The protesters assembled in Merrick Park. Its says much for the local drainage as it had been raining for over two weeks, but the ground was not muddy underfoot. It had been raining in the morning, but for the rest of the day it was sunny, what the weathermen call brisk, or in other words a typical day at the English seaside.
In one corner were the environmentalists, in the other a ragged assortment of socialists come to protest the failure of a Labour government to implement socialist policies. Of the two groups, the environmentalists were the most colourful with many dressed as farmyard animals. A common theme united the two groups, both were concerned at a corrupt government in hock to Big Business.
Both groups had a common purpose, to lobby the Labour government on the first day of the Labour Party Conference in Bournemouth.
The environmentalists set off first, led by a float 'Something Scary in the Dairy', followed by a herd of assorted mutant animals and escorted by bemused police.
When the faulty generator permitted, the procession had various farmyard themed music, and by fits and starts at last reached the Labour Party Conference venue near Bournemouth sea front.
Outside the conference centre the protesters were addressed by the veteran Labour MP Tony Benn. He did not disappoint. He attacked the government, highlighted the fact that no democratic movement had ever succeeded without direct action. That were it not for the fact that people were prepared to come out on the streets and object to genetically modified food, it would not be on the political agenda. Another Labour MP then accepted a 17,000 name petition to be handed to the conference.
Tony Benn is to retire at the next parliamentary election. He will be a loss to Parliament, but fortunately not a loss to politics. He feels he can be more effective outside Parliament than in, which says a lot for how corrupt and degraded the parliamentary system has become.
The protesters then moved onto the sea front where they were addressed by a number of speakers, including Luke Anderson (author Genetic Engineering, Food and Our Environment), an ex-presenter of a BBC programme (soon to release a GM book), a spokesman from the Green Party, geneticist Mae-Wan Ho.
Mae-Wan Ho rubbished the claim by industry and government that GMOs posed no threats. She listed some of the dangers and said that more and more papers were coming out every day. She also spoke of the way Professor Arpad Pusztai had been victimised for being prepared to speak out.
Mae-Wan Ho, with a group of other scientists, has prepared a number of minimal demands which together with an accompanying letter are to be presented to world leaders at the WTO Seattle meeting.
Mae-Wan Ho is author of Genetic Engineering, Dream or Nightmare?, an absolute must for anyone who wants to learn more about the dangers of GMOs.
The days events were then rounded off with a short play.
Shannon Smy and Theo Simon of Seize the Day graced the day with their charismatic presence.
Regulation (of sorts) determines what GMOs are permitted in the direct human food chain. The process consists of those beholden to the industry they are supposedly regulating granting permits for GMOs to get into the food chain. For animal feedstock there is no regulation. The industry can bung whatever garbage it thinks fit, whether this be BSE infected animal carcasses or GMOs, into animal feed. This is cruel to animals, cruel to humans.
We have already seen the effect of feeding unnatural foods to animals. BSE was caused by feeding infected animals to livestock such as cattle that do not eat meat. Whether or not the carcasses were infected, cattle do not naturally eat meat. This is not atypical. Animals are fed antibiotics as growth promoters, and at low levels to counter unsavoury rearing and housing practices.
With consumers saying no to GMOs in the direct food chain, Big Business is increasingly turning to animal feed to dispose of its unwanted mutant products. The only way consumers can avoid indirect consumption of GMOs is to either eat organic food or restrict themselves to a vegan diet. For a growing number of people this is their only option as they trust neither government nor their partner in crime Big Business.
The UK and many other countries have said no to US hormone contaminated beef. They now have to say NO to GMOs and contaminated animal feed.
Mae-Wan Ho, Genetic Engineering, Dream or Nightmare?: The Brave New World of Bad Science and Big Business, Gateway Books, 1998
Mae-Wan Ho, The Unholy Alliance, The Ecologist, Vol 28 No 4, July/August 1998
Mae-Wan Ho, Hartmut Meyer & Joe Cummins, The Biotechnology Bubble, The Ecologist, Vol 28 No 3, May/June 1998
Angela Ryan & Harash Narang, From BSE to GMOs: What Have We Learned?, Institute of Science in Society, 26 September 1999