On September 17, GCU Field Agents demonstrated against Monsanto on the island of Maui, Hawaii.
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.
Bay Area activists are planning a peaceful protest at Syngenta Flowers in Gilroy today, marking the final day of a nationwide “global week of action” against “evil biotech” facilities linked to the Genetically Modified Organism food system.
A provocative Facebook flier promoting the event depicts mutant zombie children gnawing on GMO-poisoned corn. Some participants will tout visual props such as signs and biohazard suits, while others will protest through music or street theater.
While the local Syngenta facility at 2280 Hecker Pass Highway doesn’t actually sell or manufacture vegetable seeds or vegetable plants – it’s a flowers-only operation – the Swiss biotech giant that employs more than 26,000 people in more than 90 countries is currently the world’s No. 2 vegetable seed proprietor, according to its website.
Syngenta breeds, produces and markets “top-quality genetics to meet the needs of your retail-ready vegetable programs.” The company’s major field crops including corn and soybeans “are tailored for individual geographical regions to be high-yielding and reliable,” as well as “genetically enhanced with built-in insect resistance or herbicide tolerance.”
Gilroy Syngenta Manager Randy Armstrong says the company is aware of Friday’s protest, but “unfortunately, I’m not allowed to speak about it,” he explained. “I can’t comment on anything.”
Senior communications manager Lori Schwind with Syngenta Corporate Affairs, North America, issued a statement Thursday morning, saying the company is “aware of activity planned for Syngenta and respects people’s rights to voice their opinions, even when they differ from Syngenta’s.”
Formally known as “Occupy Monsanto” in protest of the American agricultural biotech company and leading producer of genetically engineered seeds, the global movement that kicked off Monday and involves 65 events staged around the world aims to “confront the industrial agriculture system head-on,” with participants who are “unified in pushing back GMO food into the lab from which it came.”
“The main point is that we’re getting the word out about industrial agriculture and the food we eat,” explained Adam Eidinger, Washington D.C.-based spokesman for Occupy Monsanto.
Staging a demonstration at Syngenta is “just as legitimate as Monsanto,” he maintains. “It’s part of the same industrial food complex. It’s a fair target.”
Protesters decided to demonstrate in Gilroy since “there wasn’t a Monsanto facility that we could find near San Francisco” – although a branch of Seminis, Inc., a leading vegetable and fruit seed company acquired by Monsanto in 2005, is located at 500 Lucy Brown Lane in San Juan Bautista.
Organizers of Friday’s gathering explain on their Facebook page that, “Syngenta Flowers Inc, another evil biotech company, was the closest one. Honestly, this is more than just about Monsanto. It’s about GMOs in general. Occupy Monsanto is a rallying call to let all biotech firms making GMOs know that they are on notice.”
Opposition against genetically engineered seeds – which are used by farmers for greater efficiency and higher output – run the gamut. Reported arguments include: Risks to human health and the environment, GMO seeds being too expensive, resistant to weed killer, and genetically contaminating traditional crops – which are important to organic farmers, as well as conventional farmers who export crops to countries that reject genetic engineering.
Monsanto itself has come under fire during the decades for “pollution, corruption,” and attempting to “take control of the world’s food supply,” as accused by one of many books against GMO seeds.
Eidinger says the protest in Gilroy is gaining steam through social media and organized carpool groups.
“It’s looking like this is a good one,” he noted. “They made their own flier and have done quite a bit of outreach.”
Approximately 31 people have RSVP’d to the 9 a.m. protest so far on the event’s Facebook page. The gathering is also being advertised on Craigslist and IndyBay, a non-commercial, democratic collective of independent Bay Area media makers and media outlets.
Owner Steve Costa with Headstart Nursery on Monterey Road in Gilroy believes the controversy projected onto the local Syngenta Flowers is misplaced.
“It’s kind of ridiculous to beat up a nice business” that’s an “asset to our area,” he rations.
“I don’t see the connection,” he added. “It’s huge company. That division (in Gilroy) doesn’t even know what the large seed division is doing.”
Executive Director Jennifer Scheer with the Santa Clara County Farm Bureau agrees the protest is “unfortunate,” but for additional reasons.
As the world population continues to increase exponentially, “we’re going to need to feed a third more people shortly with the same number of resources, or fewer,” she noted.
Genetic technologies employed by companies such as Syngenta have a lot of potential to address that reality, she reasoned.
Scheer can’t speak to the myriad arguments touted by activists such as Eidinger, who points out that GMOs in food have been linked to autism, obesity, food-based allergies, dropping fertility rates, birth defects and “weird” neurological disorders, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“We don’t know what the ramifications could potentially be either way,” Scheer speculated. “But at the same time, we don’t want to write it off and 20 years down the road have a mass food shortage worldwide.”
Occupy Monsanto was strategically timed with the one-year anniversary of the Occupy Movement, which began Sept. 17 on Wall Street in Manhattan and targeted, among numerous issues, corporate greed and corruption.
Protests this week mark the first global mobilization against GMOs in more than a decade, according to Eidinger.
Many individuals partaking in Occupy Monsanto are seizing the movement as a platform to dually voice their support for Proposition 37, the “California Right to Know Genetically Engineered Food Act,” one of 11 statewide initiatives that is on the Nov. 6 ballot.
A sample of groups who oppose the initiative include Monsanto, Syngenta, Kellogg, Kraft, Smucker, Bayer, Pepsico, Coca-Cola, Nestle, Hershey, the California Farm Bureau, ConAgra Foods, California Chamber of Commerce and California Retailers Association. Syngenta is listed as a donor to the “No on 37” campaign.
Biotechnology labeling is not required by the Food and Drug Administration, although it has been adopted by more than 40 countries, including New Zealand, parts of Asia and Australia and most of Europe.
Others activists, such as San Jose protester Toby Nixon, are using the event at Syngenta Friday as an outlet to protest against Monsanto for personal reasons.
Nixon is attending the protest in support of his father, a former member of the U.S. Army Special Forces for 27 years who was exposed to Agent Orange – an herbicide and defoliant used by the U.S. military during its herbicidal warfare program in Vietnam.
Monsanto, whom Nixon likens to “a thug on a street corner,” played a primary role in manufacturing Agent Orange.
Spokesman Eduardo Abarca with Occupy Monsanto-Syngenta, a 24-year-old San Francisco student and activist, wants to bring awareness to the fact that Syngenta manufactures an herbicide called Atrazine, “one of the most commonly detected pesticides that we find in our water,” Abarca claims.
Developed by Syngenta, Atrazine “has long been a mainstay of corn, sorghum and sugarcane farmers for its control of a broad range of yield-robbing weeds,” according to Syngenta’s website. The herbicide increases U.S. corn crop yields by more than 600 million bushels annually, and “helps protect the environment and critical wildlife habitats by reducing soil erosion by up to 85 million tons each year.”
Abarca also claims that Monsanto sells seeds to Syngenta, although Schwind was unable to verify this statement as of press time.
Sgt. Pedro Espinoza with the Gilroy Police Department confirmed law enforcement is aware of the planned protest and has a contingency plan in case things get out of hand. Espinoza said he doesn’t anticipate any issues, so long as everyone abides by the law.
“Our role is to make sure everyone is safe while allowing demonstrators to exercise their First Amendment right,” he said. “We’ll probably have a couple officers at the entry and exit points just to make sure no one tries to storm the place or destroy any property.”
Abarca maintains the protest is a peaceful demonstration.
GMOs “seep into our food supply,” he says, “and that’s what we’re here for – to really bring awareness to this issue.”
Today on the floor of the House of Representatives Congressman Dennis Kucinich said:
“In 1992 the Food and Drug Administration decided that genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are the functional equivalent of conventional foods. They arrived at this decision without testing GMOs for allergenicity, toxicity, anti-biotic resistance and functional characteristics. As a result hundreds of millions of acres of GMO crops were planted in America without the knowledge or consent of the American people: no safety testing and no long term health studies.
“The FDA has received over a million comments from citizens demanding labeling of GMOs. Ninety percent of Americans agree. So, why no labeling? I’ll give you one reason: The influence and the corruption of the political process by Monsanto. Monsanto has been a prime mover in GMO technology, a multi-million dollar GMO lobby here and a major political contributor.
“There is a chance that Monsanto’s grip will be broken in California where a GMO labeling initiative is on the ballot. And here in Congress, my legislation HR 3553 will provide for a national labeling law. Americans have a right to know if their food is genetically engineered. It’s time for labeling and for people to know how their food is being produced.”
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
GCU Media Liaison: Adam Eidinger 202-744-2671
WASHINGTON, DC – Occupy Monsanto, a decentralized network of food activists who organized 65 protests at GMO manufacturer Monsanto facilities across the globe this week, is calling on the Barack Obama Administration to clean house of appointed former Monsanto executives who intentionally ignore the serious health impacts of eating genetically engineered food due to their conflict of interest. A new GMO food study released today gives alarming evidence of GMO-induced lethal health complications in rats. The data casts an ominous shadow on the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) where imperative consumer regulation of GMOs is handled by former Monsanto executives. Read the new European GMO study at http://research.sustainablefoodtrust.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/Final-Paper.pdf
“Activists are renewing their push for the FDA to review the long term safety of GMO food prior to its introduction to the food supply,” says Occupy Monsanto spokesperson Gene Etic. “European researchers confirmed today rats fed GMO food developed tumors and other serious health problems at an alarming rate compared to the control group. It isn’t too soon to pull GMO’s out of the food supply based on today’s news. The FDA has an obligation to protect people from unhealthy food but as long as former Monsanto executive Michael Taylor is running food safety for Obama nothing will be done to protect Americans.”
Absent a new approach by the Obama Administration, the new study will fuel more GMO protests that are increasingly becoming disruptive as demonstrated last Wednesday, September 12, when activists calling themselves the Genetic Crimes Unit (GCU) shut down shipping and receiving access points at Monsanto’s massive Oxnard, California GMO seed factory. By peacefully blockading the exit and access points at the factory, the group shut down the distribution of genetically engineered (GMO) seeds for a day.
“If the government refuses to stop the distribution of deadly GMO seeds in the food supply, more and more activists will engage in acts like last week that stopped GMO seed distribution for about 6 hours in the state of California,” says Ariel Vegosen who was arrested with 8 others in Oxnard and charged with trespassing.
Monsanto is the largest producer of GMO seeds. Actions officially started on September 17, a year since Occupy Wall Street movement began and took place throughout the world including the 45 protests in the US alone and many others in Germany, Canada, India, Paraguay, Philippines, Poland, Argentina, Australia, Spain, Russia, Peru and Japan. More info as well as video available for media use with credit of the GMO protests can be found at http://Occupy-Monsanto.com
Spokespeople for Occupy Monsanto are available by email GMO@Occupy-Monsanto.com or calling Adam Eidinger at 202-744-2671
Watch the San Diego, California CBS affiliates (Channel 8) and Univision (Channel 17) cover the Women Occupy San Diego No GMO Protest on September 17, 2012.
A sign-waving rally was held Monday afternoon at the intersection of Piilani and Mokulele highways to mark the one-year anniversary of the Occupy Wall Street movement and to show solidarity with the “Occupy Monsanto Global Protests” worldwide, according to an announcement.
The event was hosted by Occupy Wall Street Maui and GMO Free Maui. (GMO refers to genetically modified organisms.)
Occupy Monsanto rallies also were held on Molokai, Kauai, Oahu and the Big Island, said organizers, who put the number of people taking part in the Maui rally at more than 100.
The group said its aim was to “bring awareness to the growing concern of unlabeled GMOs in our food supply.”
“Hawaii is the world’s capital for open air genetic crop experimentation, and GMO seed corn is our largest agricultural seed crop,” the group said. “There is growing concern about agricultural chemicals, such as Roundup, affecting our reefs and water supply.”
In response, Monsanto Co. Hawaii Community Affairs Manager Alan Takemoto said: “Monsanto has been recognized here in Hawaii and elsewhere for our high standards of quality, robust safety programs and strong commitment to environmental stewardship. We’re dedicated to improving modern agriculture through advanced technologies and committed to offering the best products that farmers depend on to increase their production and yields.”
Takemoto said the company’s goal is to use “cutting-edge research to help find solutions to some of the planet’s most pressing problems, such as global food security.”
In Hawaii, Monsanto employs about 1,000 people, he said.
“Our soil and water conservation efforts are governed by an approved natural resources conservation plan that was developed in consultation with the (U.S. Department of Agriculture’s) Natural Resources Conservation Service, and we use an integrated pest management program as part of our commitment to environmental stewardship,” he said.
Takemoto added that Monsanto is committed to “transparency and dialogue.”
“We understand that people have questions, and we welcome open, respectful dialogue with anyone genuinely interested in learning more about who we are and what we do,” he said.
On this week’s Maui County Council meeting agenda, Council Member Elle Cochran has proposed a resolution to include in Maui County’s legislative package a bill for the state Legislature that would require the labeling of genetically engineered food products. There’s also a proposed bill to label GMO products as part of the Hawaii State Association of Counties’ legislative package of bills.
The council meeting begins at 9 a.m. Friday in the eighth-floor Council Chambers of the Kalana O Maui building.
All across America, events like the demonstration today, in Daytona Beach Florida, are taking place. What is all the excitement? It’s Proposition 37, which will be on the ballot for California voters this November. Californians are again, at the cutting edge of what could change America for the better. As the Silicon Valley pioneered computers and technology, they are pioneering this food fight against chemical companies such as Monsanto and DuPont.
For the first time, in American history, GMO labeling is getting on the ballot; Finally, GMO’s are going to have their day in the court of public opinion. Proposition 37 was an initiative brought forward by voters, therefore, it cannot be removed from the ballot in California. In other cases, Monsanto has threatened lawsuits and states have backed down from this battle, however, California’s governing officials canNOT remove this initiative from the ballot based on California law. A clear victory for the Ballot Initiative Process in California.
This issue has been bought, intimidated and threatened out of many courtrooms, but this time, Monsanto’s money won’t buy or bully the outcome. It is up to the voters. It is up to us. Let’s work together to help others become aware of the dangers and unknowns of GMO’s. Let’s support Proposition 37 from where we are, to encourage those fighting on the front lines, to continue fighting the good fight.
I will be posting videos about our event in Daytona Beach Florida! There will be more events planned across the nation as election day nears. You are invited to stand with us as we stand against GMO’s.