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GE Salmon: Impacts and Implications

Prepared by Community Alliance for Global Justice Intern Jordan Beaudry.

genetically-engineered-salmon

CAGJ’s Food Justice Project has adopted genetically engineered seafood as our 2015 Local Producers Solidarity Campaign. In partnership with Friends of the Earth and others, we are demanding that Costco, headquartered in Issaquah, WA, commit to keeping GE salmon off their shelves.

Over 9,000 retail stores nationwide have signed Friends of the Earth’s Pledge for GE Free Seafood, codifying their commitment not to sell modified fish. Many major retailers, such as Trader Joes, Safeway, Kroeger, and Whole Foods, are on board. As the nation’s second largest retailer, Costco is one of the most notable holdouts. It is imperative that Costco help set a precedent by saying NO to GE salmon before the FDA says YES.

The FDA is in the final stages of negotiating the approval of the “AquaAdvantage” GE salmon. The “AquaAdvantage” salmon, created by biotech company AquaBounty Technologies, combines DNA from Atlantic salmon with a growth-hormone gene from Pacific Chinook Salmon and another gene from an Ocean Pout. The resulting concoction is a man made species of salmon that grow twice as fast as their natural counterparts and can breed year round. Although genetically modified components of processed foods have become common in American markets, there are very few whole GE products for sale. Allowing these fish to be sold in in American retail chains would set a problematic precedent, likely resulting in an influx of unlabeled, modified meat. The AquaAdvantage salmon is the first of at least 35 species of modified fish being developed. There are also plans to engineer pigs, cows and chickens.

The commercialization of GE salmon would represent a serious assault on the notion of food sovereignty. CAGJ’s AGRA Watch project has recently started working on a campaign to end the Gates Foundation’s funding of the GE banana, in solidarity with Ugandan activists concerned about its pending introduction to their country, where bananas are centrally important to the diet and culture. The reasons for opposition to GE foods and crops are common to both of the campaigns AGRA Watch and the Food Justice Project are currently undertaking. Genetic engineering is not necessary to supplying human nutritional needs anywhere in the world. The careless introduction of this practice internationally and at home raises legitimate concerns about unassessed health and environmental impacts. Genetic engineering is largely conducted by for-profit companies and the process is not subject to any democratic oversight.

For over three decades, consumer and environmental activists have been opposing the introduction of GE foods without adequate safety assessments regarding their potential effects on human health and the environment. International norms urge all countries to perform such assessments. However, the federal government has long ago acceded to the demands of the industry and does not conduct such evaluations, usually merely rubberstamping all industry proposals that are submitted (in the case of the FDA, voluntarily submitted, since there is absolutely no regulatory oversight). Because, in part, the GE salmon would represent the first engineered animal for sale commercially, opposition to its introduction has been very fierce and the FDA has been forced to require the corporate sponsor to address concerns that have been raised. Nonetheless, the final documents are woefully inadequate in this regard.

In December 2012 the FDA released a report that concluded GE salmon posed no risk to human health or the environment. These findings, which relied exclusively on data supplied by AquaBounty, are a major step towards the FDA approval. Unfortunately the FDA overlooked substantial evidence in the creation of their report. Compared to non-modified salmon the AquaAdvantage breed have 40% higher levels of the hormone IGF-1, consumption of which has been associated with various forms of cancer. GE fish are also more susceptible to disease than their natural counterparts. Factory fish farms tend to rely heavily on antibiotics and other chemicals to control disease in their populations. Chemically treated fish are proven to adversely impact human health. An increase in diseased fish is likely to cause wider use of antibiotics and other harmful toxins.

GE salmon would constitute a significant threat to the ecosystem if any were to escape into the wild. Researchers have concluded that 60 GE salmon could displace a population of 60,000 non-modified salmon in a span of 40 generations. They have further potential to reduce biodiversity through breeding their modified genetics into natural populations, thereby eradicating the gene pool of local species. This could have devastating impacts on our environment and global food supply.

A poll commissioned by Food and Water Watch shows that 91% of the American public does not believe the FDA should allow GE fish into the marketplace. In order to protect our national food sovereignty it is crucial to persuade grocers to stand with consumer health and safety. CAGJ will be holding a demonstration at Costco’s South Seattle location from 2pm-4pm on Saturday, March 7th to inform customers of the risks posed by GE salmon and presenting petition signatures demanding Costco endorse the Pledge for GE Free Seafood. Please join us on this day to take a stand against modified meat!

Sources for this article include Friends of the Earth and Center for Food Safety. Visit their websites for more info: www.foe.org/gefreeseafood, www.centerforfoodsafety.org/issues/309/ge-fish

For more information, contact CAGJ’s Food Justice Project:
fjp@seattleglobaljustice.org
206.405.4600
www.seattleglobaljustice.org/food-justice/

 

 

SAT March 7: Action to Tell Costco to Reject GE Salmon!

CostcoActionCAGJ’s Food Justice Project has adopted Genetically Engineered (GE)-Free Seafood as our 2015 Local Producers Solidarity Campaign, following on the 2014 SLEE Dinner where we highlighted the role of fisherfolk in the food sovereignty movement. In partnership with Friends of the Earth and others, we are demanding that Costco, headquartered in Issaquah, WA, commit to keeping GE salmon off their shelves.

Join us to present local Costco management with over 40,000 petition signatures and raise awareness about GE salmon!
Saturday, March 7th
2pm-4pm
Seattle Costco: 4401 4th Ave S, Seattle, WA 98134 (in the Sodo neighborhood)

The FDA is currently in the final stages of approving the AquaAdvantage Salmon, which combines DNA from multiple fish species. The resulting concoction poses significant health and environmental risks. It is the first of at least 35 species of engineered fish in development, and its approval is likely to open a floodgate of modified meat into the marketplace.

Over 9,000 grocery stores have codified their commitment not to sell GE fish by signing Friends of the Earth’s Pledge for GE Free Seafood. As the nation’s second largest retailer, Costco is one of the most notable holdouts.

Ways to take action:
* Come to the action on March 7th!
* Sign the online petition.
* Help co-sponsor the event by getting the word out. Share the Facebook event. Download the flyer: CostcoAction Contact fjp@seattleglobaljustice.org for more info.

Co-sponsors: Backbone Campaign, Community Alliance for Global Justice, Domestic Fair Trade Association, Food and Water Watch, Friends of the Earth, Health Alliance International, Loki Fish Co, Muckleshoot Food Sovereignty Project, Northwest Atlantic Marine Alliance, Seattle Tilth, UFCW 21, Washington Fair Trade Coalition.

See for here more information. To RSVP, contact the Food Justice Project at fjp@seattleglobaljustice.org.

Book Discussion: This Changes Everything

naomi-klein-CAGJ Climate Justice Book Discussion and Potluck
TUES January 27, 6 – 9pm
Location: Central Co-op Rochdale Room, 19th and Madison.

In 2014, CAGJ committed to prioritizing taking action on climate justice. To inspire and inform this work in 2015, we are starting the year with a discussion of Naomi Klein’s new book, This Changes Everything: The Climate Vs. Capitalism. The book discussion – open to all CAGJ members and supporters – is part of the lead-up to our annual strategic retreat.  Through the book discussion we hope to address questions about the role of climate justice in the contemporary political “moment,” the role of CAGJ in contributing to the climate justice movement, and potential for future work together.

It will be a casual, CAGJ-style potluck! Feel free to bring friends! If you are unable to complete the book, no problem, please come having read the Introduction and Chapters 3 and 4.  For those who do not have the book, a PDF of two chapters can be provided; email us for more info. RSVPs appreciated but not required – email us.

15 Years Since WTO Uprising! CAGJ & Central Cinema present “This is What Democracy Looks Like”

-1CAGJ & Central Cinema Present:
This is What Democracy Looks Like
Screening and
discussion with filmmaker Jill Friedberg

Sunday November 30, 2014
2:30pm – Doors Open
3pm – Film Showing
5:30-6:30pm – Happy Hour at Central Cinema
Central Cinema
1411 21st Ave
(corner of Union and 21st in the Central District)
Seattle
Tickets: $7 in advance/$9 at the door. Buy tickets here.

November 30th marks the 15 year anniversary of the 1999 WTO protests, in Seattle.  Come celebrate with us at Central Cinema, where we’ll screen the documentary This is What Democracy Looks Like, the most important documentary made about the protests. You can also enjoy food & drink, and peruse Community Alliance for Global Justice’s Fair Trade for the Holidays gifts. Filmmaker Jill Freidberg will be in attendance for a Q&A after the film, and several local activists interviewed in the film are invited to join as well, to discuss how the WTO protests shaped their organizing since then.

About the film: Watch the trailer.
Cut from the footage of over 100 media activists, This is What Democracy Looks Like captures the historic events of the 1999 WTO protests in Seattle. The film marks a turning point in collaborative filmmaking and achieves a scope and vision possible only through the lenses of over 100 cameras. With a driving soundtrack by Rage Against the Machine, DJ Shadow, and Anne Feeney, This is What Democracy Looks Like, delivers an intensely political and emotional account of a week that changed the world. The film is a co-production between Corrugated Filmsfounder, Jill Freidberg, and Big Noise Films founder, Rick Rowley.

Photo credit to Rick Dahms.

Co-sponsored by the Washington Fair Trade Coalition.

For more information contact: Danielle@seattleglobaljustice.org.

The Global Struggle for Food Sovereignty: A Discussion with African Food Leaders & Farmers

10653537_10153310209532137_530831343424097892_nAfter many years of careful planning, we are proud to be hosting the Africa-US Food Sovereignty Strategy Summit in Seattle Oct 10-14!  African leaders from eight nations are coming to Seattle to meet with CAGJ/AGRA Watch and leaders from over a dozen US organizations – see below for a list of participants.  To find out how you can support these efforts as a volunteer or host, please contact us! And Join us for a special public event on Oct 12th!

The Global Struggle for Food Sovereignty: A Discussion with African Food Leaders & Farmers
Sunday, October 12
5pm Reception, 7pm Panel
Town Hall Seattle, 1119 8th Ave

African farmers are fighting for “food sovereignty,” the right of all people everywhere to control their food systems. You are invited to hear first-hand from African food leaders and farmers about how corporate “philanthropists” like the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation are working to transform African small-holder agriculture into American-style industrial agri-business, with all its problems. Join us for a reception and a panel discussion to learn about the struggle for global food sovereignty and how we can work in solidarity to change these alarming trends.

5pm Pre-Event Reception: Tickets $15-$25, Catered by Madres Kitchen
Join us for a Reception welcoming Food Sovereignty leaders from Africa & the US to Seattle. Food, beverage and entrance to main event included with purchase of ticket. Beer and wine will be available for sale. Buy tickets here, and at the door.

7pm – Panel with African Food Sovereignty Leaders -Moderated by Eric Holt-Giménez, Food First Executive Director- $5 Suggested Donation. Simultaneous interpretation provided in American Sign Language. Induction Loop for hard of hearing also available at Town Hall.

Panel Speakers:

At the Reception, have the opportunity to meet representatives from participating organizations including, from North America: Center for Food Safety, Community to Community Development, Detroit Black Community Food Security Network, Family Farm Defenders, Federation of Southern Cooperatives, Food and Water Watch, Food First, Grassroots International, IATP-Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, IDEX-International Development Exchange, National Family Farm Coalition, PANNA-Pesticide Action Network North America, Swift Foundation, US-Africa Network, WhyHunger. From Africa: African Centre for Biosafety (South Africa), Agrarian Reform for Food Sovereignty Campaign (South Africa), Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa, Food Rights Alliance (Kenya), Friends of the Earth Africa (Nigeria), Kenya Food Rights Alliance, La Via Campesina Africa, MELCA (Ethiopia), Surplus People Project (South Africa), Trust for Community Organization and Education (South Africa), ZIMSOFF (Zimbabwe).

The Africa-US Food Sovereignty Strategy Summit has been organized in collaboration with the following organizations: African Centre for Biosafety (South Africa), Food First, Grassroots International, IDEX-International Development Exchange, Kenya Food Rights Alliance, National Family Farm Coalition, Pesticide Action Network North America – PANNA, We are the Solution (Burkina Faso), WhyHunger.

Thanks to our Co-Sponsors! African Chamber of Commerce of the Pacific Northwest, African Studies Program at the UW Jackson School of International Studies, ASUW Student Food Cooperative, Backbone CampaignCenter for the Study of Justice in Society at Seattle University, Central Co-op, Community Kitchens Northwest, Community to Community Development, Domestic Fair Trade Association, Equal Exchange, Health Alliance International, Lettuce Link/Solid Ground, Local2Global Advocates for Food Sovereignty, PCC, Seattle Good Business Network, Urban Food Hub, UW Farm, UW Program on the Environment, Village Volunteers, WA Fair Trade Coalition, WA Sustainable Food and Farming Network, Yes! Magazine.

Share this event! Download the flyer here: Oct. 12 Event FlyerLink to Facebook event here.

If your organization can Co-Sponsor and help us spread the word via social media, flyers, websites etc, please contact us!

For more information, please contact Community Alliance for Global Justice/AGRA Watch: agrawatch@seattleglobaljustice.org 206-405-4600

African participants:

Mercia Andrews, Trust for Community Organization and Education, South Africa
Marian Bassey, Friends of the Earth-Africa, Nigeria
Million Belay, Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa and MELCA-Ethiopia
Daniel Maingi, Growth Partners Africa, Food Rights Alliance, Kenya
Mariam Mayet, African Centre for Biosafety, South Africa
Herschelle Milford, Surplus People Project and Agrarian Reform for Food Sovereignty Campaign, South Africa
Elizabeth Mpofu, ZIMSOFF, La Via Campesina Africa, Zimbabwe
Bridget Mugambe, Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa, Uganda

North American participants:
Phil Bereano, Matt Canfield and Heather Day -Representatives of hosting organization, AGRA Watch/Community Alliance for Global Justice, WA
Saulo Araujo, WhyHunger, NY
Debbie Barker, Center for Food Safety, DC
Ben Burkett, Federation of Southern Cooperatives, MO
Jahi Chappell, IATP – Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, MN
Georgia Good, Rural Coalition, SC
Jim Goodman, Family Farm Defenders, WI
Heather Gray, US-Africa Network, GA
Lisa Griffith, National Family Farm Coalition, MO
Rosalinda Guillen, Community to Community Development, WA
Eric Holt-Gimenez, Food First, CA
Marcia Ishii-Eiteman, PANNA-Pesticide Action Network North America, CA
Sara Mersha, Grassroots International, MA
Darcey O’Callaghan, Food and Water Watch, DC
Kadiri Sennefer Ra, Detroit Black Community Food Security Network, MI
Karen Swift, Swift Foundation, CA
Yeshica Weerasekera, IDEX-International Development Exchange, CA

Media Round-up: March 23, 2015 Seattle and London Actions protesting Seed Privatization meeting in London

great photo 3.23On March 23, 2015 the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) sponsored a secret meeting in London to promote a recent report they commissioned detailing in clear terms how to privatize the seed and agricultural markets of Africa- without African stakeholders having a seat at the table. CAGJ/AGRA Watch and Global Justice Now coordinated simultaneous actions in Seattle and London.

Photos: See Community Alliance for Global Justice/AGRA Watch photos of Seattle Action here. See Global Justice Now photos of London Action here.

Press Releases

CAGJ Press Release; March 23 Gates Foundation Plots Ways of Profiting from Africa’s Seed Systems: Simultaneous Demonstrations in London and Seattle
CAGJ Press Advisory; March 20 Simultaneous Demonstrations in Seattle and London Oppose Gates Foundation’s Secret Meeting about Seed Privatization in Africa
African Centre for Biosafety Press Release; March 9 White men meet in London to plot ways of profiting off Africa’s seed systems

Coverage of Seattle protest
KIRO TV (video) Demonstrators picket Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation
KOMO Radio covered action all day, can’t find link.
Humanosphere Blog Activists protest Gates Foundation plan for African farmers

Coverage of London protest
Inter Press Service  Gates Foundation Slammed for Plan to Privatise African Seed Markets

Coverage of both protests
Common Dreams (Featured) Gates Foundation’s Seed Agenda in Africa ‘Another Form of Colonialism,’ Warns Protesters

CounterPunch Rich Men in London Still Deciding Africa’s Future

Coverage of Issue
The Ecologist (authored by African Centre for Biosafety) Grabbing Africa’s seeds: USAID, EU and Gates Foundation back agribusiness seed takeover
Global Justice Now Blog  The fight for seed freedom
Open Democracy  Secretive and seedy: how aid donors are opening the agribusiness flood gates

Twitter Action: #freetheseeds

Download PDF documents about London meeting:
EGS convention introduction 381kb
EGS convening participant list 229kb
EGS Study Draft Summary 1,4Mb

Africa-US Summit Report Published

Africa-US Summit Final Report-page-001We just published a full report on the Africa-US Food Sovereignty Strategy Summit which we hosted October 12-14, 2014. The report describes the current and historical context of both US and African agriculture, as participants shared in the meeting. It also includes pieces of original research conducted by AGRA Watch on the Gates Foundation’s agricultural development grants, as well as a summary of the next steps participants are undertaking to form a stronger relationship in contesting agro-industrial intervention into Africa.

Link below to the 14 page PDF.

Africa-US Food Sovereignty Summit Report.

SAT March 7: Action to Tell Costco to Reject GE Salmon!

CostcoActionCAGJ’s Food Justice Project has adopted Genetically Engineered (GE)-Free Seafood as our 2015 Local Producers Solidarity Campaign, following on the 2014 SLEE Dinner where we highlighted the role of fisherfolk in the food sovereignty movement. In partnership with Friends of the Earth and others, we are demanding that Costco, headquartered in Issaquah, WA, commit to keeping GE salmon off their shelves.

Join us to present local Costco management with over 40,000 petition signatures and raise awareness about GE salmon!
Saturday, March 7th
2pm-4pm
Seattle Costco: 4401 4th Ave S, Seattle, WA 98134 (in the Sodo neighborhood)

The FDA is currently in the final stages of approving the AquaAdvantage Salmon, which combines DNA from multiple fish species. The resulting concoction poses significant health and environmental risks. It is the first of at least 35 species of engineered fish in development, and its approval is likely to open a floodgate of modified meat into the marketplace.

Over 9,000 grocery stores have codified their commitment not to sell GE fish by signing Friends of the Earth’s Pledge for GE Free Seafood. As the nation’s second largest retailer, Costco is one of the most notable holdouts.

Ways to take action:
* Come to the action on March 7th!
* Sign the online petition.
* Help co-sponsor the event by getting the word out. Share the Facebook event. Download the flyer: CostcoAction Contact fjp@seattleglobaljustice.org for more info.

Co-sponsors: Backbone Campaign, Community Alliance for Global Justice, Domestic Fair Trade Association, Food and Water Watch, Friends of the Earth, Health Alliance International, Loki Fish Co, Muckleshoot Food Sovereignty Project, Northwest Atlantic Marine Alliance, Seattle Tilth, UFCW 21, Washington Fair Trade Coalition.

See for here more information. To RSVP, contact the Food Justice Project at fjp@seattleglobaljustice.org.

‘Yes, we have no bananas’

CAGJ authors were recently published in Third World Resurgence with an article about the ‘Super Banana’. super banana

‘Yes, we have no bananas’

The drive by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to introduce a genetically engineered ‘super banana’ into the Ugandan market can only be viewed as part of a powerful and coordinated effort to transform Africa’s agricultural systems to serve corporate and foreign interests.

by Matt Canfield and Phil Bereano

Yes, we have no bananas
We have no bananas today.
Yes, we are very sorry to inform you
That we are entirely out of the fruit in question
The aforementioned vegetable
Bearing the cognomen ‘Banana’.
We might induce you to accept a substitute less desirable,
But that is not the policy at this internationally famous green grocery.
I should say not. No no no no no no no.
But we have no bananas today.
- as sung by Eddie Cantor, 1923

RECENTLY student volunteers at Iowa State University in the US have become subjects in human feeding trials of what’s being touted as a ‘super banana’. As its name suggests, this is no ordinary banana; it has been genetically engineered to produce increased levels of vitamin A.  Created for the Ugandan market, the ‘super banana’ was developed to mitigate nutritional deficiencies that cause blindness across the global South. Yet, in a nation where the banana is not just a staple food but also a cultural icon, Ugandans are furious about this latest international intervention into African agriculture.

Bridget Mugambe is one Ugandan concerned about plans for bringing this banana to her homeland. ‘In my country,’ she explains, ‘there are over 50 varieties of local and indigenously cultivated bananas, and in my culture many of these varieties have individual cultural attachments. For example, in celebrations of marriage, birth and funeral rites, we use different varieties of banana for these different purposes…’ A social scientist working with the African Food Sovereignty Alliance, Mugambe argues that this new example of genetic engineering threatens not only Ugandan culture but also local economies and markets. And it is not even clear that the ‘super banana’ is necessary, since there are other low-cost existing means of addressing the problem of low vitamin A intake.

(more…)

Overview of the Sakuma Bros. Farm Berry Boycott

By Christina Leal, CAGJ activist

Familias Unidas por la Justicia, an AFL CIO-endorsed member union based in Burlington, Washington, formed in the summer of 2013 in response to racial harassment, wage theft, and other labor malpractices faced by farmworkers at the Sakuma Brothers Farms, Inc. The union has since supported eight strikes and has been victorious in taking their labor struggles to Skagit County Superior Court on five different occasions.

For over a decade, the majority of farmworkers have lived in overcrowded, poorly ventilated, non-weatherized shacks on the farm property. In July 2013, 248 out of 278 farmworkers went on strike after Federico Lopez, an employee at the time, was immediately fired upon asking his foreman for a raise. These workers confronted management with a written list of demands including better living accommodations, sick leave, a pay raise to at least the minimum wage, and an end to disrespectful and racist derision by farm supervisors. While the Sakuma management let go of one discriminatory supervisor and initially negotiated a more reasonable wage with the workers, this agreement was later revoked, which led to additional strikes.

The company dealt with these work stoppages by firing all pickers associated with Familias Unidas, citing poor picking quality and inexcusable absences from the strikes. Sakuma also hired private security guards that observed and eavesdropped on workers, following them during working hours, throughout the residential labor camps, on public highways, and-on one occasion into the women’s bathroom. Gains were made when a county judge ordered Sakuma to remove security guards from housing units in September 2013 and to inform union supporters that they could return to work despite striking in May 2013. The farm management also agreed to an $850,000 settlement after more than 400 farmworkers approached the company in a federal class-action lawsuit over stolen wages. This is the largest farm worker settlement in state history.

When pickers returned for the 2014 berry season, they continued to face discrimination, anti-union coercion, and an unfair disciplinary and firing system. Sakuma barred workers from allowing family members and guests to enter the labor cabins that were relied upon for housing and union organizing. The court ruled against these bans, finding them to be in violation of the worker’s rights as tenants.

Despite these victories, Sakuma Bros., Inc. continues to fall short in providing employees with a fair wage, decent living facilities, and paid rest breaks on the job. Therefore, until a union contract is signed between the workers and farm owners, Familias Unidas por la Justicia is calling for a boycott of Sakuma’s berries as well as its largest distributors, Driscolls and Haagen-Dazs. Because farmworkers do not have the labor protections afforded to other workers, they rely on consumer boycotts to pressure farms to sign contracts with their workers.