Modifying protests: how the biotech industry is garnering support
1st February, 2003
After years of failing to make its modified products do its bidding, the biotech industry is changing tack – now its modifying the protestors. Jonathan Matthews reports from South Africa
The protesters were the poorest of the poor. Virtually all black and mostly women, the street traders and farmers conveyed an unpalatable message to the Earth Summit in Johannesberg. These were real poor people marching in the streets demanding development. Nothing surprising there. But a second glance revealed the demostraters were opposing the eco-agenda of the Green Left in support of the biotech industry. This was the environmentalists’ worst nightmare.
In the days that followed, the world’s media latched on to the march. Seldom can the views of the poor, in this case a few hundred demonstrators, have been paid so much attention. Articles highlighting the march popped up the world over – in Africa, North America, India, Australia and Israel. In the UK The Times ran a commentary entitled ‘I do not need white NGOs to speak for me’.
With the summit’s passing, the Johannesburg march, far from fading from view, has taken on a deeper significance. Writing in the Journal of Nature Biotechnology, Val Giddings, a vice president at...
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