INTERNATIONAL NEWS: Grass-roots groups flock to Boston to protest biotech conference

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.

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

Northeastern University.



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

generate dialogue.



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

protest.



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.



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