A group of approximately 40 women from the Via Campesina movement - mostly from across the Americas - staged a dignified protest against Terminator on the floor of the negotiations at COP 8 today. They received applause from delegates and the Chair of the meeting recognized their protest and remarked that it was "a heartfelt protest that many of us feel sympathy with.. This reminds us that we are citizens of the world not just of countries". He said the protest will help the discussion on GURTS later in the day.
So today is the day that Terminator is expected to come up in the Working Group and expectation and rumour is running high. Over 150 people are wandering around the conference room wearing distinctive white T-shirts which declare that suicide seeds are homicide seeds , there are posters and stickers, flags and placards - the front page of the Eco - the daily new service here - reminds Canada, New Zealand and Australia that 'The world is watching'. Governments are firming up their positions, issuing advance statements. We too are giving press conferences and interviews
As buses of delegates arrived this morning for day 2 of COP8 they were met by hundreds of protesting (and dancing) farmers, peasants, Indigenous People's and NGO's twirling flags, giving speeches, chanting and rallying against Terminator Technology - many of them organised through Via Campesina - the global movement of peasants. Banners with images of coffins proclaimed that "Case by Case = Coffin by Coffin' and that 'Suicide Seeds are Homicide Seeds" .
The Eighth Conference Of the Parties (COP8) to the Convention on Biological Diversity opened today, here in Curitiba Brazil, with an indigenous ceremony to Mother Earth, tupthumping speeches and around 3000 delegates frenetically pacing the corridors jostling and negotiating.
Yesterday the Ban Terminator Campaign announced that over 300 organisations have so far signed up calling for a ban on the sterile seed technology known as Terminator and that Monsanto seemed to be wriggling out of its 1999 pledge to abandon the technology.
While some ETC Group staff were in Caracas strategizing with partners to strengthen the global opposition to Terminator, others of us were subjected to the slog of the CBD meeting in Granada. And one of us was spending a few days with unlimited access to free chocolate at Swiss Re's opulent Centre for Global Dialogue near Zurich. Swiss Re, the world's largest re-insurer (an insurer of insurance companies) is concerned - no surprise - about those risks associated with nanotechnology that may result in financial losses for the company.
Not content with heading for the stars, the corporate sponsored X-Foundation that awards the X-prize has now set a bounty for commericalising the neXt frontier - the human genome. According to this article in the Wall Street Journal the X-foundation will award a new X-prize of between $5-$20 million to the first inventor of a gene sequencer that can decode the DNA of 100 people in a matter of weeks. behind it is craig venter, the genomics mogul.
Two of us from ETC are in Granada, Spain following the Working Group on 8j the CBD body that has the mandate to recognize and protect the traditional knowledge, innovation and practices of indigenous peoples. By the end of the week, the Working Group on 8(j) will make recommendations to COP8 (Curitiba, Brazil, March) on the social and economic impacts of Terminator. Heres a brief round-up of government interventions (just the highlights) in yesterdays working group.
Some of us at ETC have just spent the past three days in a drafting group for the Dag Hammarskjold Foundation's inspiring What Next? project. Hopefully we will write more about What Next? as it gets closer to completion. Briefly the What Next? project its an attempt to stop, reflect and look forward to the challenges and issues Civil Society faces in the coming thirty years. How will we organise ourselves? what new global trends will we be leading or responding to?