International Petition on BP's $500m Project to Genetically Engineer Biofuels

  • by: stopbp-berkeley.org
  • target: BP, Univ. of California at Berkeley, Univ. of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, LBNL

Dear Friends,

Please take a moment to sign and circulate this urgent petition. We have so far been successful in raising awareness about the proposed project, exposing its flaws, and preventing its signing and implementation, but rumors continue to circulate that there may be attempts to sign the deal soon.

Please also take a moment to call or email the contacts below to voice your concerns:


Robert Dynes
President, University of California
robert.dynes@ucop.edu; 510-987-9074


Robert Birgeneau
Chancellor, UC Berkeley
chancellor@berkeley.edu; 510-642-7464


Steven Chu
Director, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
schu@lbl.gov; 510-486-5111


Robert Malone
President, BP America
robert.malone@bp.com; 281-366-2000


Richard Herman
Chancellor, University of Illinois, Urbana Champaign
chancellor@uiuc.edu; 217-333-6290


Tony Hayward
CEO, BP
tony.hayward@bp.com; 44-20-7496-4000 (UK)

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
International Petition on BP's $500 Million Project to Genetically Engineer Biofuels
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

We, the undersigned citizens and organizations from across the world declare the following regarding the proposed BP (aka British Petroleum) funded $500 million project to establish an Energy Biosciences Institute to genetically engineer biofuels through the collaboration of the University of California, Berkeley, the University of Illinois, Urbana Champaign, and the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory:


<Improper Process>

Whereas we recognize the grave significance of global warming but we oppose the attempt to use fear and paranoia to justify collaboration with corporations and override transparency and public participation in decision making,


Whereas the university sanctioned review of UC Berkeley's $25 million agreement with Novartis (now Syngenta) explicitly recommended that the University 'avoid industry agreements that involve complete academic units or large groups of researchers,' and 'encourage broad debate early in the process of developing new research agendas,'


Whereas one of the most important lessons from 'Green Revolution' efforts to address poverty through new seeds and fertilizer was about the need for transparency, participation, and accountability in decision making and research,


Whereas the UC Berkeley administration has only had ad hoc, rushed, short, and one-sided forums, and funneled resources into promotional PR efforts,


Whereas no students at the University of Illinois Urbana Champaign have been involved in the formulation or discussion of the proposed deal which would involve their studies, labor, and research,


Whereas the UC administration has prevented students in general from attending negotiations, but did secretly invite a business student who was formerly a BP employee and had recently received money from oil companies, including BP,


Whereas the public will not be able to view the contract or suggest changes before it is signed in secret in Oakland at the Office of the President of the University of California,


Whereas BP has run advertisements in commercial media about the proposed deal as part of a BP marketing campaign and the UC administration has failed to respond to emails enquiring whether BP followed proper procedures to request UC Berkeley trademark authorization,


Whereas this represents one of the largest proposed corporate grant in world history and has been called "our generation's moon shot," yet questionably uses inappropriate existing procedures on conflicts of interest and intellectual property rights,


Whereas the administration has failed to respond to the hundreds of people who have voiced concern over the deal through petition signatures (submitted April 2007, see http://www.thepetitionsite.com/takeaction/147963846), as well as the concerns expressed in resolutions passed by the Graduate Assembly and the Associated Students of the University of California, Berkeley,



<BP's Mistakes and Crimes >


Whereas BP spent $3 million to defeat long-term public funding for research on alternative energy provided for in California's proposition 87, and UC President Robert Dynes has called BP's actions 'a mistake,'


Whereas BP has been negligent in numerous occasions of safety and environmental violations, including a Texas refinery fire causing the death of 15 workers and injury of 180, major negligence in its Alaska pipeline, and dumping of pollution into Lake Michigan,


Whereas BP has faced protests because none of BP's upper-level executives are black, and none of its 600 stations in the US are owned by African Americans,


Whereas BP recently pled guilty to a felony and was fined $373 million by the US government for social and environmental negligence and manipulating prices,


Whereas BP has refused to cooperate fully in the Publish What You Pay initiative to reduce corruption in the countries around the world where it works,


Whereas BP has a record of working with and supporting groups and governments known to commit human rights violations,


Whereas we are concerned by BP's implication in the atrocities in Sudan through billions of dollars of collaboration with PetroChina and Sinopec, and recognize that in March 2006 the University of California divested from firms involved with PetroChina and Sinopec due to concerns about conflict in Sudan,


Whereas collaboration with BP would represent not a ladder down from the ivory tower to the 'real world,' but a crossbridge linking ivory and corporate towers,



<Privatization of the Public University>


Whereas we oppose the narrow re-definition of academic freedom to mean the permission to take funding from any source,


Whereas grants involving whole schools or departments are distinctly different than personal academic freedoms to solicit grants,


Whereas the sanctity of public funding for public universities must be supported in the face of calls for cuts and the California State Treasurer's recent suggestion to privatize the UC system,


Whereas public financing for education must be secured through overcoming the legacy of Proposition 13, which reduced tax revenue, rather than ad hoc private contributions,


Whereas taxpayers would have to spend $40 million to construct a building for the private research efforts of up to 50 BP scientists,



<Dangerous Potential Impacts>


Whereas the agreement actually also involves funding for more research on coal and oil,


Whereas the draft contract pays insufficient attention to negative potential social and environmental effects,

Whereas we are concerned by the statement of the proposed EBI director, Chris Somerville, that "my personal conviction is that every plant used by humans will eventually be GM,"


Whereas the proposed building has not had a transparent Environmental Impact Review,


Whereas hundreds of people and organizations have signed a petition calling for a moratorium on EU incentives for agrofuels, EU imports of agrofuels and EU agrofuel monocultures, and UN Special Rapporteur on the right to food has recently called for a five-year moratorium on biofuels,


Whereas BP has already established partnerships with biofuel firms working in Swaziland, Madagascar, South Africa, Zambia, India, and other countries,


Whereas biofuels have already raised the price of food, causing considerable hunger and disruption in Mexico and South Africa, caused degradation of wetlands and forests in Brazil, Cameroon, Uganda and Benin, and prompted land grabs in South Africa, Brazil, Ghana, Swaziland and numerous other countries,


Whereas farmers' organizations representing millions of farmers in Asia, Africa, and Latin American have cautioned against the destructive effects of biofuels on land and livelihoods,



WE DEMAND


that UC Berkeley, BP, UIUC and LBNL immediately halt contract negotiations,


that an open, transparent and democratic process be instituted to discuss global warming, energy use, genetic engineering and agriculture, and


that Universities of California and Illinois develop policies and procedures that include students, faculty, and members of the international community in open discussions and reviews regarding the sustainability, academic, and ethical implications of future private-public collaboration.


29 October 2007
stopbp-berkeley.org

Dear Friends,


Please take a moment to sign and circulate this urgent petition. We have so far been successful in raising awareness about the proposed project, exposing its flaws, and preventing its signing and implementation, but rumors continue to circulate that there may be attempts to sign the deal soon.


Please also take a moment to call or email the contacts below to voice your concerns:



Robert Dynes
President, University of California
robert.dynes@ucop.edu; 510-987-9074



Robert Birgeneau
Chancellor, UC Berkeley
chancellor@berkeley.edu; 510-642-7464



Steven Chu
Director, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
schu@lbl.gov; 510-486-5111



Robert Malone
President, BP America
robert.malone@bp.com; 281-366-2000



Richard Herman
Chancellor, University of Illinois, Urbana Champaign
chancellor@uiuc.edu; 217-333-6290



Tony Hayward
CEO, BP
tony.hayward@bp.com; 44-20-7496-4000 (UK)


----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
International Petition on BP's $500 Million Project to Genetically Engineer Biofuels
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


We, the undersigned citizens and organizations from across the world declare the following regarding the proposed BP (aka British Petroleum) funded $500 million project to establish an Energy Biosciences Institute to genetically engineer biofuels through the collaboration of the University of California, Berkeley, the University of Illinois, Urbana Champaign, and the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory:



<Improper Process>


Whereas we recognize the grave significance of global warming but we oppose the attempt to use fear and paranoia to justify collaboration with corporations and override transparency and public participation in decision making,



Whereas the university sanctioned review of UC Berkeley's $25 million agreement with Novartis (now Syngenta) explicitly recommended that the University 'avoid industry agreements that involve complete academic units or large groups of researchers,' and 'encourage broad debate early in the process of developing new research agendas,'



Whereas one of the most important lessons from 'Green Revolution' efforts to address poverty through new seeds and fertilizer was about the need for transparency, participation, and accountability in decision making and research,



Whereas the UC Berkeley administration has only had ad hoc, rushed, short, and one-sided forums, and funneled resources into promotional PR efforts,



Whereas no students at the University of Illinois Urbana Champaign have been involved in the formulation or discussion of the proposed deal which would involve their studies, labor, and research,



Whereas the UC administration has prevented students in general from attending negotiations, but did secretly invite a business student who was formerly a BP employee and had recently received money from oil companies, including BP,



Whereas the public will not be able to view the contract or suggest changes before it is signed in secret in Oakland at the Office of the President of the University of California,



Whereas BP has run advertisements in commercial media about the proposed deal as part of a BP marketing campaign and the UC administration has failed to respond to emails enquiring whether BP followed proper procedures to request UC Berkeley trademark authorization,



Whereas this represents one of the largest proposed corporate grant in world history and has been called "our generation's moon shot," yet questionably uses inappropriate existing procedures on conflicts of interest and intellectual property rights,



Whereas the administration has failed to respond to the hundreds of people who have voiced concern over the deal through petition signatures (submitted April 2007, see http://www.thepetitionsite.com/takeaction/147963846), as well as the concerns expressed in resolutions passed by the Graduate Assembly and the Associated Students of the University of California, Berkeley,




<BP's Mistakes and Crimes >



Whereas BP spent $3 million to defeat long-term public funding for research on alternative energy provided for in California's proposition 87, and UC President Robert Dynes has called BP's actions 'a mistake,'



Whereas BP has been negligent in numerous occasions of safety and environmental violations, including a Texas refinery fire causing the death of 15 workers and injury of 180, major negligence in its Alaska pipeline, and dumping of pollution into Lake Michigan,



Whereas BP has faced protests because none of BP's upper-level executives are black, and none of its 600 stations in the US are owned by African Americans,



Whereas BP recently pled guilty to a felony and was fined $373 million by the US government for social and environmental negligence and manipulating prices,



Whereas BP has refused to cooperate fully in the Publish What You Pay initiative to reduce corruption in the countries around the world where it works,



Whereas BP has a record of working with and supporting groups and governments known to commit human rights violations,



Whereas we are concerned by BP's implication in the atrocities in Sudan through billions of dollars of collaboration with PetroChina and Sinopec, and recognize that in March 2006 the University of California divested from firms involved with PetroChina and Sinopec due to concerns about conflict in Sudan,



Whereas collaboration with BP would represent not a ladder down from the ivory tower to the 'real world,' but a crossbridge linking ivory and corporate towers,




<Privatization of the Public University>



Whereas we oppose the narrow re-definition of academic freedom to mean the permission to take funding from any source,



Whereas grants involving whole schools or departments are distinctly different than personal academic freedoms to solicit grants,



Whereas the sanctity of public funding for public universities must be supported in the face of calls for cuts and the California State Treasurer's recent suggestion to privatize of the UC system,



Whereas public financing for education must be secured through overcoming the legacy of Proposition 13, which reduced tax revenue, rather than ad hoc private contributions,



Whereas taxpayers would have to spend $40 million to construct a building for the private research efforts of up to 50 BP scientists,




<Dangerous Potential Impacts>



Whereas the agreement actually also involves funding for more research on coal and oil,



Whereas the draft contract pays insufficient attention to negative potential social and environmental effects,

Whereas we are concerned by the statement of the proposed EBI director, Chris Somerville, that "my personal conviction is that every plant used by humans will eventually be GM,"



Whereas the proposed building has not had a transparent Environmental Impact Review,



Whereas hundreds of people and organizations have signed a petition calling for a moratorium on EU incentives for agrofuels, EU imports of agrofuels and EU agrofuel monocultures, and UN Special Rapporteur on the right to food has recently called for a five-year moratorium on biofuels,



Whereas BP has already established partnerships with biofuel firms working in Swaziland, Madagascar, South Africa, Zambia, India, and other countries,



Whereas biofuels have already raised the price of food, causing considerable hunger and disruption in Mexico and South Africa, caused degradation of wetlands and forests in Brazil, Cameroon, Uganda and Benin, and prompted land grabs in South Africa, Brazil, Ghana, Swaziland and numerous other countries,



Whereas farmers' organizations representing millions of farmers in Asia, Africa, and Latin American have cautioned against the destructive effects of biofuels on land and livelihoods,




WE DEMAND



that UC Berkeley, BP, UIUC and LBNL immediately halt contract negotiations,



that an open, transparent and democratic process be instituted to discuss global warming, energy use, genetic engineering and agriculture, and



that Universities of California and Illinois develop policies and procedures that include students, faculty, and members of the international community in open discussions and reviews regarding the sustainability, academic, and ethical implications of future private-public collaboration.



29 October 2007
stopbp-berkeley.org

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