This is a Call to Action for a Non-Hierarchical Occupation of Monsanto Everywhere
Whether you like it or not, chances are Monsanto contaminated the food you ate today with chemicals and unlabeled GMOs. Monsanto controls much of the world's food supply at the expense of food democracy worldwide. This site is dedicated to empowering citizens of the world to take action against Monsanto & it's enablers like the FDA, USDA, EPA, GMA, BIO, and the processed food companies that use Monsanto's products.
After a banner year of bringing attention to big corporations’ role in climate disruption, Reverend Billy will conclude 2014 by confronting the company that is responsible for Agent Orange, PCBs, GMOs, Bovine Growth Hormone, Glyphosate and more.
Known by millions as the most environmentally destructive corporation on the planet, Monsanto, for nearly two decades, has been controlling political campaigns and affecting the regulatory process of agricultural systems all over the world. In the U.S. alone, more than 90 percent of soybeans and 80 percent of corn are grown with seeds containing Monsanto-patented genetics.
“Monsanto must be stopped,” said award-winning Reverend Billy, who has been jailed more than 50 times protesting social and environmental injustices. “Monsanto is the devil and what better day than Thanksgiving to remind the world that eating local, organic food is one way to stop this profit-mongering, biodiversity-destroying monopoly.”
Industrial agriculture and the entire globalized food system, which is becoming more large-scale and centralized every day, destroys biodiversity, soils and local food systems, and is responsible for accelerating climate change by contributing more than 40 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions.
Reverend Billy and the Stop Shopping Choir will premier their new show, Monsanto Is the Devil, with the Not Buying It Band on Sunday, Nov. 23 at Joe’s Pub at The Public in New York City. Then the troupe will travel by bus to St. Louis, meet at a local park on Nov. 27 and march one mile to Monsanto’s world headquarters to have a festive organic Thanksgiving day meal where they will perform songs from their new show. The choir will be dressed in stylish Pilgrim and honey bee costumes.
“Despite its various marketing incarnations over the years, Monsanto is a chemical company that got its start selling saccharin to Coca-Cola, then Agent Orange to the U.S. military, and, in recent years, seeds genetically engineered to contain and withstand massive amounts of Monsanto herbicides and pesticides,” said Ronnie Cummins, executive director of Organic Consumers Association. “Monsanto has become synonymous with the corporatization and industrialization of our food supply.”
In addition to the Thanksgiving day meal, an online campaign has been launched encouraging people to take a pledge to cook an organic and local meal on Thanksgiving.
Monsanto’s world headquarters is located at 800 North Lindbergh Blvd., St. Louis, Missouri 63167.
Anti-GMO Activists Block Entrance to Congressional Offices to Stop Corporate Lobbying During the Shutdown
Action Follows Delivery of Monsanto’s Minions Awards
WASHINGTON, DC – Activists posing as biotechnology industry lobbyists and processed food industry insiders are on Capitol Hill today delivering “Monsanto’s Minions Awards” to the members of Congress who have worked the hardest to keep their constituents in the dark about the genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in America’s food supply.
Following the awards deliveries to Congressional offices, the anti-GMO activists, posing as the Biotechnology Industry Awards Committee (BIAC), will attempt to shut down entrances to the Congressional office buildings to stop corporate lobbying during the shutdown.
Today’s action, modeled on the one Abbie Hoffman and the Yippies did at the trading floor of the New York Stock Exchange in 1967, involves dumping out briefcases of cash on the X-ray machines at the entrances where lobbyists are waiting in line to go through the metal detectors and enter the Congressional office buildings. The corporate lobbyists are expected to lunge for the fluttering bills just as the stock traders did, creating a melee that will shut down the entrance.
Lobbyists scurrying to grab dollar bills is an apt metaphor for what’s happening during the shutdown. They are here meeting with the Congresspersons they supported financially during the elections to create or protect federal laws that boost their profits.
“The legislative pressure-cooker created by self-inflicted deadlines and crises like the fiscal cliff, the shutdown and the debt limit are the worst way to write legislation. Corporate lobbyists are here to take advantage of the situation. That’s how we got the Monsanto Protection Act in March. We’re here to try to stop that kind of thing from happening again,” said Alexis Baden-Mayer, political director of the Organic Consumers Association, dressed for the day as Jennetta Kontamy-Nashun, Biotechnology Industry Awards Committee lobbyist.
Monsanto, the target of the anti-GMO activists’ ire, is a company that spends hundreds of thousands of dollars on campaign donations in each election cycle and millions of dollars every year lobbying. In exchange, Congress subsidizes its genetically engineered food and makes sure it isn’t labeled or safety-tested. Monsanto’s minions in Congress are also available to do special favors for the company when the opportunity arises. This is what happened in March when, in order to avert a government shutdown, Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.) allowed Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) to attach a rider to the continuing resolution that took away the power of the judiciary to halt the planting of potentially dangerous new genetically engineered crops.
“Now, it’s the King Amendment. If the Farm Bill gets wrapped up in a budget deal to end the shutdown and raise the debt limit, the House and Senate won’t go to through the normal conference committee process and that will make it harder to keep the King Amendment out. Everything will be dealt with through backroom deals negotiated by the parties’ leadership and the President. It’s so undemocratic! The voters get shut out, while Monsanto and the rest of the big-money agribusiness lobbyists maintain their access,” said Adam Eidinger of Occupy Monsanto, posing as Haywood U. LaBallette, BIAC lobbyist.
The King Amendment to the House version of the Farm Bill was offered by Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) in an attempt to block the implementation of a law passed by overwhelmingly by California voters that says farm animals need to be given enough space to spread their limbs and turn around. The King Amendment is so broadly written that it could take away states’ rights to regulate food and farming. The anti-GMO activists are concerned that the King Amendment, or future modifications to it, could be used to take away states’ rights to label genetically engineered food, a proposal that has the support of 93% of the public.
“Congress needs to go back to business as usual and do its work of appropriations and reauthorizations through the normal process. As long as Congress continues to legislate from crisis to crisis, democracy is on hold and corporations have the upper hand. We’re anti-GMO activists, but we’re forced to be pro-democracy activists,” said Gene Crimes of Occupy Monsanto, stepping out of character, as BIAC’s Ralph Alover.
The activists support Rep. David Cicilline’s (D-R.I.) proposal to ban all lobbyists from Capitol Hill during the government shutdown. They want to see Citizens United overturned and the American Anti-Corruption Act passed. They fear that if we don’t get money out of politics, we’ll never be able to pass the laws that the majority of Americans support.
“The only way we can potentially win what Americans already want is by taking our cause directly to the voters at the state level, but Congress could take that away from us, too. We’re really worried that if Initiative 522 passes in Washington State, Monsanto will use one of these crises as an opportunity to slip language into some thousand-page bill to overturn it,” said Ariel Vegosen of Occupy Monsanto, taking a break from her role as BIAC’s Olive Lotta Pestasydes.
Initiative 522 is a Washington State voter initiative on the ballot on November 5 that would label genetically engineered food. The biotech and processed food industries led by Monsanto and the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) are spending more than $17 million to trick voters into defeating the initiative. If they don’t succeed, they’ll turn to Congress. They have many allies, including progressives like Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo.) who have championed Monsanto and the GMA’s proposal for voluntary rather than mandatory labels.
Activists to Prepare & Share “Stone Soup” to Protest
FDA’s Antiquated Policies on Genetically Engineered (GMO) Foods
COLLEGE PARK, MD – Alarmed by the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) outdated and pro-biotechnology industry policies concerning the labeling & safety of GMO foods sold in America, safe food activists will hold the largest protest to date at the FDA to demand immediate policy changes. On Monday, April 8, concerned citizens traveling as far away as the Midwest will descend on the FDA for a day-long “Eat-In” outside the FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition located at 5100 Paint Branch Parkway, College Park, MD 20740. Organic farmers and backyard gardeners will bring organically-grown vegetables from their region that will be combined in a huge cooking pot to make a special, GMO-free “Stone Soup” that will be eaten in protest as a picnic-style event outside of the FDA.
WHAT: “Eat-In” at the FDA for GMO Food Labeling and Food Democracy.
WHERE: Sidewalk outside of the Food And Drug Administration’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, 5100 Paint Branch Parkway College Park, MD 20740 – Directly across the street from the College Park Metro Station (Green Line).
WHEN: All day, Monday, April 8 from 8am until 6pm – From 8am until Noon Safe Food Activists will prepare the Stone Soup and at 1pm the Stone Soup will be served to everyone with a bowl. After lunch, there will be a seed exchange and workshops on various topics.
Last week Safe Food Activists formally invited FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg and the staff at the Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition to speak at 1pm while the Stone Soup is being served. In the letter, they requested the FDA explain why they’ve refused to change the official policy toward labeling of GMO foods and to explain why the transgenic Aquabounty Salmon does not merit a GMO label.
“The FDA has a terrible track record when it comes to genetically engineered food,” said Patty Lovera, assistant director at the consumer advocacy group Food & Water Watch. “They have allowed GE ingredients to spread through our food supply without labels and they may soon make it worse by approving GE salmon, the first genetically engineered food animal. If FDA wants to actually fulfill it’s mission to protect the public, it needs to reject GE salmon.”
“The awareness is growing in the US, from the grassroots up, of people from all walks of life and from moms to students to CEOs, that are demanding their right to transparency in the labeling of genetically engineered foods. It is time that the FDA fulfill its role of protecting citizens by granting us our right to know what we’re eating,” said Lisa Stokke, co-founder of Food Democracy Now!, a grassroots advocacy organization based in Iowa. “The folks gathering near the FDA building, and in over 20 states where legislation for labeling is being considered, are a testament to the strength and resolve of the food movement.”
While Occupy Monsanto originally called for the demonstration, there have been numerous groups that have pledged their support for the picnic protest, including Food Democracy Now!, Food & Water Watch, Organic Consumers Association, GMO Inside, and the Right to Know GMO, a grassroots Coalition of States for GMO Labeling. There will be buses and vans from across the United States making their way to the FDA with the common goal of getting GMO foods labeled like they are in most industrialized nations.
“There have been ‘Be-Ins’ and ‘Sit-Ins’ but there has never been an ‘Eat-In’ in the history of the FDA,” says Adam Eidinger, spokesman for Occupy-Monsanto.com. “Its shameful the White House has nothing to say about the multiple ‘We The People’ petitions on GMO labeling that have gone unanswered for over a year,” adds Eidinger.
“The fable of ‘Stone Soup’ has been rewritten many times throughout history and will be rewritten once again on April 8,” says Tom Llewellyn, a lead organizer with the REAL Cooperative in Asheville, NC. “One version of the ‘Stone Soup’ tale is about a hungry soldier who, when passing through an impoverished village, announced that he would make ‘Stone Soup’ for everyone in town. The promise of this mysterious ‘Stone Soup’ persuaded people in the small village to pool their resources and offer up their hidden onions, carrots, lettuce, and spices to feed everyone. With all food activists and citizens working together, a greater good can be achieved by forcing changes in the way huge food corporations source ingredients and the way our government regulates food safety,” says Llewellyn.
Nearly 93% of all soybeans grown in America contain man-made, patented genes owned by a very small number of agrochemical companies that the FDA passively oversees. Instead of conducting rigorous independent analyses of patented GMO crops that make up Americas food supply, the FDA has relied on short-term industry studies that were written for profit, not food safety. In a January 2013 article in the Wall Street Journal, Monsanto’s CEO Hugh Grant stated the corporation was open to the FDA allowing GMO labeling, but only if it was done scientifically. “What is more scientific than a patent listing,” asks Emma Hutchens of the REAL Cooperative. “The FDA says that GMOs are not materially different than their non-GMO counterpart, but if the plants are patented there must be a material difference, otherwise there would be no need for a patent. They can’t have it both ways.”
In 2011 and 2012 over a million Americans signed the “Just Label It” FDA petition for GMO labeling, but the FDA has responded with silence. “The Food and Drug Administration is not listening to the overwhelming majority of Americans who want honest food labels,” says Emilianne Slaydon, founder of GMO Free DC. “We have signed numerous petitions but we’ve received no response. We only want the same food labels citizens of over 40 countries enjoy, so we are going to enjoy some ‘Stone Soup’ to demand this simple democratic right.”
Company supports consumer’s right to know by setting five-year deadline for labeling GMOs
Whole Foods Market announced today at Natural Products Expo West that, by 2018, all products in its U.S. and Canadian stores1 must be labeled to indicate if they contain genetically modified organisms (GMOs)2. Whole Foods Market is the first national grocery chain to set a deadline for full GMO transparency.
“We are putting a stake in the ground on GMO labeling to support the consumer’s right to know,” said Walter Robb, co-CEO of Whole Foods Market. “The prevalence of GMOs in the U.S. paired with nonexistent mandatory labeling makes it very difficult for retailers to source non-GMO options and for consumers to choose non-GMO products. Accordingly, we are stepping up our support of certified organic agriculture, where GMOs are not allowed, and we are working together with our supplier partners to grow our non-GMO supply chain to ensure we can continue to provide these choices in the future.”
Whole Foods Market has been collaborating with many of its supplier partners for several years to source products without GMO ingredients. In 2009, the company began putting its 365 Everyday Value™ line through Non-GMO Project™ verification and encouraged its grocery supplier partners to do the same. Whole Foods Market currently sells 3,300 Non-GMO Project verified products from 250 brands, more than any other retailer in North America. It will now expand this effort, working with suppliers in all categories as they transition to ingredients from non-GMO sources, or clearly label products containing GMOs by the five-year deadline. Whole Foods Market will make announcements about progress and key milestones along the way.
“We’re responding to our customers, who have consistently asked us for GMO labeling and we are doing so by focusing on where we have control: in our own stores,” said Robb.
GMOs are now part of an ongoing national conversation, thanks to efforts of various advocacy groups such as JustLabelIt.org and to individual states considering their own mandatory labeling laws, like the efforts that are now underway in Washington state. “Whole Foods Market supports that measure and looks forward to supporting other state efforts that may finally lead to one uniform set of national standards,” said Robb. “While we are encouraged by the many mandatory labeling initiatives, we are committed to moving forward with our own GMO transparency plan now.”
“We have always believed that quality and transparency are inseparable and that providing detailed information about the products we offer—such as 5-Step Animal Welfare ratings in meat, Eco Scale rated cleaning products in grocery, stringent wild and farm-raised standards in seafood, and now labeling GMOs throughout the store—is part of satisfying and delighting the millions of people who place their trust in Whole Foods Market each day,” said A.C. Gallo, president of Whole Foods Market. “This bold task will encourage manufacturers to ask deeper questions about ingredients, and it will help us provide greater transparency about the products we sell so our customers can be empowered to make informed decisions about the foods that are best for them.”
Until there is GMO labeling, consumers can rely on Non-GMO Project verified products and certified organic products if they want to avoid GMOs. The U.S. National Organic Standards prohibit the intentional use of GMO seed in the production of organic crops. As a pioneer in the U.S. organic food movement for the past 32 years, Whole Foods Market now offers thousands of organic products, the largest variety in the country.
1 The company has 7 stores in the U.K., which already requires labeling for all foods or feeds that intentionally contain or are produced from GMO ingredients.
2 Plants that have been altered through a technique that changes their genetic makeup, producing new combination of genes and traits that do not occur in nature, including the possibility of the introduction genes from other species, are called genetically modified organisms (GMOs) or genetically engineered (GE) foods.
Activist Investor to Challenge Monsanto CEO to be More Transparent at January 31 Annual Shareholder Meeting
Anti-GMO Protests Expected Outside
CREVE COEUR, MO – On Thursday, January 31, 2013, the Monsanto Company officers and shareholders will vote on a shareholder proposal to create a study of “material financial risks or operational impacts” associated with its chemical products and patented genetically modified organisms (GMOs). Activists in favor of the measure will demonstrate outside the meeting to raise awareness that the public does not currently have the right to witness what will be the only democratic vote of accountability on Monsanto’s leadership because the company bans cameras inside their Annual Shareholder Meeting.
WHO: Anti-GMO Food Activists, Adam Eidinger, Monsanto Shareholder WHAT: Protest at Monsanto Annual Shareholder Meeting WHERE: Monsanto Global Headquarters, Creve Coeur, MO, East Campus Entrance on Olive Blvd. WHEN: Thursday, January 31, 2013, Noon to 3:30PM
“Monsanto pledges transparency, but provides very little,” says Adam Eidinger, an organic food activist and Monsanto shareholder who organized a march from NY to Washington DC on behalf of honest food labeling in 2011. For the second year in a row, Eidinger will present a shareholder resolution on behalf of Napa, California-based Harrington Investments (HII) with help from the Pesticide Action Network of North America (PANNA).
“Companies like Starbucks, Walmart, The Washington Post, Oracle, Apple and Coca-Cola among many others provide the public and media access to their shareholder meetings in one form or another, but Monsanto, a company who’s patented genetically engineered products are in most people’s food, meets in secret,” says Eidinger.
“By banning cameras from their Annual Shareholder Meeting, Monsanto is flouting its pledge to shareholders who are unable to attend, the majority of Americans who eat the products created by Monsanto Company’s patented technology, farmers who are keen to know future plans of their seed & herbicide provider, and members of the media who report on the company,“ says Eidinger.
Last year Eidinger was forced to sneak an undercover camera into the Annual Shareholder Meeting because safe food activists were concerned about Monsanto Company’s lack of transparency. The grainy footage has been viewed more than 55,000 times. “I shouldn’t be required to break the rules in order to uphold Monsanto Company’s pledge of transparency,” says Eidinger.
The shareholder proposal Eidinger will speak for represents one of the strongest signals to date that the Monsanto Company faces growing consumer, legal, and regulatory uncertainties. Public pressure for transparency in the marketplace in the form of GMO food labeling is leading to new battles for Monsanto Company, which spent over $8 million dollars in 2012 to prevent labeling of genetically engineered foods in California. Next month, on February 19, Bowman v. Monsanto, a landmark case on GMO patent exhaustion, will be argued before the US Supreme Court. If the Supreme Court rules against the Monsanto Company many its patented products face an uncertain future.
The Annual Shareholder Meeting itself is only open to shareholders but concerned citizens will demonstrate outside along Olive Blvd. near the East Campus entrance to Monsanto Company’s Creve Coeur facilities beginning at 12:00 noon. The Monsanto Company global headquarters is located at 800 North Lindberg Boulevard in Creve Coeur, MO.
In 2012 there were over 100 demonstrations against the Monsanto Company around the world, including protests on five different Hawaiian Islands, three at Monsanto Company’s headquarters in Creve Coeur, Missouri along with 60 others across the US. In Argentina, Japan, Poland, Canada, Peru, Philippines, Spain, and numerous others countries people protested at Monsanto Company offices on September 17, 2012.
Last fall Monsanto and its business allies showed they can subvert the democratic process by spending more than $45 million dollars to spread lies in order to prevent GMO labeling in California’s Proposition 37. Monsanto and other biotechnology & processed food companies outspent their opposition by a factor of 5 to 1. In 2013 numerous states, including Missouri, have pending GMO labeling legislation. Washington State is expected to have a GMO labeling initiative on the ballot later this year. Efforts are already underway in California for a new 2014 labeling initiative.
John Harrington, CEO of Harrington Investments, questions the veracity of Monsanto’s GMO crops, “With the rise of Round-Up resistant ‘superweeds’ the company is simply telling farmers to spray even more toxic herbicides including 2,4 D, the main ingredient in Agent Orange. Many people are struggling to avoid GMO’s and chemicals used on them in the food they eat due to serious health and environmental concerns, yet Americans have no right to know what we are eating largely due to the close ties Monsanto has to President Obama’s USDA, EPA, and FDA, which have not satisfied more than 1 million Americans who have signed on to the JustLabelIt.org’s petition to the FDA.”
Adam Eidinger will be available for interview before and after the Monsanto Shareholder Meeting, to which he will drive in a “Label GMO Foods” art car called the Fishycorn Car.
OSGATA et al. v. Monsanto Oral Argument Slated for January 10, 2013
Contributions Urgently Needed for ‘Farmer Travel Fund’ to Enable Family Farmers to Attend Court Session
WASHINGTON, ME – November 23, 2012 – On November 21, 2012, the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Washington, D.C., announced that it would hear the Appeal of Dismissal in Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association et al v. Monsanto at 10am on Thursday, January 10, 2013. The landmark organic community lawsuit was originally filed in Federal District Court, Southern District of New York, in March 2011.
OSGATA et al v. Monsanto challenges the validity of Monsanto’s transgenic seed patents and seeks preemptive court protection for farmers when Monsanto seed trespasses onto their farms and contaminates their crops. Should contamination occur, innocent farmers would be placed in legal jeopardy and could be held liable by Monsanto for patent infringement because of the farmers’ “possession” of Monsanto technology without having paid royalty on that “possession.”
Plaintiffs are being represented in the case by lawyers from the Public Patent Foundation, who are providing their legal services to the farmers pro bono. Plaintiff lawyer Dan Ravicher asked Monsanto for a binding legal covenant guaranteeing family farmers that they would not be pursued for patent infringement should they become contaminated by Monsanto seed. Monsanto refused to provide this assurance to the farmers.
“American family farmers have gone to court seeking justice and protection from Monsanto. We are not seeking one penny from Monsanto,” said Maine organic seed farmer Jim Gerritsen, President of lead Plaintiff Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association. “We satisfy the requirements of the Declaratory Judgment Act. We want our day in court so that our families can achieve protection from this perverse injustice. We are prepared to prove at trial that the U.S. Patent Office improperly granted Monsanto patents on their genetically engineered seed and that those patents are invalid.”
OSGATA has re-established its Farmer Travel Fund in order to raise funds to enable family farmers to travel to the Oral Argument in January. The Farmer Travel Fund is in immediate need of contributions to support this convergence of farmers from across the United States in solidarity for the OSGATA et al. v. Monsanto lawsuit effort. Plaintiffs believe it is critical that the courtroom for the Oral Argument of this major lawsuit be filled with concerned Plaintiff-farmers in order to visibly demonstrate that the case is not just an academic dispute of patent law. Rather it is a monumental issue affecting the rights of American family farmers, with implications of global significance.
About OSGATA: The Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association is a not-for-profit agricultural organization made up of organic farmers, seed growers, seed businesses and supporters. OSGATA is committed to developing and protecting organic seed and it’s growers in order to ensure the organic community has access to excellent quality organic seed free of contaminants and adapted to the diverse needs of local organic agriculture. www.osgata.org