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.
We urge you to help organize and attend the closest March Against Monsanto taking place on Saturday, May 25, 2013!
THE GMO FILM PROJECT tells the story of a father’s discovery of GMOs through the symbolic act of poor Haitian farmers burning seeds in defiance of Monsanto’s gift of 475 tons of hybrid corn and vegetable seeds to Haiti shortly after the devastating earthquake of January 2010. After a journey to Haiti to learn why hungry farmers would burn seeds, the real awakening of what has happened to our food in the US, what we are feeding our families, and what is at stake for the global food supply unfolds in a trip across the United States and other countries in search of answers. Are we at a tipping point? Is it time to take back our food? The encroaching darkness of unknown health and environmental risks, seed take over, chemical toxins, and food monopoly meets with the light of a growing resistance of organic farmers, concerned citizens, and a burgeoning movement to take back what we have lost.
Today in the United States, by the simple act of feeding ourselves, we unwittingly participate in the largest experiment ever conducted on human beings. Massive agro-chemical companies like Monsanto (Agent Orange) and Dow (Napalm) are feeding us genetically-modified food, GMOs, that have never been fully tested and aren’t labeled. This small handful of corporations is tightening their grip on the world’s food supply—buying, modifying, and patenting seeds to ensure total control over everything we eat. We still have time to heal the planet, feed the world, and live sustainably. But we have to start now!
LIHU‘E — Wendell Berry once said, “To live, we must daily break the body and shed the blood of Creation. When we do this knowingly, lovingly, skillfully, reverently, it is a sacrament. When we do it ignorantly, greedily, clumsily, destructively, it is a desecration. In such desecration we condemn ourselves to spiritual and moral loneliness, and others to want.”
Environmental attorney Andrew Kimbrell shared Berry’s quotation with a standing room only crowd on the final evening of the Hawai‘i SEED Tour event featuring Dr. Vandana Shiva Thursday at the Kaua‘i War Memorial Auditorium (see Saturday’s online edition for a full story about Shiva’s presentation).
Berry’s quotation resonated the most during the evening, with Dr. Shiva also paraphrasing it before announcing that she would return to Kaua‘i, “only when you have driven those criminals off this island.”
Opening the event for Dr. Shiva Thursday night were Kimbrell and Hawaiian activist Walter Ritte.
In introducing Ritte, emcee Nancy Redfeather of Hawai‘i noted his work in 1975 reclaiming Kaho‘olawe from the U.S. military, which was using it for target practice.
She also recalled watching him and his two sons testify to stop a company from doing biological drug testing in Hawai‘i and how they successfully blocked the effort.
“On Moloka‘i, we are fiercely protective of our natural resources,” Ritte said. “We have a cash economy and a subsistence economy and we need both to survive.”
He said some islands have lost one of those economies and people get by on a cash economy.
On Moloka‘i, though, he said, “We fiercely protect the environment because that’s how we feed our family. The skills that allow us to harvest these resources and feed our families are traditional skills. Monsanto is the No. 1 problem we have right now.”
He said Native Hawaiians are asking him ‘We have sovereignty and rights to take of, why are you wasting your time on GMOs?’
For him, the answer boils down to food sustainability.
“If we are not going to learn how to feed ourselves, we are never going to be independent, self-sufficient and sovereign, never. Never,” he said.
Ritte described having the doors shut on protesters last year during an anti-GMO rally at the State Capitol.
“It was a horrible feeling,” Ritte said. “These elected officials have joined the corporations. They have declared a war on our environment and this island has the most to lose, because it is the most beautiful island in all of Hawai‘i. You have the most to protect.”
He said his job for the evening was to instill in the audience the idea that talk alone would not solve problems.
“If we don’t do anything, we are going to lose. We need you to participate in government,” Ritte said.
He praised the efforts of the Hawai‘i SEED leadership in getting people involved on both leading a three-mile march from UH to the Capitol on O‘ahu and in filling the entire facility on Kaua‘i.
“It’s these women who have all this energy and commitment. Holy burning on my ballbearings, I cannot keep up with this group,” Ritte said to applause. “The leadership right now coming from Kaua‘i is ahead of any other island. No other island can fill rooms like this. The leadership is coming from your island. You guys are in the lead, just like you were on the Superferry.”
Ritte also addressed the issue of the Public Land Development Corporation, calling on Gary Hooser to take the lead on making changes. With the changes in House leadership, Ritte said the doors are open to affecting change statewide.
Ritte said yesterday marked the 120th anniversary of the overthrow of the Hawaiian monarchy. He said the issue needs to be made pono, to be corrected in order to move forward.
“If you build the foundation of how we’re going to protect our environment, using the most powerful laws in the state, it’s not going to be just the Hawaiians rising up. It’s going to be all of us joining up and rising up together because of the love we have for future generations,” he said.
In thanking the crowd for allowing him to share his mana‘o, he said, “We are all here because we love our environment and we love our Islands. We need to protect them come hell or high water.”
Along with Shiva was Andrew Kimbrell, who became the executive director of the International Center for Technology Assessment in 1994 and the executive director of the Center for Food Safety in 1997. As one of the leading environmental attorneys in the nation, he has authored several books on the environment, technology in society and food issues. In 1994, Utne Reader named him as one of the world’s leading visionaries.
Kimbrell opened his talk by paying homage to emcee Nancy Redfeather and her work in the legislature and to Jeri Di Pietro, president of Hawai‘i SEED.
He shared a story about Walter Ritte after he stopped the genetic engineering of taro. A group was sitting around trying to figure out the next step and Kimbrell suggested the company might try to patent taro, to which Ritte replied, ‘They can’t patent my older brother!”
The next thing Kimbrell knew, Ritte and his Hawaiian warriors chained themselves to a building where the Regents for the University of Hawai‘i was meeting to give up the patents they had on taro, which ultimately they did.
“To my knowledge, it’s the only time a patent holder has ever given up a patent, particularly under the threat of imprisonment,” Kimbrell said. “They say if you want something done, give it to a busy man. I say if you want anything done, give it to this man.”
Kimbrell said he met Dr. Vandana Shiva in 1989 at the first global warming conference for NGOs. He said the “beauty and nobility of her presence” immediately drew him to her.
He said that during that first meeting, Dr. Shiva said that in India, her people “have for millennia lived, more or less, in harmony with the world, but here in the West, in less than 150 years, you’ve created almost a terminal threat to the planet. So from now on at this conference, why don’t we call you the underdeveloped world?”
Kimbrell fired off a long list of products his group has stopped, including the Flavor Savor genetically engineered tomato to wheat, alfalfa, sugar beets, slo mo grass, rice, even biopharmaceuticals.
“Monsanto can be stopped. We were outspent 20:1 by Monsanto and won,” Kimbrell said to applause, adding that it’s not a matter of “if we’re going to have labeling, but when.”
He described writing Proposition 37 in California, and how they lost the proposition 51 to 49. He said Monsanto spent $50 million and only won by a narrow margin.
“I love suing Monsanto,” Kimbrell said in discussing gene and patent cases heading to the U.S. Supreme Court. “It never stops them from being passive aggressive cause we just get to sue them.”
He noted there are five major companies equal to Monsanto including Dow Chemical, DuPont, Syngenta and Bayer.
The crowd loudly tried to correct him, shouting out “Pioneer!” to which Kimbrell reminded them that Pioneer is a subsidiary of DuPont.
Monsanto, DuPont and Syngenta own 51 percent of the world’s seeds, he said.
The seeds are designed to withstand huge applications of pesticides, which the same companies sell, Kimbrell said.
He said the Big 5 put out 115 million more pounds of pesticides and “we get rid of 40 million pounds of pesticides,” but it creates an adaptation of super weeds through survival of the fittest and weeds that can’t be killed with RoundUp.
Dow Chemicals said took over and created 2,4-D resistant crops.
“2,4-D is one of the elements in Agent Orange. So then they start a chemical arms race because Monsanto says they are going to go with Dicamba,” Kimbrell said, adding that these crops are currently up for USDA approval.
Kimbrell said Dicamba is one of the most terrifying weed killers as well because it volatilizes. “That means that under certain warm and wet conditions, it comes back up in a cloud after it’s been sprayed and can move miles over an organic farm and kill everything there. We’ve had conventional farmers say they don’t want this thing, so our work is not done.”
He went on to say “one of the most troubling things for me” is that the FDA is currently finalizing the approval of genetically engineered salmon.
“The salmon was originally engineered with human growth genes to make it grow larger, faster, and now they put some pout genes to do the same thing,” Kimbrell said.
He added that researchers said it would take a very small number of these salmon to decimate all salmon.
“Sixty fish like this, if they are released into a population of 60,000 native salmon, can cause extinction in thirty generations,” Kimbrell said.
He said there are about 45 days left for people to contact the FDA and tell them not to approve the fish.
Kimbrell added that 1.25 million people so far have signed a labeling petition asking President Obama to label GMO foods and said it is the largest response the FDA has ever had.
Based on the passion shown for the petition, Kimbrell encouraged the audience to have passion for their convictions.
“People who make war just for making war will fight for any side and quit when they want, but if you’re a lover … If you are a lover of seas, if you are a lover of lands, if you are a lover of rivers, if you are a lover of animals, then you will fight. You will fight for that. Lovers are the best fighters.”
Kimbrell once got called out for being against progress, but offered that the question needs to be “progress toward what?”
“The U.N. just came out with a report that said the way we are going to feed the world is not through genetic engineering, is not through toxic inputs, is not through pesticides, is not through the 2,4-D and the Dicamba and the RoundUp that is in the dust on Moloka‘i and hurting and killing children on this island. We know it’s the toxic herbicides. That is not progress. That can never be progress,” Kimbrell said, adding the companies are destroying the Earth and making “zillions of dollars” in the process, all in the name of progress. “We’ll occupy progress,” he said.
He said biotech companies would like for people to remain passive consumers, but noted that Ritte said everyone is a creator capable of making decisions, “in the food we grow, the food we buy, the food we feed out children, the food we allow in our schools and in our communities is either going to progress this terrible mechanistic nightmare that’s now reached it’s endpoint in the actual engineering of the seed to be intolerant to these horrifying toxins and poisons or be organic and beyond, which is the fastest growing sector in American agriculture that is organic, local, appropriate scale, humane, socially just and biodiverse.”
Kimbrell encouraged the audience to be creators by getting involved to no longer be part of the desecration as described by Wendell Berry.
“Don’t just read a poem, write a poem. Don’t just listen to music, write music. Don’t just eat food, grow food. That’s the way to do it. Don’t just watch romantic movies, make love,” he said.
In the end, he encouraged the crowd to come together in the food movement.
“As you fight every battle here, I hope you all together, in cooperation, in love, can knowingly, skillfully, lovingly and most important reverentially, come together to create a new food future.”
2012 was the year the lights came up on the biotech industry. Its claims, its tactics and its products all came under scrutiny and some of its biggest PR fairytales bit the dust. Here are some prime examples.
1. Fleeing Europe: The biotech bubble needs to appear to be constantly expanding but in early 2012 came the news that the GM and chemicals giant BASF was pulling its GM division out of Europe because it was facing opposition “from the majority of consumers, farmers and politicians.” BASF also announced it was stopping the commercialization of its GM Amflora potato, one of only two GM crops authorized for cultivation in the European Union. The crop had been a commercial flop. The industry’s only other crop grown in Europe, Monsanto’s Mon810 GM maize, continued to face bans in a number of countries including Germany, Austria, Hungary, Luxembourg, France, Greece, Italy, Bulgaria and Poland. Even GM crop trials are in decline and with BASF quitting Europe they’re expected to decline still further.
2. Meltdown in India: Bt cotton in India has been claimed as one of the industry’s biggest success stories but in 2012 the PR claims completely fell apart. First, a leaked agriculture ministry advisory to cotton-growing states admitted, “Cotton farmers are in a deep crisis since shifting to Bt cotton. The spate of farmer suicides in 2011-12 has been particularly severe among Bt cotton farmers.” Two new award winning films also helped expose the truth about GM cotton in India to a wider audience. So too did a powerful report from India’s Parliamentary Committee on Agriculture, after its committee members visited five States, examined thousands of documents and talked to large numbers of farmers and experts. The 31 MPs also met around a hundred widows of Bt cotton farmers, including 14 in a village promoted by Monsanto as a model for Bt cotton’s success. It turned out the farmers in Monsanto’s “model village” wanted a ban on Bt cotton. The shocked MPs issued a unanimous report saying GM crops were not the right way forward for India and called for an immediate ban on all GM crop trials. Not long afterwards an expert panel of scientists set up by lndia’s Supreme Court recommended a 10-year moratorium on GM crops.
3. Opposition grows in the US: Everyone knows about California’s referendum on the labeling of food containing GM ingredients, which was narrowly lost in the face of a massive advertising blitz by its industry opponents. But it took all kinds of lies, dirty tricks and a cool $45 million to kill off the initiative, and still 48.6 percent of voters supported it. Worse still for the industry, the controversy it stirred up helped spread GMO awareness nationwide. Many other states and local governments are now picking up the fight for GMO labeling, while the national Just Label It campaign has already submitted over a million signatures to the FDA asking the agency to require the labeling of GM foods. Some activists even took to the supermarket aisles to label GMO foods themselves. The industry has also been facing street protests across the US, with at least 60 protests targeting Monsanto on the anniversary of the Occupy movement.
4. Opposition grows worldwide: In 2012 protests against GM crop trials and the biotech industry’s activities took place across the globe. And although 60 countries already have GM food labeling, important new breakthroughs were achieved in: India, which is to introduce labeling for the first time in 2013; South Africa, where GM labeling is being tightened up to help enforce food industry compliance; Brazil, where the courts forced the multinational food company Nestle to label GM ingredients in its products; and Turkey, where mandatory labeling is to be extended to include GMO-fed animal products.
5. The reality of GM farming overwhelms public relations – nature cannot be fooled: US farmers are having to use still more pesticides to try and save their crops as infestations of rootworms have exploded on GM (Bt) corn engineered to eradicate them. ”I lost $25,000 in yield,” said Charles Sandager, a Minnesota farmer. “They are going to outsmart us, them bugs.” Likewise, in order to combat the ever proliferating numbers of herbicide-resistant superweeds, the GM industry is preparing to roll out crops resistant to older and even more toxic herbicides, as well as to multiple herbicides. Washington State University agronomist Charles Benbrook says what the GM industry is doing “makes about as much sense as pouring gas on a fire to put it out.” Benbrook’s research shows that GM crops, far from cutting agrochemical use in the US as the industry likes to claim, have unleashed a pesticide gusher.
6. Toxics exposed: Among the toxic herbicides GM crops are now being engineered to resist is 2,4-D, a component of Agent Orange. Research has shown 2,4-D to be an endocrine disruptor, and has linked exposure to cancers, neurological impairment and reproductive problems. As a result, Norway, Denmark and Sweden have banned it, but the new wave of 2,4-D-resistant GM crops will massively increase the exposure of farmworkers and consumers to this dangerous herbicide. In 2012 there was also growing evidence of the dangers of Monsanto’s glyphosate-based Roundup herbicide, which with the considerable help of GM Roundup Ready crops is the most heavily used herbicide worldwide: + Glyphosate found in people’s urine - A German university study found significant concentrations of glyphosate in the urine samples of city dwellers. All had concentrations of glyphosate at 5 to 20-fold the limit for drinking water. News of this study came not long after the publication of a study confirming glyphosate was contaminating groundwater. Last year also saw the publication of two US Geological Survey studies which consistently found glyphosate in streams, rain and even air in agricultural areas of the US. Glyphosate has also been found circulating in women’s blood and can even cross the placental barrier and so reach the developing fetus. + Glyphosate and Roundup damage DNA in human mouth cells – A 2012 study by Austrian researchers raises concerns over the safety of inhaling glyphosate, one of the most common ways in which people are exposed to the herbicide in the GM soy-producing countries of South America. + Glyphosate damages nerve cells – A new study adds confirmatory evidence to previous studies that found a correlation between Roundup exposure and Parkinson’s disease. + Roundup can cause amphibians to change shape - A 2012 study found that tadpoles exposed to environmentally relevant concentrations of Roundup grew abnormally large tails. + Roundup kills rat testicular cells - A new study showed that at low doses Roundup reduced testosterone by 35% in mature rats. At high doses, it destroyed testicular cells. + Roundup harms beneficial gut bacteria – A study by scientists at Leipzig University found that Roundup negatively impacted the gastrointestinal bacteria of poultry in vitro. The researchers found that highly pathogenic bacteria resisted Roundup, whereas beneficial bacteria were moderately to highly susceptible to it. The study provides a scientific basis to farmer reports of increased gastrointestinal disease in animals fed GM Roundup Ready soy. + Roundup probably causes birth defects, according to a new peer reviewed paper published in the Journal of Environmental and Analytical Toxicology
7. Monsanto guilty of false advertizing: An advertisement for Roundup that Monsanto placed in Dutch newspapers made a number of misleading claims, according to the Dutch Advertising Code Commission. Earlier in the year, the Advertising Standards Council of India concluded that Monsanto’s claims of economic benefits to farmers from its GM cotton were baseless. Monsanto has also previously been found guilty of using wrong, unproven, misleading and confusing claims to promote either its GM crops or Roundup by advertizing watchdogs in the UK, South Africa and France.
8. Unethical research practices and scientific fraud: In December the Chinese authorities sacked three officials who had approved and conducted a controversial US funded research project that involved testing GM golden rice on school children. The officials were punished for “violating relevant regulations, scientific ethics and academic integrity.” The Chinese investigation into how the research was conducted has also provided evidence that contradicts the claims made about how much golden rice was fed to the children in a paper on the study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. As a policy researcher at the Chinese Academy of Sciences has commented, “Either the researchers are lying about this now or they lied about it in their paper. It’s a serious offence either way.” Earlier in 2012 came the retraction of a study by researchers at the Monsanto-backed Danforth Center that claimed to have found a way through genetic engineering to boost the protein content of cassava. The retraction occurred “after researchers failed to find any supporting data to back up [the paper's] claims.” In late 2012 there was also news of researchers studying the Bt toxins used in GM crops having doctored images in a whole series of published papers. Neither of the researchers involved seems to be facing the sack, although one of the researchers is having to step down as head of their university’s Committee on Bioethics! In October of 2012 came the headline, “Top GM researcher falsified patent claim to grab national award.” Back in February 2012 there was yet another remarkable headline, “Untangling India’s Bt cotton fraud: ICAR’s top research institutes and GEAC [the key GM regulator] exposed in Bt cotton research scam.” The scam apparently involved, among other things, stealing a Bt cotton gene from Monsanto, but Monsanto itself and various Indian agricultural universities also stand accused of theft - criminal biopiracy – in the case of another GM crop. And that’s all in just the last 12 months! Some see all this as the result of an over-commercialised public science sector, while others suspect it is the inevitable by-product of GM crops being based on a fraud themselves – a massively hyped technology rooted in entirely false premises.
9. Seralini publishes explosive GMO/Roundup study: Prof Gilles-Eric Seralini’s research found serious adverse health impacts in the rats fed Monsanto’s GM corn (NK603) and/or small amounts of the Roundup herbicide that the crop was engineered to withstand. Wave after wave of dubious criticism, fuelled and orchestrated by those with industry connections, attempted to silence the questions raised by the long-term study, as well as to stifle scientific discourse and get the paper retracted. But as the dust starts to settle over the controversy, the study not only remains unretracted but there is a growing recognition of the need for long-term studies on GM crops of the sort Seralini has conducted. Worst of all from the biotech industry’s point of view, their supporters’ savage attacks on Seralini’s study have exposed the fact that a careful comparison of Seralini’s research with Monsanto’s own safety trials shows that if the Seralini experiments are considered insufficient to demonstrate harm, then those carried out by Monsanto cannot prove safety. This is because, whatever its limitations, Seralini’s study was conducted to generally higher scientific standards than the studies underlying GM food approvals. As a result, the attacks on Seralini’s study are bound to fuel calls for mandatory long-term testing of all GMOs and their associated pesticides before they’re commercialized, as well as bringing into question all existing GM crop approvals.
10. Regulatory capture exposed: The other damaging consequence for the biotech industry of the attacks on Seralini and the rush by the likes of the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) to reject the study, has been the resulting exposure of the double standards of regulators who have accepted Monsanto’s studies claiming safety for their products at face value while demanding that public researchers like Seralini prove any harm from GM crops beyond all doubt. This is why 140 French scientists in a public statement published in Le Monde, declared that it was contrary to all scientific ethics to damn an experimental protocol when it gave results that were not wanted, while accepting it when it gave results that were. EFSA’s behaviour has also brought further focus on the problems of regulatory capture and of serious conflicts of interest among the regulators. This was already an open scandal, not least after EU member states earlier in 2012 had had to refuse the nomination of an ex-Monsanto employee to EFSA’s management board. By the end of 2012 there was growing awareness of the extent of regulatory dysfunction and the scandal of government agencies doing exactly what multinational corporations ask them to do.
Atlanta’s Food Supply Rescue Coalition Holds March Calling for End to Monsanto’s Genetically Engineered Food System.
By Effe Slayer
Standing outside an Atlanta Kroger grocery store, food advocate Steven Wing reads lyrics to a crowd of protestors and curious shoppers.
“If you’re gonna play God with my food.
If you’re gonna play God and leave organic farmer’s screwed.
If you’re gonna play God with my decisions….
If you’re gonna play God I want a new religion.”
In a moment that is being referred to as “the food fight of the decade“, the lyrics to “Tell Us What You’re Growing“, written by an Arizona songwriter, Celia, couldn’t be more poignant.
The group of protesters is participating in the “Occupy Monsanto Global Day of Action”. They’re on a mission to raise awareness about lab-created genetically modified organisms (GMOs) within the food supply. With rally stops at five “Monsanto Points of Distribution” locations – Publix, Kroger, Home Depot, Whole Foods Market, and McDonald’s – the Occupy Monsanto Genetic Crimes Unit (GCU) declares each location a genetic crime scene for their sale of Monsanto’s toxic products.
“This is a decontamination zone”, declares Vince C. through a megaphone. He is dressed in a biohazard suit. “If you’ve been contaminated by Monsanto’s toxins, you’ll need to be tagged.” Shoppers are outfitted with special hospital wristbands to symbolize a health biohazard.
“There’s something wrong when the chemical manufacturer Monsanto, the same company that made Agent Orange, owns our commercial food supply”, says Food Supply Rescue Coalition‘s Jaye Crawford. Ms. Crawford, a fitness professional, mother, and food advocate, formed the FSRC in order to educate the community on the dangers of genetically engineered food. “It’s a shame. Consumers have no idea they’re eating Frankenfoods contaminated by Monsanto’s GMOs. Consumers don’t know because our government is corrupt. FDA, USDA, Monsanto are one of the same. We want a Monsanto-free food supply. We want labels. We want what 50 other countries and 40% of the world‘s population has, which is the right to know, and the right to choose what we eat,” says Crawford.
This “food fight” over genetically modified organisms has recently gained attention and the national spotlight. In November, Californians are poised to vote “yes” for the labeling of genetically engineered foods. Prop 37, a ballot initiative, would require food manufacturers to label products containing GMOs by 2013.
“We already have food labels showing nutrition, allergy information and other facts consumers want to know. This measure simply adds information telling us if food is produced using genetic engineering, which is when food is modified in a laboratory by adding DNA from other plants, animals, bacteria or viruses”, says Nina Roark, a concerned grandmother form Atlanta. “We’re hoping that the seeds of change blow from California to put an end to this GMO food insanity.”
With over $32 million in opposing donations to Prop 37, Roark reminds consumers, “Now more than ever, it’s crucial for consumers to choose manufacturer loyalties wisely. We have to vote hard with every food dollar we spend.”
Early voting for Prop 37 begins on October 9. Voting at polling locations takes place on November 6, 2012.
With over 75 actions worldwide this week to stand up against Monsanto and demand the right to know what is in our food, we knew we had to be a part with the Eco Womb family. With an Occupy Monsanto event scheduled in Ithaca, NY, where we just happened to be headed to meet up with friends, and with the help of the Genetic Crimes Unit team, we connected with Joanne, a local hydro-fracking activist. Together, with a handful of others who joined to stand with us throughout the day, we turned the Ithaca Commons into our educational ground from 12noon-5pm, connecting with hundreds on the importance of learning what is really in our foods, the dangers of GMOs, and why the government is not sharing this information. We handed out educational flyers from the Non-GMO Project to inform people on what a GMO is and what the detrimental effects are on farmers, our soil, and our health. We sang music to the tune of “All we want’s a simple label, for the food that’s on our table” carrying on the energy of the Right2Know March. And, we aired The World According to Monsanto all day so that passer-bys could get a glance at the evils behind Monsanto, and learn the history and ties between Monsanto and the government.
Monsanto is corrupt, and has built its fortunes as a chemical company. It claims to be a seed company, “a sustainable agriculture company” helping farmers by “improving agriculture, improving lives” – yeah right! Monsanto developed Agent Orange, PCB’s, RoundUp pesticides, and has continuously distributed false information on the level of toxicity in their products. They even claimed that dioxin was not cancerous, causing weaker environmental regulations based on falsified evidence! Now, they claim that Genetically Engineered seeds are safe – yeah right, again! We have been eating their foods since 1992 without anyone telling us, warning us, or letting us make the choice to not ingest their poisons.
The health ramifications from GMOs are so huge, and with an increase in autoimmune diseases, allergies, ADD/ADHD, asthma, decreased fertility, and even cancer over the past decade, there is no question in my mind that the two correlate. More toxins in our food, more toxins in our bloodstream, more diseases, as our bodies fight to adapt and try to keep up with all of the foreign elements we are ingesting. There have been studies that link GMOs with birth defects and cancerous tumors, and enough evidence to warrant at least restrictions or labeling laws. I personally think GMOs should be banned and Monsanto should go away! I mean why have they dumped billions of dollars into fighting against labeling with misinformation campaigns if they are so confident in their product? They want you to buy their frankenfoods. They want farmers to be dependent on them year after year. They want us to become sick ingesting their poisons and then have to circle back to the pharmaceuticals for medications to be even more dependent on drugs to prop us up. If they control the food supply, they control the people. Stop buying their products, they don’t control you anymore. If everyone did this, or enough of us did, and we voted with our forks and dollars, there would be change. And the only change that is going to happen is if they feel it in their pockets.
Did you know that Monsanto has a patent on GMO seeds? This means that they can sue farmers whose fields may become contaminated with GMOs through cross-pollination just by being near a GMO farm. GMO seeds also can’t be replanted the next year, they are a dead-end food source. Farmers are becoming dependent on Monsanto year after year to supply seeds, and the corporate giant can even step in and sue farmers for trying to replant. Farmers are supposed to save seeds and replant! That is how we have survived for the past millennium. With 94% of soy, 90% of canola, and 88% of corn grown in the U.S. being genetically engineered, and the government subsidizing farmers to grow these crops, and Monsanto controlling the patents on all of these seeds, it is pretty obvious that they are making huge profits. They don’t want us to understand these connections, or the detrimental effects of GMOs. They don’t care about how sick GMOs make the population. They want this, and they must be stopped.
That is why we marched 313 miles last fall with the Right2Know March to demand GMO labeling, that is why we Shopped for Truth at Trader Joe’s to uncover why they won’t label their brand, that is why our family has committed to shop exclusively Non-GMO, and that is why we are continuing to march and educate on the dangers of GMOs, so that we can reach as many people as we can to deliver this message. We are parents, our children NEED us to speak up. If we don’t, who will? We are truly the change we have been seeking. Our children are depending on us to wake up the world. And, it doesn’t have to mean conflict with the powers that be. Through peaceful non-violent protests, educational opportunities, and continuous connections with conscious souls along the way, we are collectively standing up and speaking out to create change one family at a time.
So, what can you do? Take steps to eliminate GMOs from your diet. Choose one of the top contenders first, like corn, or soy, or canola oil. Check what is in your cabinets and read the ingredients. If it has these foods listed and does not have either a Non-GMO Project Verified or USDA Certified Organic label, or you know exactly what farm it came from and you understand what their practices are, then it most likely has GMO ingredients. You do have the power to affect change. Vote with your fork and your dollar. For every bite you take that is Non-GMO and every food that you buy that is Non-GMO, you are voting for change in the one way that makes a direct impact, it affects the profits of those in control. You can also support Proposition 37, the ballot initiative in California that would require GMO labeling, and candidates that support this initiative. You can continue to learn and understand the issue, help spread the word by sharing this information with your friends and family, and support those businesses, organizations, and educational efforts that are standing up and speaking out on behalf of us all. We CAN collectively make a difference. We finally are.
Protest across the street from the GMO industry conference at the Millennium Hotel in St. Louis, MO. Photo: Langelle/GJEP
Occupy Monsanto in St. Louis: Action 1
“Stop Talking or You Will Be Removed from the Hotel”
by Don Fitz
On September 17 we were gathering to walk into the Millennium Hotel for the second day of “GMO Free Midwest,” the St. Louis portion of Occupy Monsanto. Daniel (digger) Romano told us that we had been moved from the “Lewis and Clark” room to the “Laclede” room on the other side of the floor.
As we entered the new room, it struck me that it was half the size of the one we had paid for. Conference coordinator Barbara Chicherio went to find the supervisor in charge. She walked down the hall to a roped off area guarded heavily by hotel security. On the other side of the rope were attendees of the industry-backed “International Symposium on Biosafety of Genetically Modified Organisms.” [GMOs]
It appeared that the Millennium Hotel was as interested in making sure that we did not contaminate its audience as we were interested in preventing GMOs from contaminating the environment.
“Sir, are you in charge here?” Barbara asked. “Uptight” can barely describe the Millennium supervisor who starred back at her, stiff as a board. “I need to talk to you,” she continued. “Why were we moved from the room we rented?”
There was no answer.
“And why were we moved to the far end of the hall? And why were we put in a room half the size of what we paid for?”
Still, no answer.
“Could you tell me why there is a pot of coffee when I told staff that we could not pay $175 for it? And when can we get the table to go up in front of the room for the book signing that I explained we were having?”
“Did you read your contract?” finally came the response from the cardboard supervisor. “Read the BOE part of your contract.”
“What does that have to do with our being moved to a smaller room?”
“If you don’t stop talking to me, I will have you removed from the hotel,” was the most thoughtful answer he seemed able to come up with. Looking at his name tag, Barbara saw that he was “Rich Martin, Director of Catering and Convention Services.”
As the conversation was unfolding, Orin Langelle with the Global Justice Ecology Project (GJEP) pulled out his camera to film the interaction. Rich put up his hand, growling “No photos! You get away from me or I’ll have you removed from the hotel.” Nearby Orin was Anne Petermann, also with GJEP. She slid her camera away as she quietly caught Rich on film.
Rich Martin threatens to throw out organizers and journalists from the GMO Free Midwest. Photo: Petermann/ GJEP
Months before, Brian Tokar had told Barbara that a major pro-GMO symposium would be happening in Monsanto’s home town of St. Louis during September 16–20. Occupy Monsanto activists thought it might be interesting to have an event critical of GMOs at the same time and place. Barbara went to work booking a room.
In May 2003, the need for early booking was driven home. Alerted to a major biotech industry event by Jim Scheff, the Green Party of St. Louis planned Biodevastation 7 to occur at the same time. Groups planning for street theatre hoped to reserve the park near the industry event. Unfortunately, they waited until 2–3 months before the event to ask the City of St. Louis for the park. By then, the City had been informed by the police of plans for protests and refused to rent it.
In St. Louis, virtually every large institution has received major funding from Monsanto. There is a history of people reserving hotel or college space for events critical of Monsanto having to confront the problem of rent zooming up or other pressure to leave the location.
With a contract signed months in advance of the event, we went to the National Lawyers Guild (NLG) to ask about our legal options if history were to repeat itself. One of the many pieces of useful information the NLG gave us was that the hotel would have the right to prevent us from entering if we were wearing T shirts with slogans they did not like. So, we covered our T-shirts with jackets before entering and took jackets off once inside. (Though the hotel could have told us we could not wear them, it is hard to treat people as a group when they are milling around.)
Madeline Buthod and her two children protest Monsanto and GMOs outside of the Millennium Hotel. Photo: Langelle/GJEP
This second day of GMO Free Midwest was to begin with our last panel before having multiple actions. The first day had included discussions of Genetically Engineered Trees, Health Effects of GMO Foods, Round Up as the New Agent Orange, Bee Colony Collapse, Dangers of Industrial Agriculture and GMOs as a Weapon of Global Domination.
Just as we were about to begin the final panel, a woman came in wearing a name tag of the Biosafety Symposium. We wondered if she wandered into our room by mistake. She introduced herself as Dr. Irina Ermakova and said she was more interested in what we were doing than in that conference.
Irina Ermakova, a leading scientist at the Russian Academy of Scientists, speaks to GMO Free Midwest. Photo: Petermann/GJEP
She was recognized as the author of some of the most important papers documenting dangers of GMOs. Dr. Ermakova is a Russian scientist who replicated work of Dr. Arpad Puztai. Dr. Puztai gained notoriety in 1998 when after reporting his research finding damage to the gut of rats fed GMOs. He had been a supporter of GMOs prior to his research but announced that he would never eat them after what he discovered. His employer, the famed Rowett Institute, then suspended him. Later, it came to light that Monsanto had given Rowett Research Services a grant of $224,000.
Dr. Ermakova found that offspring of female rats who had been fed GMO soy had a death rate of 50% within three weeks of birth. The death rate of infant rats whose mothers had eaten non-GMO soy was 10%. Offspring of GMO-fed rats were smaller and unable to reproduce when they reached adulthood. After reporting her findings, Ermakova experienced frequent verbal abuse from biotech enthusiasts and discovered charred remnants of papers placed in her office.
She felt much more welcome at GMO-Free Midwest than at industry’s “Biosafety” event. Orin Langelle and I delayed our panel on “Green Economics: Reality vs. Fantasy” so that Dr. Ermakova could review her research and concerns with GMO food.
The final panel of the conference built on information which had been covered the previous day to explain how GMOs are part of an overall thrust by neoliberalism to control the world economy. Orin spoke of the tragedy of Monsanto workers dying from chemical poisoning in addition to the contamination of entire communities. He detailed how false solutions for climate change such as the Green Economy and Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD) only serve to make corporations richer.
I pointed out that, during the twentieth century, the food industry faced the problem of how it could continue to grow once it became possible to feed the entire global population. Agribusiness continued to grow by inventing needs for pesticides, herbicides, processing, packaging, storing, advertising, and genetic modification, none of which increased the nutrition of food. The food industry is typical of other areas of production, which have grown not by improving people lives, but by developing wasteful and destructive processes and products.
With the discussion portion of GMO Free Monsanto over, everyone left the room, with many wearing T-shirts calling for the labeling of GMO food or noting its dangers. As several St. Louis cops began moving toward our room, we briskly walked outside.
Mutant corn is turned away from participating in the 12th International Symposium on Biosafety of Genetically Modified Organisms. Photo: Langelle/GJEP
Across the street, our picket signs were joined by large puppets of mutant GMO corn and pesticide resistant larva. A banner was soon hung from the fourth floor of a neighboring parking building which read “THE WORLD DOESN’T WANT YOUR GMOs”
Banner hung across the street from the GMO industry conference Photo: Sandy Griffin
A few minutes later, the picket line was joined by our most honored guest, Dr. Irina Ermakova. We happened to have a “Burma Shave”-type sign series which read “WHY IS — MONSANTO — PUSHING — FOOD THAT — RATS — WON’T EAT?” Dr. Ermakova posed in the center for a photo that ran in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch the next day.
Irina Ermakova, a leading scientist at the Russian Academy of Scientists, joins GMO Free Midwest picket. Photo: Don Fitz