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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.




Press Release for the Monsanto Annual Shareholder Meeting

Posted: January 30th, 2013 | Filed under: Press Releases | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |
inside monsanto shareholder meeting Press Release for the Monsanto Annual Shareholder Meeting Washington Walmart USDA Undercover Transparency The Washington Post stocks STL Starbucks St. Louis shareholder proxy Protest Proposition 37 proposal President Obama Pledge Pesticide Action Network organic Oracle Occupy Monsanto Non GM monsanto shareholder meeting Monsanto MO Missouri John Harrington Harrington Investments GMO Labeling gmo FDA Farmers evil corporation EPA Creve Coeur Conventional Coca Cola Cameras Camera California CA Barack Obama Apple Annual Shareholder Meeting 2 4 D

Video still from 2012 Annual Shareholder Meeting

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 30, 2013

CONTACT: Adam Eidinger 202-744-2671
GMO@Occupy-Monsanto.com

Activist Investor to Challenge Monsanto CEO to be More Transparent at January 31 Annual Shareholder Meeting

Anti-GMO Protests Expected Outside

CREVE COEUR, MO – On Thursday, January 31, 2013, the Monsanto Company officers and shareholders will vote on a shareholder proposal to create a study of “material financial risks or operational impacts” associated with its chemical products and patented genetically modified organisms (GMOs). Activists in favor of the measure will demonstrate outside the meeting to raise awareness that the public does not currently have the right to witness what will be the only democratic vote of accountability on Monsanto’s leadership because the company bans cameras inside their Annual Shareholder Meeting.

WHO: Anti-GMO Food Activists, Adam Eidinger, Monsanto Shareholder
WHAT: Protest at Monsanto Annual Shareholder Meeting
WHERE: Monsanto Global Headquarters, Creve Coeur, MO, East Campus Entrance on Olive Blvd.
WHEN: Thursday, January 31, 2013, Noon to 3:30PM

“Monsanto pledges transparency, but provides very little,” says Adam Eidinger, an organic food activist and Monsanto shareholder who organized a march from NY to Washington DC on behalf of honest food labeling in 2011. For the second year in a row, Eidinger will present a shareholder resolution on behalf of Napa, California-based Harrington Investments (HII) with help from the Pesticide Action Network of North America (PANNA).

“Companies like Starbucks, Walmart, The Washington Post, Oracle, Apple and Coca-Cola among many others provide the public and media access to their shareholder meetings in one form or another, but Monsanto, a company who’s patented genetically engineered products are in most people’s food, meets in secret,” says Eidinger.

Monsanto Company’s website has a page titled “Our Pledge” which includes a section that says: “Transparency: We will ensure that information is available, accessible, and understandable.” ( http://www.monsanto.com/whoweare/pages/monsanto-pledge.aspx .)

“By banning cameras from their Annual Shareholder Meeting, Monsanto is flouting its pledge to shareholders who are unable to attend, the majority of Americans who eat the products created by Monsanto Company’s patented technology, farmers who are keen to know future plans of their seed & herbicide provider, and members of the media who report on the company,“ says Eidinger.

Last year Eidinger was forced to sneak an undercover camera into the Annual Shareholder Meeting because safe food activists were concerned about Monsanto Company’s lack of transparency. The grainy footage has been viewed more than 55,000 times. “I shouldn’t be required to break the rules in order to uphold Monsanto Company’s pledge of transparency,” says Eidinger.

The shareholder proposal Eidinger will speak for represents one of the strongest signals to date that the Monsanto Company faces growing consumer, legal, and regulatory uncertainties. Public pressure for transparency in the marketplace in the form of GMO food labeling is leading to new battles for Monsanto Company, which spent over $8 million dollars in 2012 to prevent labeling of genetically engineered foods in California. Next month, on February 19, Bowman v. Monsanto, a landmark case on GMO patent exhaustion, will be argued before the US Supreme Court. If the Supreme Court rules against the Monsanto Company many its patented products face an uncertain future.

PROTESTS PLANNED

The Annual Shareholder Meeting itself is only open to shareholders but concerned citizens will demonstrate outside along Olive Blvd. near the East Campus entrance to Monsanto Company’s Creve Coeur facilities beginning at 12:00 noon. The Monsanto Company global headquarters is located at 800 North Lindberg Boulevard in Creve Coeur, MO.

In 2012 there were over 100 demonstrations against the Monsanto Company around the world, including protests on five different Hawaiian Islands, three at Monsanto Company’s headquarters in Creve Coeur, Missouri along with 60 others across the US. In Argentina, Japan, Poland, Canada, Peru, Philippines, Spain, and numerous others countries people protested at Monsanto Company offices on September 17, 2012.

Last fall Monsanto and its business allies showed they can subvert the democratic process by spending more than $45 million dollars to spread lies in order to prevent GMO labeling in California’s Proposition 37. Monsanto and other biotechnology & processed food companies outspent their opposition by a factor of 5 to 1. In 2013 numerous states, including Missouri, have pending GMO labeling legislation. Washington State is expected to have a GMO labeling initiative on the ballot later this year. Efforts are already underway in California for a new 2014 labeling initiative.

John Harrington, CEO of Harrington Investments, questions the veracity of Monsanto’s GMO crops, “With the rise of Round-Up resistant ‘superweeds’ the company is simply telling farmers to spray even more toxic herbicides including 2,4 D, the main ingredient in Agent Orange. Many people are struggling to avoid GMO’s and chemicals used on them in the food they eat due to serious health and environmental concerns, yet Americans have no right to know what we are eating largely due to the close ties Monsanto has to President Obama’s USDA, EPA, and FDA, which have not satisfied more than 1 million Americans who have signed on to the JustLabelIt.org’s petition to the FDA.”

Adam Eidinger will be available for interview before and after the Monsanto Shareholder Meeting, to which he will drive in a “Label GMO Foods” art car called the Fishycorn Car.

More information at http://Occupy-Monsanto.com .

###

Videos from the 2012 Monsanto Company Annual Shareholder Meeting:






+ Read Monsanto Company Proxy Item No. 5: Shareowner Proposal

+ RSVP on Facebook

occupy monsanto shareholder meeting group photo Press Release for the Monsanto Annual Shareholder Meeting Washington Walmart USDA Undercover Transparency The Washington Post stocks STL Starbucks St. Louis shareholder proxy Protest Proposition 37 proposal President Obama Pledge Pesticide Action Network organic Oracle Occupy Monsanto Non GM monsanto shareholder meeting Monsanto MO Missouri John Harrington Harrington Investments GMO Labeling gmo FDA Farmers evil corporation EPA Creve Coeur Conventional Coca Cola Cameras Camera California CA Barack Obama Apple Annual Shareholder Meeting 2 4 D

Demonstrators at Monsanto World Headquarters, Sept 17 2012. Photo: Sandy Griffin

Monsanto Company Proxy Item No. 5: Shareowner Proposal

Posted: December 13th, 2012 | Filed under: Research | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |
Proxy Item No. 5: Shareowner Proposal – Pages 74-76 of Monsanto Company’s Schedule 14A Form

This proposal was submitted by Harrington Investments, Inc., 1001 2nd Street, Suite 325, Napa, CA 94559, as lead proponent of a filing group. The proposal has been carefully considered by the board of directors, which has concluded that its adoption would not be in the best interests of the company or its shareowners. For the reasons stated after the proposal, the board recommends a vote “Against” the shareowner proposal.

The proposal and supporting statement are presented as received from the shareowner proponents in accordance with the rules of the Securities and Exchange Commission, and the board of directors and the company disclaim any responsibility for its content. We will furnish, orally or in writing as requested, the name, address and claimed share ownership position of the proponents of this shareowner proposal promptly upon written or oral request directed to the company’s Secretary.

Information regarding the inclusion of proposals in Monsanto’s proxy statement can be found on page 77 under Shareowner Proposals for 2014 Annual Meeting.


Shareowner Statement

Whereas:

The labeling of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) is an increasing matter of concern among state legislators across the United States;

Whereas:

Vermont, Alaska, Maine and Nebraska have passed laws requiring labeling of GMOs and at least fifteen states have offered legislation that would require similar labeling;

Whereas:

The biological and physical movement of material derived from genetically engineered crops is difficult and sometimes impossible to control or recall;

Whereas:

Many domestic and global food markets demand foods with zero or near-zero levels of material derived from genetically modified organisms;

Whereas:

Genetically modified crops have been found to contaminate conventional (non-GMO) and organic farms, threatening farmers’ livelihoods, and affecting critical food supply, and imposing a significant financial burden on farmers seeking to satisfy markets for GMO-free products;

RESOLVED: The Monsanto board shall prepare a report, at reasonable expense and omitting proprietary information, assessing any material financial risks or operational potential impacts on the Company with:

  • Seed contamination, including costs of seed replacement, crop and production losses and clean up, decontamination and continued testing of affected seeds;
  • Ongoing buffer zone control, including production acreage losses and on-going maintenance required to secure or maintain access to contamination-sensitive markets;
  • Crop, production, and post-harvest losses and associated costs of market rejections, including temporary or permanent market losses resulting from GMO contamination;
  • Loss of organic or other third-party certification due to GMO contamination and any costs associated with additional record-keeping, testing or surveillance required to regain certification or retain certification on impacted operations;
  • Well water testing and/or groundwater cleanup contamination if found;
  • Removal and destruction of contaminated GMO plants;
  • Pollinator losses and related damages, e.g. to non-target organisms;
  • Soil contamination and on-going related mitigation and remediation costs; and
  • Damage to farmers’ reputation, livelihood, and standing in the community.

The report shall also discuss the impact of such a policy regarding such issues and related public policies on our customers and consumers, and shall be available by July 1, 2013.


THE BOARD OF DIRECTORS RECOMMENDS A VOTE “AGAINST” THE FOREGOING PROPOSAL FOR THE FOLLOWING REASONS:

Disclosure of material financial risks or operational impacts on the company is required by SEC reporting requirements and we take seriously our responsibility to identify, analyze and transparently report such risks or potential impacts. Existing processes and procedures are in place that are intended to ensure compliance with SEC disclosure requirements relating to the topics raised by the proponent. An additional report to restate such risks or impacts as suggested in the proposal would be redundant and provide no meaningful additional information to shareowners.

We are committed to the practice of product stewardship which includes careful attention to coexistence and identity preservation. More details are available on our website at http://www.monsanto.com/ourcommitments/Pages/product-stewardship.aspx [2] For example,

  • Our Technology Use Guide, which is updated annually, distributed to our customers and posted on our website, provides information specifically about coexistence and identity preservation to our customers, including general instructions for management of mechanical mixing and pollen flow.
  • We engage in robust, ongoing dialogue with the seed trade, agricultural value chain and academic community to address the complex subject areas encompassed by the shareowner proposal in a manner consistent with best industry practice. These are routinely discussed in these settings and are well known to the company individuals responsible for identifying and reporting material risks and potential impacts.
  • Monsanto is a founding member of “Excellence Through Stewardship,” the agricultural biotechnology industry’s global initiative for advancing best practices in stewardship and quality management. As a member, Monsanto is subject to regular global compliance audits to ensure best practices are being followed. See http://www.excellencethroughstewardship.org/ [2] for more information about this initiative.

Constructive coexistence among diverse segments of agriculture is well established and practiced. It is commonplace to find different agricultural production methods working effectively side by side based on well established practices and a long, successful history in agriculture. Careful management of these production methods is in the interest of all concerned – our company, our customers, the value chain and consumers.

  • Farmers and seed companies rely on standards and best practices in seed and grain production, harvest, handling and transportation to support production, distribution and trade of products from different agricultural systems. This is essential to preserve the identity of products to meet market specifications. Examples of identity preserved production include certified seed, specialty oil or protein crops, and crops that meet commercial contract specifications such as organic and non-genetically enhanced specifications.
  • Based on historical experience generally accepted agricultural practices to manage production to meet quality specifications have been established. Among these practices are appropriate seed sourcing, field management, storage and handling practices. This array of agricultural planning tools and practices maintains product integrity and quality specifications.
A mosaic of agricultural production systems must be preserved to enable farmer choice and meet global productivity needs. Drought in several major agricultural production regions in 2011 and 2012 is a vivid reminder of the challenges facing agricultural production and food security. Monsanto believes farmers should have the freedom to choose the production method best suited for their environments, markets and needs, whether organic, non-GM conventional, or products improved through biotechnology. All of the agricultural systems can and do work effectively side by side and contribute to the varied needs of different farmers, markets and consumers and meeting the demands of a growing population.

THE BOARD OF DIRECTORS RECOMMENDS
A VOTE “AGAINST”
THIS SHAREOWNER PROPOSAL
AND YOUR PROXY WILL BE SO VOTED IF THE PROPOSAL IS PRESENTED
UNLESS YOU SPECIFY OTHERWISE


[2] Information contained on this website is for informational purposes only and is not incorporated by reference into this proxy statement.


Source: U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission

INCIDENT REPORT: Occupy Monsanto goes to the home of Monsanto

Posted: September 29th, 2012 | Filed under: Incident Reports | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

03ErmalRats e1348275986158 INCIDENT REPORT: Occupy Monsanto goes to the home of Monsanto Whole Foods Market Suzanne Renard STL Stan Cox St. Louis Safe Food Action St. Louis Rats Priti Cox Picket Orin Langelle Organic Consumers Association Occupy Monsanto MO Millennium Hotel International Symposium on Biosafety of Genetically Modified Organisms GMO Free Midwest GMO Labeling gmo GM soy Global Justice Ecology Project Gateway Green Alliance Fisher Wellness Center Eric Herm Dr. Ollie Fisher Dr. Irina Ermakova Don Fitz death Creve Coeur cotton Carmelo Ruiz Marrero CAMP Brian Tokar Black Bear Bakery biotechnology Barbara Chicherio Anne Peterman
Photo by Don Fitz


Occupy Monsanto goes to the home of Monsanto

By Carmelo Ruiz Marrero

In the city of St. Louis, there is no one who does not have a friend, relative or neighbor working at Monsanto. This city on the banks of the Mississippi river has the doubtful honor of hosting the world headquarters of the Monsanto corporation. Founded in 1901, it was one of the world’s leading chemical companies in the twentieth century. At the start of this century it transformed itself into a biotechnology giant, or as the company likes to put it, “a leader in the life sciences industry”. Nowadays, Monsanto is the world’s largest seed company (global market share: 27%) and owns over four fifths of the planet’s genetically modified (GM) seed.

Monsanto is therefore the very embodiment of the biotech-agricultural-industrial complex, the company has worked very hard to earn that distinction. That also means that it symbolizes everything that is wrong with the food system.

Monday September 17 was the Occupy Monsanto campaign’s international day of actions against the corporation (1). Concerned citizens all over the world were called upon to carry out protest actions at the Monsanto facility nearest to them. Groups as far away as Chile and Argentina picketed Monsanto offices and circulated photos of their actions on social media.

That day I was, of all places, in St. Louis picketing the company headquarters’ main entrance. I was accompanied by dozens of local activists plus some who came from as far away as Chicago and the San Francisco bay area (2). Among the demonstrators who addressed the small crowd was Texas farmer Eric Herm, who used to plant Monsanto’s GM Roundup Ready cotton but turned against chemical and biotech agriculture. He narrates his journey of discovery and transformation in his book “Son of a Farmer, Child of the Earth” (3).

This picket was the culmination of two days of protests and educational events organized by GMO Free Midwest (4) and Occupy Monsanto. A series of events were hosted by Safe Food Action, the Gateway Green Alliance (5) and the US Organic Consumers Association (6) in different parts of the city to agitate and educate about the threat of GM crops and foods to human health, small farmers, rural economies, and food sovereignty worldwide.

On Sunday the 16th the organizers held a day-long series of educational activities, including talks and film screenings, in the Community Arts and Movement (CAMP) (7) building between Cherokee street and Minnesota Avenue in South St. Louis, and the Black Bear Bakery a short walk away. CAMP is a community organization that promotes creative expression, social interconnection, healthy living and sustainability through a great variety of activities that celebrate diversity and encourage critical thinking, such as classes, projects, artists in residence, bicycle repair, community gardening, mural painting, and much more. The Black Bear Bakery, known for its Lickhalter rye bread, is a worker-owned collective that hosts a great deal of cultural, political and creative activities, including music performances, film screenings, meetings, presentations and press conferences (8).

Presenters that day included Dr. Ollie Fisher, a former Monsanto employee who turned his life around and is now dedicated to promoting integral holistic health and operates the Fisher Wellness Center (9); Priti Cox, an artist from India (10) who has been chronicling and analyzing the devastating effects of corporate globalization on Indian society; geneticist and author Stan Cox (11), who works at the Kansas-based Land Institute developing deep-rooted perennial food crops (12); Orin Langelle and Anne Peterman, both from the Global Justice Ecology Project (13), who work on a variety of issues ranging from climate justice to the campaign to stop GM trees; social and environmental justice activist Daniel “Digger” Romano, who helps create local food networks as an alternative to the corporate-dominated agrotoxic food system; organic farmer, beekeeper and teacher Suzanne Renard; Eric Herm, and myself.

In my presentation I provided a political and historical context to the current global battle around GM crops and the patenting of seeds, basing myself on two recent articles of mine, “The Grand Botanical Chess Game” (14) and “Seeds of Empire” (15). This is part of a much broader research work I’m doing on the geopolitics of seeds and genomes, from a social ecology perspective.

The following day was the big day: Occupy Monsanto Day. Activities began with a conference on the myths and realities of the much-ballyhooed “green economy” at the Millennium hotel in the downtown area, with Don Fitz of the Gateway Green Alliance and Orin Langelle as presenters and myself as moderator. On the same floor of the Millenium a biotech industry-sponsored international scientific symposium on the biosafety of genetically modified organisms (GMO’s) was taking place that same day. Not a coincidence, but rather clever planning and foresight. Months earlier, professor Brian Tokar of the Vermont-based Institute for Social Ecology informed GMO Free Midwest organizer Barbara Chicherio of the upcoming industry symposium, noting that it would coincide with the Occupy Monsanto actions. So the protest organizers cleverly booked the Lewis & Clarke conference room in the hotel, directly across the hall from where the industry activity would take place.

But things did not go as planned. We were changed at last minute to a different conference room on the far end of the floor, half the size of the space that had been paid for. Here is Don Fitz’s account of what happened when Chicherio brought our complaint to the hotel executive in charge:

– “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. –

Fitz’s full account plus some photos of the activity are available at the Occupy Monsanto site (16).

A Russian scientist participating at the industry symposium came over and briefly joined us as the conference was starting. It was none other than Irina Ermakova. Her name may be little-known to the American general public but she is a celebrity and hero among anti-GM activists. In 2007 she published the results of her ground-breaking animal feeding studies on GM soy. In short, she found that the offspring of rats fed GM soy had a death rate of 50% within three weeks of birth, when the normal rate is 10%. For her findings, Ermakova was badly abused by biotech crop supporters, particularly the editors of Nature Biotechnology magazine (17). Apparently, the industry symposium’s organizers felt they needed a token radical voice in their activity lest they be accused of “bias”. It was a pleasant surprise and a total thrill to have her briefly join us and address our conference. Later, she joined us again when we had an anti-GM picket across the street from the hotel.

Our following action of the day was at the local Whole Foods Market, the Wal-Mart of the organic movement (18). The Whole Foods retail chain, which many consumers believe sells only organic, natural, healthy, wholesome and of above average quality foods, actually sells some GM among its many items that are not labeled “organic”. No, not everything they sell is organic, and if it isn’t then there is no guarantee that it’s GM-free. Whole Foods does not have a GM-free policy and does not even support mandatory labels on GM foods. We walked up and down the aisles talking to customers about GM foods and the importance of labeling them. The reception among the clientele was overwhelmingly positive, and even employees wanted to know about the issues. Other members of our group took non-organic items to the cash register and questioned the cashiers whether their purchases were GM-free. There were no unpleasant clashes with the store’s management and there were no arrests, even though police did show up.

The grand event of the day was the picket at the main entrance to Monsanto’s main offices, in the Creve Coeur suburb (19). What surprised us was the number of passerby drivers who expressed their approval and solidarity with our protest. That is no small thing in the world’s ultimate biotech company town.

– Ruiz-Marrero is a Puerto Rican author, environmental educator, and long-time activist on biotech issues. He currently works at the Organic Consumers Association coordinating social media campaigns. Ruiz-Marrero, a graduate of the Institute for Social Ecology’s MA program, has been involved with Green politics since the 1980’s, when he was active in the Green Committees of Correspondence. He is currently on the editorial board of Synthesis/Regeneration, a journal of Green social thought (http://www.greens.org/s-r/).

FOOTNOTES:
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Occupy Monsanto in St. Louis: Action 3 – “Rats Who Eat ‘em Already Know…”

Posted: September 23rd, 2012 | Filed under: Incident Reports, Photos | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |
07groupGrif e1349110424800 Occupy Monsanto in St. Louis: Action 3   “Rats Who Eat ‘em Already Know…” Whole Foods Market street STL Stacy Park St. Louis signs road Rats Protest Picket Occupy Monsanto National Lawyers Guild Monsanto World Headquarters MO Missouri Millennium Hotel Maggie Ellinger Locke International Symposium on Biosafety of Genetically Modified Organisms GMOs GMO Free Midwest GMO Labeling Dr. Irina Ermakova Don Fitz Demonstration Creve Coeur Charles Jaco Barbara Chicherio banner
Demonstrators at Monsanto World Headquarters, Sept 17 2012. Photo: Sandy Griffin

Occupy Monsanto in St. Louis: Action 3

“Rats Who Eat ‘em Already Know…”

by Don Fitz

The Gateway Green Alliance/Green Party of St. Louis has over 10 years of experience picketing Monsanto World Headquarters (MWH). Long before the company was contaminating and dominating the food supply, it was producing toxic chemicals such as PCBs for insulation and Agent Orange for the Vietnam War. Its herbicide Roundup links its chemical past to its present focus on genetically modified organisms (GMOs). Two-thirds of GMOs are created to make herbicide- and pesticide-resistant crops.

The demonstration at Monsanto was the largest of three during the last day of “GMO-Free Midwest,” the St. Louis portion of Occupy Monsanto. Many picketers came by bus, first from the Millennium Hotel in downtown St. Louis. There, those attending a panel on the use of GMOs for global economic domination were rudely greeted by a hotel supervisor who had reassigned them to a room as far away as possible from the industry-sponsored Symposium on Biosafety of GMOs. But Dr. Irina Ermakova, a researcher known internationally for verifying harm experienced by rats fed GMOs, left the industry symposium to comment at GMO-Free Midwest and later join its picket.

The second stop of the day was at Whole Foods Market (WFM), where safe food activists walked through a group of police protecting the store from “protesters” and proceeded to fill up shopping carts with food which might contain GMOs. Check out lines slowed down as they asked cashiers to verify if each item was GMO-free or not. The shop-in changed to a talk-in as they spoke with customers all over the store about WFM’s coziness with agribusiness. The talk-in then changed to a gawk-in as shoppers watched police gather at a car with a sign which had suddenly appeared on top of it saying “GMOs Contaminate Food” on one side and “WFM Sells GMOs” on the other.

02LowAgentOrang Occupy Monsanto in St. Louis: Action 3   “Rats Who Eat ‘em Already Know…” Whole Foods Market street STL Stacy Park St. Louis signs road Rats Protest Picket Occupy Monsanto National Lawyers Guild Monsanto World Headquarters MO Missouri Millennium Hotel Maggie Ellinger Locke International Symposium on Biosafety of Genetically Modified Organisms GMOs GMO Free Midwest GMO Labeling Dr. Irina Ermakova Don Fitz Demonstration Creve Coeur Charles Jaco Barbara Chicherio banner
Monsanto had a history before GMOs. Monsanto World Headquarters, Sept 17 2012. Photo: Don Fitz

With two highly successful events, the safe food activists expected the demonstration at Monsanto to be an uneventful repeat of the many actions held previously at that location. It was not. For years, the company had pretended to be accepting, even having pitchers of water and cups prepared for protestors on some occasions. But not on the day of Occupy Monsanto, September 17, 2012, the year anniversary of Occupy Wall Street.

No corporate greeters were on hand. A sparse line of police stood in military rigidity behind yellow rope. The cop apparently in charge walked over, saying, “You can demonstrate on your side of the rope as long as you stay on the grass and don’t step on the pavement.”

As he swaggered away John Wayne-style, a woman muttered to me, “Last time I was here they ordered me to stay on the pavement and not get on the grass.”

People were coming in so fast that it was hard to distribute banners and signs. They included three sets of “Burma-Shave” type signs that had to go in the right order if they were to make sense to motorists driving 40–60 mph down Olive Blvd. Each sign had 1 or 2 words:

“WHY IS – MONSANTO – SUING – FARMERS?”

“STOP – MONSANTO’s – GENETIC – CONTAMINATION – OF OUR – FOOD”

“WHY IS – MONSANTO – PUSHING – FOOD THAT – RATS – WON’T EAT?”

03LowBoimeB Occupy Monsanto in St. Louis: Action 3   “Rats Who Eat ‘em Already Know…” Whole Foods Market street STL Stacy Park St. Louis signs road Rats Protest Picket Occupy Monsanto National Lawyers Guild Monsanto World Headquarters MO Missouri Millennium Hotel Maggie Ellinger Locke International Symposium on Biosafety of Genetically Modified Organisms GMOs GMO Free Midwest GMO Labeling Dr. Irina Ermakova Don Fitz Demonstration Creve Coeur Charles Jaco Barbara Chicherio banner
Bonnie Boime at Monsanto World Headquarters, Sept 17 2012. Photo: Don Fitz

Event coordinator Barbara Chicherio was off taking a veteran demonstrator to the hospitals after she slipped and cut her head at WFM. So I was left coordinating the picket and making sure that there was enough room between people so drivers could read signs. I asked several people to go to the other side of the road and be sure to comply with police wishes for us to cross over at the light.

Several came back saying a cop had told them that they had to stay on this side of the road and could not cross over to reach drivers on the other side. “It must be my friend, John Wayne,” went through my mind.

Luckily, we had spoken with the National Lawyers Guild (NLG) who provided legal observers. Attorney Maggie Ellinger-Locke asked the cop about his interpretation of safety law and he replied, “Oh, yes, you can be on the other side of the road, as long as you stay on the grass.” Maggie and I glanced at each other, both aware that an argument explained by an attorney can be effective while the same statement put forth with the identical logic by an average citizen can be ignored.

That problem was solved and picketers and banner-holders were having lively conversations. As everything was going dandy, cops invented a new problem. “Cars in Stacy Park can be towed if the driver is not using the park,” they told us.

Monsanto World Headquarters is at two busy streets and the few neighbors are a church and businesses that have ties to or dare not offend the Biotech Master. Parking is a real hassle. For years, no one cared if people left their cars at Stacy Park, especially at the time of day of our picket when the park is barely used. So off went several people to move cars, somewhat suspicious that Creve Coeur police might not be completely neutral defenders of public safety.

What a great victory it was! For years, Monsanto had judged us to be such a minor nuisance that they could ignore us or mock us with the feigned graciousness of water pitchers. But Occupy Monsanto was different. For the first time, Monsanto felt so much against the wall from global opposition that it felt the need to harass a picket at its front door.

Political activists do not use the word “transcend” to mean that someone’s mind is going into outer space, disconnected from reality. “Transcend” means to include while going into a deeper meaning. Occupy Monsanto was becoming transcendent. It included the basic concerns that people have with human health — the poisoning of our food and our families. But it went beyond personal experience and linked up people across the globe.

04LowZombie Occupy Monsanto in St. Louis: Action 3   “Rats Who Eat ‘em Already Know…” Whole Foods Market street STL Stacy Park St. Louis signs road Rats Protest Picket Occupy Monsanto National Lawyers Guild Monsanto World Headquarters MO Missouri Millennium Hotel Maggie Ellinger Locke International Symposium on Biosafety of Genetically Modified Organisms GMOs GMO Free Midwest GMO Labeling Dr. Irina Ermakova Don Fitz Demonstration Creve Coeur Charles Jaco Barbara Chicherio banner
Zombie farmer at Monsanto World Headquarters, Sept 17 2012. Photo: Don Fitz

Those who had lost a family member due to poisoning while working for Monsanto. Low income communities of color which have become uninhabitable due to toxic releases. Veterans who still suffer from Agent Orange as well as Vietnamese who endure ghastly effects. Farmers who fear their land being invaded by seed police. Argentineans who see once diverse fields turned into Roundup-ready monocultures. Africans who watch traditional cultivation wisdom ploughed under mounds of greed. Indians whose neighbors commit suicide following GMO crop failures. On September 17, 2012, those who simply want to feed their families safe food knew that they had allies throughout the world and that they must stand with these allies if they are to win the quality of food they want.

06LowWashingtonC Occupy Monsanto in St. Louis: Action 3   “Rats Who Eat ‘em Already Know…” Whole Foods Market street STL Stacy Park St. Louis signs road Rats Protest Picket Occupy Monsanto National Lawyers Guild Monsanto World Headquarters MO Missouri Millennium Hotel Maggie Ellinger Locke International Symposium on Biosafety of Genetically Modified Organisms GMOs GMO Free Midwest GMO Labeling Dr. Irina Ermakova Don Fitz Demonstration Creve Coeur Charles Jaco Barbara Chicherio banner
Crystal Washington at Monsanto World Headquarters, Sept 17 2012. Photo: Don Fitz

One person who did not stand in solidarity was the woman going around with a camera obtrusively filming each demonstrator. As she walked up wearing a stern look, Crystal Washington asked, “Hey, why you got that gun on your hip?” Crystal is the Green Party Committeewoman for Ward 4 of the City of St. Louis.

Wearing no identification connecting her with Monsanto, Homeland Security, or local police, the woman did not answer but continued to film. Nor would she answer anyone else who requested that she identify herself.

Truly, the biotech company was not putting on its happy face for Occupy Monsanto.

As the departing hour of 5:00 pm approached, I asked Maggie to join me in posing a question for officer John Wayne. Standing well on the other side of the yellow rope, he yelled out asking what we wanted. I motioned for him to come over, indicating the seriousness of the question. “Officer, I want to apologize for not giving you guys much of anything to do today. But there is something that you could help us with. We would like a group picture and wonder if you could snap it so we could all be in it.” I held my camera toward him.

“We don’t do photos.” He strutted off.

Oh, well. He had the chance to transcend his John Wayne role; but, he blew it and will never go down in history as the officer who took the culminating photo at Monsanto World Headquarters.

05LowVsMonsanto Occupy Monsanto in St. Louis: Action 3   “Rats Who Eat ‘em Already Know…” Whole Foods Market street STL Stacy Park St. Louis signs road Rats Protest Picket Occupy Monsanto National Lawyers Guild Monsanto World Headquarters MO Missouri Millennium Hotel Maggie Ellinger Locke International Symposium on Biosafety of Genetically Modified Organisms GMOs GMO Free Midwest GMO Labeling Dr. Irina Ermakova Don Fitz Demonstration Creve Coeur Charles Jaco Barbara Chicherio banner
Safe food activist at Monsanto World Headquarters, Sept. 17 2012. Photo: Don Fitz

During the entire event at Monsanto, reporter Charles Jaco had his mobile TV antennae extended 20–30 feet in the air for recording. Jakko is the reporter known internationally for interviewing Todd Akin, the candidate for US Senator from Missouri who educated the world on “legitimate” rape.

As people were putting their signs in a pile, Jakko’s cameraman shouted, “You’re not leaving, are you?”

“Yes, people want to be on the bus by 5,” I told him.

“We were going to show you live on the 5:00 news!” the cameraman let me know.

A quick huddle and we decided to march in a circle for the live shot. Rain dribbled down at first but slowly got heavier each minute we got closer to the taping. Remembering what she learned from the panel discussions, Crystal Washington came up with the background chant as Jakko put us on the air…

“Rats who eat ‘em already know,

GMOs have got to go!”

01LowDoesntWant e1349112622672 Occupy Monsanto in St. Louis: Action 3   “Rats Who Eat ‘em Already Know…” Whole Foods Market street STL Stacy Park St. Louis signs road Rats Protest Picket Occupy Monsanto National Lawyers Guild Monsanto World Headquarters MO Missouri Millennium Hotel Maggie Ellinger Locke International Symposium on Biosafety of Genetically Modified Organisms GMOs GMO Free Midwest GMO Labeling Dr. Irina Ermakova Don Fitz Demonstration Creve Coeur Charles Jaco Barbara Chicherio banner
Banner hung at “Biosafety” Symposium makes it to Monsanto World Headquarters, Sept 17 2012. Photo: Don Fitz

A few minutes after 5 and the camera shut down; rain was heavier; and people were off to the Community Arts and Movement Center (CAMP) for the final wrap-up and reflection.

At Biodevastation 7 in 2003, CAMP was one of several locations raided by St. Louis police for the Monsanto-inspired hallucination that we were bringing 50,000 anarchists to destroy downtown. In 2012, Anne Petermann had come from New York to speak at GMO-Free Midwest. Explaining that she was originally from St. Louis, she let everyone at CAMP know, “Today, I was told that I was unwelcome at three different locations. It feels just like the St. Louis I left. It’s so good to be home.”


Don Fitz works helped plan GMO-Free Midwest and is active in the Greens/Green Party USA.

KPLR St. Louis, Missouri: Occupy Wall Street Protestors Target Monsanto

Posted: September 17th, 2012 | Filed under: Press, Video | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

CREVE COEUR, MO (KPLR) – Part of those occupy protests nationwide were aimed at St. Louis-based Monsanto, objecting to what organizers call the corporate food supply.

A few dozen demonstrators came to Monsanto’s international headquarters to protest Monsanto’s use of so called GMOs, genetically modified organisms.

The anti-Monsanto protestors started out at Whole Foods, angry that the organic food retailing giant also sells corn and other vegetables that are genetically modified.

Demonstrators were allowed to talk to customers. They were not allowed to carry signs or dress in costumes.

From there, they took their complaints to Creve Coeur and Monsanto world headquarters. They say most of Monsanto’s genetic tinkering, involves becoming resistant to bug killing chemicals.

“Mostly plants at this point by Monsanto are genetically engineered so that they’re resistant to their herbicides and pesticides, roundup,” said Barbara Chicherio with Safe Food Action-St. Louis. “So they’ve genetically engineered plants so they can spray the pesticide on it, which actually also has a lot of health concerns.”

“What Monsanto does is to corner the market on farming products and especially pressure farmers to buy GMO seeds and GMO seeds are something that can threaten human health, GMO seeds can be very bad for the environment, and GMO seeds can basically drive farmers into bankruptcy,” said Don Fitz with Gateway Green Alliance.

But while the protestors in front of Monsanto say genetically modified organisms are dangerous, Monsanto says they’re helping to feed the world.

No Monsanto spokesman would appear on camera. But the company did issue a statement:

“The 21,000 people who work for Monsanto are proud of our efforts to help improve farm productivity and food quality. Agriculture and its uses are important to Missouri, the United States and the world. Among the challenges facing agriculture are producing food for our growing population and reducing agriculture’s footprint on the environment. We respect each individual’s right to express their point of view on these topics. At Monsanto, we believe we can make a contribution to improving agriculture by helping farmers produce more from their land while conserving natural resources such as water and energy.”

Other anti-Monsanto protests were held worldwide. But will protests like this alter the behavior of a multi-billion dollar bio-agricultural giant? Not likely.


Source: KPLR St. Louis, Missouri


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