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corporate dominance | genetic engineering

Reclaim The Commons Update! April 8-10 Chicago

This is an update about Reclaim The Commons - Three days of events in Chicago (April 8-10) in response to the 2006 Biotech Industry Organization convention. Also see our website: www.reclaimthecommons.net or email us at reclaimthecommons (at) gmail.com. In this update: childcare and housing, RTC consulta, basic schedule, how to help, info about the Biotech Industry Organization (BIO), and "Why Reclaim The Commons."

CHILDCARE AND HOUSING will be available in Chicago during RTC. To request (or offer) housing, send email to rtchousing (at) gmail.com. To request childcare, send email to rtcchildcare (at) gmail.com.

CONSULTA for Reclaim The Commons is happening from 12-3 on Saturday, March 25th at Association House, 1116 N. Kedzie Ave, Chicago. Planning for the parade, festival, and banner action will be on the agenda. Please consider coming if you live nearby.


Saturday, April 8th:
Joint International GMOpposition Day in 30 Countries! altercampagne.free.fr
Morning: Puppet and banner making.
Afternoon: Festival! 2-5 pm at Federal Plaza (200 S. Dearborn) Music, speakers, tabling, art making, food, kids' games, street theatre. Please contact us at reclaimthecommons (at) gmail.com about tabling, and ideas for activities!
Evening: Panel on Genetic Engineering and Human Rights - North and South.
6:30 at DePaul University, Lincoln Park Campus, Schmidt Academic Ctr. 2320 N. Kenmore Ave With Anuradha Mittal (Oakland Institute), Carmelo Ruiz (Puerto Rico Project on Biosafety), Sarah Alexander (White Earth Land Recovery Project), and John Kinsman (National Family Farm Coalition and Via Campesina). Moderated by Jeffrey Smith of Institute for Responsible Technology.

Sunday, April 9th:
All day: Hands-on and educational workshops. Topics include Bioremediation and Urban Sustainability, Genetic Engineering and Indigenous Rights, Bioweapons Labs in Chicago, Tapestry of the Commons, Seed Saving, Starting an Intentional Community, Food Sovereignty and more.
Evening: Concert with Broadcast Live (hip hop from Albany NY) and others, with a presentation from the Beehive Collective (beehivecollective.org).

Monday, April 10th:
Morning: Banner action! We'll be making banners before and during the convergence, and on Monday morning we'll take them out to busy spots around the city. Please make a banner beforehand and bring it to Chicago!
Afternoon: Parade downtown with big colorful puppets and banners! Location and time TBA.

Tuesday, April 11th:
Community gardening service project.

*Forward this update far and wide!
*Please post, distribute and make copies of our flyers! Downloadable versions available at www.reclaimthecommons.net.
*Organize a group from your area to come to Chicago between April 8th and April 10th.
*Donate:WE NEED MONEY FOR A CONVERGENCE SPACE! Also - puppet and banner making supplies, printing costs, food, and transportation for speakers. You can donate by credit card on our website or by contacting us at reclaimthecommons (at) gmail.com.
*Read up on the issues: seedsofdeception.com, sunshine-project.org, gmwatch.org, indymedia.org, oaklandinstitute.org, carmeloruiz.blogspot.com, savewildrice.org, organicconsumers.org, altercampagne.free.fr, genetics-and-society.org, nffc.net and centerforfoodsafety.org/Monsantovsusfarmersreport.cfm
*Come and table at the festival on the 8th, or organize crafts, games, theatre, you name it.
*Let us know if you can help with translation at our workshops, especially Spanish translation.
*Bring seeds or plants to swap or give away at the festival on April 8th.
*Contribute: We're looking for the following:
-tables for the festival (donated or lent)
-Art Supplies: colorful acrylic house paint, staple pliers, sheets to make banners, paint brushes, permanent markers, tape, fabric, big pieces of cardboard
-5 gallon buckets (for drums), steel cans and other noisemakers
-Colorful paper for flyers
-Your own banners, puppets, antics, and plans for street theatre
-bikes, locks, helmets
-literature to hand out
-cooking utensils and food donations
-medical and wellness supplies
-cars, driving service
-people: We need people who want to make puppets and banners, put up fliers, make media, make music, face paint, silk-screen, build bikes, cook food, help set up, and most importantly- COME!


The Biotech Industry Organization (BIO) is a group of the world's largest agribusiness, pharmaceutical, financial and biodefense corporations, along with various representatives from governments and academia. Each year they hold a convention in a different U.S. city, and this year they picked Chicago. Some 15,000 BIO delegates will be descending on Chicago's McCormack Place Convention Center from April 8th - 12th.

The BIO convention will bring to Chicago an unprecedented public relations bonanza promoting biotech and genetic engineering. But what BIO really represents is a global system of agriculture that is dominated by a few agribusiness corporations - from genetically engineered seeds, to pesticides, to the table. BIO will downplay the fact that so-called 'biodefense' research is equally applicable to offensive bioweapons development, and that massive new U.S. funding for bioweapons research may be spurring a new biological weapons arms race. Pharmaceutical corporations at BIO will continue to ignore the crisis in healthcare access, and focus instead on futuristic treatments designed to attract investors and, when they succeed, provide mainly for the wealthy. Their website is www.bio.org.


The Commons are the universal heritage of people and all living things. They are everything needed to support healthy life on earth: air, water, food, shelter, health care, seeds, and our genes. They are what is needed to sustain culture: our multicultural heritages, education, information and the means to disseminate it, essential human services, public spaces, and political space. They are equally the land, its forests, the oceans, and all ecosystems. In sum, the Commons are everything that we inherit jointly and freely, and hold in trust for future generations.

Reclaim The Commons 2006 will shed light on big biotech's attempts to expropriate and claim hold to vast areas of the Commons that belong to us all.

These include:

Agricultural heritage: Since the beginning of agriculture, farmers and gardeners have been saving, developing, caretaking and replanting seeds from the plants they grow. Genetic engineering threatens this basic right for farmers worldwide, placing control and ownership of seeds into the hands of corporations. RTC opposes genetic engineering and corporate control of agriculture, and supports sustainable local food systems and local food sovereignty.

Life Itself: Corporations are also attempting to assert control over wild plants and animals by recording and then patenting their genetic codes. In fact, over 4000 patents of human genetic codes have also been approved. RTC is dedicated to the proposition that life cannot be patented.

Food: Independent feeding studies have documented underdeveloped organs, signs of cancer, allergies, and high mortality in rats fed genetically engineered (GE) feed. Government and industry have done little substantive health research on GE products. Most people don't know that over 70% of processed foods now contain GE ingredients because there is no labeling requirement. RTC calls for a stop to this contamination of our food supply, and for universal access to safe, affordable, healthy food.

Healthcare: The largest pharmaceutical corporations in BIO - Merck, Pfizer, AstraZeneca and others - can boast some of the highest profit margins in the corporate world, while basic medical care is unaffordable for millions of people in the US and billions elsewhere. The futuristic biotech research promoted by BIO may attract investors, but it will not solve this basic healthcare crisis. RTC advocates for universal access to good healthcare.

Biosafety: In the last few years the U.S. government has dramatically increased funding for research on biological weapons. New labs that create and handle genetically engineered diseases are being built in and near several urban areas, posing potentially disastrous risks. The research is billed as biodefense, but can easily translate to offensive applications. RTC calls for a stop to the development and testing of biological weapons.

Ecosystems: By raising genetically engineered crops and animals in the open, biotech corporations are endangering the Earth's ecology and ecosystems. Examples are genetically engineered trees, alfalfa, grass and salmon - all of which can contaminate wild populations through cross-pollination and cross-breeding. Simulations have shown that this sort of contamination could have devastating effects on natural ecosystems. RTC opposes the release of genetically engineered organisms into the environment.

Science and Academia: Pharmaceutical and agribusiness corporations largely control and often are the sole beneficiaries of research done at public universities in the U.S. When it comes to regulation of biotechnology, the same people are found to rotate between corporate and government positions, providing corporate-friendly assessments when serving as regulators. RTC calls for a stop to the revolving door between industry and government, and for independent research at public universities.

Reclaim The Commons supports and celebrates the complex, diverse and wondrous ecosystems of our planet that make life possible, as well as the gardeners, farmers, farm workers, scientists, healthcare workers, activists, indigenous people and all who are working for a just, democratic and sustainable future.