Agriculture is also culture

 'You are late, everybody has already left to the action!', I hear when entering the gate of the Agriculture action camp in Den Bosch.

 'Where is the action?', I inform quick and decide to walk on to catch a glimpse of the camp before going to the action. Here I find two people preparing a veggie garden in the place in the middle of what once was an abandoned lot overgrown with weeds. For the rest the camp resembles a bewilderd lot with tents spread over the vicinity. 

  When I ask the two ladies about what they are doing they start laughing and tell me that they are the arrestant-group for the action. But the action is developing so peacefull that they had time on their hands to work in the garden, planting carrots, union and fennel.

 After having convinced myself that there is really nothing to do at that moment on the camp I get back on my bike to visit the action, a blockade of a large cattle feed manufacturor. Using genetic manipulated soy from South America made this factory a hot target for the agricultural activists. Although the police was already present before blockad began it was a great succes. Instead of the activists, it was the police doing the biggest part of the blockade: attempting to prevent the activists from entering the terrain they closed down all entrances and exits. Exactly what the activists had in mind.

 When I arrived the blockade the show was already on for almost two hours. Nothing exiting on first sight but when informed on what was going on it appeared that the blockade was very effective. The first news was that the factory would not ask the police to interfere with the blockade. Due to the uprising social discussion on genetic manupilation of crops the feeding corperation did everything to prevent media attention linking them with gentech.

 Soon news about the second big achievement reached the protesters: the CEO of the factory was on his way to talk with the organisers of the blockade. This was the goal of the action but people were surpised that it came this fast, barely two and a half hours after the beginning of the blockade. In the presence of a handfull of press the three spokespeople from Aseed spoke with the CEO about the use of gentech soy.

 In the following dialog it appeared that the board was 'aware of the social discussion on gentech' and 'attempted to work as sustainable as possible'. They said that therefore they were in dialog with a couple major NGO's to develope a trademark for sustainable soy production. Although this sounds good, it didn't satisfy the activists. Having a lot of knowledge of background information on the subject the spokespersons where very critical about these promissing words. There these NGO's exist mainly by of the funds of these kind of corperations, it can not be expected from them to be very critical.

 Also the main supplyer of soy for the factory, Cargill, came up in the conversation. This supplyer in agrarian products is known for it's immense production. It follows that it causes masses of small scale farmers to loose their land and income and an increase of deaths and desease in the area where once the South American jungle was. The CEO's answer to this confrontation was that neither he can change the world. To which the activists replied that he was already doing that, though not a change for the good.

 During the conversation it became clear and has explicitly said that the factory is not willing to change their policy into a more sustainable form if it is not economically profitable. So the conversation continued for a half hour and then hands were shaken. Along with a 'see you later'. Satisfied the demonstrators set foot back to the camp.

 But not immediatly. There was one arrest, it seems to be impossible to demonstrate without one. Happily the police also saw that they had been overzealous and they dropped off the arrestant at a social centre nearby.

 Back on my bike, back to the camp. Halfway we were happily surprised to see the results of another action: addbusting! Posters were placed in the JCDecaux abri's on the side of the road making todays action wider than just the gates of the factory terrain.

 Back at the camp it was time to look back at the past days, with in the end a succesfull campaign against a big user of gentech soy. What's left is dinner, dishes and a performance of Wayne Lost Soul, a sympathetic singer/songwriter. And a beer at the bar where you can cycle to produce electricity to be able to run the refrigerator. For a cold drink.

 

 

Comments

setting up their own standards, let see if this company is able to criticize itself and share a bit with us what they learned through your action.

btw: i thought aseed was the name of the producer of gentech soy, but following the link, it turned out to be the name of the agriculture action camp organizers :)

just "Cargill" you mentioned, but anyway.. maybe you did not want to share the manufacturers name, do you had any reasons for that?

thanks a lot for the report on the action and this obviously lovely camp, having byciclecooledbeer!!