Selling Jose Bove on the merits of globalization isn't easy. But credit European Trade Commissioner Pascal Lamy with trying. Bove, you'll recall, is the farmer-radical who wrecked a McDonald's last summer to protest U.S. trade policy. Declining to post bail, he spent three weeks in jail; the day he stepped out, the French government gave him credentials to attend next month's WTO meetings in Seattle--as a protester. Last week he limbered up at a Green Party conference on trade issues in the small town of Meze in the south of France. Lamy came down to try to convince the crowd that "globalization is a good thing," and to promise them that their concerns won't be ignored in Seattle. He didn't win many converts. "Lamy is convinced that business has made the world a better place," says Daniel Cohn-Bendit, the leader of the French Greens in the European Parliament. "These people aren't convinced."
The Greens' political clout on trade issues stems mainly from public concern over the safety of imported foods, including hormone-fed beef and genetically modified corn and soy. But their agenda for the WTO also extends to environmental and labor standards in the developing world, and to intellectual-property rights; the Greens hate the idea of biotech companies patenting modified genes. Bove plans to focus on two main issues in Seattle: people's right to determine what they eat, and the creation of a separate court to rein in the WTO. "Europe is caught in a fight which prioritizes the market," he told NEWSWEEK. "We're struggling against King Money here."
Meanwhile, Lamy is trying to balance multiple priorities. A socialist who believes strongly in free trade, Lamy advocates what he calls globalisation maitrisee--managed globalism. And though Brussels may be at odds with the Americans on agricultural issues, it makes common cause in other realms, such as intellectual property. The Europeans and Americans also seem to be coming together on trying to raise developing-world labor standards--much to the annoyance of the developing world.
Lamy told the Meze gathering about his experiences trying to export labor rights. "In a number of developing countries I have been told, 'No way'," he said to the crowd, which jeered and whistled in response. Morocco and other developing countries recently declared their opposition to the inclusion of labor rights on the Seattle agenda. Lamy said the best he could hope for was to link up the WTO and the International Labor Organization in a partnership of sorts. "We haven't been able to win over the developing countries," he explained.
Alas, he can say the same about the Greens and Bove.