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Brussels, March 18th 1999: Concerned citizensarrested at Conference of Monsanto
This morning 25 concerned citizens and representativesof NGO's were arrested at a Conference organised by Monsanto and The EuropeanVoice, a newsletter sponsored by the European Commission. 21 people weretaken in custody by the Brussels police at about 10 a.m. as they refusedto leave the lobby of the luxurious Hotel Radisson SAS in Brussels, thevenue for the conference on GMO's (Genetically Manipulated Organisms).The concerned citizens and NGO representatives asked access to the conference,but this was refused by the organisers. They were arrested instead andwere released after the end of the conference.
The concerned citizens had asked for the organisersto waive the discriminating 25.000Bfr. (625 Euro's) entrance fee. "By askingsuch a high entrance fee the organisors keep critical voices outside oftheir conference. "NGO's can not afford to pay such a fee" declared LaurenceVan de Walle, a spokes person for the critics of Monsanto's policy. "Wehave the impression that the conference is a closed get-together betweenthe influential industry and the European Commission". Both Emma Boninoand Franz Fischler, resigning members of the European Commission, werespecial guests.
According to the NGO's representatives the productionof GMO's is part of globalisation, where people are experiencing a growingdependency to big multinational companies. The arguments of the industrythat GMO's would solve the food-security problem in the South is a lie.They want to increase the dependency of farmers to the seeds of companiesas Monsanto, and only target increasing profits for the company. The NGO'sand concerned citizens demand a political debate around GMO's, and notjust a technical and scientific debate as proposed by multinational companies.Phil Angels, director of Monsanto communications declared on October 25th1998 to the New York Times: "It is not our task to get involved in theissue of food-security. Our business is to sell as much we can".
The action received the active support of Per Gahrtonand Vincent Decroly, both Members of Parliament, and For Mother Earth.