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Biotech Grapes Destroyed in Californian wine country,
Petaluma Pruners communique 

genetix alert 16apr00

On the night of the 8th of April a group calling itself the "Petaluma Pruners" destroyed grapes being grown on genetically engineered rootstocks in Sonoma County, California. The group have released the following communiqué:

GE GRAPES AND THE PATENTING OF LIFE TAKE A HACKING!
Spotlight on California Wine Country's Dirty Little Patented Secret

Under the sliver of last night's crescent moon we set to work. It was day seven of "Resistance is Fertile", an international week of action against genetic engineering (GE). With pruning shears in hand and a vengeance against GE and the patenting of living beings, concerned farmers called the "Petaluma Pruners" conducted a non violent direct action against the grape biotechnology corporation Vinifera, Inc. We snipped, snapped, and hacked up Vinifera's grape plant starts, fueled by a vision of a safer farming environment, free of the runaway-train science of GE. The action site can be found at Vinifera's headquarters: 4288 Bodega Ave., in between Thompson and Skillman in Petaluma, CA 94952. Call Vinifera at 707-773-4557.

Vinifera's claim-to-shame technology is a "genetically engineered virus-free rootstock and scionwood" for grape plants (Choose "Archive Data" for Vinifera from biotech P.R. group Informagen: http://www.informagen.com/Resource_Informagen/Full/3829.html.)

Vinifera was created in 1993 by GE corporation Agritope to handle its Grape Biotechnology Program. Agritope recently received three new plant biotech patents, one specifically relating to Vinifera's research. The Vinifera patent gives ownership rights to a "novel" protein to detect a new strain of grapevine leafroll virus infection in grape plants. Agritope's patent portfolio now consists of 15 issued U.S. Patents, 7 foreign patents, as well as applications for an additional 39 patents which are currently pending.

"The patenting of life makes living beings into inventions, machines and objects, that are created solely for a corporation's profits and nothing else. What does it mean, then, that these patented beings, spliced together and brought to life in a laboratory, can feel, think and reproduce? The ramifications of this are horrific, and unknown," stated Petaluma Pruner Maria Sands. She continued, "GE meddles with complex ecosystems and beings we don't even take the time to understand. Biotechnology, which utilizes patenting and GE, is the ultimate commercialization of life on Earth. To tweak and twist every life form in order to make a buck, from the mighty conifers down to the smallest bacteria, is to live in the utter absence of the sacred." Any corporation or institution engaged in the patenting of life is a target. Any corporation or institution engaged in genetic engineering and biotechnology is a target.

According to Vinifera's website (go to www.agritope.com  and choose vinifera), the company was created "to take advantage of the burgeoning wine grape industry, which is estimated to grow from 44 million vines planted annually to 90 million by the year 2000." Unfortunately, along with that commercial growth comes a loss in biodiversity due to pesticide use and deforestation to replace native forests with grape plantations, massive over-consumption of water, and the contamination of other life forms by genetically-manipulated organisms.

And for wine enthusiasts everywhere, what now? Whether you sniff, swish, sip or swig, you have a right to know that your wine hasn't been made by anyone else but nature. NO THANKS, VINIFERA! "Vinifera's grapes were targeted because of their GE rootstock and their patent(s) on life.

Make no mistake," warned the Petaluma Pruners, "this is just the beginning of night time pruning possibilities. We have Grape Expectations!"

May this action bring about many more, Petaluma Pruners.

SOURCE:  http://www.mindfully.org/GE/Grapes-Destroyed-Petaluma-Pruners.htm


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