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.
From sunset Friday, January 10 until at least 2am, January 11, 2014, safe food activists will be holding an nighttime vigil outside of the FDA’s Center For Food Safety and Applied Nutrition (5100 Paint Branch Pkwy College Park, MD 20740) to demand the FDA require mandatory labels for foods containing genetically engineered ingredients. Throughout the evening activists will be projecting crowdsourced food labels, photos, and videos submitted by concerned citizens from around the world on to the side of the FDA building.
WHAT TO BRING
This demonstration will be taking place at night in the middle of the winter and we anticipate COLD weather. Organizers will bring outdoor heaters and some blankets, but it is advised to bring hand & toe warmers, a warm winter jacket, wool socks, long underwear, blankets, folding chairs, flashlights, a tent & sleeping bag (if you plan on staying overnight), thermos of coffee or tea, signs, and the desire to get the FDA to require mandatory labels.
GETTING TO THE FDA
The FDA’s Center For Food Safety and Applied Nutrition is located at 5100 Paint Branch Pkwy College Park, MD 20740. The building is conveniently located across the street from the College Park Metro Station on the Green Line. We recommend using a SmarTrip card (available for purchase at any station, except Dulles & BWI airports) to bypass the $1 surcharge on paper tickets.
If coming by car, there is street parking available near the building as well as a parking garage at the College Park Metro Station ($4.50 per day, credit card only)
If coming by Bus or Train, take the Red Line from Union Station in the direction of Shady Grove to the Gallery Place Station, change trains to the Green Line (on the lower level) in the direction of Greenbelt, and get off at the College Park Station.
If flying into Reagan National Airport, take the Yellow Line train in the direction of Fort Totten to the Gallery Place Station, change trains to the Green Line (on the lower level) in the direction of Greenbelt, and get off at the College Park Station.
If flying into Dulles International Airport, take 5A Bus ($6 exact fare – pickup located at Curb 2E) to the L’Enfant Metro Station, take the Green Line in the direction of Greenbelt, and get off at the College Park Station.
If flying into BWI Airport, take the B30 Bus ($6 exact fare – pickups located at Concorse A and E. Follow the signs that say “Public Transit”) to the Greenbelt Metro Station, take the Metro one stop and get off at the College Park Station.
The Washington Metro runs until around 2am and restarts at 7am on Saturday morning.
Anti-GMO Activists Block Entrance to Congressional Offices to Stop Corporate Lobbying During the Shutdown
Action Follows Delivery of Monsanto’s Minions Awards
WASHINGTON, DC – Activists posing as biotechnology industry lobbyists and processed food industry insiders are on Capitol Hill today delivering “Monsanto’s Minions Awards” to the members of Congress who have worked the hardest to keep their constituents in the dark about the genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in America’s food supply.
Following the awards deliveries to Congressional offices, the anti-GMO activists, posing as the Biotechnology Industry Awards Committee (BIAC), will attempt to shut down entrances to the Congressional office buildings to stop corporate lobbying during the shutdown.
Today’s action, modeled on the one Abbie Hoffman and the Yippies did at the trading floor of the New York Stock Exchange in 1967, involves dumping out briefcases of cash on the X-ray machines at the entrances where lobbyists are waiting in line to go through the metal detectors and enter the Congressional office buildings. The corporate lobbyists are expected to lunge for the fluttering bills just as the stock traders did, creating a melee that will shut down the entrance.
Lobbyists scurrying to grab dollar bills is an apt metaphor for what’s happening during the shutdown. They are here meeting with the Congresspersons they supported financially during the elections to create or protect federal laws that boost their profits.
“The legislative pressure-cooker created by self-inflicted deadlines and crises like the fiscal cliff, the shutdown and the debt limit are the worst way to write legislation. Corporate lobbyists are here to take advantage of the situation. That’s how we got the Monsanto Protection Act in March. We’re here to try to stop that kind of thing from happening again,” said Alexis Baden-Mayer, political director of the Organic Consumers Association, dressed for the day as Jennetta Kontamy-Nashun, Biotechnology Industry Awards Committee lobbyist.
Monsanto, the target of the anti-GMO activists’ ire, is a company that spends hundreds of thousands of dollars on campaign donations in each election cycle and millions of dollars every year lobbying. In exchange, Congress subsidizes its genetically engineered food and makes sure it isn’t labeled or safety-tested. Monsanto’s minions in Congress are also available to do special favors for the company when the opportunity arises. This is what happened in March when, in order to avert a government shutdown, Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.) allowed Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) to attach a rider to the continuing resolution that took away the power of the judiciary to halt the planting of potentially dangerous new genetically engineered crops.
“Now, it’s the King Amendment. If the Farm Bill gets wrapped up in a budget deal to end the shutdown and raise the debt limit, the House and Senate won’t go to through the normal conference committee process and that will make it harder to keep the King Amendment out. Everything will be dealt with through backroom deals negotiated by the parties’ leadership and the President. It’s so undemocratic! The voters get shut out, while Monsanto and the rest of the big-money agribusiness lobbyists maintain their access,” said Adam Eidinger of Occupy Monsanto, posing as Haywood U. LaBallette, BIAC lobbyist.
The King Amendment to the House version of the Farm Bill was offered by Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) in an attempt to block the implementation of a law passed by overwhelmingly by California voters that says farm animals need to be given enough space to spread their limbs and turn around. The King Amendment is so broadly written that it could take away states’ rights to regulate food and farming. The anti-GMO activists are concerned that the King Amendment, or future modifications to it, could be used to take away states’ rights to label genetically engineered food, a proposal that has the support of 93% of the public.
“Congress needs to go back to business as usual and do its work of appropriations and reauthorizations through the normal process. As long as Congress continues to legislate from crisis to crisis, democracy is on hold and corporations have the upper hand. We’re anti-GMO activists, but we’re forced to be pro-democracy activists,” said Gene Crimes of Occupy Monsanto, stepping out of character, as BIAC’s Ralph Alover.
The activists support Rep. David Cicilline’s (D-R.I.) proposal to ban all lobbyists from Capitol Hill during the government shutdown. They want to see Citizens United overturned and the American Anti-Corruption Act passed. They fear that if we don’t get money out of politics, we’ll never be able to pass the laws that the majority of Americans support.
“The only way we can potentially win what Americans already want is by taking our cause directly to the voters at the state level, but Congress could take that away from us, too. We’re really worried that if Initiative 522 passes in Washington State, Monsanto will use one of these crises as an opportunity to slip language into some thousand-page bill to overturn it,” said Ariel Vegosen of Occupy Monsanto, taking a break from her role as BIAC’s Olive Lotta Pestasydes.
Initiative 522 is a Washington State voter initiative on the ballot on November 5 that would label genetically engineered food. The biotech and processed food industries led by Monsanto and the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) are spending more than $17 million to trick voters into defeating the initiative. If they don’t succeed, they’ll turn to Congress. They have many allies, including progressives like Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo.) who have championed Monsanto and the GMA’s proposal for voluntary rather than mandatory labels.
Genetic engineering technology was introduced 20 years ago with the notion we could make enough food to feed everyone in the world. However, many are becoming increasingly concerned about the growing number of genetically modified foods in our food supply. FOX 5 Consumer Reporter Laura Evans has more on this story.
Millions protest genetically modified food, Monsanto, organizers say
Two million people in more than 50 countries marched over the weekend in protest against a company called Monsanto, organizers claimed. CNN could not independently verify those numbers.
Monsanto is a giant, $58 billion multinational corporation with field offices in 60 countries. It was founded more than 100 years ago – and is best known for producing the chemical known as Agent Orange that scorched thousands of miles of earth during the Vietnam war.
Monsanto currently produces pesticides designed to deliver a death blow to living things, and also produces seeds designed to resist those lethal chemicals.
Now the company, with a history of questionable ethics practices and close ties to the government, may have received protection from future trouble. Slipped into a bill signed by President Barack Obama back in March is something called the “Monsanto Protection Act,” which would shield Monsanto seeds and other genetically modified crops approved by the Agriculture Department to be grown – even if there is action in the courts against them.
The weekend protest was focused on genetically modified organisms, or GMOs. GMOs are plants, bacteria, and animals whose genetic makeup has been scientifically altered.
Some opponents want GMOs banned, others say foods whose DNA has been changed needs to at least be labeled.
Monsanto is a leading producer of genetically modified seeds and herbicides. In the last quarter alone it sold seed – much of it modified – worth more than $4 billion. The company said their business helps to feed the planet.
“It’s a vision that strives to meet the needs of a rapidly growing population,” said a Monsanto ad.
Some of the outrage was sparked by shocking photos showing massive tumors that developed on rats that ate genetically modified corn over a lifetime.
The study was conducted by researchers at the University of Caen, France. It has been criticized by many in the scientific community, and by the European food safety authority, who said it is simply not up to scientific standards.
Even so, the disturbing tumor photos lead many to question their own standards about what exactly they are eating.
But consumers have no way of knowing if they are eating genetically modified food, or feeding it to their family.
Last week, U.S. senators debated whether states could require food labeling for products with genetically engineered ingredients. The legislation, introduced by Independent Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, failed.
“When you take on very powerful biotech companies like Monsanto and large food corporations, who, in many ways, would prefer that people not know what is in the food that they produce, they’re very powerful,” said Sanders. “They were able to gather a whole lot of support in the Senate.”
On its website, Monsanto states, “plant biotechnology has been in use for over 15 years, without documented evidence of adverse effects on human or animal health or the environment.”
Legislators who sided with Monsanto say the company is improving on nature.
“I think it would more accurately be called a modern science to feed a very troubled and hungry world,” Kansas Republican Sen. Pat Roberts said on the Senate floor last week.
But Sanders said the company, and others like it, need to be more transparent, and that slipping protection for Monsanto into that March bill was wrong.
“People have a right to know what is in the food they’re eating,” said Sanders.
“You have deregulated the GMO industry from court oversight, which is really not what America is about. You should not be putting riders that people aren’t familiar with, in a major piece of legislation,” said Sanders.
Law or no law, grocery giant Whole Foods said they will start labeling all genetically modified food by 2018.
“The fact is there are no studies, as yet, linking GMO to health problems,”said Michael Moss, New York Times investigative reporter and author of “Salt, Sugar, Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us.”
The flip side, said Moss, is there are few scientists doing that kind of research, and the agency in charge of GMOs is “the FDA, which has a real spotty record on food safety, which concerns people.”
At the moment, the issue appears to be evolving into a matter of disclosure.
“People care about what they’re putting into their bodies, and they want to know what is in the products that they’re eating, so they can make that decision,” said Moore.
On Monday, April 8, 2013 hundreds of safe food activists from across America descended upon the FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition for the first ever Eat-In to Label GMOs. Here are some of the photos that were posted on the Facebook Event Page: (more…)
When authorities got wind of a demonstration planned for Monday outside the Food and Drug Administration’s offices in College Park, they fortified their defenses.
A motorcycle and nine police vans, ominously marked “Homeland Security,” parked in front of the FDA building, and uniformed officers fanned out across the entrance, where they waited.
They needn’t have. The demonstrators, demanding that the FDA require the labeling of genetically modified foods, hadn’t come with violence in mind, or even civil disobedience. They had come to cook a 50-gallon vat of soup on the sidewalk and then consume the stuff — a first-ever “eat-in” at the FDA, they said.
There were no foul-mouthed anarchists dressed in black — just the sort of well-heeled crowd you’d come across at Whole Foods. “I packed up my kids’ lunches and drove from Boston to Hartford to ride a bus for five hours,” Kristi Marsh told the crowd, using the sound system to recount her trip to Monday’s protest. She wore a chef’s hat hand-lettered with the words “Everyday Mom.”
“I’ve never, ever protested before,” Marsh told me after her speech. “I was nervous. I had these visions of overturned buses and policemen dressed up like storm troopers. But when I saw part of the labor was to commit to no alcohol, no drugs, no violence, then I thought, ‘I want to be present.’ ”
She reached into her handbag. “Want some sunscreen?” she asked.
This is the face of the new protest movement — or at least organizers hope to make it so.
“We wanted a comfortable event,” Tom Llewellyn, the 30-year-old organizer, said of the FDA action, billed as “a day of sunshine and picnic-style protest” against GMOs, or genetically modified organisms. “It’s all about who you’re appealing to. There has to be a face of the movement for every single demographic to connect with.”
Taking a page from the gay-rights playbook, other causes on the left are holding fewer of the disruptive protests of recent decades and opting for persuasion over confrontation. In part, this strategy reflects the failure of recent movements, such as Occupy Wall Street and the anti-globalization demonstrations, to turn protesters’ enthusiasm into enduring public support.
The campaign against GMOs is typical: The movement has dropped its demand that such altered foods be banned, instead embracing the more reasonable goal of labeling such foods accurately. And activists are looking for non-threatening ways to broaden the cause’s appeal.
Llewellyn based Monday’s event on “Stone Soup,” a European folk tale about a traveler who persuades villagers to contribute to a communal meal. He borrowed the idea from peace activists of decades past, but made his a GMO-free soup.
“I’ve come here with this magical soup stone,” he told the crowd of 60, which swelled through the morning as the soup boiled.
The demonstrators, some wearing aprons, chef’s hats or clothing with GMO themes (“Give Peas a Chance”), handed over their organic vegetables and told their stories to the TV crews and reporters who had come to witness the spectacle:
“Hi, I’m Tory and this is my grandmother Nettie. We brought carrots . . . ”
Peter, a 12-year-old from Pennsylvania, announced: “I came here today with just organic mushrooms.” His mom patted him on the back after his turn at the microphone.
Another woman said, “My name is Erin O’Maley. I’m a chiropractor. . . . I brought some zucchini.”
A woman from Atlanta, Jay, was one of several to call for the resignation of Michael Taylor, the deputy FDA commissioner who had worked at Monsanto, a major GMO producer. “I’m a mother of an 8-year-old child and she’s not a science experiment,” the woman said.
Not all of the demonstrators were of the sort that would help the movement broaden its appeal. One man, in fatigues and a T-shirt covered with handwritten slogans, said he had brought “a non-edible mushroom” and complained that “my soup kitchen serves food that sucks.”
But the organizers found their target audience in Marsh of Massachusetts. Marsh, who writes tips on healthful living, said the image of the typical protest, angry and defiant, “scares people away.”
But as the soup simmered Monday, she told her fellow demonstrators that she would convert other mothers — “everyday me’s,” she called them — to the cause. “As long as you are out there doing this kind of stuff, I will be out there,” she said. “And I will be educating the everyday me’s, because that’s the masses that you need your support from.”