The Guardian December 13, 2000


People's Caravan 2000 culminates in massive protest against TNCs

After the successful activities in India and Bangladesh, the 
international "People's Caravan 2000  Land and Food Without Poisons" 
ended in the Philippines with a massive protest rally against globalisation 
by thousands of farmers belonging to the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas 
(KMP).

The last day of the caravan brought the participants from the Department of 
Agriculture, where they had held a vigil, to the office of Monsanto in 
Makati, where they rallied for genuine agrarian reform to achieve food 
security, social justice, and land and food without poisons.

According to the Caravan participants, the Monsanto deserves a notice of 
eviction, as it is one of the biggest transnational corporations (TNCs) 
that have become notorious for pushing harmful pesticides and genetically 
modified organisms (GMOs).

Simultaneous protest actions were held in front of the Monsanto office in 
General Santos City in Mindanao.

The culminating activity was a rally in front of the US embassy to 
commemorate "One Year since Seattle" and to condemn US domination of Asian 
agriculture.

"Marginalised communities all over Asia are making a stand against 
globalisation and TNC control of their lives, including increased pesticide 
use, the onslaught of genetic engineering, increased landlessness, and the 
erosion of food security", said Ms Sarojeni Rengam, Executive Director of 
Pesticide Action Network Asia and the Pacific (PAN AP).

She added: "Now the people are fighting back."

Ganarai Dorairaj Xavier of the Indian Society for Rural Education and 
Development (SRED) joined the Caravan at the very start on Nov 13.

He said that the People's Caravan was an expression of the frustration of 
millions of peasants, fisherfolk and indigenous people with the 
exploitation by landlords and TNCs of their lands and food, and ultimately 
their lives.

Bangladeshi Rafiqul Haque of UBINIG (Policy Research for Development 
Alternatives) advised Philippine farmers to junk the seeds and pesticides 
of the TNCs altogether.

Habibur Rahman, a Bangladeshi farmer from Nayakrishi Andolon (New 
Agriculture Movement), added: "the Bangladeshi farmers reject genetically 
engineered rice and I was pleased to learn about the strong resistance here 
in the Philippines".

"The People's Caravan is an important development in the increasing 
solidarity among Asian farmers against imperialist globalisation", KMP 
chair Rafael Mariano said.

"We have forged an International Alliance against Agrochemical TNCs in 
order to continue this struggle", he added.

Mariano explained that it is through the International Monetary Fund (IMF), 
the World Bank and the World Trade Organisation (WTO) that farmers are 
driven from their lands and become virtual slaves of the poison industry.

"One year ago, the WTO sparked massive protest in Seattle", he said, "and 
we will continue to oppose liberalisation, privatisation and deregulation 
as long as they are wreaking havoc on the peasantry."

The People's Caravan 2000 was organised by PAN AP; the Tamil Nadu Women's 
Forum and SRED from India; UBINIG and the Nayakrishi Andolon of Bangladesh; 
and KMP in collaboration with SHISUK (Bangladesh); CIKS and PREPARE 
(India); Gita Pertiwi (Indonesia); NESSFE (Japan); CACPK (Korea); and Food 
First (USA).

foodfirst@foodfirst.org

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