6:30- 9:00PM


FREE Public Forum on Genetic Engineering!

Sponsored by:
The Genetic Engineering Activist Network, USA Sustain, Chicago

Come hear the reasons why a recent New York Times front page article (thurs. Jan 25th) claims the biotechnology industry has gone from "the lab to a debacle".

Conference Center, Apparel Center at Merchandise Mart (the north bank of the Chicago River, between Wells and Orleans Streets, Merchandise Mart Brown Line "el" (elevated train) stop, wheelchair accessible)

Speakers presenting a critique of genetic engineering, public discussion with genetic engineering activists in Chicago for a weekend of strategy sessions, and information tables.

Speakers include:

Brian Tokar, Institute for Social Ecology & Northeast Resistance Against Genetic Engineering. Brian will serve as the panel's moderator, and will also open the evening with an overview of the concerns raised by genetic engineering.

Brian has been an activist since the 1970s in the peace, anti-nuclear, environmental and Green politics movements, and is currently a faculty member at the Institute for Social Ecology and Goddard College in Vermont. He is the author of The Green Alternative (1987, revised 1992) and Earth for Sale (1997), and his new book, Redesigning Life?, an international collection on the politics and implications of biotechnology, will be published early in 2001 by Zed Books. Brian graduated from MIT in 1976 with degrees in biology and physics and received his Masters degree in biophysics from Harvard University in 1981.

Marsha Darling, Associate Professor and Director, Center for African American and Ethnic Studies Programs, Adelphi University. Marsha will describe how the privatization of the gene industry evolved, and will describe the meaning of intellectual property rights and patents. She will also discuss the biodiversity issues that the gene business invokes, bioagriculture and especially the impact of corporate interest in indigenous peoples' mineral, human and plant genetic materials on the dynamics that drive international development.

Marsha previously taught in Georgetown University's Women's Studies department, and has a long research history in the areas of biotechnology's impacts on indigenous and minority communities, feminism, reproductive rights and technologies, and international development.

Percy Schmeiser, Saskatoon, Canada.
For 40 years, Percy Schmeiser has grown canola on his farm usually sowing each crop of the oil-rich plants with seeds saved from the previous harvest. And he has never purchased seed from the St. Louis, Mo.-based agricultural and biotechnology giant Monsanto Co. Even so, he says that more than 320 hectares of his land is now "contaminated" by Monsanto's herbicide-resistant Roundup Ready canola. And, like hundreds of other North American farmers, Schmeiser has felt the sting of Monsanto's long legal arm: last August the company took the 68-year-old farmer to court, claiming he illegally planted the firm's canola without paying a $37-per-hectare fee for the privilege. Schmeiser fought back. He claims Monsanto investigators trespassed on his land -- and that company seed could easily have blown on to his soil from passing canola-laden trucks. "I never put those plants on my land," says Schmeiser. "The question is, where do Monsanto's rights end and mine begin?"

Chaia Heller, Institute for Social Ecology.
The debate over GMOs is more than a debate about the risks and benefits associated with a new genetic technology. It is also a debate over power; about the power to determine not only matters of science and technology, but matters of social and economic life generally. Chaia will explore ways to radicalize the debate over GMOs, linking questions of technology to vital issues of democracy, freedom, and quality of life in an age of globalization.

Chaia has taught ecological philosophy and feminist theory at the Institute for Social Ecology in Vermont for almost two decades. During this time, Chaia has also been involved in the ecology and feminist movements an activist, educator, and writer. Currently, Chaia is researching the controversy surrounding genetically manipulated organisms in France. She has recently published Ecology of Everyday Life: Rethinking the Desire for Nature, Black Rose Books.

Dr. Gregor Wolbring, University of Calgary, International Network on Bioethics & Disability, and the Edmonds Institute.

Farmers and disabled people are groups who are both quite strongly affected by the food and human genetics debates. This talk will highlight some of the similarities between farmers and disabled people from around the world in regards to the debate of food/human biotechnology issues.

Gregor is a research scientist at the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Faculty of Medicine at the University of Calgary and an Adjunct Assistant Professor (specialization bioethics) at the Dept. of Community Rehabilitation and Disability studies, Faculty of Education at the University of Calgary.

This free public forum is sponsored by the Genetic Engineering Action Network, USA and Sustain.

GEAN is a national network of more than 80 organizations working to address the risks and concerns about genetic engineering. GEAN exists to support and further the work of those organizations and individuals working to address the risks to the environment, biodiversity and human health, as well as the socioeconomic and ethical consequences of genetic engineering. Some of GEAN's members include Greenpeace, the Organic Consumers Association, GE Free LA, Northeast Resistance Against Genetic Engineering, the National Family Farm Coalition, and the National Catholic Rural Life Conference.

For more information, visit our website at, or contact GEAN's National Coordinator, Renske van Staveren, at:

2105 First Avenue South
Minneapolis, MN 55404
612.870.3423 OR

Sustain is a Chicago-based non-profit organization that uses innovative communications strategies to help win environmental victories. Sustain partners with other non-profits that have legal, policy, and organizing expertise on particular issues. Together, they create campaigns to educate and inspire the public and policy makers to take actions that contribute to a healthy, sustainable environment.

For more information, visit Sustain's website at,
or contact Sustain at:

920 N. Franklin Street, Suite 301
Chicago, IL, 60610


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