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Report from Inside the Belly of the Beast

Our booth was definitely the most popular booth at the Ministerial Conference on Food and Agriculture in Sacramento, both with the delegates and the other exhibitors. We handed out lots of organic produce and product, proving that people are hungry for food as well as knowledge. The presence of good food (the only fresh food at a conference on agriculture and technology) enabled us to demonstrate through peoples' mouths and stomachs the appeal of organic production.
Report from Inside the Belly of the Beast
By Jessica Miller

From June 23-25, 2003 the Ecological Farming Association (EFA), in
conjunction with California Certified Organic Farmers (CCOF), Organic Ag
Advisors, Organic Options, Frog¹s Leap Winery, and Knoll Farm, had a booth
at the USDA¹s International Ministerial Expo. This event was hosted by the
USDA to help push an industrial agriculture and biotechnology agenda on the
developing nations of the world, under the guise of assistance through
science and technology. We set up inside (as well as having a presence
outside at the rally) to demonstrate directly to the visiting Ministers of
Agriculture the benefits of organic agriculture. This event was a
tremendous success. Our booth was definitely the most popular booth at the
trade Expo, both with the delegates and the other exhibitors. We handed out
lots of organic produce and product, proving that people are hungry for food
as well as knowledge. The presence of good food (the only fresh food at a
conference on agriculture and technology) enabled us to demonstrate through
people¹s mouths and stomachs the appeal of organic production. We were
pleased to be able to talk with many Ministers about organic ag in their
countries, including Cameroon, Nigeria, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Kenya, Jamaica,
Belgium, Samoa, Oman, Antigua, Eritrea, Mali, and Thailand to name a few.
The questions they asked were varied, from simple how-to organic, to
specific crop and pest questions. The general feeling about biotech ranged
from acceptance out of necessity to outright refusal to accept those crops.
Generally speaking, however, the feeling was that each country should be
allowed to make that determination for themselves, without the US
strong-arming the process. They expressed an opinion that,,if biotechnology
is so great, then let it stand on it¹s own merits, without pressure or
coercion through aid packages, and other global trade policies.
We had an opportunity to present inside the exhibit hall, and Brian Leahy of
CCOF did a wonderful job, focusing on organic production, including why
biotechnology is not allowed in organics nor desired in agriculture. Many
of the contacts we have made through this event want an organic consultant
to come and assist their production techniques, and we intend to do follow ­
up with all of the participants.

On Tuesday June 24, we took a delegation from Sri Lanka, representatives
from several California legislators, and many members of the press on a
sustainable farm tour. This wonderful tour of Living Farms, with farmer
Allen Garcia, highlighted the positive benefits agriculture can have on
wildlife habitat and restoration and watershed management. This farm is
part of the Consumnes River Preserve which is an extensive public/private
partnership including the Nature Conservancy, Bureau of Land Management, and
Sacramento Parks and Recreation Department. The wildlife that lives on this
innovative rice farm actually provides the vast majority of the nitrogen
supplementation to keep this highly productive farm financially stable, and
the farm benefits the wildlife by providing safe habitat and a bountiful
food supply. A truly stunning example of how sustainable agriculture and
wildlands can flourish together, to the benefit of all. If you check our
website, www.eco-farm,org you will find copies of several news articles, as
well as some photos of the event. We even captured US Secretary of
Agriculture Ann Veneman chomping on an organic strawberry! There were many
other news articles, as well, and if you have copies or links of any of
them, please forward them on to our office at info (at) eco-farm.org.

These events were a result of a tremendous amount of cooperation and
collaboration, by individuals, businesses, and organizations. We here at
EFA have been tremendously impressed by the time, interest, encouragement,
and money that have been invested by all. The ongoing encouragement we
received enabled us to continue, even as we entered the lion¹s den. We
humbly thank you for allowing us to be a part of this process and look
forward to our continued partnership in making a world that is peaceful,
just, and has plenty for all.


--
Jessica Miller
Program Associate
Ecological Farming Association
406 Main St. #313
Watsonville, CA 95076
831-763-2111
_www.eco-farm.org
 
 


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Comments

Thanks for the evening updates.

We appreciated receiving updates from this group at our evening spokescouncil meetings, which were attended by representatives of various peace and justice groups (who were NOT allowed inside the Sacramento Convention Center). Thanks for coming to our spokes mtgs. and letting us know what was going on inside the ministerial fortress.
 

Re: Report from Inside the Belly of the Beast

Please post this on the global site so other indymedia folks can enjoy this wonderful report.
 

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