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.
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.
LIHU‘E — Genetically modified organisms were the focus of a worldwide Occupy movement on Monday, and demonstrators in Lihu‘e said Kaua‘i is Ground Zero with experimental seed testing.
Most of the world was holding an Occupy Monsanto protest, a GMO company that has since departed Kaua‘i, but still has operations in Hawai‘i. The Lihu‘e demonstration focused on all major growers conducting testing, including Kaua‘i companies Syngenta and DuPont/Pioneer, along with ConAgra Foods, Inc. and BASF SE.
The issues were about expansion of testing fields from Kekaha to the Eastside, and the referendum to require labeling of GMO products in foods.
“I just want to know what I am eating,” said Sol Kahn, a demonstrator at the protest. “I don’t want to eat GMOs if I choose not to. It needs to be labeled with more information, and there needs to be more research.”
Kahn fears that poisons in the drinking water and soil is killing microorganisms and bacteria that are beneficial to life. The results of leaching pollution is killing the oceans, reefs and fish, he said.
“I am not necessarily against it (GMOs), but the science of it needs to be inspected,” he added.
Michael Schultz was demonstrating about the wealth of university research on pesticides and herbicides that damage the land and environment.
“I’ve been concerned about this for many years since the end of the cane industry,” Schultz said. “We are not just eating GMO food, but we are the guinea pigs for all these toxins.”
Fern Holland said she began researching the GMO issue five years ago as a student of environmental science, marine biology and wildlife management. She said studies from the Institute of Responsible Technology shows GMOs are not doing the right thing.
“They are chemical companies that are genetically modifying the world’s food supply to need chemicals,” she said.
The GMO issue should unify creationists and evolutionists, who agree that open testing of the world’s food supply is unacceptable. They also believe that breading across species is fundamentally wrong, she said.
“It might be an amazing technology to benefit pharmaceuticals and biotech,” she said, “but it needs to be treated unsafe until proven safe.”
Only numbers will make a difference, and Holland said that monthly community meeting for people on all sides of the issue will follow. She hopes to get 30,000 people to join the cause.
There are currently two lawsuits in state circuit and federal court against seed companies on Kaua‘i. The suits claim that violations of dust suppression orders are poisoning neighboring communities and are preventing organic farms from maintaining its status.
“The Hawai‘i Department of Agriculture supports all forms of legitimate agriculture, which includes conventional farming, biotech farming and organic farming,” said Janelle Saneishi, a public information officer for the department.
Hawai‘i Board of Agriculture Chairman Russell Kokubun was out of state and not available for comment.
Biotech farming is regulated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and once it approves a crop for planting, it is considered like any other plant, she said. Research crops must also follow USDA conditions, but once approved for release they are considered a deregulated crop and not experimental, she added.
As of now, there does not appear to be scientific evidence of harm, she said. Biotech is regulated by USDA permits including inspections quarantine branch facilities.
“We do have some input into how they grow and the inspectors look at how they are following permit conditions and USDA regulations,” she said.
Lopaka Baptista said he grows his own garden and wants his family to have good food on the table. The GMOs ruins everything, he said, referring to his brother who suffers from the effects of Agent Orange during the war in Vietnam.
He said that Atrizine in the water supply is also deadly for humans, pets, animals and birds of Kaua‘i.
“My concern is for my family, my friends and neighbors,” Baptista said. “We have a lot of keiki and we don’t want them growing up in an environment where you cant even drink the water anymore.”
“This issue is important to me and its pretty critical that people of Kaua‘i participate in a meaningful way,” Wendy Raebeck said. “I am really heartened because a demonstration just two years ago people were asking what GMO is, when it’s now a mainstream issue and it needed to happen.”
Corn, soy and canola are taboo items to Raebeck. She buys only organic tofu and soy milk.
“I’m against GMOs and I’m for labeling foods so that we know what is in it,” said Josephine Bonaparte, an organic farmer and grandmother. “I want a life free of pesticides and free from food that is pesticide resistant.”
Tiana Laranio said she was raised a “GMO youth” on microwavable groceries and canned SPAM, sausage and white rice. She suffered from reproductive and gastrointestinal problems at a young age and said she saw a connection with food allergies.
“I started becoming aware, and really once you wake up, there is not turning back,” she said. “I want to help other people to wake up for themselves.”
She said Occupy is about self-empowerment through community outreach and education. She said people can learn to read labels and demand that stores sell GMO-free products.
Once people know and they choose the alternative, then the natural forces of the free market will make the adjustment. As for Hawai‘i, she would like to see remediation of the ceded lands used for sustainable programs that get more people working with community gardens.
As for protesting, this is Laranio’s first time and she was motivated by the sudden growth of GMO fields around the island.
“I don’t agree with what the GMOs do, but if they do it then they should do it in a lab and not in the open air of Kaua‘i,” she said. “We are all being poisoned whether we realize it or not, and I am not a science experiment. I did not agree to this.”
Calls to Syngenta were not returned by press time.
DuPont Pioneer responded with resources that explain the work of GMOs on Kaua‘i at www.hciaonline.org.
More Hawai‘i seed industry surveys and information on biotech food safety is available from the International Food Information Council at www.foodinsight.org.
On September 17, Honoka’a will play host to a movement aimed at taking back our island food source. The goal is to target Monsanto, a self-proclaimed “sustainable agriculture” company which aims to “protect” what some argue are intrinsic rights that deserve to be left alone.
Eden Peart, owner and operator of Kawaiholehole Farm is among the many local farmers who are fighting back to resist the genetically modified foods (GMO) movement that is increasingly present on the island. “…[in] 1999, as a school librarian I signed up for a teacher workshop sponsored by the USDA and Monsanto called ‘Field of Genes.’ I was shocked to learn that Hawaii is the world center of unregulated GMO field testing,” Peart said.
Peart later attended a briefing to a select group of mainly government officials by Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO), the major lobbying force at local and national levels whose members include Monsanto, Bayer, BASF, Dow/Pioneer and Syngenta. “The BIO spokesman said, ‘We can exploit Hawai’i’s biodiversity for biotechnology’ and ‘Hawaii is a good place to do business, because the people here are passive’,” Peart said.
Companies like Monsanto work to create GMO strains of corn and other produce that are resistant to pesticides and disease and are now doing so on-island. “Monsanto has been given some of the best agricultural lands in the state. Journalist Alan McNarie has documented Monsanto’s influence in the political sphere — donating to candidates and legislators who will do their bidding. They also have benefited from huge state tax breaks,” Peart said.
Peart decided to take action, and has organized “Occupy Monsanto,” a multi-faceted protest to speak out against Monsanto. In collaboration, a panel discussion will take place with speakers including UH Manoa’s Dr. Hector Valenzuela, an Extension Crop Specialist.
Like Peart, Valenzuela has a personally vested interest in the cause. “Because the GM industry, which owns the major vegetable seed companies, has had plans to modify most vegetable species, and because UH had a similar vision, I decided to look into the issues back in the 1990s,” he explained.
But Valenzuela’s search for answers was not always a successful or welcome one. “Some administrators within the UH College of Ag don’t feel that UH Ag professors should be asking questions about the safety of GM crops, nor that faculty should interact with consumers, organic farmers, or members of the public that have questions about the safety of GM crops,” Valenzuela added.
Valenzuela feels that it’s important for the community to get educated, and explained that in Hawaii the number one focus should be to grow food, and not to divert the land for subsidized agricultural uses, such as GMOs or biofuel.
“We are dealing with very powerful companies that control a bulk of the pesticide industry; because these companies have considerable connections with the powers that be in Hawaii and because these companies may exert considerable influence in terms of agricultural policy in the state, I feel that it is important that the community become aware of who they are,” Valenzuela said.
Adding to the lineup of events, reggae musician Marty Dread will perform, with one special song in particular dedicated to the cause, “Say No to Monsanto.” Dread commented that “[the song] came about because I saw a film called “Bitter seeds,” which is a true story of the thousands of farmers in India who have committed suicide because they lost their land and way of life due to corporate farming.
In India alone, a farmer kills himself every 30 minutes because they can no longer make a living. Monsanto is the chief culprit in this scenario because they sell genetically modified seeds that resist roundup (Monsanto’s top selling chemical) so the farmer must spray the field with these awful chemicals and everything else dies except the GMO crop.”
Facts like these are what alarm Peart. “Hawaii [needs] to rise to our responsibility, to using our unique resources to grow identity-preserved (GMO-free) seed for the world. We cannot do that until we eradicate and ban all GMO production. During Harry Kim’s first tenure as mayor, he confirmed that the only GMO crop we had on the Big Island was papaya,” noted Peart.
Peart went on to explain that, “Island Dairy, bought by a huge Utah dairy corporation, is growing and feeding their cows Monsanto’s ‘Round Up Ready’ GMO Corn. This is in clear violation of the Hamakua Agriculture Plan. Now anyone growing natural corn is at risk of contamination. What’s worse is that throughout Hawaii, without the public’s permission, GMO seed companies are now field testing many Genetically Modified crops including sunflowers.”
The “Occupy Monsanto” movement will also protest at Island Dairy, as well as stage a ceremonial planting of “identity-preserved” corn following the upcoming event.
Presale tickets for the September 17 benefit concert are available at Taro Patch Gifts in downtown Honokaa through Sept 16 for $10, or for $12 at the door.
Doors open at 5:30 p.m., with a panel discussion at 6:15 p.m.. featuring Valenzuela, Britt Bailey, attorney and Big Island resident who helped draft the successful Mendocino County, California GMO-Free ordinance, and Ku Ching Hawaiian Scholar and activist. Music is from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m.
For questions, find the movement on facebook or call (808)775-7159 or gmofreehawaii@gmail for more info.
For over 20 years, Hawai’i has been the global center for the open-field testing of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO’s), including pharmaceutical crops. Over 5,000 experimental tests have been conducted by Monsanto, Dow, Dupont/Pioneer, Syngenta and BASF that spray chemicals on an almost daily basis on our most valuable lands. They are supported by tax-breaks, and beneficial relationships with landowners, regulators and politicians. We estimate GMO companies own or lease 40,000 — 60,000 acres that are sprayed with over 70 different chemicals.
A new vision for Hawai’i would promote small farms that grow chemical-free produce, employ our youth and restore the indigenous ahupua’a system. Hawai’i has less than 3,000 acres of certified organic farmland, which is 0.27% of Hawaiian farmland.
Kamehameha Schools is Hawaii’s largest private landowner. Despite Kamehameha’s public statements about sustainability and conservation, they lease substantial amounts of land to multi-national biotech firms, including Monsanto, Dow, Dupont/Pioneer and Syngenta for GMO open field tests and seed corn production.
Kamehameha is the only institution with the land, capital and resources to reduce our food imports, that are now over 90%, and ensure that Hawai’i does not run out of food in case of natural disasters or rising oil prices.