Planet Diversity World Congress on the Future of Food and Agriculture

The CCP Corporate Corn Protectors - or how to get a terrorist (Portugal)

Author:  Silvia Hable
Organisation: GAIA, Grupo de Acção e Intervençaõ Ambiental, Portugal
           (article in German)

Have you heard about Fructarians? These kind of hardcore vegan people, who just eat what a plant gives herself and don't destroy the plant itself. They eat nuts, tomatoes, berries and fruits which have been falling on the ground. They would never eat the roots of a plant, like potatoes or the leafs, like spinach. Some fructarians are driven by the idea that you should never kill any living being on this planet to live and therefore, plants have equal rights as animals or humans.
Until now, even involved since years, in anarchistic-environmental-alternative circles, I never met one of these kind of people, heard just rumours.  In my imagination, they must be really shy, living in the woods and meditating all day long to save energy. Until I found out, recently, that they all work for Europol.
Europol, what? Wait a moment, I will explain you the whole story.

In the 2008 European Terrorism Situation and Trend Report , we find in the category „single issues“ only one terrorist attempt. „The attack took place in Portugal and was committed against a GM corn field. Over 100 people took part in the attack; more than one hectare of the field was destroyed.“

We have to lean back and reflect a bit.
Terrorism? What comes to your mind? Burning towers? A bearded, old man, living in some cave up in the mountains, somewhere, „over there“, far far in the east?
You think about ETA, IRA, RAF or the Red Brigades? Or simply this arabic-looking guy in your local fruit shop makes you already feel a bit incomfortable, since you heard in the radio that somebody plans a terrorist attack on your city? Or do you see in Monsanto not an corporation for   saving the world from hunger, but more a terrorist crime unit?
We understand. Defining Terrorism is not easy and always a question of subjective view of the world, yet it is the mass media which normaly defines the threat, the fear and measures to take against it.

Lets see how Kofi Annan defines the term: „Terrorism are all actions taken, which have the mean to cause death or severe body damage on civilians and non-fighting people, with the objective to frighten people or to pressure a government or an international organisation to do or leave something.“

I am part of GAIA, an ecological group in Portugal, active since 12 years in different fields of creative activism, against desertification, building up community centers and gardens...and running a campaign against GMO with a whole variety of peaceful street actions or educational activites, speeches, conferences and so on.
Until the mowing of this field, it was not very common to have an opinion about GMO in Portugal, and even less to campaign against it. GAIA was thrown therefore pretty fast into the spotlight being denounced as the moral authors of the action, even though none of 100 people on the field mentioned in the report were identified, and the action was done by the „Movement Verde Eufemia“. Only 3 people outside of the field, one of them the press speaker, were identified. In an unique show-down by politicians and media they were criminalized, blamed and quickly made reportages were written about GMO, mostly containing interviews with the head of the so-called „Biotechnology Information Center“. August, silly season, what else to write about? Why make journalism a bit more serious and profund, when you also can catch your readers with some simple headlines?

So we read about the „Cereal killers“, who caused „Ecodestruction“ .
„The Ecofascisist are among us“ we were warned and also remembered to be aware of „non-identified extremists“. Last but not least, we could it already guess, the action was turned into a savage outbreak of „Ecoterrorism“. What was written in August by some over-motivated journalist in an opinion article turned out in April to be the new European classification standard.
Comparing the action to Kofi Annans definition of Terrorism, I can just wonder.
For the typical terrorist scenario we miss some important ingredients. We didn't see blood, the traditional letter bomb was not sent and, luckily, we couldn't find any corpses in the field.
So, the corporate media had to discuss one month long the most violent part of the whole action, a kick in the back of some friend of the farmers, who himself was agressively dragging a mower through the field.

The action took place around noon and was openly annonced.

The farmer knew it, the police knew it, the media knew it and everyone was there while the action was happening.
People entered in the field, dressed with some anti-dust masks and trampled down some plants. Some of them could be seen as a little frightening because of the unaesthetical way they masked themselves. A few police came, people left the field peacefully in a big dancing parade and went off. None of them carried a weapon, not even mowing tools.
All this was spoken as a „civil desobedience to reestablish the democratic, moral and ecological order“ that was damaged by the first GM field planted in the oficially declared GMO-free region of the Algarve. The farmer was more than one time asked by environmental groups to stop his cultivation, but he went on, consciously.
Still there was no threatening of the farmers life or substantial economical damage.
1 hectare was destroyed. A football ground, sounds a lot. 1 hectare out of 51 hectares of GM corn? Seems already quite meaningless. This guy is not a smallscale farmer, which was driven into a survival crisis like the media portrayed.
He employs engineers, who highly recomend the cultivation of GMO, after having worked in a major seed development center. He owns several productive lands apart from this one. But still, Verde Eufemia was offering seeds to replant the area with organic maize in the following  year.
Quite nice terrorists, aren't they?
This understands the lawyer of the farmer as well. He cannot see a terrorist motive in the action. The opinion is shared by an expert on criminal law, who was interviewed by a radio station, after the report came out.

So, what could be behind the classification?
We could think about some lobbyism. Portugal is already the 4th  biggest producer of GMO and is reaching the second place now, after the bans of France and Romania. It is also the neighbour of Spain, the biggest European GM corn producer. We could think that this situation certainly puts forward some economical interests which are worth to defend. We might think that the Portuguese government is not fond of actions of civil desobedience and wants to set an example. We might also take in consideration that the agricultural minister is energetically defending the usage of GMO and doesn't want to have any discussion or awareness rising among the public in his country.
Or we could even see a worldwide tendency to declare all social movements who could bring some trouble to the established elites, to terrorist organisations.
But all these thoughts, at least for me, are a bit too heavy. I sleep better since I understood that the Europol-people and the Portuguese criminal police (who delivered the information to the report) are all fructarians. Therefore, they probably see corn plants, even genetically modified ones, as non-fighting civilians which have been killed by some rude so called Environmentalists.
I am even thinking to pass one day at their seat, with a package of nuts and self-picked berrys, and of course some corn, which dropped on the field that day. I will then let them know how much respect I have for their perception of life.
If everybody would think so carefully like them, world would be a paradise.

The CCP Corporate Corn Protectors - or how to get a terrorist (Portugal)The CCP Corporate Corn Protectors - or how to get a terrorist (Portugal)The CCP Corporate Corn Protectors - or how to get a terrorist (Portugal)The CCP Corporate Corn Protectors - or how to get a terrorist (Portugal)

Local Organising Committee