> The Bio 2004 Protests - A View From Inside
Bio 2004 Protests - A View From Inside the Barricades
Experience in Getting to Moscone
in Silicon Valley I had a pretty good idea what to expect
when the protesters from a socialist commune of groups
decided to try to shut down the BIO 2004 convention
on Tuesday June 8th. I decided to get an early start
to get to the convention center before the protesters
I arrived at the Caltrain station at 4th and King at
6:50AM and promptly hopped on the Jitney that runs by
Moscone, Union Square and the Financial District. I
looked out the window and realized that something was
already up when I saw FIVE helicopters hovering over
the Moscone area, I figured it may be a long day.
arrived at the Moscone center area, and trying to cross
the street had an encounter with my first protester.
My first reaction was to gag, since this guy had obviously
not had a bath for close to a week. The conversation
(with him 6 inches or so from my face) went something
no to GMOs! Hey, give me your badge! You don't want
to go in there" - protester
"The company I work for develops vaccines. Some
of the projects I would like to do are for third world
disorders. You people should love me!" - thelabrat
Silence and dumbfounded look - protester.
well those of you who know me realize I probably did
not use the word people in the above exchange...
I was targeting sessions that were going on in Moscone
west. For those of you that have never been to the convention
center in San Francisco, Moscone North and South are
connected by tunnels going under the street and if you
need to go to Moscone West you need to cross an intersection.
This is the only thing I think the police were not prepared
for. Instead of clearing a path for people to transit,
they were initially pushing people to the outside to
go around the protesters, so I actually had to walk
through the people there to get to Moscone west. Fortunately,
not too many people were there yet. They later corrected
this and provided a clear path for transit.
protesters and confusion
of the protesters were against genetically modified
food. Shutting down this conference has a fundamental
flaw in that only a fraction of 1% of the people attending
this meeting were working on genetically modified organisms!
Besides that, you would probably find agreement among
many that some of the initial proposals involving GM
food products were too risky.
surprise for me was the co-founder of Greenpeace who
expressed his support for some genetically modified
food. He had a write-up in a periodical that was distributed
to all the meeting attendees that stated that the industry
should take a tougher stand in the PR surrounding GM
food. For example, show the problems of blindness in
Africa and how Golden Rice, which has been genetically
modified with the addition of beta carotene could have
saved the sight of these children.
actually seemed more like a party and social gathering
at times than an actual protest. The turnout was also
somewhat underwhelming given San Francisco's history
of protests, with no more than 500 protesters at the
height of activity.
of the funniest times of the day was when several of
us were walking in front of the protesters and saw a
sign which read BIOTECH + PROFIT = BAD. We obviously
started laughing hysterically at this, since it was
obvious this person did not understand the state of
the industry at all...
was a small group of counter-protestors on Tuesday organized
by a Libertarian action group from BureauCrash.com.
The attendees of the convention and thelabrat were quite
happy to see these brave souls going against the socialist
tide and voice their disapproval of the protesters.
That said, it does not do justice to the extent which
this group went to try to disrupt the protest. Check
out their website for details on how they infiltrated
the supporting groups to sow confusion among the ranks.
Gentlemen, theLabRat salutes you...
the protest was the major point of conversation on the
Tuesday of the meeting. Here are some of the more memorable
quotes picked up by theLabRat:
bless these guys and freedom of speech! Because
of them I have a job" - A security guard
I should go out with a bullhorn and tell them
I could increase the THC content of pot ten-fold!
Do you think they would go away?" - A scientist
working on genetic modification in plants
the lies! BioTech saves lives" - A counter-protestor
jeans(genes) fit fine" - a protester.
Heals! Socialism Kills!" - A counter-protestor
goal of these protesters was to "shut down"
the convention and they did not impact it at all. It
was an annoyance to some of those attending, but speaking
as someone inside the barricades, I actually made more
contacts and potential business using the protest as
a starting point for conversation. So, ironically, the
protesters actions had the exact opposite influence
on the convention as intended.
also will come out in favor of an organized pro-biotech
counter protest in Philadelphia in 2005. I think the
protesters could easily be out-numbered. theLabRat will
even bring some free cow and snow leopard lab coats
to hand out if he is going to attend...