were remarking on the protests. Jeremy went to the New York Times Corporation web site, found his name, went to his page (which turned out not to be on the NYT website) and followed the "click here if you wish to contact Mr. Friedman" link to communicate the following:Mr. Friedman, in reply to your comments on Marketplace today I must say that your view of globalization is incredibly narrow. Please do not portray the protesters in Seattle as anti-trade. Our argument is simple, but apparently too profound for you business heads to get: If there are global trade rules then there must also be global labor rules, global environmental rules, global human rights rules, and global economic rules.
Third-world farmers who have been put out of business because of US AgriDumping would not agree with your remarks about the third world. A good example: In the wake of NAFTA, thousands of Mexican farmers were idled when cheap US corn flooded their country. Before you tell me that economies of scale are good, read The Cadillac Desert and then tell me why the depletion of water resources and destruction of topsoil by mega-farming should not be in the equation that tells us the REAL cost of our "cheap corn".
Please get an education, man. I'm a carpenter and I have a broader view of this than you do, apparently.
All of you people here have decentralized yourselves. This issue has now broken through the national and international media in a way that will never be suppressed again. Avaricious corporate autocrats is what we're dealing with. Without the taxpayer, there would be no agriculture or biotech industry.
Friday, December 3
Corporate Accountability Day
Friday's Corporate Accountability: Who Rules? event was supposed to go all day. But in the Gethsemane Lutheran Church where it took place, it was explained that since a new March had been scheduled to commence at the Labor Temple close to noontime, this session would stop at morning's end so people could participate in this further demonstration of support for alternatives to the WTO.
Before the panelists began there was acknowledgement that today was the 15th anniversary of the December 13, 1984 massacre at Bhopal, killing an estimated 15,000 people with hundreds of millions more injured. Each day for the past 15 years, the survivors have continued suffering the effects of this nightmare. A handout pointed out the connection with the WTO:
Union Carbide's reckless actions in Bhopal were a harbinger of the globalization of the chemical industry. Although the Bhopal tragedy sparked stricter legislation in the US, such as the right-to-know laws, the WTO would enforce a "race to the bottom" in which countries would be forced to weaken their environmental, labor and safety laws to stay in compliance. Bhopal was an early, dramatic example of what goes wrong when corporations rule the world.
There are dozens of ways to get involved in the movement against toxics, corporate power, and the globalization of greed. Assist the International POP's Elimination Network <http://www.ipen.org/>, join the struggle to shut down a local polluter, volunteer to help the victims in Bhopal <http://www.Bhopal.net/> or SHUT DOWN THE WTO!
David Korten spoke first, the title and focus of this talk being "....After Seattle? Taking on the Corporate and Financial Rulers: Our Goal is Political and Economic Democracy". At a point soon after beginning, he was overwhelmed by deep feeling and had to pause before he could continue. I sent e-mail asking his permission to include a transcript of the talk he gave that morning (which I found on the YES! website) in co-globalizing gaia's children and had commented about this moment:
I wanted to speak with you a little more at the church but did not want to impose. I tend to hang back in situations like that, and I knew you were also still "coming back" from your time in hospital.
i felt it very deeply when you had to stop speaking at the beginning of your talk -- the emotions you were feeling that I am guessing were related to your not being able to be in Seattle for the whole week. Mark Ritchie, when he began to speak in your stead at the Sunday "WTO and the Global War System" forum, described his distress since, as he said, you had been so involved with so much of the planning that made the week happen.
David wrote back describing a little about what he was experiencing in that moment:Even though (for once) a complete transcript of this talk is available, i'd like to quote a few of the segments here. But everyone is urged to read the complete speech (it's only four pages in PDF) as it is magnificent in the reach of what David articulates about the situation we find ourselves in this moment in the life of our times.
There was so much behind my emotions on that Friday. My disappointment at missing so many fabulous events. The wonderful support from my friends. The awe and wonder at all that was happening and the sense that the tides of history were in the process of shifting right there in Seattle.
Despite the scattered violence that has captured so much media attention, for the majority of peple in the streets, this week has been one of the most remarkably inclusive and hopefully significant acts of love, compassion, and solidarity in human history. The new union forged between working people and environmentalists is surely of historic significance.
I have great admiration for the courage of the young people who acted here with well-informed commitment, putting their lives and liberty on the line in deeply meaningful and effective acts of nonviolent civil disobedience to assure that our message would finally be heard by those who have closed their eyes, their ears, and their minds to the reality of a world in deep pain. My heart goes out to all of you who have made it happen. We now have a critical opening in the long struggle to create a world that works for all. And we must use it wisely. . . .
In very practical terms, will we adapt ourselves to the system of global financial and corporate rule even as we seek to reform it -- sitting at its tables and seeking to use its power to achieve human and planetary ends? Or will we make a commit similar to the one made by those some 200 hundred years ago who decided the time had come to replace the institutions of monarchy with the institutions of democracy? It is a critical choice central to how we move ahead beyond the historic events of which we have been a part this week.
We must come to terms with the basic nature of the limited liability, publicly traded corporation -- the institution that dominates both the WTO and the global economy. It's a legal instrument designed to concentrate economic power without accountability -- which means it is both anti-democratic and anti-market. . . .
In The Tyranny Of The Bottom Line, CPA Ralph Estes documented the annual costs imposed on the public by corporations in the United States. His total came to $2.6 trillion measured in 1994 dollars. This is roughly five times the corporate profits reported in the United States for 1994 and the equivalent of 37 percent of 1994 U.S. GDP. If we extrapolate this ratio to a global economy with an estimated total output of $29 trillion in 1997, we come up with a likely total cost to humanity upward of $10.73 trillion to maintain the infrastructure of global corporate capitalism -- with the benefits going primarily to the wealthiest 1% of the world's population that has any consequential participation in stock ownership. . . .
With these characteristics in mind, let's review some frequently suggested responses to corporate rule.
Appeal to the corporate conscience to act more responsibly. . . .
Let the dynamics of the global market place take their course and trust that market forces will correct the dysfunctions by rewarding the responsible corporations over the irresponsible. . . .
Let the market decide as consumers and investors express their economic choices. People who want high labor and environmental standards will make their purchasing and investment choices accordingly -- paying higher prices and accepting lower investment returns where necessary. . . .
Regulate corporations through governmental action. . . .
Realign economic structures in ways that bring economic relationships into a more natural alignment with the public interest. This requires replacing the present system of unaccountable rule by a corporate and financial elite with a system of political and economic democracy -- a project comparable to the human project of eliminating monarchy. It involves the elimination of the publicly traded, limited liability corporation as an institutional form. I submit that this is the only option consistent with the goal of creating just, sustainable, and compassionate societies that work for all.
It leads to an ambitious agenda, but one I believe to be within our means given how much is at stake and the evidence of a remarkable human awakening revealed by the events of the past week. Let me lay out some of its elements to illustrate the possibilities I believe we should be giving serious consideration. . . .
I suggest we be clear that our goal is not to reform global corporate and financial rule -- it is to end it. The publicly traded, limited liability corporation is a pathological institutional form and financial speculation is inherently predatory. As a first step both must be regulated. The appropriate longer term goal is to rid our economic affairs of these institutional pathologies -- much as our ancestors eliminated the institution of monarchy.
Paul Cienfuegos, a central mover-and-shaker of Democracy Unlimited in Humbolt County, California spoke next. He began by stating "In all the days I've marched and been tear-gassed I never saw any provocation other than that of the police." The people in Humbolt County have been engaged in a multitude of strategies to challenge the power of corporations in their communities. Paul pointed out how "limited liability is only a recent power acquired by corporations. Learn the history of each state -- these changes are not radical in that these rights we need to reinstate used to exist.
"There are a handful of exciting cutting-edge things that are happening. The Boulder Independent Business Organization is explicitly challenging the corporate business community with its `Community Vitality Act' (a press conference on this was held last week). The Boulder Independent Business Organization is engaged in forming a national business organization. The California National Lawyer's Guild in Los Angeles is challenging the right of UNOCAL to exist."
Then Paul described in some detail the remarkable story about Measure F -- "On November 3rd, 1998, Citizens Concerned About Corporations (CCAC), a spin-off project of Democracy Unlimited of Humboldt County (DUHC), won a strong mandate from Arcata voters with a 61 to 39% vote in favor of Measure F, the first ballot initiative of its kind in US history on the subject of dismantling corporate rule."
Paul went on to explain that "Measure F was process oriented and consisted of two portions:
Measure F is one more element in the overarching strategy of "getting at the corporate personhood root." The book The Populist Movement by Lawrence Goodwin was cited.
It called for co-sponsorship with the Arcata City Council in facilitating 2 town hall meetings. The Measure provided that these meetings be focused on the question, `Can we have democracy in a city ruled by corporate structures?'Paul explained that "We did fishbowl for four hours, twice. There were 350 chairs in the outer circle and 6 chairs in the inner circle."
The main problem with the adversarial, personal quality of debates is that it encourages debaters to use rhetorical devices instead of substance to win points in their battle. However, such experts can be nudged into more creative communication (real dialogue) with a process called "fishbowl."
The hallmark of fishbowl is that you have several people representing Side A talking together while those from Side B (and partisans from other Sides, if you have them -- plus some ordinary folks) sit in the audience watching the Side A experts talk "in the fishbowl". This is often done in a circle format, with a small circle of chairs (the fishbowl) surrounded by one or more larger rows of chairs for the audience.
After a set period of time (15-45 minutes), the Side A folks move into the audience and are replaced "in the fishbowl" by the Side B folks, who talk among themselves while the rest (including the Side A experts) watch.
In its simplest form, you just switch back and forth between the two Sides -- each Side having equal time -- for however long you have for the whole event.
The second portion "called for the creation of a city-council committee to investigate corporate activities, the goal being to ensure democratic control over corporations doing business in Arcata."
Then Victoria Tauli-Corpuz spoke with her same passion and fire. "What's happening in the WTO is a collaboration of corporations and big governments to impose their economic institutions upon the whole world. We must get biotech out of WTO and discuss these issues only within the Convention on Biological Diversity where it belongs." She pointed out how important it was on "getting perspective -- the difference between breaking glass of buildings and harm brought to all the peoples of the world by corporate globalization. How do we show all these things the corporations are doing? All communities affected by corporate-attempted rule are up-in-arms -- much is happening. We need to support the struggles of peoples throughout the third world who are seeing the militarization of their local communities because of their protesting."
Next, two women from the Southwest Network for Environmental and Economic Justice spoke: Cipriana Jurado (Co-Chair Border Justice Campaign) and Teresa Leal (Co-Chair Coordinating Council). Cipriana began with Teresa translating. "We must give follow-up to continue these actions we have experienced in these days because we must continue opposing WTO and similar policies. I come from Mexico -- this network has members on both sides of the border. We've begun to get our respective organizations to send faxes to the governor, mayor, and anyone who will listen to us.
"We must denounce all repression -- especially the men and women who were out there in front. Also we must be aware that none of the trade representatives have said anything about the defense of these people. We also have public officials who have not taken into account the impact on both country's citizens. We have to force them to represent us. We must be cohesive, in order to carry out coordinated actions to produce a strong impact on our respective governments. When we have gotten together we have had very strong results.
"We have just finished celebrating the one-year anniversary of Sierra Blanca. And we know that together we can affect the governments representing us. They forget that they have to do what we need them to do and that we don't have to do what they want us to do. We have a general statement we put forth before coming to Seattle." (See http://www.ratical.org/co-globalize/SNfEaEJ.html)
Anita Roddick (The Body Shop) spoke next about the importance of story-telling and about some strategies she thought made an impact. The one she emphasized above all else was to continuously communicate the message of "Shame on you" to corporations to account for their destructive activities and policies.
During the questions-and-comments period someone pointed out the detrimental impact of media conglomeration and the continuing general mergers. David Korten responded stressing "we must break-up the massive concentrations of power. We have to reactivate basic concepts of anti-trust and a marketplace competitive for small enterprises. With the WTO we are facing a fundamental issue about global governance: that is do we restore the original purpose of what the United Nations was established for or do we move all essential functions to the WTO? The WTO was created through an illegitimate process and must be closed. The WTO regulates governments to keep them from regulating the massive movements of wealth."
Someone asked about reforming the WTO. Victoria urged that "the WTO become democratic and accountable and if it doesn't -- abolish it." Michael Razov described the As You Sow foundation in San Francisco. This group focuses on shareholder activism as a means of promoting corporate accountability, using the power of ownership to create change.
Afterwards people walked over to the Labor Temple. I mingled around near the very front until people began to speak on the truck used in the same way for the Farmer's Rally on Thursday. One sign I especially liked read at its top:
W ay [image of star wars T oo imperial trooper O rwellian standing at ready]
Then different people spoke in turn on the truck. Many were indigenous people. An elder was introduced who asked everyone to turn off their cameras during his evocation of a prayer in his native language. Then things began to move and once more we walked into and through a portion of downtown Seattle with people looking on from sidewalks and buildings. There was a point where many police lined a series of intersections starting where the march was initially turned to the left. I believe this was to prevent passage to the jail where protesters were still incarcerated. I dropped out of the parade around 2:30 to go back to the airport.
At the airport late in afternoon, I was being scanned with a hand-held metal detector going through the check-point when the woman doing the scanning warned me that the "No WTO" button I had on would be taken away from me if I continued wearing it. I thought she must be joking and asked for more explanation. She and one of her co-workers affirmed that "They're confiscating all anti-WTO signs from anyone carrying them in the airport." I was too tired to feel the degree of incredulity it's easy to summon looking back at this now. Constitutional rights? My own feeling "too tired" was and is no excuse for shirking the response ability to ensure these rights are not whittled away by the proponents of global capitalism. But I wanted to keep that button so I docilely took it off and slipped it in my pocket.
I felt extremely privileged to be able to be in Seattle for seven days and nights. The immense range of feelings that came up -- from inspiration to anguish -- listening to so many engaged and spirited people speaking truth to power, bearing witness to the devastation wrought by global capitalism upon their communities, the supreme dedication they manifest day-in and day-out to champion life and oppose the centrally-planned economic agendas and control being attempted by TNCs through such structures as the WTO, World Bank, International Monetary Fund, as well as elements of the United States and European Union governments. Experiencing the energy, the faith, the devotion of all these people has changed me. It has deepened and expanded my own understanding of what needs to be done to serve Life's needs for all the life exploring itself here and all that will follow us here.
For all of us who continue feeling beset by the TINA phenomenon -- that There Is No Alternative to a monocultured world of finance capitalism that surely will see as its final act the destruction of human and much other life on earth -- know that we can and are helping birth the kind of world we all need. Witness some of the articles written since Seattle from the Third World Network :
- "Confusion worse confounded," by Chakravarthi Raghavan, 12/20/99
- "Initiate reform of WTO, says G77 chairman," by Martin Khor, 12/19/99
- "The messy WTO becomes messier," by Chakravarthi Raghavan, 12/17/99
- "Human face to globalisation - a pipedream without WTO reform," by Someshwar Singh, 12/16/99
- "Clearing up Seattle mess needs acknowledgement first," by Chakravarthi Raghavan, 12/16/99
- "Building up on Seattle, after stopping the steamroller," by Bhagirath Lal Das, 12/15/99
- "WTO getting into legal tangles and knots," by Chakravarthi Raghavan, 12/15/99
- "Follow-up To a Ministerial meeting that never (formally) was?," by Chakravarthi Raghavan, 12/14/99
- "Moore puts more spin on Seattle debacle," by Someshwar Singh, 12/8/99
- "The Revolt of the Developing Nations," by Marin Khor, 12/6/99
- "Seattle WTO Ministerial ends in failure," by Chakravarthi Raghavan, 12/99
- "US, Moore rebuffed, WTO Ministerial ends in failure," by Chakravarthi Raghavan, 12/5/99
- "A theatre of the absurd at Seattle," by Chakravarthi Raghavan, 12/99
- "No legitimacy or credibility in Seattle process and results - Third World Groups Denounce Undemocratic and Bullying Tactics at Seattle," TWN statement, 12/3/99
and from WTOWatch.org - The global information center on the WTO and trade :
- "Working Together After Seattle
message from Mark Ritchie, President, Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy
- "Seattle Leaves WTO Polarized and Paralyzed," International Herald Tribune, 12/20/99
- "The Fiasco at Seattle," Hindustan Times, 12/20/99
- "WTO summit ends in failure," Seattle Post-Intelligencer, 12/4/99
- "WTO Ends Conference Well Short Of Goals," Washington Post, 12/4/99
- "US tactics lead to collapse of talks," Hindustan Times, 12/4/99
- "Collapse of WTO talks a setback for Clinton," Reuters, 12/4/99
- "Delegates Say WTO Talks Fail," Associated Press, 12/4/99
- "Debacle in Seattle: A Blow-By-Blow Account of Friday, 3 December," by Walden Bello
- "The Failure of WTO at Seattle and the Implications for the Implementation of TRIPs," by the Research Foundation for Science, Technology and Ecology
- "WTO: Wrong Trade Organisation," report on the aftermath of the Seattle Ministerial Conference of the WTO, by Devinder Sharma
The co-globalizing gaia's children section will continue to expand its contents relating both to further moves to establish corporate globalization by unaccountable mechanisms like the WTO and WIPO as well as to present information about alternative paths we can and must explore and manifest to create a world where all life matters, and where all life is nurtured, honored, and prospers.
I suggest we be clear that our goal is not to reform global corporate and financial rule -- it is to end it. The publicly traded, limited liability corporation is a pathological institutional form and financial speculation is inherently predatory. As a first step both must be regulated. The appropriate longer term goal is to rid our economic affairs of these institutional pathologies -- much as our ancestors eliminated the institution of monarchy.
See "TNCs: Employment
Is Not The Point" by Susan
From the author: This short piece has never been published, despite my best efforts. I think it's worth a look, if only because I can't see dozens of other people having the patience to add up all the figures for the top 100 Transnationals contained in the World Investment Report in order to make some sense out of the data. Shedding workers is a way of life for TNCs which are clearly never going to solve anyone's employment problems.
See Susan George's
Introduction to a TNI section on
Mondiale du Commerce and the MAI,
the Net killed the MAI".
This was the 8.5x17 (4 page) Mobilization Against Corporate
Globalization "Guide to Civil Society's Activities Surrounding
the Seattle Ministerial" produced by Public Citizen's
Global Trade Watch with
layout contributed by The Humane
Society of the United States.
Exchange Fair Trade Stores
Big Gun Behind The Global War Machine, Nuclear Weapons, and
Son-of-Star Wars, and
US-Russian Relationship: Shooting Ourselves in the Foot both by
See Citizens' Inspection
for Weapons of Mass Destruction at Groton, Connecticut 3 August, 1998
and International Group
Arrested Attempting Inspection of Israel's Dimona Nuclear Weapons Plant
by Felice Cohen-Joppa (9/98)
See Confronting the Military-Corporate Complex, presented at the
Hague Appeal for Peace, The Hague, May 12, 1999, by Steven Staples
11/29/99: Congresswoman Waters Opposes WTO Decisions That Harm Health and the Environment
12/03/99: EDITORIAL: Congresswoman Waters Cautions Against Invisible Government of the World Trade Organization
World Scientists Statement
- signed by 229 scientists from 27 countries, 12/15/99
We, the undersigned scientists, call for the immediate suspension of all environmental releases of GM crops and products; for patents on life-forms and living processes to be revoked and banned; and for a comprehensive public enquiry into the future of agriculture and food security for all.
Join/sign the Global Moratorium on GE Biotechnology and No to Patents on Life
from The Institute of Science in Society see:
GM Food Hazards and the Science War , Consumer Choice Council, Seattle, Mae-Wan Ho, 12/1/99
The Biotechnology Debate has United the World against Corporate Rule, Mae-Wan Ho, IFG Teach-In, Seattle, 11/27/99
From the Jubilee 2000 - a debt free start for a billion people site, see
Direct Action Network Against Corporate Globalization
This quote comes from
where a webcast recording of the Debate can be viewed with RealPlayer.
For more about Chakrabarty see
Biopiracy with Biodemocracy from Third World Network.)
See Article 27.3(b) of the TRIPS Agreement: Review options for the South by Cecilia Oh
See also Abdication of Responsibility for Biosafety in the Name of Free Trade by Tewolde Berhan Gebre Egziabher
See Diverse Women for Diversity, A Report from Women Advocating at the UN Conference
on Biological Diversity, WEDO News and Views, 6/98
See Trade Environment Database Case Studies, Basmati
`an organization for the future' where the definition
is given, "WIPO is responsible for the promotion of the
protection of intellectual property throughout the world
through cooperation among States, and for the administration
of various multilateral treaties dealing with the legal and
administrative aspects of intellectual property."
See The World Trade Organization: prescribing food insecurity, an
Future of Populist Politics, Colorado College's 125th Anniversary
Symposium Cultures in the 21st Century: Conflicts and Convergences
by Patricia Nelson Limerick, delivered at Colorado College on February
6, 1999. Limerick references Goodwin and others to re-invoke something
of what the populist movement embodied.
See Sierra Blanca Radioactive Waste Dump.