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Year 2001 No. 79, May 11, 2001 Archive Search Home Page

RCPB(ML) in London to Organise London Political Forum

Workers' Daily Internet Edition : Article Index :

RCPB(ML) in London to Organise London Political Forum

June 7 Election 2001: RCPB(ML) Releases Press Statement

Vigil against Hospital Bed Losses in Birmingham

Vociferous Opposition to Proposed GM Trials in North Pembrokeshire Wins Success

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RCPB(ML) in London to Organise London Political Forum

In order to implement the Party’s call to build the workers’ opposition to the "Third Way", and to further its work of mobilising people to the maximum politically, RCPB(ML) in London is to organise a London Political Forum. The London Political Forum is being held in the context of the work of the Party to participate in the election to plant the alternative on the soil of Britain.

RCPB(ML) in London informs WDIE that they regard the work to organise a London Political Forum as key work to raise the level of political discussion in the capital, strengthen the coherence of the forces in London determined to stop the "Third Way" from going through, and raise the question of what the alternative is to the party-dominated system of government.

They stress that the London Political Forum is not being organised to promote ideological positions and impose them on the movement, but is being organised to further strengthen the political unity of the progressive forces around an independent programme of the working class.

Three meetings of the London Political Forum are to be held during the election campaign at Marx House, Clerkenwell Green, on Wednesday evenings, May 16, 23 and 30, at 7.30 pm sharp. Invited speakers will share their experience on their struggles against the anti-social offensive, and all comers are invited to participate in the political discussion.

The precise programme of the three meetings of the London Political Forum will be announced within the next day or so.

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June 7 Election 2001

RCPB(ML) Releases Press Statement

Yesterday, May 10, the Revolutionary Communist Party Britain (Marxist-Leninist), the name under which RCPB(ML) is officially registered as a political party, released a statement to the press explaining that the Party is to participate in the elections by supporting candidates who represent an alternative to the party-dominated system of government.

The statement pointed out that RCPB(ML) is advancing the slogan: Build the Workers’ Opposition to the "Third Way"!

The statement set out the Party’s position on the June 7 election, and the need to support alternative candidates.

The statement pointed out that Tony Blair is calling on the electorate to make "tough choices" in order to elect New Labour for a second term and that the workers should unite to reject these "tough choices". It pointed out that the alternative is for the people themselves to become the decision makers and that is why RCPB(ML) is supporting candidates who represent this alternative.

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Vigil against Hospital Bed Losses in Birmingham

A vigil organised by the Campaign to Save the Queen Elizabeth and Selly Oak Hospitals was held on Tuesday, May 8, outside the NHS Trust headquarters in Selly Oak.

Out of 1,017 existing acute beds at the Queen Elizabeth and Selly Oak Hospitals in Birmingham, only 810 would remain in a new privatised hospital. This is a drop of 207. Compared to 1998, the number of acute bed losses is even greater at 260.

The Campaign in a statement points out that the planned privatised hospital will not be a "super" hospital as it was said it would be, but a privatised mini-hospital. This represents a full frontal attack on the NHS and the quality of health care in South Birmingham. This has to be stopped. The QE and Selly Oak are not falling down. They need repair and renovation using public money, not demolition.

If we are offered a new hospital as well, the Campaign declares, than you very much, but make it public!

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Vociferous Opposition to Proposed GM Trials in North Pembrokeshire Wins Success

The announcement by the Department of the Environment of the first GM crop trials to be held in the heart of Wales has prompted widespread and vociferous opposition. An overflowing public meeting on April 16 had demanded that the trials be stopped and the campaign had been carried on from then non-stop.

On May 9, the owners of the field trial site issued a press statement to say that they have withdrawn from the trial, which represents a success for the campaign of the people of the area to determine the future of Wales in opposition to the dictates of Westminster and the Aventis corporation.

On Saturday, April 28, nearly 200 people had demonstrated at the site of the proposed field trials at Mathry in North Pembrokeshire, on farmland owned by a Conservative ex-MP. They marched from the village and, headed by the children, tied balloons around the buildings and gardens.

A local activist said, "Pembrokeshire has been the home to long and bitter ‘pollution battles’ over the last 10 years, but we could not have anticipated the response to this. An action committee sprang from the ground, led by the organic farmers, and a week after the announcement the first demonstration, convened one day in advance, was sprung on the Secretary of State for Wales when he visited to open a footpath." A delegation went to the Welsh Assembly, a petition was circulated and a public meeting was held on May 5. The meeting was addressed by scientific experts Professor Brian Goodwin and Dr Mae-Wan Ho. Scientific papers on this issue by them are reproduced in full on the website

The activist said of the public meeting, "I have never experienced a meeting like it. The range of highly informed, impassioned comments. The sense that this was not backyardism, but fighting for the only direction open to Welsh farming and our economy. As one of the speakers said: 'What is special about our area can be summed up in four words – Celtic, cultural, spiritual and most important, natural.’ What brought home the strength of community was the determination of people with everything to sacrifice – good businesses, respectability, growing families – to take whatever action was called for to protect the place they loved and ensure a future for much more than their own children." The activist also pointed out, "It should be remembered that they are acting democratically in that the Welsh Assembly voted to keep Wales GM free."

The democratic and constitutional question of the right of the people of Wales to determine such a fundamental issue affecting their lives and their future was a major concern of the people in the meeting. Although agriculture is a devolved issue, Whitehall says the Welsh Assembly has no power to decide to keep Wales GM free. People were also clear that this is a community that will not accept the global dictate of multinationals – in this case Aventis. From the platform the chairman pointed up the connection with the GATT rounds currently extending the powers of corporations over governments. The activist said, "No-one leaving the meeting felt that these huge but shadowy powers were a match for a determined, informed and co-ordinated community."

The field trial was to be of genetically modified maize (Chardon LL) produced by Aventis who also produce the herbicide it has been developed to withstand. A press release from the meeting included the following: "Concerns were raised about the safety of GM food, the threat to the integrity of local traditional food production, and the dominance of large agro-chemical companies in the local and global economy."

Pembrokeshire is at the heart of Welsh organic expansion, with around eighty farms now under organic management, and tourism is also vital to the prosperity of the region. The imposition of GMO trials in this area when the economy is suffering from the foot and mouth crisis is seen as particularly insensitive, and has made people very angry. Many speakers also emphasised that this is a global issue requiring co-ordinated action.

Speaking at the meeting, a local organic farmer said: "So many problems are coming to light with GM crops in North America, that the EU must call a moratorium, as we have recently seen in Germany.

"GM crop technology as we see it today represents a very crude escalation of industrial agriculture, which poses unacceptable risks to the micro flora and fauna in the soil, and thus to the whole food chain.

"Far from being a life line for British agriculture, GM could be the means of execution. A well respected farmer in Canada has recently been fined for growing GM plants without a licence from Monsanto, in spite of the fact that it was acknowledged that the contamination had spread from neighbouring GM crops, and he had never deliberately sown GM seed!"

Julian Rosser, speaking on behalf of Friends of the Earth Cymru, said: "Chardon LL maize was deemed safe after feeding to rats for two weeks and to chickens for six weeks, which is hardly adequate!"

At the meeting the following resolution was passed unanimously:

"The UK Government, through the DETR, announced on 3rd April 2001, that GM crop trials are planned for this season at two sites near Mathry, North Pembrokeshire. Being mindful of the following facts: (1) During the last 12 months a significant and growing number of independent scientists and institutions around the world have voiced serious concerns about the validity of the initial GMO safety assessments and the potential threat posed to natural ecosystems and human health by the release of unnatural life forms. (2) In countries that have adopted these crops on a field scale, there is mounting evidence of declining yields, increasing chemical inputs, and dictatorial behaviour by the agro-chemical companies who have been allowed to patent the new seeds. (3) The German government has recently confirmed that planned trials of GM crops have been postponed indefinitely. (4) As recently as last Thursday night (12th April 2001) the Government admitted that oilseed rape grown across Britain had been contaminated with a genetically modified variety.

"This meeting calls upon the Welsh Assembly and Her Majesty’s Government to: (a) Initiate an immediate moratorium on all GMO field trials, and the importation, distribution, and sale of all GM food within the UK. (b) Review the whole system of agricultural research funding, product testing, and issue of patents for new life forms.

"This meeting also calls on all participating farmers to withdraw from UK trials, and urges the farming community to follow the example of Canada’s National Farmers Union who, in December 2000, demanded that Canadian Government implement a moratorium on the production, importation, distribution, and sale of GM food."

The US-based Aventis is also the company involved in the Warwickshire GMO field trials threatening the Henry Doubleday Research Centre.

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