This is a Call to Action for a
Non-Hierarchical Occupation of Monsanto Everywhere
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When authorities got wind of a demonstration planned for Monday outside the Food and Drug Administration’s offices in College Park, they fortified their defenses.
A motorcycle and nine police vans, ominously marked “Homeland Security,” parked in front of the FDA building, and uniformed officers fanned out across the entrance, where they waited.
They needn’t have. The demonstrators, demanding that the FDA require the labeling of genetically modified foods, hadn’t come with violence in mind, or even civil disobedience. They had come to cook a 50-gallon vat of soup on the sidewalk and then consume the stuff — a first-ever “eat-in” at the FDA, they said.
There were no foul-mouthed anarchists dressed in black — just the sort of well-heeled crowd you’d come across at Whole Foods. “I packed up my kids’ lunches and drove from Boston to Hartford to ride a bus for five hours,” Kristi Marsh told the crowd, using the sound system to recount her trip to Monday’s protest. She wore a chef’s hat hand-lettered with the words “Everyday Mom.”
“I’ve never, ever protested before,” Marsh told me after her speech. “I was nervous. I had these visions of overturned buses and policemen dressed up like storm troopers. But when I saw part of the labor was to commit to no alcohol, no drugs, no violence, then I thought, ‘I want to be present.’ ”
She reached into her handbag. “Want some sunscreen?” she asked.
This is the face of the new protest movement — or at least organizers hope to make it so.
“We wanted a comfortable event,” Tom Llewellyn, the 30-year-old organizer, said of the FDA action, billed as “a day of sunshine and picnic-style protest” against GMOs, or genetically modified organisms. “It’s all about who you’re appealing to. There has to be a face of the movement for every single demographic to connect with.”
Taking a page from the gay-rights playbook, other causes on the left are holding fewer of the disruptive protests of recent decades and opting for persuasion over confrontation. In part, this strategy reflects the failure of recent movements, such as Occupy Wall Street and the anti-globalization demonstrations, to turn protesters’ enthusiasm into enduring public support.
The campaign against GMOs is typical: The movement has dropped its demand that such altered foods be banned, instead embracing the more reasonable goal of labeling such foods accurately. And activists are looking for non-threatening ways to broaden the cause’s appeal.
Llewellyn based Monday’s event on “Stone Soup,” a European folk tale about a traveler who persuades villagers to contribute to a communal meal. He borrowed the idea from peace activists of decades past, but made his a GMO-free soup.
“I’ve come here with this magical soup stone,” he told the crowd of 60, which swelled through the morning as the soup boiled.
The demonstrators, some wearing aprons, chef’s hats or clothing with GMO themes (“Give Peas a Chance”), handed over their organic vegetables and told their stories to the TV crews and reporters who had come to witness the spectacle:
“Hi, I’m Tory and this is my grandmother Nettie. We brought carrots . . . ”
Peter, a 12-year-old from Pennsylvania, announced: “I came here today with just organic mushrooms.” His mom patted him on the back after his turn at the microphone.
Another woman said, “My name is Erin O’Maley. I’m a chiropractor. . . . I brought some zucchini.”
A woman from Atlanta, Jay, was one of several to call for the resignation of Michael Taylor, the deputy FDA commissioner who had worked at Monsanto, a major GMO producer. “I’m a mother of an 8-year-old child and she’s not a science experiment,” the woman said.
Not all of the demonstrators were of the sort that would help the movement broaden its appeal. One man, in fatigues and a T-shirt covered with handwritten slogans, said he had brought “a non-edible mushroom” and complained that “my soup kitchen serves food that sucks.”
But the organizers found their target audience in Marsh of Massachusetts. Marsh, who writes tips on healthful living, said the image of the typical protest, angry and defiant, “scares people away.”
But as the soup simmered Monday, she told her fellow demonstrators that she would convert other mothers — “everyday me’s,” she called them — to the cause. “As long as you are out there doing this kind of stuff, I will be out there,” she said. “And I will be educating the everyday me’s, because that’s the masses that you need your support from.”
Source: Washington Post
This article was syndicated in the Salt Lake City Tribune, The Oregonian, The Herald, The Orland Sentinel, West Hawaii Today, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Shreveport Times, Delmarva Now, The Herald Tribune, AZ Central, and Faribault Daily News.
“Over 100 protesters, activists and food advocates gathered outside of the FDA Center Food Safety and Applied Nutrition today to participate in the first ever Occupy Monsanto Eat-in. On the menu: stone soup and U.S. policies when it comes to labeling genetically Modified foods. The protesters demanded all GMO foods to be labeled and an end to the revolving door between the Washington and the biotech industry. RT Correspondent Meghan Lopez was at the eat-in and took a bite out of the issue.”
Source: RT America
Prince George’s Community Television: Food activists converge on the FDA for an Eat-In protest of GMO foods.Posted: April 8th, 2013 | Filed under: Press, Video | Tags: America, Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, College Park, Demonstration, eat-in, Fable, facebook, FDA, Food and Drug Administration, Maryland, MD, Michael Taylor, Monsanto, Photos, Picnic, Pot, Prince George's Community Television, Protest, Segment, stone soup, youtube |
Source: Prince George’s Community Television’s Youtube Page + Prince George’s Community Television website
Looking for more labels on the food we eat, Monday morning dozens gathered outside the Food and Drug Administration Center for Food Safety.
Kathy Engle-Dulac says genetically modified foods, or GMO’s, raise the biggest concerns.
If a food product has been genetically engineered, she believes consumers have the right to know.
Like others gathered Monday, she’s asking the FDA to change their policies so when consumers walk into a grocery store they know what they’re buying.
In a statement the Food and Drug Administration said: “Currently, food manufacturers may indicate through voluntary labeling whether foods have or have not been developed through genetic engineering provided such labeling is truthful and not misleading. In general, foods derived from genetically engineered plants must meet the same requirements, including safety requirements as other foods…”
Organic farmer Martin Dagoberto says he’s not sure if they’re as safe. He’s worried if there’s more GMO’s, it could affect his farming process.
“It’s basically jeopardizing the organic integrity of our food supply of our seeds and its making organic farming almost impossible,” Dagoberto says.
Here are a few mentions in the media about the upcoming “Eat-In”
WPFW – Morning Brew with Askia Muhammed & Yolanda Turner, April 4, 2013 [MP3]
“Ty Bollinger Outside the Box, Busting Medical Myths, Autism 1/50, Adam Eidinger Occupy Monsanto, Stone Soup Protest at GMO-FDA & More!” – Robert Scott Bell Radio Show, March 20, 2013 – [MP3]
“Despite its defeat, Prop 37 has helped trigger GMO-labeling initiatives in other states and an upcoming protest at the FDA.” – Brady Dennis, Washington Post, March 15, 2013
“Buoyed by what they see as some momentum in the labeling war, consumers, organic farmers and food activists plan to hold an “eat-in” outside the F.D.A.’s offices next month to protest government policies on genetically modified crops and foods.” – Stephanie Strom, New York Times, March 8, 2013
Today we received a response from the FDA Commissioner’s secretary:
We’ll be responding shortly…