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.
Whole Foods Market, the grocery chain, on Friday became the first retailer in the United States to require labeling of all genetically modified foods sold in its stores, a move that some experts said could radically alter the food industry.
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A. C. Gallo, president of Whole Foods, said the new labeling requirement, to be in place within five years, came in response to consumer demand. “We’ve seen how our customers have responded to the products we do have labeled,” Mr. Gallo said. “Some of our manufacturers say they’ve seen a 15 percent increase in sales of products they have labeled.”
Genetically modified ingredients are deeply embedded in the global food supply, having proliferated since the 1990s. Most of the corn and soybeans grown in the United States, for example, have been genetically modified. The alterations make soybeans resistant to a herbicide used in weed control, and causes the corn to produce its own insecticide. Efforts are under way to produce a genetically altered apple that will spoil less quickly, as well as genetically altered salmon that will grow faster. The announcement ricocheted around the food industry and excited proponents of labeling. “Fantastic,” said Mark Kastel, co-director of the Cornucopia Institute, an organic advocacy group that favors labeling.
The Grocery Manufacturers Association, the trade group that represents major food companies and retailers, issued a statement opposing the move. “These labels could mislead consumers into believing that these food products are somehow different or present a special risk or a potential risk,” Louis Finkel, the organization’s executive director of government affairs, said in the statement.
Mr. Finkel noted that the Food and Drug Administration, as well as regulatory and scientific bodies including the World Health Organization and the American Medical Association, had deemed genetically modified products safe.
The labeling requirements announced by Whole Foods will include its 339 stores in the United States and Canada. Since labeling is already required in the European Union, products in its seven stores in Britain are already marked if they contain genetically modified ingredients. The labels currently used show that a product has been verified as free of genetically engineered ingredients by the Non GMO Project, a nonprofit certification organization. The labels Whole Foods will use in 2018, which have yet to be created, will identify foods that contain such ingredients.
The shift by Whole Foods is the latest in a series of events that has intensified the debate over genetically modified foods. Voters defeated a hard-fought ballot initiative in California late last year after the biotech industry, and major corporations like PepsiCo and Coca-Cola, spent millions of dollars to fight the effort. Other initiatives have qualified for the ballot in Washington State and Missouri, while consumers across the country have been waging a sort of guerrilla movement in supermarkets, pasting warning stickers on products suspected of having G.M.O. ingredients from food companies that oppose labeling. Proponents of labeling insist that consumers have a right to know about the ingredients in the food they eat, and they contend that some studies in rats show that bioengineered food can be harmful.
Gary Hirshberg, chairman of Just Label It, a campaign for a federal requirement to label foods containing genetically modified ingredients, called the Whole Foods decision a “game changer.”
“We’ve had some pretty big developments in labeling this year,” Mr. Hirshberg said, adding that 22 states now have some sort of pending labeling legislation. “Now, one of the fastest-growing, most successful retailers in the country is throwing down the gantlet.”
He compared the potential impact of the Whole Foods announcement to Wal-Mart’s decision several years ago to stop selling milk from cows treated with growth hormone. Today, only a small number of milk cows are injected with the hormone.
Karen Batra, a spokeswoman for BIO, a trade group representing the biotech industry, said it was too early to determine what impact, if any, the Whole Foods decision would have. “It looks like they want to expand their inventory of certified organic and non-G.M.O. lines,” Ms. Batra said. “The industry has always supported the voluntary labeling of food for marketing reasons.”
She contended, however, that without scientific evidence showing that genetically modified foods caused health or safety issues, labeling was unnecessary.
Nonetheless, companies have shown a growing willingness to consider labeling. Some 20 major food companies, as well as Wal-Mart, met recently in Washington to discuss genetically modified labeling.
Coincidentally, the American Halal Company, a food company whose Saffron Road products are sold in Whole Foods stores, on Friday introduced the first frozen food, a chickpea and spinach entree, that has been certified not to contain genetically modified ingredients.
More than 90 percent of respondents to a poll of potential voters in the 2012 elections, conducted by the Mellman Group in February last year, were in favor of labeling genetically modified foods. Some 93 percent of Democrats and 89 percent of Republicans in the poll, which had a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percent, favored it.
But in the fight over the California initiative, Proposition 37, the opponents succeeded in persuading voters that labeling would have a negative effect on food prices and the livelihood of farmers.
That fight, however, has cost food companies in other ways. State legislatures and regulatory agencies are pondering labeling on their own, and consumers have been aggressive in criticizing some of the companies that fought the initiative, using Twitter and Facebook to make their views known.
In 2009, Whole Foods began submitting products in its 365 Everyday Value private-label line to verification by the Non GMO Project.
But even Whole Foods has not been immune to criticism on the G.M.O. front. A report by Cornucopia, “Cereal Crimes,” revealed that its 365 Corn Flakes line contained genetically modified corn. By the time the report came out in October 2011, the product had been reformulated and certified as organic.
Today, Whole Foods’ shelves carry some 3,300 private-label and branded products that are certified, the largest selection of any grocery chain in the country.
Mr. Gallo said Whole Foods did not consult with its suppliers about its decision and informed them of it only shortly before making its announcement Friday. He said Whole Foods looked forward to working with suppliers on the labeling.
About a dozen protesters calling themselves Occupy Monsanto spent several hours near Monsanto’s headquarters in Creve Coeur, Missouri as shareholders voted on members for the company’s Board of Directors.
The protesters called for more transparency in the multinational company’s operations especially in labeling, research and business practices.
Adam Eidinger who owns 75 Monsanto shares read his speech to the protesters before heading to the meeting to address shareholders with a statement on behalf of Pesticide Action Network, the company, which submitted the study on potential risks of using GMOs.
RT: You are a Monsanto shareholder, so you’re obviously interested in the company making a profit. But you are planning to speak on behalf of the company which submitted the study on the potential risks of Monsanto products. Why are you doing this?
AE: Well the resolution we had would have required a report to be written that could be shared with researchers and scientists across the globe about the risks that they know – the company knows already – about their genetically modified crops. Which many safe food activists believe make us more reliant on herbicides and chemicals that the company also sells. And these chemicals may be what’s causing higher rates of cancer in industrialized nations across the globe.
We know how it caused tumors in rats that were fed in long term studies last year. Dr. Seralini’s study was a topic during this shareholder meeting, I brought it up. I was able to speak during the meeting.
And this meeting was closed to the public, as you said. And one of the things we are asking for is in the future this to be live-streamed. People around the world care about what’s going into the food. They may not want to own Monsanto stock.
I only bought the stock so I could speak at this shareholder meeting.
RT: A Chinese economist has criticized Monsanto for controlling the country’s soybean market and trying to do the same with corn and cotton in the country. How is this impacting local farmers?
AE: It devastates local farmers time and time again. We’ve seen countries where Monsanto has introduced ‘patented’ technologies, I like to call it. And they only provide hybrid seeds to farmers who then loose bio-diversity, loose varieties that have actually adapted to that area.
What we need on this planet is better distribution of food and we need better organic methods to be shared with farmers, not more reliance on chemicals and pesticides.
And now, it was quite alarming at this shareholder meeting, there are these new technologies where they are going to be modifying insects and viruses and introducing these novel viruses into the environment to handle pests, to kill pests.
We wonder why bee populations around the world are plummeting – it’s because of these chemicals and possibly because of this new technology.
RT: In 2009, Monsanto was accused by the US Justice Department of breaking anti-trust rules. But in 2012 the inquiry was closed without taking any enforcement action. Why?
AE: I think Monsanto is a perfect example of regulatory capture where an industry captures the levers of government, levers of our democracy that are supposed to protect us from companies that would profit over our health being impacted in a really negative way. I mean people may be allergic to these crops, to the chemicals that are used on them, and they are trying to avoid them. And in America they have no right to know if the food has been genetically modified or not. And that is something I brought up at the meeting, if you want to be transparent you ought to label the food.
So yes, you have people at the FDA like Michael Taylor who is the head of food safety who also was the vice-president of Monsanto for a decade and prior to that worked at the FDA as well. So it’s a revolving door, he was at the FDA, went to work for Monsanto and now he’s back at the FDA. It’s clear that secretary of state Clinton, she emphasized giving these hybrid seeds to Africa, yet there’s no proof this is going to help African farmers. I think quite the contrary – they are going to become dependent on buying seeds from the United States when they should be able to save their seeds and develop their own varieties in Africa.
Today farmers, seed breeders, & concerned citizens from across America came to Washington, DC to support Organic farmers in the appeal of Organic Seed Growers and Trade Asscociation (OSGATA) vs Monsanto et al, a court case filed to protect farmers from genetic trespass by Monsanto’s GMO seed, which can contaminate organic and non-GMO farmers’ crops and opens them up to abusive lawsuits.
In the past two decades, Monsanto’s seed monopoly has grown so powerful that they control the genetics of nearly 90% of five major commodity crops including corn, soybeans, cotton, canola and sugar beets. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit agreed to hear oral arguments in the appeal of this landmark case to decide whether or not this case will move forward. Below are some of the photos taken at today’s Citizens’ Assembly.
On January 10, family farmers will travel to Washington DC to participate in the appeal of Organic Seed Growers and Trade Asscociation (OSGATA) vs Monsanto et al, a court case filed to protect farmers from genetic trespass by Monsanto’s GMO seed, which can contaminate organic and non-GMO farmers’ crops and opens them up to abusive lawsuits. In the past two decades, Monsanto’s seed monopoly has grown so powerful that they control the genetics of nearly 90% of five major commodity crops including corn, soybeans, cotton, canola and sugar beets.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit has agreed to hear oral arguments in the appeal of this landmark case to decide whether or not this case will move forward. If you’d like to show your support for family farmers and their right to grow food without the threat of fear and intimidation, please RSVP to attend the Citizen’s Assembly.
I pledge to attend and affirm the following principles of Citizen’s Assembly.
If you plan to attend A Citizen’s Assembly of Support for Family Farmers vs. Monsanto, please read and affirm the following principles of assembly.
RSVP – A Citizen’s Assembly of Support for Family Farmers vs. Monsanto – Jan. 10, 2013
We wish to assemble free and peaceful citizens in Lafayette Square in Washington DC in an effort to present the important message to family farmers that millions of Americans stand behind them as they seek their day in court. In the past two decades, Monsanto’s seed monopoly has grown so powerful that they control the genetics of nearly 90% of five major commodity crops including corn, soybeans, cotton, canola and sugar beets. This has resulted in onerous costs to farmers through high technology patent fees for seeds as well as burdensome litigation costs in defending themselves against lawsuits asserted by Monsanto.
In many cases organic and conventional farmers are forced to stop growing certain crops in order to avoid genetic contamination and potential lawsuits. Between 1997 and April 2010, Monsanto filed 144 lawsuits against American farmers in at least 27 different states, for alleged infringement of its transgenic seed patents and/or breach of its license to those patents, while settling another 700 out of court for undisclosed amounts. As a result of these aggressive lawsuits, Monsanto has created an atmosphere of fear in rural America and driven dozens of farmers into bankruptcy.
The lawsuit OSGATA (Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association) et al vs. Monsanto was filed on behalf of 300,000 organic and non-GMO farmers and citizens to seek judicial relief in “protect[ing] themselves from ever being accused of infringing patents on transgenic (GMO) seed”. The judge has requested and agreed to hear oral argument in orders to make a decision of whether or not to allow the farmers’ case to move forward in the courts after Monsanto filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit. We are encouraging supporters of farmers’ rights to grow food without fear and intimidation to assemble outside the courtroom in a peaceful manner to support the farmers in their claims, recognizing that these injustices affect us all and that this case is deserving of the court’s time and attention.
Due to limited space, only a small number of individuals will be able to enter the courtroom and listen to the proceedings. We respectfully ask that farmers and plaintiffs in the case be given priority to hear this case in person as each plaintiff has travelled many miles and put a great deal on the line to be a part of this case.
In the spirit of peaceful assembly and respect for the courts, we request that you adhere to the following principles:
Principles for Citizen’s Assembly
1. Assemble in Lafayette Square in a show of support for family farmers and their right to grow food without the threat of intimidation, harassment or loss of income.
2. Assemble peacefully to present a positive message that America’s citizens stand behind family farmers and support their rights of legal protection under the Constitution.
3. Bring signs that portray messages of:
b. The positive impacts of sustainable and organic agriculture
c. Solutions to our current crisis in food, agriculture and society
d. Support for farmers who seek justice in the courts
4. Be respectful of the court, our government institutions and maintain a respectful distance from the court entry and federal buildings, making sure not to block access for foot traffic or vehicles.
As advocates for farmers and supporters of a citizen-based democracy we greatly appreciate your support for family farmers and your agreement to act in accordance with these principles in order to guarantee farmers’ rights to grow food without fear and intimidation.
Location to Hear Plaintiffs and Attorney Comment After Hearing
Once oral arguments are heard in the court, farmers, plaintiffs and lead attorney Dan Ravicher of the Public Patent Foundation will be available for comments to supporters and the media at Lafayette Square afterwards.
26 genetically engineered crops are currently being considered for approval in the European Union. 19 out of these 26 are genetically engineered to be tolerant to herbicides.
Renowned agricultural economist Dr. Charles Benbrook was commissioned by Greenpeace to make the first ever forecast of how Europe would be impacted by authorising the cultivation of genetically engineered herbicide tolerant corn, soy and sugar beet.
Greenpeace has also travelled through Argentina and USA to speak to farmers and their communities about how herbicide tolerant crop monocultures have affected their economy, environment and community. These first person accounts formed the basis for the documentary Growing Doubt (the film above).
Witness accounts from Argentina and USA and Dr. Benbrook’s forecast report present a grim view of a future Europe: the over-reliance on herbicide-tolerant crops in the U.S. has triggered the emergence and rapid spread of nearly two dozen glyphosate-resistant weeds, driving up farm production costs, as well as the volume and toxicity of herbicides needed to prevent major yield loss. Europe will face a similar reality by 2025, should
herbicide tolerant genetically engineered crops be authorised for cultivation.
Greenpeace is facilitating an 18 day tour of Europe with public screenings of Growing Doubt showing the reality in Argentina and USA, followed by Dr. Charles Benbrook presenting his study which you can view here.
These public meetings offer European farmers, politicians, media and civil society a chance to hear directly from Dr. Benbrook, as well as Wes Shoemyer and Wendel Lutz – two American farmers featured in the film, who have personally experienced the agricultural and social catastrophe caused by herbicide tolerant crops. Together, they have joined Greenpeace in Europe to warn European farmers against following the American example.
• As herbicide-tolerant GE crops lead to an increase in herbicide usage, that no herbicide tolerant GE crops should be authorised for cultivation in Europe.
• As part of the implementation of the 2008 Council Conclusions, that the European Commission should substantially strengthen the EU risk assessment procedure for GE crops by carrying out a thorough evaluation of the environmental and socioeconomic impacts of HTGE crops.
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.