BOSTON: Grass-roots PR continued to play a large role in the battle over genetically engineered food and gene therapy last week, as a pair of conferences in Boston enflamed an already hot-button issue.
BOSTON: Grass-roots PR continued to play a large role in the battle
over genetically engineered food and gene therapy last week, as a pair
of conferences in Boston enflamed an already hot-button issue.
Biotech conference Bio2000 drew approximately 7,000 scientists to the
area to discuss genetic research. To combat their presence, several
organizations, including the Northeast Resistance Against Genetic
Engineering, the People’s Earth Network and the Institute for Social
Ecology, banded together to hold the Biodevastation 2000 conference at
The Biodevastation meeting, which drew approximately 1,000 activists,
scientists and farmers, covered such topics as the damaging health
effects of genetically engineered foods and the adverse environmental
impacts of genetic engineering. In addition, the Boston Center for
Nonviolent Change received a permit to stage a rally on Sunday outside
the convention hall where Bio2000 was taking place.
’Right now, a lot of decisions are being made behind closed doors that
affect all of us,’ said center president Mark Pelletier. ’We’d like to
see them happen in the light of day.’ He added that the purpose of the
conference and rally was to raise public awareness about the issue and
With fresh memories of the chaos that ensued at last December’s World
Trade Organization conference, Boston police spent weeks training for
the possibility of crowd unrest and met with members of the Seattle
police department to learn about strategies used during the WTO
Pelletier said that the protest was meant to be nonviolent. He added,
however, ’Any large crowd has the capability for a wing-nut getting out
of hand.’ He added that he hoped the press wouldn’t confuse nonviolent
civil disobedience with acts of violence.